The secrets of the Spirit Mound


In the mind of the Bulgarian Perushtitsa is present exclusively with the sad Vazov image "Perushtitsa pale, a nest of heroes". Yes, it is a village-hero of the April Uprising, the dimensions of her heroism are rarely written and spoken about. Here, in fact, there are no exact victims: the epic military defense of the city, unique for the days of the uprising, ends not with the massacre of prisoners, but with the mass sacrifice of 32 Peruvians. These 32 heroes, most of them whole families, decide to end their lives in the church "St. Archangel Michael ”, instead of bearing the yoke of slavery again. This is the solution. And it cannot be called "suicide" because it is not an act of despair, but a transition from the earthly to the afterlife, performed in a sacred place with a clear awareness of what is happening. There are only two such cases in world history: the self-immolation of the inhabitants of the city of Miletus during the Greco-Persian Wars (5th century BC) and the self-poisoning of the citizens of Sagunto on the eve of the Second Punic War (3rd century BC). .). The idea of the leaders of these cities may have been the same, but in practice most of their fellow citizens became "victims" of this idea without consciously accepting it. This is not the case in Perushtitsa. Here the renunciation of the earthly world is voluntary and, as eyewitnesses testify, this choice was declared in a trance bordering on religious ecstasy.

Whatever arguments "for" and "against" the canonization of the Peruvian martyrs we point out today (see, these are arguments that are filtered through the senses of modern people, be they "rational" atheists or pious Orthodox Christians. From the point of view of both mentioned intellectual positions, the behavior of Peruvians is, to put it mildly, incomprehensible. Things take on a completely different meaning if we look at the great drama in the light of the millennial spiritual traditions inherited by the local population.

The "first sod" of the Thracian mounds in Bulgaria

Let me start with a mass unknown fact: It was in Pastusha (today the Perushtin district of the same name), i.e. in the area of the most ancient Neolithic settlement in the region, according to Georgi Kitov, "the first sod was made in the study of the Thracian mounds in Bulgaria". Long before Kitov, first Gorj Sør and then Ivan Venedikov concluded without reservation: "Duhov mound is undoubtedly the most interesting in Thrace." Another question is why the Bulgarian scientists Venedikov and Kitov mistype the name of Duhova Mogila by calling it "Dukova", given that their main source - the French archaeologist Sior - meticulously conveys the translation and meaning of the name - Tomb of the Spirit (tumulus de l ' spirit). This misunderstanding of ours about the "most interesting" Thracian mound is due in the first place to the refusal to place it in the necessary not only archaeological but also cultural context. Let's take a quick look at them.

The first worries about "great wealth" in Duhova Mogila

If for the mass Bulgarian Perushtitsa is a symbol of the tragedy of the April Uprising, for archaeologists, treasure hunters and other adventurers it has long been synonymous with a priceless, to this day undiscovered fairytale treasure. According to the Shkorpil brothers (Fig. 1), as early as 1850 a certain Nikola Maraji came to Perushtitsa from Constantinople with a sultan's decree to look for a "great fortune". It goes directly to Duhova Mogila. What Maraji is looking for are "buried wagons", which in the local tradition exist as "golden chariots". The Sultan's "archaeologist" is said to have been disappointed by the excavations he made with the help of local villagers. After finding nothing, you left and never returned. It is also alleged that after an accidental find of a chariot in the area, ten years later the Austrian Vice Consul Berti and the Russian Consul in Plovdiv Naiden Gerov excavated at Duhova Mogila. Because, according to Georges Sear's complaints, Naiden Gerov later categorically denied digging near Duhova Mogila, here is what the Shkorpil brothers wrote literally in 1883 about this apparently not very legal "archaeological" expedition, followed by new, Russian "excavations". during the Liberation War (1877-1878):

"At a distance of a few steps from each cart, in the direction of the mound, a cart driver was found (by Gerov and Berti, my note, VV) buried in a standing position. One had a pierced skull and an iron arrow stuck in one of its ribs. The carts were buried in square pits (like "barns"), arranged in a west-to-east direction. In 1883 we saw here 16 pits, about 4 m apart; the carts (along with the horses) were driven into the pits and then backfilled; they had four wheels (two larger and two smaller). Besides them, other iron objects, rotten wood, bronze statues (idols), various ornaments, bridles, horse bones, etc. were found. Mr. N. Gerov owns an idol, which represents the god Pan; it is 16 cm high, 4 cm wide (bottom) and is equipped with a round handle at the back. The idol is hollow and was attached to wooden handles, of which a half-rotten part has been preserved in some idols. Pan holds in his right hand a whistle (syringa) and in the other a shepherd's staff (krivak). Pan was the god of shepherds. Mr. Bertie has two bronze heads (reliefs) of horses, with a silver notch on them and a silver pupil on their eyes. About 30 statues were found, representing bears (standing on their hind legs), horses, eagle heads, the god Neptune (with an oar and a dolphin) and others. The statues were attached to the carriages. There were two or four horses in each pit; according to the teeth found, it can be seen that they were of a small breed, like the current horses in Thrace (Equus caballus minor W.). Rice rings, rice and silver checkers, etc. were found from the horse ornaments on the straps.

During the Russian occupation, the Russians dug around the mound and found, as they say, a large silver disk, a silver cup, teapots and a table (with three legs).

It is not surprising that after such "excavations", the scientific expedition organized by the Bulgarian government in 1893 spent BGN 2,000 without finding anything (again according to the testimony of the Shkorpil brothers). However, this discouraging result of the specialists from the Archaeological Museum in Sofia, Dobruski and Takela, is clearly not convincing for the later famous French archaeologist Georges Sear.

Sior, unlike the mentioned treasurers, laymen and archaeologists, has a lasting scientific interest in the Thracian culture and in particular - in the mounds in the "Krichim Valley". (Fig. 2) Only twenty years old, he took part in the excavations of Dobruski in 1893 and was so enthusiastic that in 1899-1900 he conducted an independent archeological expedition near Duhova Mogila. Her diary, the basis for the author's theses, is reflected in detail in a deliberate publication that came out only a year after the excavations (in 1901, see the following text).

As a conscientious scientist from the end of the 19th century, he meticulously described the findings and subjected the information to critical analysis, whether they came from people like the Shkorpil brothers, Naiden Gerov or the local peasants. For example, he is convinced that for his excavations he cheated not only Naiden Gerov, but also Maraji, he discovered a lot of things, but "according to oriental custom" he hid the finds. He also suspects that there were chariots with chariots in all 16 pits and is skeptical of the local rumor about the "golden carts" (or "golden carts" that will be discussed again). Although the main practical result of the excavations in Pastusha was the reconstruction of the bigo he discovered (a two-wheeler, Fig. 3), in fact Sior does not seem to be particularly excited about the "buried carts", whether they are gold or not. Sior was later sharply criticized for his mistakes in the reconstruction of the chariot (for example, by Venedikov), as well as for "confusion", almost for "abuse" in the excavations (by many archaeologists). In fact, however, no one has commented that the French archaeologist frankly cites all the artifacts taken to Paris (some to Athens).

Spiritual mound today

The artifacts from Duhova Mogila are kept in museums in Paris, St. Petersburg, Athens and Sofia. We can only guess how many and which of them are hidden in private collections. Today, alas, Duhova Mogila is a weedy, about ten-meter hill, hidden from the eyes of the uninitiated to the Perushtina wine cellar "Puldin". (Figs. 4, 5). Spiritual mound is located very close to the famous early Christian Red Church. However, none of the numerous researchers of the Red Church - art critics (such as A. Grabar), archaeologists (such as M. Vaklinova), etc., is trying to connect the two famous sites. (Fig. 6). And such a connection would be useful at least for a more accurate dating of the construction of the Red Church itself. Now it is located between the 4th and 6th century, ie. between the time of two great, but very different in epochs and behavior Roman emperors of Thracian origin - Constantine the Great and Justinian the Great.

They very seldom remember to mention the Spirit Mound and the researchers of the Thracian mounds themselves. Even when they note the impressive size of the site (such as Venedikov and Kitov), they do not even try to ask themselves: what was the need to build such a colossal facility? Even fewer Bulgarian specialists tend to connect the history of the monuments in the area in a single narrative, be it a simple attempt to reconstruct the political climate in the area during a certain era. The latter, by the way, is somewhat excusable. The epoch in question, with which the finds at Duhova Mogila are connected, covers 8 centuries (according to Venedikov, from the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD), if not more (according to Kitov, who dates the earliest artifacts from the middle of 1 thousand BC). An attempt to give "flesh and blood" to the ancient object is made only by Sior, for whom the events and artifacts at the Spirit Mound do not remain statistics, but become a cause. Of course, this does not happen without a corresponding reduction in the millennial period in which the sacred place functioned and its isolation from the overall cultural context.

Spiritual mound once

Georges Sear carefully sketched the Spirit Mound (Fig. 7) and claimed that its dimensions were 23, 40 m - height and 91 m - diameter. In his time this was the largest discovered Thracian mound. The situation is similar for Ivan Venedikov, who in the early 1960s declared the Spirit Mound to be "arguably the most interesting of all the chariot finds found in our country." In turn, Georgi Kitov does not admire the chariots, and is a contemporary of already discovered larger (and not robbed!) Thracian mounds. He shares the opinion about the height ("over 20 m"), but seriously revises the diameter of Duhova Mogila ("over 120 m"). In other words, the Spirit Mound was at least as large as the Maltepe Mound. The latter, by the way or not, is located - just like Duhova Mogila - twenty kilometers from Plovdiv, but in a northeasterly direction, and a straight line can be drawn between the two, in the center of which is the ancient Philippopolis (Fig. 8). Even more striking than the scale of Duhova Mogila, however, are the finds near it, which really have no analogue.

With a sound scientific skepticism, Sior doubts that in all the 16 pits mentioned by Scorpio, there were buried chariots. (Fig. 9) According to him, the chariots - two-wheelers and four-wheelers - were 3-4 or at most 7-8. Bulgarian specialists - for example Venedikov and Kitov - categorically support the number of "over ten", the first is not far from the idea that in each of the 16 pits there was a chariot. Let's imagine the real size of the area with the pits, where at least a dozen two-wheelers and four-wheelers are buried, together with the horses (not counting the chariots mentioned by Shkorpil). The perimeter in which they could be located and certainly was part of the sacred space of the Spirit Mound, without any exaggeration can be defined as huge. (Il. 10, 11)

The problem is that neither the Bulgarian specialists, nor even Sior, try to explain the mentioned phenomenon in depth - there were more than ten chariots here with magnificent bronze (and according to some data - silver) ornaments buried in one place. (Il. 12, 13, 14) Venedikov cautiously suggests that this is a cult place of a noble Thracian family, used by it for 8 centuries - something in itself exclusively as a sustainability of cultural tradition. Sir is content to point out that the chariots were probably not upright, but sat down, without delving into the fact that, even so, such findings are not typical of the Thracian region and the European region at all.

The reservation on the subject shown by the French archaeologist should not surprise us: in the course of the excavations he was most strongly attracted by many unusually buried bodies. In the tomb space he found 48 skulls (Fig. 15). All the people were buried naked, there are no traces of clothes and ornaments, ie. - This is a mass sacrifice, a kind of human hecatomb! Since this is a practice typical of few nations, Sior is convinced that here in the 4th century AD. a noble Scythian leader was buried. Undoubtedly, the legend of Genghis Khan, who was buried with 50 of his concubines, hovers in the imagination of the French researcher. Probably for this reason he points out the well-known circumstance: the skulls are usually preserved from the skeletons, and they do not allow to determine the exact sex of the deceased. Most likely, this led to his insistence to the Russian authorities to "acknowledge" the "excavations" carried out in 1860/61. Sior is convinced that the bodies must be 50, and Russian administrators, politicians and archaeologists, with the exception of a report by Rostovtsev, officially deny taking anything from Pastusha before 1877/8 (although all those interested know that in the private collections of Gerov and Bertie there were elegant bronze statuettes, and in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg are kept not only exquisite silver vessels, but also several (!) chariots from the Spirit Mound). In any case, referring to a coin discovered during the excavations of Emperor Licinius (4th century), Sior develops his thesis, which is enshrined in the title of the study of the excavations in Duhova Mogila: here in the 4th century there was a mass settlement of Scythians, which it is proved both by the written sources and by the "Scythian" burial in Pastusha. But is the French archaeologist right? As for the "Scythians" - rather not. First, we can sympathize with William Ridgeway's recent arguments against Sear's "Scythian theory": first, for the Thracians to accompany their master to the afterlife was a regular practice, and second, for "the Scythians who did not use a chariot at the time." of Herodotus in the 5th century BC, it is unlikely that they began to use it until the 4th century AD, when everyone used horses exclusively for riding. In addition, in an effort to prove the late origin of the Spirit Mound, Sior ignores all the more ancient artifacts. He forgets, of course, to pay attention to her name, though he explicitly translates it. In fact, Ridgeway also forgets to pay attention to the name, although he explicitly translates it as The Barrow of the Spirit. Most Bulgarian specialists, as mentioned, cannot pay attention to the name. Reading mainly Sior, they transcribe the name as "Duke's mound", i.e. Mound of the duke / master. Thus, it remains a complete mystery why, for example, the nearby, also monumental, and closely connected with Duhova Mogila - Banova Mogila - bears the same name (ban = master).

Nomen est Omen (The name is a sign) or: some guesses about the Spirit Mound

Georges Sior, who is interested in all the mounds in the Krichim Valley, does not fail to note that the Mound of the Spirit and (Spirit Mound) and the Mound of the Master (Banova mound) are closely connected. He had even heard of the one-kilometer tunnel that once connected the facilities, although he had not seen it. By the way, according to the locals, this tunnel still exists today, but this is a topic for another story, and, given the many strange legends - for another genre.

The problem is not only in the connection between the two mounds with eloquent names. The real question is why the monumental, richly decorated Red Church was built in the 4th century just above them, a kind of "nothing". It seems to have been erected "out of nowhere" only if it is not taken into account that the construction is on an ancient heroon, whose special four-concha (resembling a four-leaf clover) form it inherits. The heroine himself, no doubt, is located right here, because here springs the powerful karst spring, which has supplied water for a long time all of Perushtitsa. (Fig. 16)

Naturally, the guesses of what happened near Duhova Mogila from cf. on 1 thousand BC. to cf. of 1 thousand AD. for now they can only be conditional. However, they must start by clarifying one fact: Duhova Mogila is far from being connected only with Banova Mogila, the Red Church, the heroine that preceded it, and the Holy Spring. It is part of a huge sacral complex, which includes sanctuaries from the Neolithic to the 19th century. Archangel Michael ", then - through St. Todorovtsi ”with its holy spring in order to reach the megalithic complexes Manastirski skali and the Holy place rising on the Rhodope peaks (just below Varhovruh) (Il. 17, 18). The road to these sanctuaries is dotted with ancient dolmens and unique, hitherto unheard of stone statues in our country. (Il. 19, 20). Contrary to the prevailing opinion about the spread of the Thracian trapezoidal niches, there are some above Perushtitsa. The unique thing is that their precise production, with technology unknown to modern scientists, continues in the 20th century! (Fig. 21).

These are generally the facts. Why are the mounds called Duhova and Banova, who and when was buried here, is the mound a cenotaph (an empty tomb in which Sior is categorical), or, as the locals claim, keeps in its bowels many secrets whose bodies are 50 self-sacrificing are companions, and whose is the golden chariot (chariots), the rumors of which have attracted a century and a half adventurers and specialists? These are all curious questions with many completely logical and possible answers, as long as one asks the right questions. Let's think, for example, which charismatic Roman emperor, Caesar, empress or princess - Thracians by blood and spirit, died in the 4th century under mysterious circumstances and in an unknown place? Because the name Duhova Mogila refers equally to Christian and Thracian ruling traditions. Or who, when, where, to whom and why had he promised a golden chariot as a gift? These are just two topics that are tempting to the curious mind and closely related to our region, which only expect bold interpretations and ... sufficient investment for their scientific archaeological proof.