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Tombstone with a funeral feast scene, Plovdiv Archaeological museumTombstone with a funeral feast scene, Plovdiv Archaeological museum

The greatest of the Philippopolis necropoles, the western one, morphed after the same logic. It appeared around the end of the 1st Century between the hills called now Bunardzhik and Dzhendem Tepe. While the city prospered and expanded in the 2nd and the middle of the 3rd centuries, the cemetery moved further west around the foot the Dzhendem Tepe. The site was possibly deemed sacred ground, as the temple of Apollo Kendrisos stood on the top of the hill. In the tumultuous times of the second half of the 3rd and the 4th centuries, however, the city shrank in size. The necropolis crept eastwards and reached the western city wall by the Sahat Tepe hill. The western necropolis was abandoned by the end of the 4th Century.

The last of the city's necropoles was to the north, on the opposite bank of the Maritsa River. Several burial mounds and other structures have been discovered in it. The cemetery's life coincides with the prosperous 2-3rd centuries.

Death can teach you a lot not only about the life of the cities, but also about the people living in them. The ethnicity of the Philippopolis inhabitants is but an example. Thracians were usually cremated and buried in mounds. The bodies of Greek and Italian settlers were laid under a tombstone or in stone sarcophagus. However, with time and the changes in lifestyle, the rituals morphed. Influenced by the Roman civilization, rich Thracians gave up mound-building for tombstones and sarcophagi. Yet, they stuck to cremation and would often put the Thracian God Rider on their tombstones. In burial context, the horseman symbolized the semi-god that the deceased would become. The Romans and the Greeks had another image with the same meaning – it depicted the deceased feasting.


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