The secrets of a spirit mound 



In the first article, I presented the excavations carried out near Duhova Mogila, together with their official results, the allegations and hints of theft and the whispered fantastic rumors about what is not only robbed from Duhova Mogila, but also what else is hidden in it. ( Now I will try to present some hypotheses on the promised questions: who and when was buried in the Spirit Mound, whether the mound is a cenotaph (an empty tomb in which the French archaeologist Sior is categorical), or (as the locals claim) keeps in its bowels a lot secrets, whose bodies are 50 self-sacrificing companions, were there 16 chariots in the 16 buried chariots, and whose is the golden chariot (chariots), the rumors of which have attracted a century and a half of adventurers and specialists?

Let me start with the last question, as his answer coincides with the lower chronological framework that archaeologists point to the age of the Spirit Mound - 4th century BC. Probably many already remember where the search will go: just in the Thracian lands, before the campaign against Thebes, Alexander the Great promised as a gift a golden chariot to the local oracle, known as the Delphic Pythia. It is not difficult to suppose that this oracle was the same one that had foretold to Philip II the great future of his son, and whom Octavian the Elder would later ask about the fate of his son Octavian Augustus. With various, not always scientific motives, the famous Thracian sanctuary of Dionysus, where these prophecies took place, is recognized as the sanctuary in Tatul or Perperek. The problem is that treasure hunters have never looked for the "great treasure" there, and the world's museums do not store chariots from the places in question, and they were not exactly gold. And when trying to reconstruct a cultural reality, the most important thing, even more important than the available archaeological material, is to ask the right questions. Specifically, the question of which monument in the lands of the Thracians is explicitly and sustainably identified with a golden chariot points exclusively to the Perushtitsa district of Pastusha and Duhova Mogila. The mirage of gold in the thirsty minds of the people may have created rumors of many (7-8, according to Sior, over 10, according to Venedikov and Kitov, and 16 - according to Shkorpil), and may fully or partially reflect the truth. A good question would be, at the very least, how the Shkorpil brothers would confidently claim that the quarter traps in which the chariots with their chariots were buried were oriented to a west-east, if there were no chariots and chariots in them, but they were empty ?! Another correct question is what was really the connection of Filip's family with the region of Plovdiv and its surroundings.

Philip and the sights of his city: Spiritual mound - the tomb of Alexander the Great?

 The experiments of many of our scientists, incl. Plovdiv, to prove that the city of Philippopolis is not connected with Philip II, but with Philip V, who lived a hundred years later, probably contain some purely academic value. However, they contradict all known sources from Tacitus to Stephen of Byzantium, as well as the European memory of the City of Philip and his son Alexander, preserved at least until the 19th century. Unlike Alexander, who would build many Alexandria (and name many ancient cities), the name Philip's City was given only to today's Plovdiv.

The fact that it is a matter of renaming and not founding the ancient Pulpudeva is irrelevant in this case - for one reason or another, Philip wants to be remembered with this very city. According to Evliya леelebi, by the way, not only the city, but also the whole present-day Plovdiv field was called Filboz sahras ("Philip's Plain"). Even more: travelers - such as Martin Gruneweg and Reinhold Lubenau (16th century) - often mention that Philippopolis was the capital of Philip, and Alexander the Great was born in one of the palaces of Philippopolis and / or was buried in one of the mounds near the city. .

In other words, if there was "cultural tourism" in the 16th century, the birthplace and Alexander's tomb would occupy a special place in the leaflets of Plovdiv. Another issue is that in the Bulgarian editions of the travelogues it is meticulously explained that here their authors confused Philippopolis with Philip. What Philip and Alexander had in common with Philip is one of the right questions these commentators clearly do not ask. A. Chilingirov's heroic efforts to correct this line of interpretation, at least as far as Christian history is concerned, so far also remain without a lasting echo in official science.

Philippopolis and centuries after the time of Philip seems to have been a really impressive city - something that is unattainable without serious funds not just from the city government, but directed by a centralized state treasury. Was this justified for a city in which Philip and then other rulers did not reside, and what attracted them to that city? And there is no doubt that the city was literally a name for splendor. Here is what Philippopolis looks like as a topic in the conversation between Hermes and Heracles:

"Indeed, Heracles, this is the largest and most beautiful of all cities. Its beauty shines in the distance and a very large river flows very close to it. ” And Heracles replies, "This is Hebros, and the city is the work of the famous Philip." (Lucian of Samosata, 2nd c.)

The superlatives uttered by two inhabitants of Olympus - one god, the other - a divine hero, need no further comment. The next question, then, is how the Plovdiv region could deserve such a privileged attitude. Given the cultural traditions of antiquity, the first thing we might think is that there was a large sanctuary in the area. Here is the place to remind that the largest sanctuaries were generally not located in the big cities. Such is the case with Eleusis and Athens, with Tivoli and Rome, with Serdica and Skretiska…Even less is supposed to be the city's great sanctuary, in which prophecies are spoken and dedicated to wild gods - such as Dionysus. The very nature of ecstasy, in which God reveals the future through the oracle, and the orgiastic cult of Dionysus suggest that his great sanctuary should be sought relatively far from the big city, but close enough to cover it with its sacred aura. According to all descriptions, the sanctuary in question was on a rocky mountain, and the divination was based on smoke from evaporating wine. Plovdiv could be connected to two such sanctuaries - Belintash and the Holy Place. Belintash, however, is too far away. That is why the huge megalithic complex, including Monastery Rocks, Eagle Stone and the Holy Place above Perushtitsa, is the ideal candidate for such a sanctuary.

As Ani Raduncheva proved, Belintash and Dolnoslav are parts of the same sanctuary - heavenly (rocks) and earthly (plain). We see the same configuration between the mountain sanctuary around the Holy Place and the plain around Duhova Mogila. As far as the construction of any imposing facilities in the area of the mountain sanctuary is impossible, the temples, which are for ordinary worshipers, are in the lowlands. Right there is the complex of Duhova Mogila, whose length, together with the 16 pits, exceeds 230 m (ie that of the Pyramid of Cheops). Among the rocks the priests officiate.

Given the character of Philip, and especially of his wife Olympias, the mother of Alexander, a princess of Epirus, dedicated to the Dionysian (Bacchic) mysteries, the choice of such a place for the residence of the royal couple is more than logical. Let's just remember that the two met and fell in love during just such Thracian mysteries on the island of Samothrace. Not to be overlooked is one of the legends, according to which Alexander is the son of the god Dionysus - where it would be most logical for the god to possess the Bacchanalian Olympias, except during his celebration in his temple.

Which of Philip's family, however, could be buried in the Spirit Mound (Philip himself and his wife Meda, the daughter of the Goth king Kotel, are buried in Vergina)? Although this question cannot be answered until serious excavations are carried out, one thing can certainly be said: if the monument belongs to Alexander, as the quoted travelers think, it must be a cenotaph (empty tomb) - as the French archaeologist Seur is convinced. . As is well known, only authors who relied on Suetonius were inclined to assume that, at least temporarily, the body of Alexander the Great had been buried in Alexandria.

Alexander's religious ideas are complex and quite chaotic, but one thing is certain - he wanted to be considered a god. And no matter how strongly he was influenced by the Hellenic and Egyptian traditions, for him the divine king is the one whose body does not remain in the world, and it was embalmed in a magnificent tomb, as Suetonius claims. It is this Thracian and, by the way, Bulgarian faith that explains the puzzling lack of royal bodies from the ancient and medieval eras.

Therefore, if we assume that the giant facility known as the Spirit Mound is a cenotaph of Alexander, the most possible scenario for its erection is as follows: the faithful hetairs (military comrades) of the king and his mother Olympias arrange a symbolic burial near the city of Philip, at the foot of the megalithic sanctuary. The 16 chariot riders, who were ostentatiously punished and killed, were high-ranking warriors accused of killing Alexander. It is possible that the soldiers were not killed on the spot, but were part of those numerous suspects and killed by the Olympics as early as 323 BC, while the dead were exhumed and re-killed (The Life of Alexander, Plutarch). According to this scenario, the 50 are demonstratively deprived of everything - clothes, insignia, jewelry, etc. victims could also be part of the bloody revenge for Alexander's death.

As for the choice of Alexander's memorial to be exactly a mound, it is quite clear: according to ancient legends, the legendary hero Achilles was buried near Troy right in a mound (tumulus). Alexander, later Julian the Apostate, and Mehmed the Conqueror will symbolically worship this tomb (which is also empty, by the way) as a sign of their determination to place Europe and Asia under one scepter. And Olympias, as is well known, is the daughter of Neoptel I, the king of Epirus, who claims to be the heir of Achilles' son Neoptolemus. Nothing is more natural than the Great Achilles and his great descendant Alexander being remembered with the same monuments.

A second, less probable version is that the relatives of Olympiada have arranged a real or symbolic funeral here. The proximity of the city to Philip legitimized her as a Macedonian queen even after her divorce from Philip, and at the sanctuary of Dionysus - as his priestess. According to most sources, Olympias was killed in 316 BC. with stones from the families of its numerous victims and a ban was issued on its burial in the Aegean (modern-day Vergina). It is possible that her remains with the described plan were transferred to Philippopolis.

As tempting as such a version of the erection of a Spirit Mound may seem, it is hardly true, and more precisely, it is hardly entirely true. The first reason is that Sør's not very correct approach is followed here, except that the focus is not on the 4th century AD, but on the 4th century BC. The second is that it neither fully satisfactorily explains the significant difference in the burials of the 16 and 50 people near Duhova Mogila, nor the name of the facility.

Of course, in principle, any number can be random. However, this very rarely happens with sacred facilities. In the case of sacred monuments, most often everything carries deep symbolism - a typical example are the astonishingly accurate measures of the Temple of Solomon, over whose hidden, coded meaning Kabbalists have pondered for centuries. In other words, in our case, Sør's approach - to look for at least a ritual coincidence of the number of victims with the funeral traditions in a culture (for him - the Scythian), is more correct. The problem is that the Scythian ruler in question, buried in Pastusha, according to him, must have been of the rank of Genghis Khan, and vague mentions of Scythian settlements in the area do not allow such a conclusion. The other problem is the parallel burials of the chariots, which, even if 5-6, at most 7-8, as the French scientist thinks, cannot simply be "erased" from the picture.

Leaving aside for now the possible Orphic-Pythagorean symbolism of numbers, let us move on to the next hypothesis. Looking for another ruler of rank worthy of such a funeral (real or symbolic), who had good reason to be strongly associated with the place of interest, this is… Spartacus.

Spartacus - the gladiator prince

Plutarch (1st century AD) presents the legendary Thracian Spartacus as follows: he stood much higher than his position and in general looked more like a Greek ... "

Almost nothing is known about Spartacus' life before he entered the gladiatorial school in Capua. He was born at the end of the 2nd century BC, probably in the area of the Thracian town of Medios (today's town of Sandanski). It is possible, however, that Spartacus came from the Thracian aristocracy, if not from the Odrysian royal dynasty itself. The connection of Spartacus with the top of the Thracian society is evidenced by his undoubted professional military training, his ability to lead large masses of people(including those who do not have basic military training and discipline, who are of different ethnic and social origins, etc.), and last but not least - the "royal" name Spartacus. Today we use the Latin reading of its name, but in Thracian it sounded "Spartocus", worn by Thracian and Bosporus rulers (Spartacists, who ruled the Bosporus Kingdom, located on the Crimean and Taman Peninsula) in the period 438 - 108 BC. Hr.

Movies and books have imposed a completely false idea of the fate of Spartacus. The biggest editorial is about the end of his life. In art, he died tragically at the end of the rebellion (71 BC). The fact is, however, that no ancient source mentions such a death. This is all the more puzzling, given that the authors detail the death of the other leader of the uprising - the Celtic leader Crixus, as well as the unfortunate fate that befell the enemies of the Thracian hero - the Roman consuls Crassus and Pompey. There are only two conclusions that can be drawn: either that according to Thracian custom the body of Prince Spartacus was destroyed after his death (the hero, the king-god, must disappear from the world of mortals), or that Spartacus returned successfully in his homeland and took power over his people. If we accept the second assumption, years later his burial could not be ruled out to be a Spirit Mound. The funeral scenario is somewhat similar to that described above: a showy punishment for apostates and Romans.

This reconstruction is supported by the mass type of chariots found here, which are characteristic of the period 2-1 century BC. It is supported, of course, by the scale of the facility, in length - let us recall that it exceeds that of the Pyramid of Cheops. Spartacus left indelible traces in Rome, and later in the whole of European culture. What should be the memory and respect among his own people - a question that, unfortunately, does not seem to particularly excite Bulgarian scientists. They are not so excited that even the history textbooks present the film and literary, not the historical version of his life.

If we assume that the Spirit Mound is a memorial of revenge for Alexander or the memory of Spartacus, the number of chariots - 16, could be interpreted in the Orphic-Pythagorean sense or as a surrender of chthonic (underground) forces, or as a sign of complete perfection. (4x4). The number of victims from the grave area is extremely clear - 50 is a symbol of completeness and completeness (which is reflected, for example, in the Roman or Jewish jubilee). These 50 burials, however, could be of prominent Thracians, honored with a tomb near their great king.

The symbolism of the burials, however, would look very different if Duhova Mogila was a 4th century monument. Then everything should be considered in a Christian light and, which, incidentally, is the only one that allows to understand the name of the mound - Spiritual.


Author: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veselina Vachkova


1.The monument of Philip of Macedon in Plovdiv

2.Alexander the Great (mosaic, detail) 

3.The Dionysian priestess, mother of Alexander the Great, the woman with many names: Myrtala, Olympias, Startonika received at each new spiritual initiation

4.The tomb of Achilles, near Troy, today - Beshiktepe.