Death

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In Antiquity, the sarcophagus design mirrored that of temples. A sarcophagus from the Plovdiv Archaeological Museum lapidariumIn Antiquity, the sarcophagus design mirrored that of temples. A sarcophagus from the Plovdiv Archaeological Museum lapidarium

The influence was two-way. In Philippopolis, tombstones adorned with both the Thracian Rider and the feasting scene, as if the deceased wanted to be on the safe side, have been discovered.

Christianity imposed a unified burial rite - all dead were inhumed, with their feet facing east. Most of the graves were covered with bricks. The wealthiest built small tombs and decorated them with frescoes, symbolically depicting the bliss of  Heaven. One of the finest in Philippopolis and in modern-day Bulgaria, although burgled long ago, was discovered in 2012. The family tomb from the beginning of the 4th Century preserves the only fresco in the country of the rising of Lazarus.

Graves and tombs tell of the changes in the city and the nation's economy, too. The western necropolis is a good example. In the prosperous 2-3rd centuries wealthy people were buried in expensive and nicely built tombs from bricks and mortar. During the turbulent 4th Century the tombs here were built from material taken from the ruins of earlier buildings.
 
The decreased popularity of grave mounds among the Thracian nobility could indicate a change in both the economy and society. Slavery was never big in Thrace, so aristocrats probably used free labour to build expensive mounds. In 212, however, Emperor Caracalla (198-217) gave Roman citizenship to all free men in the state. The aristocracy lost their power over poorer Thracians and gave up mound building. The crisis after the 251 Goth invasion probably also played a role for the gradual abandonment of the rite.

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