It might seem extraordinary, yet archaeologists believe what most of us thought to be a Thracian burial mound, recently excavated in Knazhevo village (only 12 Km from Srem), is very the likely site of an important iron making centre, dating back to the days of Alexander the Great and his successor in Thrace, Lysimachus.
According to Archaeology in Bulgaria, the 2,300 year old iron production site is of real regional significance and could have been the location where the weapons required for Alexander’s campaigns in India were crafted.
The website notes, “one of their main arguments has to do with the fact that virtually no other iron production centers from the time of Emperor Alexander the Great (including the period of his campaign to conquer India) and Lysimachus have been discovered on the territories of Ancient Thrace that they ruled over.”
“The archaeologists also hypothesize that under Alexander the Great and Lysimachus, the place, which seems to have also been the residence of a strategos (strategus), i.e. a local military governor, brought an era of prosperity for the region between the mountains of Strandzha and Sakar in today’s Southeast Bulgaria.”
Archaeologist at the site, Dichev told the website, “one of our hypotheses has to do with the end of Alexander the Great’s rule when in Babylon one of his strategoi – namely, the strategos of Thrace – brought a large amount of weapons from Thrace.”
“Precisely those weapons brought to Babylon were plated with gold and silver, and Alexander the Great headed with them towards India – on the ill-fated campaign from which he never returned.” he said.
“A large portion of those weapons were produced in Thrace. And, as a whole, such iron mining and such furnaces for the smelting of iron ore from this period have not been documented in [what was Ancient] Thrace so far,” he elaborates.
Archaeologists were prompted to excavate the site seven years ago, when the then assumed Thracian burial mound was raided by treasure hunters. Excavations initially unearthed a lavish provincial governor’s home with frescoes, running water, high quality tiles and a cellar containing many remnants of amphorae.
The lavishness of the home, archaeologists believe, was financed by the production of iron weaponry.
“All levels and paths were made [covered] with slag which is indicative of the mining of iron at the time when [the residence] was functioning,” says resident archaeologist Dichev.
He goes on, “the slag helps prevent the terrain from getting muddled. It was used as gravel which indicates the mining of iron ore in the area,” he adds.
According to the website, archaeologists also found a kiln, (a furnace for the processing of iron ore), and also discovered that in a later period, when the residence was no longer inhabited, the ruins of one of its original buildings were also used for the processing of iron ore.