SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) - Archaeologists in southern Bulgaria have located the remains of what they believe to be the capital of a Thracian kingdom in the latest of a series of major Bronze Age finds, state radio reported Thursday.
Parts of the ancient Perperikon were unearthed around a three-story palace dating from the fifth or fourth century B.C., discovered a week ago near the village of Perperek, some 200 miles southeast of Sofia, head researcher Nikolai Ovcharov told the radio.
Perperikon is believed to have been the capital of the Odrisses, a Thracian tribe, which had established a state over what today is southeastern Bulgaria and European Turkey in the fifth and fourth century B.C., Ovcharov said.
The city, including a fortress and a residential section, was one of the Thracians' holy places, rife with sacrificial altars, the oldest of which dates back to 2000 B.C., Ovcharov told the radio.
He said there was evidence that the Thracians, known for their advanced fine arts and crafts, have also conducted astronomical observations of the sun from their city, nested in the Rhodope Mountain.
The Thracian rulers' palace located earlier in the area includes a staircase hewn into a rock and leading up three floors with intact internal corridors and at least 20 well-preserved rooms.
In a similar find earlier this month near the village of Starosel, 100 miles east of Sofia, archaeologists discovered the tomb of what appears to have been a Thracian ruler. The tomb is next to the biggest Thracian temple found to date in Bulgaria.
Articles in the tomb, including a gold tiara and a gold ring depicting a Thracian horseman piercing a wild boar, were dated to the fifth century, B.C. and suggest it was a royal burial site, experts said.
Other items found include four silver and eight bronze vessels, ancient Greek ceramics, a bronze shield, a helmet, swords and arrows with bronze tips.