Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wooden Stake in Starosel Tomb dates structure to reign of Odyrisan King Amatokos II

A wooden stake unearthed in the ancient Thracian burial mound known as Starosel Tomb in Bulgaria last summer has helped Bulgarian archaeologists to date the construction to the reign of the Thracian King Amatokos II, a monarch of the 4th century Odrysian state.  The Odrysians were a powerful Thracian tribe that ruled an area that extended from modern Bulgaria all the way to western Turkey in the valley of the Hebrus River from the 5th to 3rd century BCE.

[Image of fresco from Thracian tomb in Kazanluk, Bulgaria courtesy of Peter Ashton]

Xenophon tells us the Odrysians raced horses and drank heavily after the burial of a warrior while later Roman writer Tacitus adds that the Odrysians frequently used gifts as a diplomatic strategy to get things done.

The radio carbon dating analysis carried out in Heidelberg, Germany, in the laboratory of Dr. Bernd Krommer, have shown that the stake was burned in the period after 358 BC, when the temple was constructed, and the earth was heaped on top of it to form a burial mound.

The analysis of the lab research and of the events which happened at that time have given archaeologist Ivan Hristov grounds to conclude that the temple in the village of Starosel, in the so called Chetinyova Mound, and the nearby Thracian ruler’s residence under Mount Kozi Gramadi were built during the reign of the Thracian King Amatokos II (359-351 BC), of the Thracian Odrysian state (5th-3rd century BC.

The family coat of arms of King Amatokos was a doubleheaded ax, or a labrys. Symbols of a labrys were discovered on several items around Starosel, including Thracian coins.

Before Dr. Hristov’s analysis, the researchers of Ancient Thrace believed that the Starosel tomb and underground temple complex were built by King Sitalces (445-424 BC), the third ruler of the Odrysian State. -
The Gold of Thrace   The Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace: Orpheus Unmasked (Oxford Monographs on Classical Archaeology)   Thracian Language and Greek and Thracian Epigraphy   Scythian and Thracian (Ashmolean Handbooks)   The Thracians 700 BC-AD 46 (Men-at-Arms)
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