The ruins of the ancient city of Perperikon
|Location||Kardzhali Province, Bulgaria|
The ancient Thracian city of Perperikon (also Perpericon; Bulgarian: Перперикон, Greek: Περπερικόν) is located in the Eastern Rhodopes, 15 km northeast of the present-day town of Kardzhali, Bulgaria, on a 470 m high rocky hill, which is thought to have been a sacred place. The village of Gorna Krepost ("Upper Fortress") is located at the foot of the hill and the gold-bearing Perpereshka River flows nearby. Perperikon is the largest megalith ensemble site in the Balkans.
The name "Perperikon"
The name Perperikon dates from the Middle Ages – 11th–13th centuries. The original name Hyperperakion was shortened by scribes to Perperakion or Perperikon. There are at least two theories about the origin and meaning of the name, both associating it with gold-mining: The city may have been named after a Medieval high-temperature gold-refining process (Medieval Greek hyperpyros), or the resumed use of a classical-era name for the site, derived from a word for altar-fire (ancient Greek hyperpyros).
Human activity in the area dates back to 5000 BCE. The first traces of civilization on the hill date from the Bronze Age, while the ceramics found on the place date from the Early Iron Age, as well as the impressive round altar, almost 2 m in diameter, hewn out of the rocks.
It is thought that a famous Temple of Dionysius was located at Perperikon during the classical era.
Archaeologists have uncovered a giant multi-story palace and an imposing fortress built around the hill, with walls as thick as 2.8 m. This dates from the time of the Roman Empire. Temples and residential quarters were also constructed in the fortress. The megalithic complex has been laid in ruins and re-erected many times throughout history.
A church pulpit was found by Bulgarian archeologists at the peak of the Thracian rock sanctuary on 10 September 2005. It is thought to be the first found in Bulgaria. The pulpit was probably built at the end of the 4th century CE or the early 5th century during the reign of Byzantine Arcadius and coincided with the period of the christening of the Thracians in the Rhodopes area.
The church foundations are laid out in the form of a single nave basilica of 16.5 m length, which is the most typical form of an early Christian temple. The pulpit is exceptionally well preserved and is richly decorated with ornaments incised on the stone, including a clearly-visible eagle with outstreached wings. It also bears five inscriptions in Greek.
Other sites named Perperek
- "The Gold of Perperikon". Perperikon.bg.
- "Medieval Archaeological Complex Perperikon – town of Kardzhali". BulgariaTravel.org. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- Webber, Christopher; McBride, Angus (2001). "The Thracians 700 BC–AD 46". Men-at-Arms. p. 6.
... after Sitalkes' death, Xenophon would find that Medokos (based at Perperikon, twelve days' journey inland from the sea) called himself the king of Thrace. Medokos however was unable to stop Seuthes ...
- "Bulgarian archaeologist shows off Perperikon finds". Novinite.com. 18 October 2010.
- "New tourist center to be built in the Rhodopes". Standart, Arts & Culture. 11 September 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
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