Department of Classics

The Monumental Late Classical and Hellenistic Tholos Tombs in Ancient Thrace

Dr. Nikola Theodossiev is an Assistant Professor in Archaeology of Ancient Thrace and Southeastern Europe during the 1st millennium B.C. at the Department of Archaeology, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski and also holds the position of Assistant Director of the American Research Center in Sofia. He is the Director of archaeological excavations on different Thracian sites in Bulgaria: near Dragodan, Kavarna, Shipka, Dermantsi, Tarnava, Vratsa, Krivoldol, Dolna Kremena, and Pavolche. He is a m

Thu, April 24, 2008 | ART 1.120

4:00 PM

The lecture will present a general discussion on the monumental beehive tholos tombs in ancient Thrace that appeared in the Late Classical period and became widespread throughout the Hellenistic Age. Some of the funerary monuments display remarkable painted decoration, e.g. the tombs at Alexandrovo and in Kazanlak, while others have unique architectural design and decoration, providing variety of combinations of the Greek orders. Although, with only few exceptions, most of the tombs were looted in the past, some of them contain grave goods that allow precise dating. The lecture will present in details the question of the origins of the Thracian tholos tombs, exploring the relationship with the famous Mycenaean beehive tholoi, the Dark Age tholos tombs in continental Greece and on the Aegean islands, the Archaic and Classical beehive tombs in Thessaly and Crete. Other tombs that probably influenced the origin of the Thracian funerary tholoi are certain burial monuments in Asia Minor, which date from the late 2nd millennium BC down to the Hellenistic Age. Another group of interesting parallels might be found in Italy, particularly the Etruscan beehive tholos tombs of the 7th – 6th centuries BC. Other questions related to the Thracian tholos tombs that will be presented in the lecture are the problems of chronology, the specific architectural features, and the possible cultic functions. At the end of the lecture, selected Thracian tombs will be presented. Some of them were recently excavated in Bulgaria and are not well known to the foreign audiences, while others are among the most remarkable burial monuments of the Late Classical and Hellenistic funerary architecture in Southeast Europe.

Sponsored by: Austin Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), Classics Department

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