While it’s not uncommon to read about archaeologists—or “gold rush” tomb robbers—to uncover troves of Thracian gold treasures in Bulgarian tombs, it’s more than a little unusual to find an entire chariot buried in the ground…
…along with the horses that pulled it!
Yes, that’s right! A 2,500-year-old set of horse skeletons and the chariot they likely pulled while living was uncovered in a Thracian tomb in northeast Bulgaria. According to Professor Diana Gergova (National Archaeology Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), “the find is unique, it is not resembling any other carriage dating from the Thracian era ever uncovered in Bulgaria.”
Treasure hunters have plundered the vast majority of the mounds in the area, searching for gold and other ancient artifacts to sell on the underground antiquities market—which is why this find was so surprising.
The chariot within the burial is Thracian in origin, and the horses appear to have been buried standing upright—which means they were likely led into the tomb pulling the chariot, and killed once they reached their final resting place.
Nearby the chariot was also a dog skeleton—chained to the cart—and the grave of the carriage-owing warrior. Archaeologists also found his spears, swords, armor, medication, and an inkwell, suggesting that the man was well educated.
While the thought of horses and dogs killed and buried along with someone in a tomb certainly tugs on the heartstrings, objectively, this is a very important find—especially considering that up to 90% of the area’s ancient tombs have been partially or completely destroyed by treasure hunters.