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THE NECROPOLISES

The Thracians became famous in the ancient world with their faith that death was merely the beginning of immortality. In view of the importance attached to immortality, it was only too natural for a person's last abode - the tomb - to be an example of splendour. It was perceived as a synthesised image of the world beyond, and its threshold marked the encounter of the two worlds: the one here and the world beyond. The next important step in the sophisticated burial ritual was the piling of a mound of earth over the tomb. The impressive tumular embankment kept alive the memory of the deceased person and carried his glory over time.
The actual burial was preceded by a funerary feast, gathering and laying of the gifts next to the funerary bed. The quantity and the type of the gifts were determined by the gender and above all by the social status of the deceased individual. The group of grave offerings almost always comprised articles of adornment, luxury vessels, often made of precious metal, as well as weaponry and horse-trappings. This meant that the deceased persons were accompanied in the world beyond by all objects that they possessed in their lifetime. In this sense, the grave goods are something like an object code. Weapons describe the deceased individual as a warrior, vessels remind of his place at the festive dinner table.
The burial rites of the Thracians and the respective monuments are among the principal sources on their ritual culture. Some of the richest necropolises in the lands of the Thracians were discovered about 20 km north of Plovdiv, near the villages of Duvanlii, Kaloyanovo and Starosel, which are associated with the aristocracy of Philippopolis.

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