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  BELANTASH


   The rock sanctuary of Belantash(pronounced as "Belantash" and "Beliantash" in some local Bulgarian dialects) is located in in the central part of the Rhodope Mountains, Dobrostan mountain massif, in 30 km the south-east from Asenovgrad town. It is one of the largest Thracian sanctuaries in the Rhodope Mountains. In the vicinity are located and other sacral places such as: Karadzhov Kamuk, Haydushki Kamuk, In Kaya, Shilnestiya Kamuk Pitvoto and Krustova Gora.
    The first archaeological studies conducted on Belintash by archaeologists Rossica Moreva - Arabova and Georgi Velev from Historical Museum of Asenovgrad took place in 1975. Since 2010 has begun regular archaeological studies of the site with scientific Director Dr. Borislav Borislavov with a team of archaeologists from The National Museum of History - Sofia. The etymology of the word "belantash" comes from the local dialect "belan" - white or beautiful, and the Turkish word "tash" - stone, which means "white stone" or "beautiful stone".
    The rocky plateau/massif/ of Belintash is at altitude of 1256.9 m, with an approximate area of 10 acres, elongated in the direction of the northeast-southwest. The archaeological site covers the surface of the plateau with his foot closely from all its sides. According to the artifacts, the chronological period of the existence of Belintash was determined by the end of 5th millennium BC/late Stone - Copper Age/ to 4-5th century BC /early Middle Age/. It is assumed that the sanctuary was operated most actively by the Thracian tribe Bessi in the Ist century BC. Steps, altars, carved round holes, used for sacrifices and purifying, trails chutes and reservoirs have been cut on the upper platform of the plateau. According to the archaeo-astronomers the plateau was used as sanctuary used by ancient Thracians as well as a solar observatory - to satisfy the needs of certain agricultural and religious activities of society at the time.
    A silver votive plate with the representation of Thracian God Sabazius was found among the rocks. It is kept now in the collections of Bulgarian National Institute of Archaeology with Museum at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. There is an argument concerning the authenticity of mentioned above silver votive plate in favour of the claim that it was planted in present days, aiming at the creation of a legend of its ancient origin.
    The ancients considered Sabazios was Phrygian deity that permeated from Asia Minor in Thrace. Ancient Greek authors linked Sabazios with Dionysus, God of mysteries and ecstasy, fertility and death, God of wine and theater, of sweet bliss and terrifying madness. Some researchers suggest that Belantash is the sanctuary of Dionysus in the Rhodopes.