In Pliska, Bulgaria, archaeologists have unearthed a pre-Christian burial ground that dates to between the 7th and 9th centuries. The burial stems from both the Bulgar beliefs of Tengriism, and a combination of Slavic pagan rites. Currently the only information available about the mound is its location and that it is circular (Sofia Echo 2010).
However, previous excavation of mounds and sites such as these in Pliska have been done, and should create some doubt as to the conclusions of this current dig. Curta and Kovalev (2008) cite one similar burial mound excavated in Pliska. The first phase of excavation in 1984 around the mound revealed potsherds and animal bones, but the second phase in 1997 looked at the mound itself. They uncovered the remains of two horses, two dogs and a cat. The authors argue that this evidence shows that it was likely the mound was built for unknown purposes, and that the burials were sacrificial and put in later. The archaeologists argue it was an offering to a ruler.
Pre-christian Bulgaria was an important power in the middle ages, but after its conversion it become slowly overcome by other nations- so much to the extent that it was written into a marginal position in history. Excavations have been carried out on Bulgar period cemeteries before, with most of these burial sites being barrows- long tunnel like shafts with stone covering. All of the burial sites appear like this, and fit with the Tengriism ancestor worship. Burial sites have been fairly widely excavated in Bulgaria, especially during the 1960’s when they wanted to map the extent of the Bulgar nation (Co.
Given this information, how do we interpret this supposed burial mound? First, we need more information. That much is clear. Are there even human remains in the mound, or will it only reveal animal bones? Second, we need the media to stop reporting without evidence. If indeed this mound contains burials, it would represent an anomaly and therefore be an extremely significant find. The history on Bulgaria during this era is lacking, and good archaeology must be done to correct this situation. However, given the research done previously on burials, my guess is that it will only reveal animal bones, and reporting like this will only further hamper archaeology in Bulgaria (Curta and Kovalev 2008: 154).
Sophia Echo Staff. 2010. Archaeology: ancient Bulgar burial. http://www.sofiaecho.com/2010/09/21/963668_archaeology-ancient-bulgar-burial-ground-found
Curta and Koralev. 2008. The Other Europe in the Middle Ages. http://books.google.com/books?id=_-G1L-9Zec0C&dq=pre-christian+Bulgaria&source=gbs_navlinks_s