Bulgarian Looters Couldn’t Get Their Hands on the Grave of an Unusually Tall Bronze Age Man Buried with a Severed Arm
Archaeologists in Bulgaria are fighting a battle against looting in the Black Sea town of Primorsko. Unfortunately, it seems grave robbers are getting ahead of the experts in the number of graves they’ve found. However there is one burial which has been saved from thieving hands…and it’s an unusual one.
A Bronze age man who was unusually tall for his time has been found in a tumulus (burial mound) in an area called Silihlyar, in the southeast of the country, according to Archaeology in Bulgaria . The man died about 4,000 years ago and was laid to rest on the edge of the burial mound. Daniel Pantov, Director of the Primorsko Museum of History, explained that the location of the grave means “Apparently, this was a secondary grave.” However, he went on to say, “It really made an impression on us that the man was rather large, and that the inside [of the grave] was decorated with red paint which is a symbol of power and might.” So the man seems to have been part of the elite, but not as elite as others who may be buried in the tumulus.
The archaeologists found the tall man’s grave during rescue excavations in 2017. They were distressed to find large pits had been dug by looters into the 4,000-year-old burial mound measuring about 7 meters (23 feet) high and 100 meters (328 feet) in diameter. “After we cleared them, we discovered this grave from the Bronze Age whose inventory consists of a dagger and a jar,” Pantov said .
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Part of the skeleton of the unusually tall Bronze Age man and his dagger. ( Nova TV )
Their initial analysis shows the skeleton belonged to a man who was about 1.90 – 2 meters (6 foot 3 – 6 foot 6 inches) tall. He would have been an unusually tall man during the Bronze Age in the region. The skeleton has not been examined by physical anthropologists yet, but apart from noting his odd height, Pantov says the team also was surprised to see his healthy looking teeth. In fact, they believe he generally had good health before his death. Pantov explained , “His teeth are very well preserved. Of course, the skull was crushed at some point by the weight of the soil. We have gathered all pieces, and we will probably have it restored, and exhibit it [the skeleton] in the museum.”
Another strange feature of the burial was the appearance of an extra limb. For some reason, the man was buried along with an extra severed arm. The experts are not sure if the arm was buried at the same time as the man or after. They are also undecided on the purpose of the strange grave good. “It probably might be connected with some kind of ritual – but whether [the person whose arm was added to the grave] was an aide to the buried one, or perhaps that was the arm of his killer – we have no way of knowing,” Pantov said .
The grave of the unusually tall Bronze Age man found in Bulgaria. ( Primorsko Museum of History/Nova TV )
There is another Bronze Age tumulus just 200 meters (650 feet) away from the one containing the unusually tall Bronze Age man. Regrettably, it too has been pillaged by looters. Pantov has made note of the dire situation of the looting of archaeological sites in the area and made an appeal to archaeologists to move quickly on excavating before there is nothing left.
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“Unfortunately, this other mound has also suffered from the treasure hunting invasion. It should be researched and saved because, the way it is going, in a few years we won’t have any intact archaeological sites left [because of the treasure hunters], and we should become engaged now so we can rescue whatever can be rescued.”
Aerial view of the excavated burial. Another looted grave was discovered nearby. ( Nova TV )
A few years ago, archaeologists in Bulgaria found another grave of a person of unusual proportions. In 2015 , archaeologists discovered the remains of a “huge skeleton” in downtown Varna, the ancient Greek city of Odessus. Archaeologists did not give details on exactly how “huge” the skeleton was, but they did say the bones were “impressive” and belonged to “a very tall man.” The experts believe that tall man may have died while he was building or at a ceremony near the ancient city walls in the late 4th or early 5th century AD.
Top Image: The grave of the unusually tall Bronze Age man found in Bulgaria. ( Primorsko Museum of History/Nova TV ) Representative image of the entrance to a tumulus near the town of Strelcha, Bulgaria. ( Public Domain )