Sunday, 27 August, 2000
Cash crisis for ancient temple
By Ray Furlong in Bulgaria

The remains of an ancient Thracian temple, uncovered recently in central Bulgaria, may have to be filled in again because archaeologists have been unable to secure funding for further digging at the site.

The temple, which dates back to the fifth century BC, is believed to be the largest yet found.

The temple is hidden inside a mound of earth overlooking a valley in central Bulgaria. 

An enormous stairway leads inside past well-preserved walls which still bear black and red stripes - symbols of worship to two Thracian gods.

Archaeologists who discovered this site say it is the most impressive and complete Thracian monument they have found in 30 years of work.

Tourist attraction

 High-level religious ceremonies were conducted at the Bronze Age temple and one of Thrace's most powerful kings is entombed there. But the site is in danger. 

The archaeologists say $150,000 is needed to restore and conserve it, but the Bulgarian Government does not have the money and has suggested reburying the site once excavations are completed.

Private sponsors are also hard to come by. 

The archaeological dig has so far uncovered an array of coins, arrow tips and religious objects at the site, although the lack of any gold and silverware suggests that it was raided by thieves in past centuries.

Archaeologists say it has the potential to be an interesting tourist attraction in a country where tourism is a key earner of foreign exchange. 

But it could be that the 2,500-year-old building will again disappear beneath the earth.