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by Archaeology Newsroom

Rock-carved Tombs and Rituals in the Land of Cicones

The cult of the sun was spread in Thrace during the last phase of the Bronze Age. The countless schematic representations of the sun, carved on the Palaeokastro rock, in Petrota of Rodope and in Nipsa of Evros, in combination with Makrobius’ information regarding the existence of a cyclical temple with a central roof opening on the Zilmissos hill, reveal the affiliation of this Dionysiac sanctuary with the cult of the sun, a deity related both with the god of vegetation and that of the kingdom of the dead. The carved tombs of Thrace, or the conchs on the mountain rocks, eastwards orientated so as to catch the beneficial sunbeams, are monuments expressing the belief of the Thracians in the immortality of the soul. In addition, they were serving as the last dwelling of kings and leaders, they symbolized the unification of the solar and chthonic cult and were centers of ritual offerings and cult. Close to Boz-tepe, just six kilometers away from the village Avantas in the Alexandroupofis province, three tombs have been carved on the east, northeast and north side of an isolated rock. The first comprises one vertical and two transverse conchs, each having a different function: the central one was purposed for the placement of the dead, the second for offerings, the third probably for offerings or libations or even for bloody sacrifices. An oblong slab was closing the entrance of the tomb neatly and tightly. Two more elongated, spacious conchs for burials have been carved on the north and northeast side of the rock; they are surrounded by smaller openings, appropriate for the placement of offerings.