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Thrilling discoveries in Bulgaria have disclosed two well-preserved chariots, as well as clues about the horses that drew them into battle. The noted Bulgarian archaeologist, Veselin Ignatov, first shared news of his findings with The Guild’s friends at Archaeology magazine. That well-written article led to The Guild making direct contact with Professor Ignatov, who in turn asked the LRG-AF to broadcast news regarding his country’s urgent need to protect these priceless equestrian treasures from looters.
Please click here to read the fascinating article in PDF format.
Below is the response from Professor Ignatov.
Dear Long Riders’ Guild Academic Foundation
Thank you for your attention and interest in my work. In my opinion, your offer [to publish my article on your Academic Foundation website] is quite well-timed and I believe it will be useful for both the research and preservation of the remains of the carts and horses laid in graves in Thrace and also for the gratification of your interest in the study of the history of putting horses to harness or riding them.
Laying carts and horses in the graves of rulers was an ancient practice (Egypt, China, Etruscan, Celts, etc.). But during the first centuries of the new era it was common only in the northern territories of the Roman Empire, as it was mostly wide-spread in Thrace.
Unfortunately, most of the researches on the territory of Thrace have been done after the beginning of construction digging works which has led to partial or total destruction of the remains. During the last few years, hundreds of ancient carts have been destroyed by treasure-hunters in order to gain attractive articles (i.e. that can be sold). Because of these brutal actions it is impossible to trace the ritual and reconstruct the ancient carts. Thus, a part of the world cultural heritage is being destroyed.
This interesting ritual has also been spread on the territory of Nova Zagora. After excavation works 3 ancient carts together with horses have been studied in 1960-1970’s. In the last 17 years, because of the comparatively easy localization of the pits with carts situated near mound graves, treasure-hunters have destroyed and plundered more than 22 sites (pits with carts and horses). Archaeologists from the museum in Nova Zagora have studied 7 from these pits but the damage caused to history is irreversible.
In order to prevent destruction and plunder it is necessary to acquaint society with the problem. Thus, we have arranged an exhibition of authentic materials and reconstructions tracing the history of the ancient cart, the ritual (laying of carts and horses, owned by Thracian aristocrats, in graves close to the hill graves of the aristocrats), the different carts and their construction characteristics. The exhibition has visited 4 Bulgarian cities and posters have been presented in Peking, China. Folders, cards and souvenirs have also been made.
As a result one person supported us financially for the research of 2 pits with ancient carts and horses in ‘Triagalnika’ district near Nova Zagora. The important thing here is that these excavations have been made on a site with no plunder from treasure-hunters before that. This gave us the opportunity for a detailed tracing of the ritual and the construction characteristics of the carts and horse accoutrements. Moreover, the site situation has been copied which makes its reconstruction on another place possible.
All the research materials give the opportunity for the creation of a center to make this ritual popular and show the great variety of constructive decisions of the ancient car craftsmen and horse accoutrements for pack-horses and saddle-horses.
The following activities may be done for the creation of such a center:
- Conservation of the finds
- Restoration of the finds
- Graphic reconstruction of the different ancient carts
- Graphic reconstruction of the ritual
- Model making( specification of the construction characteristics)
- Making of an ancient cart and horse accoutrements for pack-horse and saddle-horses which can be used to re-create the routes of these military commanders in whose armies Thracians have fought
- Discovery and study of new sites with carts and horses laid in graves
- Publication of materials and theoretical research of the finds
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