January 11, 2018 at 3:48 pm #21800
The three different kinds of disks can be observed – complete, concave and partially destroyed. Photo Laura Boeva
The sacred site is located in South-East Bulgaria, Yambol county, by the village Melnitsa, close to neighbouring Turkey. It is called Melnitsa (Мелница) or Mochukovi Kamuni (Мочукови камъни).
It hasn’t been dated as no archaeological or biological material has been discovered yet that would allow dating.
Description and surrounding area
The site consists of four groups of rocks projecting out of the ground as it were, spread around a large area. They are situated on hills, at a higher elevation compared to the general landscape. The distance between the groups is about 150-200 m. As you approach the rocks the ground is level and the rocks somewhat rounded, while on the opposite side they are sharp and craggy. The disks are almost all on the rounded, level side of the rocks, where it also seems according to our observations that more soil has piled up.
Looking at the second group of rocks from the ‘craggy’ backside. Photo Laura Boeva
There are two streams running at the base of the hills. The landscape in general is grassy, with areas of overgrown bush, and oak trees growing here and there in groves or separately. According to our observation, besides these groups, there are no other large stones in the area, which nowadays seems to be used for animal pasture.
Another sacred site in the region called Cabyle is located similarly in such a grove – an open forest of short oak trees interspersed with sunny meadows (’дъбрава’). There is a theory that the name Cabyle even contains the term ’holy grove’ which indicates this type of landscape.
There are no known solstice or equinox alignments, however there are more than 200 solar disks of varying diameter and thickness hewn in the rocks in the Melnitsa sacred site. Some of them are only outlined in the rock, while many clearly protrude out of the rock. The latter ones are 10-15 cm thick and 40-80 cm in diameter. Part of them have been preserved intact, while some have had parts broken off due to weather conditions throughout the centuries. From what we saw, many have been partly buried by soil. Some of the disks, instead of protruding, are concave circular shapes in the rock. We haven’t heard whether it is thought that they were purposely made concave or whether the disk had been first carved and then cut out for some reason. There is a theory that the locals used to cut them out to use for millstones, but this has been refuted. From what we were able to see, their placement in the rocks doesn’t seem to follow a precise plan or pattern.
These disks are behind the second rock group. A well preserved protruding one on the left, and a concave hole on the right (a little hard to spot). Photo Laura Boeva
We also observed round cut marks around some stones. On many protruding disks they are nearly worn away, but can still be observed on some of the disks that were outlined in the rock. Interestingly, we observed the same marks around the solar disks at the sacred site Paleokastro.
According to V. Fol, I. Iliev and S. Bakurdchiev, the solar disks have been carved on the side of the rocks which faces North-East, i.e. the direction of the rising sun, while there are two disks that face the sunset. During our personal visit to the site we also found two disks that lie flat horizontally on the ground. However, when we casually measured the direction of the disks using our compass app, we found that all of them were facing North or North-West (except the flat lying ones, which face up to the sky).
Measuring the direction that the disk faces. Photo Laura Boeva
There are basins in the area (which is common for Bulgarian ancient sacred sites) as well as flat areas carved by humans. The depth of the basins is unknown however as they have been naturally filled in throughout the ages and the exact depth hasn’t been measured.
A basin behind the first rock group. There was still water inside. Photo Laura Boeva
Most of the ancient rock carved solar disks in Bulgaria have been discovered in this region. There are two other similar sacred sites there – the solar sacred site Paleokastro (near the town Topolovgrad) and the sacred site near “Arnautskata cheshma” (near the village Srem). The other few Bulgarian sacred sites that have been discovered with solar disks are scattered throughout the country.
According to Thracologist Valeria Fol, from the way the disks have been carved and grouped, as well as from the presence of nearby flattened areas and basins, it is possible to find similarities between this sacred site and ones discovered in ancient Phrygia (modern Turkey).
Photo gallery of the site by Laura Boeva
Pavlin Boev helped with the translation from Bulgarian.January 13, 2018 at 10:42 am #21884
This looks like a beautiful landscape, thank you for sharing Laura (and Pavlin)!
Those protruding discs are really intriguing, as is their orientation. I also like the difference between the roundness of one side of the rocky formation, and the cragginess of the other. Maybe it was done by the weather influences (the winds, water/rain?), but it is interesting. The little stony basins full of water are neat too. I saw something similar in rocky mountains in the USA, but those were not so deep.
I was also wondering, why are those protrusions called “solar discs”? Did somebody do a research, finding their connection to a possible sun-oriented worship?
Anyway, this looks like one of the sites I would like to visit on my future visit to Bulgaria. 😉January 13, 2018 at 9:07 pm #21892
Wow, that is very interesting. Just the rock formations and their weathering alone seems to tell such a long story. The amount of effort and purpose carving out all those discs must of been prodigious. I wonder if the purpose was for solar worship or some other reason lost to the past. Those basins filled with water do seem to echo certain characteristics found at other spiritual megalithic locations.January 15, 2018 at 9:35 am #21939
@lucia, they don’t mention that. Maybe it was by way of association with other similar sites, or assumption, intuition, thracology/archaeological experience? I suppose they could have connected the known worship of the Sun God of the Thracians with the disks that they measured are oriented to the sunrise?
There is a very similar site in the region, Paleokastro, mentioned briefly in the post. All about it is very similar, the craggy stones with the disks on the Eastern side, the build up of soil on the Eastern side, sunrise orientation of the disks, concave and protruding disks, round little holes around them, etc. A winged sun disk was found there (similar to ones in Egypt) and it is generally considered a place of ancient sun worship.
@adam, I agree that to go through the trouble of carving lots of disks would have been significant. The basins seem to be a consistent feature at many sacred sites around the world (definitely many Bulgarian/Thracian ones).January 16, 2018 at 8:00 pm #21972
It was a particularly interesting experience for me because all these sites were located very close to where I’ve grown up. They all felt special and it was uplifting just to spend some quiet time there. But I also discovered how connected I feel to that particular area – both landscape and nature.
We’d spend some time travelling to more distant sites, but I didn’t realize these special places were at “my doorstep” until we actually came across one and then looked for more.
Makes me think perhaps most people can probably find a sacred site near them or not too far away, but (as in my case) we can tend not to pay attention to what is in front of us. 🙂January 18, 2018 at 4:09 pm #22001
That’s wonderful and mysterious how you feel connected to that landscape Pavlin, thanks for sharing.
Interestingly enough I had two such things recently as well. One was where I heard some semi-modern music, simple songs that use vocals, from the country I’m from. I’d considered that there was no solid sacred spiritual presence in modern culture, but to my surprise the song was actually passing through a very spiritual sense. So unexpected.
Also a month or two ago I also went on a little adventure with a friend to check out some sacred sides ‘on my doorstep’ (10 minutes away from where a close relative of mine lives.) Driving there felt surprisingly special somehow and adventures, as if all of a sudden in the areas you know well hidden mystery could be found. And what do you know, just behind a farm (which was build right next to it), there was an ancient sacred site of Dolmen! In a good state and quite huge. Felt quite surreal. I’ll post something about it at some point. There happened to also be a little circle/grove of oak trees. Descendants of even more ancient oaks that stood there perhaps?
Anyway not to stray off topic too much, but it’s wonderful to hear about you guys’ explorations of local sites.January 19, 2018 at 9:44 am #22019
Thanks Laura and Pavlin – another chapter in the Bulgarian series! It’s amazing to me the breadth and diversity that sacred sites and solar-related works comes in.
@ Pavlin & Karim – I can really relate to the feeling you have about being connected to your own land’s mystery, and how so much emerges when you start to pry. Perhaps there’s something about our ancestors having once used these particular sites, or just that we’re born in one part of land on earth and so our body is therefore also made up from that unique bit of land and thus somehow resonates more with it. Saying that, I’ve felt mysterious affinities with far-away places that much be much older memories stirring within me.
I really hope this project helps to encourage people to seek out the remains of solar-religion practise in their surroundings!January 20, 2018 at 7:58 pm #22082
@laura that looks like a lovely place! I recently read through a book about Easter island (Aku Aku, by he same guy of the Kontiki expedition), and it reminds me somewhat (albeit on a smaller scale) of the statue quarry.
it seems like the concave disks were probably where “completed” disks were removed, and the complete ones are either midway done (not removed yet) or flawed and abandoned. Many statues were found that way on Easter island, still connected to the rock. This all makes me wonder what their purpose is. It seems like they could easily be millstones or wagon wheels of some sort. How was that refuted, and are there cultural indications of what their use could have been?
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