The US embassy in Bulgaria will finance restoration and preservation efforts at Bulgaria’s Sveshtari Thracian tomb, a Unesco world heritage site, the US ambassador in Sofia Eric Rubin said on October 23.
The money, a grant of $184 000, will come from the US ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation and will be used for the conservation, restoration, and a modernised display of the Sveshtari Tomb “in order to contribute positively to Bulgaria’s cultural preservation and tourism industry,” the embassy said in a statement.
Proposed by Bulgaria’s Credo Bonum Foundation, which will also oversee the project, it includes repair and renovation of significant parts of the tomb, as well as professional light installations, educational exhibits, and other improved tourist infrastructure.
The tomb is estimated to attract about 50 000 visitors a year, but the site is currently not designed to handle such numbers, nor long-term conservation, the embassy said.
A unique example of Mediterranean sepulchral architecture, the Sveshtari tomb was built in the 3rd century BCE to house the remains of a wealthy Getae tribe ruler who was buried there along with his horses.
The most notable decorations inside the tomb surround the burial chamber, namely 10 columns sculpted as women, known as caryatids, whose chitons are in the shape of an upside down palmette. This kind of sculpture is otherwise unseen in the region.
This is the latest in a series of conservation projects financed by the US embassy, which also includes the preservation of the Saint John Aliturgetos Church in Nessebur, scheduled to reopen next month, the embassy said.
In total, the US embassy in Bulgaria has spent nearly $1.08 million since 2002 in the preservation of Bulgarian cultural heritage.
(US ambassador Eric Rubin, photo: US Embassy in Bulgaria)