At the Gradenshnitsa, Bulgaria, We Have Recovered The 7000 Years Old Ark Of The Orpheic (Orphic) Covenant With The First Covenant Tablet

“Culture Gradeshnitsa”

was an intrinsic part of “Culture Thracia”, and this became particularly evident after the decoding of the Thracian Pictographic text, present on the world-famous Votive Tablet from Gradeshnitsa by using the Guide Method, as was published in “The Thracian Script Decoded – Book I” by Dr. Stephen Guide.

That “Culture Gradeshnitsa” was not an “isolated” event, but was part of a much broader South-Eastern European complex, was first suggested by the famous Bulgarian archaeologist Bogdan Nikolov , who spent a lifetime of work on the site and on the subject, and in his book called The Gradeshnitsa Prehistoric Settlements, he made the following almost prophetic statement:

“The prehistoric settlements of the Gradeshnitsa type belong to a common South-Eastern European Complex… The settlements of the old, the late and the early chalcolithic period at Gradeshnitsa bring new light to the problem areas of the prehistoric past, not only on the Balkans and the South-Eastern European subcontinent, but also to the pre-historic period in West Asia Minor. Undoubtedly, they will trigger great interest among the most serious scientific circles and will raise new questions, as well as bring due corrections to the existing hypotheses and opinions, and thus, will inevitably lead to new more sound conclusions. This stems out of the fact that the prehistoric culture found at Gradeshnitsa, demonstrates a developed original style, and a finished classical form and tradition…”
(Bogdan Nikolov – The Gradeshnitsa Prehistoric Settlements, Science And Art Press, Sofia, 1974)

The Ancient Thracians’ Concepts about the Sacredness of Life at the Individual and the Community Levels, Temple Worship and the Ark of the Covenant, as expressed in the Artifacts from “Culture-Gradeshnitsa”.

“The Temple of God is my Fortress and Defense” – states the Votive Tablet from Gradeshnitsa. in its Covenant Text. The Temple of God, however, begins in the heart of the worshipper and the Thracian Scribe knew this fact. At the ancient Temple site at Gradeshnitsa we witness this knowledge engraved upon a 5000 BCE figurine, which has a hieroglyphic inscription depicting the “human heart”:

Exhibit A12 Photograph of Thracian Artifact #12
Exhibit B12 Computer Enhanced Photograph of Thracian Artifact #12
Exhibit C12 Schematic Drawing of Thracian Artifact #12 – Early-Thracian version of the Hieroglyphic Script
Exhibit D12 Stylized Hieroglyphic Transcript of Thracian Artifact #12 – Late-Egyptian version of the Hieroglyphic Script

Not only has the Thracian Pictogram listed above, its exact analogue in ancient Egypt, as shown in Exhibit D12, but most strikingly, it is a lot more “anatomically correct” as drawn at Gradeshnitsa, with its four cardinal blood vessels, compared to the Egyptian Hieroglyph with the same meaning, which displays only 2 separate ones, and an upper truncated area, less clearly defined! This fact can be considered “hard evidence” of superior knowledge of anatomy and medicine, which the ancient Thracians had thousands of years before any such knowledge existed in other places and among other people! In addition, the hieroglyphic word (“heart”) is pronounced “ieb”, which most likely produced its derivative word in the Bulgarian language “liebe” (“l-ieb-e”), meaning “sweet-heart” (“beloved”)!

Temple Worship, however, does not end only in the heart, or at the individual level. It is a community enterprise, and it requires community expression. The Thracian community at Gradeshnitsa, expressed its need of communal worship of God, by building a whole Temple Site, which in fact yielded all the found and analyzed artifacts in this book, which in the end are also the result of a community effort, which included archeological and linguistic “digs” and “restoration” work in our age and time.

The following artifact from this sacred Temple Site reflects the importance of Temple Worship in the eyes of the ancient priest / scribe:

Exhibit A13a Photograph of Thracian Artifact #13
Exhibit B13a Computer Enhanced Photograph of Thracian Artifact #13
Exhibit C13a Schematic Drawing of Thracian Artifact #13 – Early-Thracian version of the Hieroglyphic Script
Exhibit D13a Stylized Hieroglyphic Transcript of Thracian Artifact #13 – Late-Egyptian version of the Hieroglyphic Script

The artifact above is a ceramic (pottery) box, (that reminds astonishingly of a coffin, or sarcophagus, only much smaller in size!) and it represents a “Model” of a Temple richly engraved with repeated patterns and variations of а cardinal pictographic symbol – , which has its identical Egyptian analogue (from the Old Kingdom), meaning “Temple” (or “Home” of the Deity). The pictogram is pronounced “Orphei” (“Erphei”)* in the Boharic (North Egyptian) dialect, which means “Temple”, but what very few people have noticed so far (especially among Egyptologists!) is that “Orphei” is also accurately translated as “Orpheus” at the same time! And as already reviewed in Chapter 1 of this book, the Legendary ORPHEUS was the Thracian Patriarch equal to what Moses was to the Jews, and several independent of each other ancient traditions attribute to him the foundation of both the ancient Dionysian Religion and the Orphic Mysteries, as well as the essentials of all ancient Temple-worship, Temple-music and Temple-ritual, that have influenced all religious practices from his time to this very day! His own personal name was so closely related to the ancient concepts of Temple and Temple Practices, that in the end, (no wonder!) it became synonymous with the ancient word for “Temple” both in the Thracian speech and in the Boharic North-Egyptian dialect!

But in addition to that symbol, the above artifact has a few more pictograms, one of which is engraved right around its “entrance” aperture:


Exhibit A13b Photograph of Thracian Artifact #13
Exhibit B13b Computer Enhanced Photograph of Thracian Artifact #13
Exhibit C13b Schematic Drawing of Thracian Artifact #13 – Early-Thracian version of the Hieroglyphic Script
Exhibit D13b Stylized Hieroglyphic Transcript of Thracian Artifact #13 – Late-Egyptian version of the Hieroglyphic Script

In the Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, the above pictogram has the meaning of “coffin”, “sarcophagus”, or “sacred chest”. The earliest “coffins”, or “arks” (chests) in Egypt, for example, date from a much later time – the pre-dynastic period before the Old Kingdom (circa 3500-3100 BCE), and most of them were made of ceramic (“pottery”). “One type was an extension of the still earlier “pot-burials” – an oval pottery coffin to hold the contracted body. The other type was made of wood, and formed the prototype for all succeeding coffins and sarcophagi… Many were simple boxes without ornament, but early in the Archaic Period examples are found with sides constructed to show the so called “palacefacade’ motif” – a representation of the paneled exterior of a dwelling, reflecting the coffin’s status as the house of the deceased. Lids were sometimes flat, but generally they had a vaulted central section, with raised rectangular sections at either end. This seems to have signified the – which was to become characterized as the “per-nu”, the national sanctuary of Lower Egypt at Buto”
(pp 195, 287, The Mummy in Ancient Egypt, by Salima Ikram and Aidan Dodson, 1998 Thames and Hudson Ltd, London)

What the Egyptologists – authors of the work named above did not know, was the fact that the first most ancient prototype of the “national sanctuary”(or “per-nu” *** – ), was not found at Buto (the first capital of Egypt), but at the ancient Thracian Temple Site at Gradeshnitsa over 2000 years before Buto ever existed! Hence, the Thracian connection to Egypt once again! (Read more about that and the capital of Buto, in Book I of The Thracian Script Decoded – p.101)

Upon further scrutiny, our most ancient “chest”, or “coffin” from Gradeshnitsa, which clearly represents a “Model of a Temple”, has four very peculiar ornaments at its four cardinal upper corners, depicting faces of some “mythical creatures”. This brings to memory the finds of a number of similar coffins, or sarcophagi “guarded by Cherubs” from the Old Kingdom in Ancient Egypt, where the four cherubs had been named “Isis, Nephtys, Neith and Serkhet” and were known as goddesses. Now a typical example of such a “sacred chest”, or “coffin” is the gilded Canopic Shrine of Tutankhamun, guarded by the statues of the four goddesses at the four cardinal points. Another extraordinary and very peculiar symbol is flanking the “entrance” of the Temple model represented by our “sacred chest” from Gradeshnitsa and it appears to be of great significance by the mere position it had been appointed:


Exhibit A13c Photograph of Thracian Artifact #13
Exhibit B13c Computer Enhanced Photograph of Thracian Artifact #13
Exhibit C13c Schematic Drawing of Thracian Artifact #13 – Early-Thracian version of the Hieroglyphic Script
Exhibit D13c Stylized Hieroglyphic Transcript of Thracian Artifact #13 – Late-Egyptian version of the Hieroglyphic Script

The peculiar Thracian pictogram and its alternative symbols, as shown in Exhibit D13c above, are not typical for Ancient Egypt, but can be seen as “interlocked” hieroglyphic combinations, consisting of their respective symmetrical hieroglyphs, which, however, are typical Egyptian hieroglyphs:

The meanings of the above Egyptian hieroglyphs are the following:

“the palm of a hand”, or simply “hand”, the verb “to take”
“the measure of a palm” (of a hand), or simply “measure”, “span”, “palm-span” , “to take (a certain amount, or measure)”
“measure” (that is due), and in the case of – “tenth measure”, “ten”

It follows from the above that the possible interpretation of the symbols can be logically drawn to mean something like “measure for measure”, “take for take” (“tit for tat”), “hand-shaking”, “deal” (contract) and even “friendship”, which is in turn demonstrated by the following Egyptian hieroglyphs:

The fact that we use a very similar icon symbol for friendship and/or business deals in the 21st century, as illustrated below

can only confirm our suggestion that “covenant’ (“contract” and/or “friendship pact”) would most likely fit best the meaning of the above Thracian pictogram, especially because in ancient times “covenant”, “contract”, “friendship pact”, “measure for measure” and “take for take” were known to go “hand-in-hand” together.

To complete our review of the pictograms on the “sacred chest” from Gradeshnitsa, we need to consider the following two symbols, which also deserve our special attention:


Exhibit A13d Photograph of Thracian Artifact #13
Exhibit B13d Computer Enhanced Photograph of Thracian Artifact #13
Exhibit C13d Schematic Drawing of Thracian Artifact #13 – Early-Thracian version of the Hieroglyphic Script
Exhibit D13d Stylized Hieroglyphic Transcript of Thracian Artifact #13 – Late-Egyptian version of the Hieroglyphic Script

The hieroglyph has a phonetic value of “n” and stands for “of” (“belonging to”), and for “to, unto” in the English language.Notably, it has retained the same (“n”, or “na”) phonetic value in the modern Bulgarian language, which fact betrays linguistic connections to the ancient speech of the Thracians.

The hieroglyph or meaning “The One” (“The First One – Root of All”, or “The One God”), as already reviewed in the previous chapter of this book, is substituted here for the hieroglyph for “God”  , which according to a number of researchers in fact most likely has originated from it. Now we know that somehow the “sacred chest” from Gradeshnitsa has a combination of some very unique pictographic signs engraved upon it, which include the words and phrases: “Contract”, “of the One God”, “Sacred Chest” (“coffin”), and “Orpheus” (“Temple”).

But what makes the Gradeshnitsa “Temple Model” artifact especially notable, is the fact that it was found in proximity to the Gradeshnitsa Votive Tablet in the same Temple “Complex”, at the Eneolithic Gradeshnitsa Temple Site! As you may well remember, this Votive Tablet represented the First Covenant (Contract) between God and man ever recorded in history! (for more detail, go back to Chapter I of this Book, and Book I of The Thracian Script Decoded). In addition, the chest is of such size, that the Votive Tablet can fit exactly inside it. No wonder then, that the chest carries the pictogram (meaning “contract”, or “friendly pact”, i.e. “Covenant”) and the hieroglyph (meaning “Sacred Chest”, or “Sacred Ark”), are both engraved upon its frontal aspect! It obviously served the purpose of a “depository chest” for the Tablet of the Covenant, and was, therefore, only logically named by the ancient scribe “The Ark of the Covenant”! How can this be, some may ask? You mean like “THE ARK of the Covenant” that we have all read about and watched movies about? But, yes, of course -The Ark of The Covenant with the Tablet of the Covenant kept in it! WE HAVE FOUND THE LOST ARK!!!

However, this is definitely NOT the Mosaic Ark with the Two Tablets of the Covenant between God and the Jewish people! The Covenant (Votive) Tablet found at Gradeshnitsa states the name of Thrace and the Three-one God, who dwells in the Land of Thrace, and then states that the “God dwelling in the Temple (pronounced “Orphei” = Orpheus) is a mighty fortress and defense”! The passage may also mean that the “God, dwelling in Orpheus is a mighty fortress and defense”! Upon further analysis the whole Covenant text upon the Tablet may be understood as a Covenant between the people of Thrace (or their representative) and the God of Orpheus, i.e. the Three-one God, dwelling in Thrace!

In addition, the “Ark” box itself, has the same pictogram , (“Orphei”= Orpheus), linking the chest and the Covenant Tablet together!

Further survey of the artifacts shows that the Covenant Tablet’s size allows it to precisely fit inside the “Ark” (“chest”) upon one condition, and that is the condition in which the tablet did not go through the “entrance” (aperture) of the “ark”, which is in fact too small for the Tablet, “to go through”, but large enough for the Tablet to be “seen through” and/or “touched through”! Which means, that the Tablet had to be deposited in the “ark” prior “to closing”, or rather completing the ark’s roof (as it has no lid, but is made of one whole piece of clay)! This also means that the “Ark of the Orpheic Covenant” had to be baked (and thus completed) with the Tablet already inside of it. Thus the tablet itself would have already been baked and completed, and maybe even worn as a “sacred amulet” or “ritual relic”, some time prior to even being placed in the “ark”! This makes the Votive Tablet of Gradeshnitsa of somewhat older origin than the Covenant Ark which was obviously specially tailored to it in such a way, that once the Tablet was deposited inside it, it could be touched and seen (through the small aperture), but it could NEVER be taken out again, unless the “Ark” itself, was broken first!

And the reason that we have the Votive Tablet of Gradeshnitsa outside and separated from the “Ark” is the fact that IT WAS BROKEN FIRST! Evidence to that can be seen in the fact that all walls of the “Ark” in its present restored condition, are engraved with decorative repetitions of the pictograms described above, except only one side wall, which is totally messed and “blank” or devoid of any pictograms or decorations, or any patterns of any sort, for this matter! That wall was the “restored” wall, after the breaking of the “ark” and the taking out of the Covenant Tablet(s)! Whether this restoring occurred in “prehistoric”, or “modern” time, all the same, IT DID OCCUR! The Ark of the Covenant was broken. Was this a sign that the Covenant itself had been broken, similarly to the time (thousands of years later), when Moses broke the first Tablets of the Covenant of God, because in his absence the people had broken their covenant relationship with God? This we may never know. What we know, however, is that at Eneolithic Gradeshnitsa in Thrace, we have discovered The First Ark of the Orpheic (Orphic) Covenant and The First Tablet of this Orpheic (Orphic) Covenant – the Votive Tablet of Gradeshnitsa!

The logical question that comes to mind is, why then, didn’t the scribe just write it simply so – in just one line of hieroglyphs, rather than getting into the intricate pattern of decorative repetitions of the various pictograms upon different sections of the Temple Model chest, as seen above?

The answer may not be immediately obvious to many, yet it is quite transparent to those who have extensively studied the subject of “sacred writing calligraphy”, and the art of “sacred enigma encryption”, which both reveal that the ancients’ minds loved to “play with words” and their meaning, and produce intricate “sacred riddles”, by literally trans- positioning, inter-lacing, juxta-placing, and puzzle-wording their writings, to such an extent, that in the end, only the specially trained, or “initiated” in the mysteries eyes, could unravel the “secret meaning” of a sacred text. In addition, the ancient priests loved to say many things, using few words (or rather pictograms) by positioning them in a very special spatial (symmetrical, or asymmetrical) fashion (akin to a “mandala” of sorts!), in order to achieve that multi-level meaningful effect. In our case with the “chest from Gradeshnitsa”, the ancient scribe wanted to say simultaneously quite a few things, possible examples of which are listed below:

The Ark of God (or “the Holy Shrine of God”)
The Ark of Orpheus (the Temple)
The God of (in) Orpheus (the Temple)
The God of the Ark (or “God is in the Ark”)
God’s Covenant (Contract, Pact) (is) in the Ark
The Covenant of the Temple (Orpheus) of God
God’s Covenant with Orpheus (of the Temple)
etc, etc, etc…

Some of the meanings above contain also deliberate perplexing allusions expressing “conflicting”, or “confusing” ideas for the unprepared and “uninitiated”, but perfectly intelligible and “enlightening” to the ardent follower, like the following “riddles”:

“The Ark is of God”, but also somehow “God is in the Ark”, and “God is in Orpheus (His Temple)”?

“The Ark belongs to Orpheus”, but also “The Ark is in the Temple”, and “The Ark is in God”? “The Covenant is Orpheic (of Orpheus)”, but also it is “God’s Covenant”, and “God and Orpheus are bound by Covenant”?, etc, etc, etc…

In conclusion, we can summarize the above facts as follows:

  1. We have a special Chest with four faces of cherubs, that has the name of Orpheus, and the pictograms for “Ark” (“Sacred Chest”) and for “Covenant”, all engraved upon it, and its size is such that it can perfectly house the Votive Tablet from Gradeshnitsa.
  2. We have the Votive Tablet from Gradeshnitsa, which is the First Covenant between God and man ever written and recovered, and it was found in proximity to the Chest with the cherub faces, in the same Temple “Complex”, where the chest was located at the Gradeshnitsa Temple Site. The Covenant text written upon it also has an allusion to Orpheus, by mentioning the “God dwelling in Orpheus (Temple)”. In other words, in front of us is a finding of enormous human, religious, spiritual and historic value! At 5000 BCE Gradeshnitsa we have recovered the lost Ark of the Covenant with One of its Tablets. This, however, is definitely NOT the Mosaic Covenant between God and the Jewish people, which according to both documented historical record and Jewish tradition dates from a much later epoch (circa 1300 – 1200 BCE)! What we have at Gradeshnitsa are much earlier artifacts, dating from around 5000 BCE, and all records upon them testify to the fact, that the Gradeshnitsa Ark and Covenant Tablet represent the Orpheic Covenant between God and the people of Thrace, which (as the evidence suggests), was the most ancient and first ever recorded in history Covenant between God and His People. This makes the legacy of this discovery of such intrinsic value, that it certainly transcends its local and national importance, for its relevance has far reaching consequences for the whole continent of Europe, and unmatched meaning for our whole civilized world!

In Book II of The Thracian Script Decoded our research continues with more analyses of about twenty other notable artifacts from the Gradeshnitsa site, which bring further clarity into what was actually occurring in the Temple “as a continual sacred enactment of the Covenant Mystery”, the quintessence of which were, of course, the Ark and the Tablet of the Covenant.

See decoding of other artifacts containing the Thracian Script.

* in the Boharic (North Egyptian Coptic) Dialect
** N.B = “temple” in the Boharic (North Egyptian Coptic) Dialect “per nu”, or (“belonging to Orpheus”) “per” = “temple” in some other Egyptian dialects