Giant Face-like Rock Formations and a Rock Shrine Found in Bulgaria
Three huge rock formations that appear to depict human faces have been discovered in southern Bulgaria. They are estimated to be about 4,000 years old. The carvings, found in an area called Eagles’ Rocks near the town of Sarnitsa, measure 7 to 10 meters tall (23 to 33 feet). They are 30 to 40 meters (100 to 130 feet) above ground level.
On top of the area where the rock carvings were discovered there is a formation that may have been carved as a sacrificial altar, an astrological observatory, or both, Archaeology in Bulgaria reports.
Bulgarian experts told Archaeology in Bulgaria that they believed the ancient people made the carvings with stone tools about 5,000 years ago and that it was a laborious task to do the monumental works.
A photographer named Miroslav Chobanov discovered the rocks earlier this year while working in the Rhodope Mountains of the Haskovo District. The mountain chain is known for its magical natural landscapes plus many archaeological and historical monuments from different eras.
The prehistoric sacrificial altar / astronomical observatory at the Eagles’ Rocks shrine. The rock where it is located has been named Chobanov’s Rock, after its discoverer. (Miroslav Chobanov, Mediacafe)
The two experts, Ana Raduncheva and Stefanka Ivanova, both of the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, verified that humans carved the formations. The professors specialize in prehistory and are experts in the many prehistoric rock formations of Bulgarian mountains. Prof. Ana Raduncheva explains:
“Of course, there has been natural aeolation and rock decay but it is certain that a lot of human labor has been used. Nature can be deceptive but here the human activity is obvious. Actually, the two have been combined. Wherever there are caves, there are niches. And all of these niches are entirely human-made. In the Eastern Rhodope Mountains, most caves are actually human-made.”
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Chobanov and the two professors took a trip to the mountains to more closely examine the carvings. He made the discovery while photographing trails for the http://www.Mediacafe.bg website. Chobanov told Archaeology in Bulgaria:
“About a month ago, as we were taking photos of the eco trails, I came across a human head hewn into the rock. I had climbed up using a climbing rope up to a height of about 40 meters, from where I saw this side face profile of a male human face. I wondered what to do in order to make this find known. We started banging the phones, and we eventually managed to get in touch with Prof. Raduncheva and Assoc. Prof. Ivanova from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and they agreed to come over.”
The three later climbed the rocks and discovered two more face carvings and the shrine atop a cliff. Chobanov said the rock formations atop the cliff resemble sacrificial altars at Angel Voivoda and Tatul, two other sacred sites in the Rhodope Mountains.
A feature, said to be of a human profile, carved into the Eagles’ Rocks shrine. (Archmdmag.com)
The archaeologists confirmed the shrine formation, too, was carved by humans. It includes a rock-hewn staircase and trapezoid niches carved into the rock. Raduncheva says:
“The people from the plains created these shrines in the mountains. In certain days and hours which they knew they had to be there to meet with their gods, and to offer sacrifice, they would go up to the shrines. It is also possible that they went from one shrine to the next but we cannot determine their [shrine routes] for certain. After [this prehistoric civilization], the Ancient Thracians used parts of these shrines, though not the entire holy territory. And then came later ages when the shrines were no longer used as originally intended. A number of them were turned into medieval fortresses.”
The face carvings and shrine are part of a larger “holy” area in the northern Rhodope Mountains, where prehistoric and later peoples made many monuments, the experts told Archaeology in Bulgaria. Similar shrines are found in the Sredna Gora and Balkan mountains.
A stairway up the cliffs to what is believed to be a prehistoric shrine at the Eagles’ Rocks in Bulgaria. (Haskovo.net)
Archaeologists and historians believe people who did these works of art and monuments were possibly of the first European civilization, predating Thrace by about 2,000 years.
“This was one of the most developed prehistoric civilizations, and we have the honor that it inhabited our territories,” Dr. Ivanova told Archaeology in Bulgaria. “This was the first European civilization. Not a culture but a civilization. These were the people who were the first in the world to process gold, who extracted rock salt which at the time equaled the worth of gold, and who had a very developed religious system, and conducted very serious astronomical observations.”
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The archaeologist told Archaeology in Bulgaria that the “name of this prehistoric European civilization which existed before the Ancient Thracians could not be known because it had no script and left no written sources.” But, she said that they civilization is known to have “raised livestock and employed agriculture for a living, but also hunted extensively. It had in-depth knowledge of astronomy which was kept by a class of priests serving the rock shrines.”
The Archaeology in Bulgaria blog says this “major rock shrine” was carved during the Copper Age, around 3500 to 3000 BC. They found potsherds of the same era nearby. “This is a very pleasant discovery," Raduncheva told local news site Haskovo.net in a video interview.
The third of the faces at the rock shrine. (Miroslav Chobanov, Mediacafe)
Not all are convinced of the veracity of the discovery however, and the Archmdmag.com site, which is written by archaeologists, casts doubt on the idea that these rock formations were carved by humans. They call it a case of possible Pareidolia - seeing something significant in ordinary things.
Featured Image: One of three possible human faces carved into the Eagles’ Rocks in the Rhodope mountains in Southern Bulgaria. Source: Miroslav Chobanov, Mediacafe
By Mark Miller