The Ancient Thracian shrine on Mount Ostrets near the southern Bulgarian town of Velingrad was a sacred place for the Thracian tribe Bessi, and was dedicated to ancient god Dionysus. It is one of the largest Thracian shrines ever known, and was discovered in 2009 by Prof. Diana Gergova from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia. The place was also explored in 1989 by Polish-Bulgarian archaeologist Mieczyslaw Domaradzki. The shrine has been badly damaged by looting treasure hunters. The discovered archaeological artifacts and coins at the Bessi shrine on Mount Ostrets are dated from the 8th-7th century BC to the 4th-5th century AD. One of the most interesting finds is an iron scepter shaped like two snake heads. Other finds include richly decorated cult ceramics, decorations, part of a votive table, a stone altar with geometric ornaments, an artifact shaped like a bird’s head, part of a shield decorated with three different metals, including gold, fibulas, clay cult items. The coins discovered there include a silver tetradrachma from the 1st century BC, and coins of Roman Emperors and Co-Emperors Constantius II (r. 324/337-361 AD), Constantius Gallus (r. 351-354 AD), Valentian I the Great (r. 364-375 AD), Valens (r. 364-378 AD), and Theodosius I the Great (r. 379-395 AD). Part of the archaeological excavations on Mount Ostrets have revealed the ruins of several consecutive Christian temples – an Early Christian basilica and medieval churches.
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