‘Unusually Tall’ Skeleton, Severed Arm Found in 4,000-Year-Old Bronze Age Burial Mound near Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast

An aerial shot of the 4,000-year-old Bronze Age grave of a man who was about 1.9 – 2 meters tall. A severed arm of another person was discovered buried near the grave. It is visible on the left side of the buried man the way it was discovered. Photo: Primorsko Museum of History, via Nova TV

The skeleton of a Bronze Age man who was untypically tall for his time has been discovered in a 4,000-year-old burial mound by archaeologists near Bulgaria’s Black Sea town of Primorsko, with the grave also containing the arm of another person.

The grave of the man who was about 1.90 – 2 meters (6 feet 3 – 6 inches) tall, an unusual height for the Bronze Age population of today’s Bulgaria, has been found in a large burial mound (tumulus) in an area known as Silihlyar, in the country’s southeast, Daniel Pantov, Director of the Primorsko Museum of History, has announced.

Silihlyar, a picturesque area near the Black Sea town of Primorsko, contains a number of prehistoric and ancient burial mounds, which, unfortunately, keep getting targeted by treasure hunters.

The newly discovered grave of the untypically tall Bronze Age has also been discovered in rescue excavations, after illegal digs by looters had damaged the 4,000-year-old burial mound which is approximately 7 meters (23 feet) tall and about 100 meters (328 feet) in diameter.

Silihlyar is the same area which in 2016 made headlines with the discovery of an Ancient Thracian gold treasure. The Primorsko Gold Treasure was formally shown to the public at the end of October 2016, and the local authorities even built a special safety vault for it in the newly established Primorsko Museum of History.

In 2017, in another burial mound (tumulus) in Silihlyar, the archaeologists discovered the grave of an Ancient Thracian warrior from the 4th-3rd century BC whose funeral inventory contains gold plated ceramic beads.

The only funeral inventory now found in the newly discovered grave of the giant Bronze Age man is a bronze dagger and a ceramic jar. The walls of the man’s grave near his head and feet were painted with red paint on the inside indicating the noble origin of the deceased.

These aerial shots show the excavated 4,000-year-old Bronze Age grave from a burial mound in Silihlyar near Bulgaria’s Primorsko. Photos: Primorsko Museum of History, via Nova TV

In addition to the buried man’s height, another oddity discovered in the 4,000-year-old grave is the arm of another person which was placed on the left side of the deceased. It may have been placed there at the time of the burial or afterwards.

“It probably might be connected with some kind of ritual – but whether [the person whose arm was added to the grave] was an aide to the buried one, or perhaps that was the arm of his killer – we have no way of knowing," Pantov has told Nova TV.

He reveals that the rescue excavations of the 4,000-year-old Bronze Age burial mound in Silihlyar, an area located 5 kilometers (3 miles) away from Primorsko, near the Black Sea coast, actually began in 2017, following a treasure hunting raid.

“We first came across large pits [dug up by the treasure hunters]. After we cleared them, we discovered this grave from the Bronze Age whose inventory consists of a dagger and a jar," the Director of the Primorsko Museum of History explains.

“Apparently, this was a secondary grave because it was located in the periphery of the burial mound," he adds.

“The skeleton belonged to a person who was 1.90 – 2 meters tall, which was untypical of his time. What’s interesting also, is that above the burial pit, we found the severed arm," Pantov says.

He points out the fact that, while the skeleton is yet to be studied by anthropologists, at first glance, the buried tall man seems to have been in great health, and had really good teeth.

“His teeth are very well preserved. Of course, the skull was crushed at some point by the weight of the soil. We have gathered all pieces, and we will probably have it restored, and exhibit it [the skeleton] in the museum," the museum director says.

“It really made an impression on us that the man was rather large, and that the inside [of the grave] was decorated with red paint which is a symbol of power and might," he notes.

In his words, the entire region of Primorsko and the area of Silihlyar are connected with the advent of the Bronze Age, i.e. the extraction and processing of metal, bronze.

“Things changed radically in the Bronze Age. Humans discovered bronze, and their way of life got substantially easier – they stopped using stone and bone tools," Pantov adds.

The bones from the newly discovered Bronze Age tall man’s skeleton as shown temporarily in the Primorsko Museum of History. The bronze dagger found in the grave is visible on the left-hand side. Photos: TV grabs from Nova TV

Another similar Bronze Age burial mound is located about 200 meters (650 feet) away from the recently excavated one in Silihlyar. However, it is substantially smaller. It, too, has been damaged by treasure hunters’ raids.

“Unfortunately, this other mound has also suffered from the treasure hunting invasion. It should be researched and saved because, the way it is going, in a few years we won’t have any intact archaeological sites left [because of the treasure hunters], and we should become engaged now so we can rescue whatever can be rescued,” concludes the Director of the Primorsko Museum of History.

Given the unusual height of the Bronze Age man buried in the newly explored tumulus in Silihlyar, it is worth mentioning that in recent years, some reports about discoveries of “giant" skeletons in Bulgaria, that is, of people who were taller than was typical in the Prehistory, Antiquity, or Middle Ages have been subsequently disproved by archaeologists.

In 2016, the Burgas Regional Museum of History disproved reports about an alleged discovery of skeletons of “giants" at the major medieval Byzantine and Bulgarian fortress and city of Rusocastro back in 2011.

Another “giant skeleton" story emerged in Bulgaria in the spring of 2015 during the rescue excavations of the Late Antiquity fortress wall of the ancient city of Odessos (Odessus) in the downtown of the Black Sea city of Varna.

An exposed part of a skeleton found right underneath the fortress wall led eyewitnesses and media to report that it belonged to a man of unusual size for the Late Antiquity period. The archaeologists managed to measure the skeleton only after completing the digs, and found it to be only 1.65 meters tall.

As in the case with the newly explored Bronze Age mound in Silihlyar, Bulgaria’s southeastern-most region keeps revealing exciting archaeological discoveries.

An entire previously unknown Ancient Thracian fortress, the Pharmakida Fortress, which was the fortified residence of a dynast in the 2nd-1st century BC was discovered near Bulgaria’s Primorsko in 2015. Primorsko Municipality is also famous for the Beglik Tash Thracian rock shrine.

Fortified homes of aristocrats from the Ancient Thracian tribe Asti have also recently been discovered and/or excavated near the towns of Brodilovo and Sinemorets in Tsarevo Municipality on the Black Sea, right to the south of Primorsko Municipality.

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