Funding Cut Mars Research of Middle Eastern Tower Tomb Found under Thracian Mound near Bulgaria’s Plovdiv

Funding Cut Mars Research of Middle Eastern Tower Tomb Found under Thracian Mound near Bulgaria’s Plovdiv

Hidden underneath what was supposedly the largest Ancient Thracian burial mound in Bulgaria has turned out to be a pyramid-shaped Roman Era Middle Eastern tower tombs like the ones in Petra and Palmyra. The photo shows only the top of the 3rd century AD building. Photo: Plovdiv Time

The Middle Eastern style tower tomb from the 3rd century AD discovered unexpectedly underneath the Maltepe Burial Mound near Plovdiv in Southern Bulgaria, which could be the resting place of Roman Emperor Philip I the Arab, has already seen a cut in its promised government funding.

The massive 3rd century AD Antiquity building exposed in July 2018 underneath the Maltepe Mound, Bulgaria’s largest Ancient Thracian burial mound ever, located near the town of Manole, Maritsa Municipality, Plovdiv District, has turned out to be a tower tomb like the ones in ancient Middle East cities such as Petra and Palmyra.

Starting from the top of the mound and going down, the archaeologists from the Plovdiv Museum of Archaeology led by its Director, Assoc. Prof. Kostadin Kisyov, have exposed 20 meters (60 feet) of the Antiquity building, which could turn out to be tomb containing the remains of Roman Emperor Philip I the Arab (r. 244 – 249 AD).

Kisyov has recently made it clear it is still unknown when his team would open the Middle Eastern – style tower tomb, which is completely untypical for the Ancient Thracians, Greeks, Romans, and everything else in the Balkans or the rest of Europe, since there is still much of the actual burial mound left to excavate, and additional structures might be exposed.

The lead archaeologist has been certain that the absolutely unexpected and unique discovery guaranteed it sufficient government funding.

“For the first time in my 33-year-long career as an archaeologist I sure that the funding will be enough because this really is an archaeological site without any analogy in Europe," Kisyov told Plovdiv Time in an interview.

It has now been revealed, however, that there has been a massive cut in the funding promised for the further research of the tower tomb under the Maltepe Burial Mound.

Out of a total of BGN 300,000 (appr. EUR 150,000, USD 175,000) pledged by Plovdiv Mayor Ivan Totev, Plovdiv Municipality plans to provide only two-third, or BGN 200,000, for the 2019 excavations of what was thought to be Bulgaria’s largest Ancient Thracian burial mound.

The change is stipulated in the draft budget of Plovdiv Municipality for 2019, the 24 Chasa daily reports.

Commenting on the funding cut news, Kisyov has stated that the reduced funding would still allow the research of the tower tomb near the town of Manole to continue but that he would have to seek sources of additional funding.

Plovdiv Municipality has slated in its budget another BGN 50,000 (EUR 25,000, USD 29,000) for rescue archaeological excavations in the city throughout 2019.

The Director of the Plovdiv Museum of Archaeology has revealed the excavations of the Maltepe Burial Mound will be resumed at the end of April 2019.

The tower tomb that has sprung up from underneath the Ancient Thracian – style burial mound near Bulgaria’s Plovdiv is at least 20 meters tall – and might actually be even taller as not all of it has been exposed yet. Photo: Plovdiv Time

This is what the 23-meter-tall Maltepe Burial Mound looked liked for nearly two millennia before it was excavated – similar to thousands of other Ancient Thracian burial mounds dotting the landscape in much of Southern and Northeast Bulgaria. Photos: Maltepe Open Air Museum

Unlike the tower tombs in Palmyra, which were standing in the open up until ISIS destroyed them in 2015, the tower tomb outside of the ancient Thracian and Roman city of Philipopolis (today’s Plovdiv) was buried underneath a huge burial mound, just like thousands of Ancient Thracian burial mounds from the Early to Late Antiquity which are dotting the landscapes in much of Southern and Northeast Bulgaria to this day.

A Maltepe Burial Mound Open Air Museum was built outside the mound even before the start of the main excavations with funding from the Norwegian / EEA Grants because of the promise for a major archaeological discovery.

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