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Madara Rider
Site number:
Type of site: Cultural
Date: 705-801 AD
Date of Inscription: 1979
Location: Europe, Bulgaria, Village of Madara, Province of Shumen
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Description: Near the village of Madara in north-east Bulgaria, lays a 100-m-high cliff carved with the Madara Rider, representing the figure of a knight triumphing over a lion. Before Bulgaria converted to Christianity in the 9th century, Madara was the primary sacred place of the First Bulgarian Empire. Inscriptions surrounding the sculpture inform viewers of events that occurred between A.D. 705 and 801. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  The Madara Rider or Madara Horseman (Bulgarian: Мадарски конник, Madarski konnik) is an early medieval large rock relief carved on the Madara Plateau east of Shumen in northeastern Bulgaria, near the village of Madara. Monument: The relief depicts a majestic horseman 23 m above ground level in an almost vertical 100-metre-high cliff. The horseman, facing right, is thrusting a spear into a lion lying at his horse's feet. An eagle is flying in front of the horseman and a dog is running after him. The scene symbolically depicts a military triumph. The monument is dated back to circa 710 AD and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979. The dating means the monument was created during the rule of Bulgar Khan Tervel, and supports the thesis that it is a portrayal of the khan himself and a work of the Bulgars, a nomadic tribe of warriors which settled in northeastern Bulgaria at the end of the 7th century AD and after merging with the local Slavs gave origin to the modern Bulgarians. Other theories connect the relief with the ancient Thracians, claiming it portrays a Thracian god. Three partially preserved texts in Medieval Greek, carved in the rock, can be found around the image of the rider. They bear important information regarding the history of Bulgaria in the period. According to Professor Veselin Beshevliev and his book Protobulgarians, the oldest inscription is the work of Tervel (695-721 AD), thus the relief has also been created during his rule. The other inscriptions refer to the khans Krum (796-814 AD) and Omurtag (814-831 AD) and were most likely carved on their order. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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