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Thracian heritage of Bulgaria

Started by Hatshepsut, 08 November 2018, 06:58:15

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08 November 2018, 06:58:15 Last Edit: 08 November 2018, 07:06:35 by Hatshepsut

Golden Mask of a Thracian king

Archeologists have discovered a 2,400-year-old golden mask that was likely made for a Thracian monarch's funeral. The mask depicts a full face with moustache and beard. The rare artifact is made of 600 grams of solid gold and "is without paragon in archeology," according to Georgi Kitov and his team that unearthed the find in the summer of 2004 near the village of Shipka, in the so-called Valley of Thracian Kings. The mask may belong to King Seutus III, the Thracian  king who ruled in the fifth century BC. Besides the mask, archeologists also found a golden ring showing a rower, and many bronze and silver vessels. No remains have been found but archeologists continue to excavate the tomb.

Panagyurishte Treasure

While digging for clay for brick-making near the town of Panagyurishte in Sredna Gora mountain of central Bulgaria, a team of workmen came upon what was obviously an important treasure. Panaguyrishte treasureWhen finally unearthed, it was found to consist of a phial  and eight rhytons, one shaped like an amphora and the others like heads of women or animals. Dated to the turn of the fourth and third century BC, the find was sensational, not only for its weight in gold - over 6 kg, but also for the originality of its forms.

Rogozen Treasure

  The Rogozen treasure, called the find of the century, was also discovered by chance. In this case the finder was a tractor driver, who in the autumn of 1985 was digging a trench in his garden when he discovered a collection of sixty-five silver receptacles. On January 6, 1986, in a second trench near the first one, a hundred more receptacles were found by the archaeologists of the local museum. The treasure consists of hundred and eight phials, fifty-four jugs and three goblets. All the objects are silver and some with a golden gilt. Their total weight is twenty kilograms. Rogozen treasure
The ornamentation, embossed in relief, is different in every case. This variety of motifs and decorative elements makes the Rogozen Treasure an invaluable source of information for the fifth and fourth centuries, BC.Several of these pieces seem to had been imported, but most were made in Thracia.

Vulchitrun Treasure

The treasure was discovered by accident on 18 December 1924 by two brothers who were deep-ploughing their field four kilometers from the village of Vulchitran, Pleven district. The ploughmen stumbled across 13 gold objects at a depth of about 40-cm. It consists of 13 vessels - a large, deep vessel with two handles, one big and three small cups with one handle each, two big and five smaller discs. All items are made of solid gold, the total weight is 12.425 kg. The vessels were used in cult ceremonies. This treasure is the most remarkable example of the art of the Later Bronze Age in Thracia (XIII-XII c. BC).

Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis


The Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis which experts qualify as "the world's oldest gold" and  a trace of "Europe's most ancient civilization" was a sensational discovery. It is situated about 500m to the north of Lake Varna and about 4 km to the west of the downtown. In 294 graves were discovered more than 3000 golden objects dating back 6000 years. In Hall 6 of Varna Museum of History is exhibited the whole inventory from some of the most significant graves. On both sides of the entrance are represented the graves with masks of human faces shaped out on spot and appliquéd with gold plates. The rich variety of funeral utensils going along with the dead is best illustrated by two of the symbolic graves / No 4 and No 36/. In grave No 4 have been found two unique vessels where the typical for the time decoration of strongly stylized geometrical symbols is fulfilled in golden paint.

Borovo Treasure

At the end of December 1974 another treasure, dated from the first half of the fourth century BC, came to light at Borovo. It consists of luxurious five-vessel drinking set. Three of them are rhytons ending in the protomes of a horse, a bull, and a sphinx. The fourth is a large two-handled bowl in the center of which a deer attacked by a griffin is depicted in relief. The fifth is a richly ornamented silver jugglet, with two bands in relief depicting scenes connected with the cult of Dionysus. On the upper frieze the god is tearing animals to pieces, and chasing satyrs or being chased by them. We can see Dionysus with Ariadne, standing out in a poetic dream. On the lower part the god marries Ariadne, who unbinds her belt The treasure bears an inscription in Greek letters with the name of the Thracian King Kotys I who reigned the Odryssaean Kingdom from 383 to 359 BC and that of the craftsman Etbeos.

Loukovit Treasure

The treasure of Loukovit must have been buried in the period of the Macedonian rule in Thrace, perhaps during the reign of Alexander the Great, when he was crossing the lands of the Tribally. Loukovit treasure It was dated to the second half of the fourth century BC. The treasure consists of three small pitchers, nine phials and a large number of silver appliqués, decorated with animal motifs and figures of horsemen. On two of them a lion with gilded mane attacks a stag whose legs are folded under the body. The artifacts are the work of different craftsmen which shows that it was brought together gradually and also proves the rich artistic life in the northern Thracian lands in the fourth century BC.

Vratsa Treasure from Mogilanska Mound

  The treasure of Vratsa from the Mogilanska mound comprised three tombs which were yielded , during 1965-66 excavations in the heart of the city. Two were plundered back in antiquity, and the third contained a funeral of a man and a woman, one of the richest to be discovered in Thrace. There are several striking Vratsa treasure artifacts among the multitude of gold and silver objects intended to serve the deceased in the next life. A silver cone-shaped pitcher suggests that the dead were initiated into the Dionysian cult, since the cone was a symbol of Dionysus. The gold laurel wreath and earrings show remarkable sophistication and craftsmanship. The Vratsa treasure  gold pitcher is interesting with its handle fashioned like a Herculean knot which is right over the plume-ornamented bodies of the two chariots drawn by four horses each. Since the chariot is always a symbol of the sun god, many scholars believe that the chariot driver is Apollo - the principle god of the Tribally. Here a unique knee-piece with a female head figure was found. Knee-pieces were part of ancient warriors' protective armor and were intended to protect legs. A perfectly symmetrical, framed by an intricate coiffure and crowned with a gilded ivy wreath human face covers the kneecap. There are bird-shaped earrings, with two serpents outlining the face in the background. In the lower part, their bodies blend into those of roaring lions, whose heads lock right under the chin. Another two serpents on the knee-piece have promotes that blend into griffin lions.

Letnitsa Treasure


Letnitsa treasure dates back to 400 - 350 BC. It was found in a bronze vessel and like many treasures was an accidental discovery. It consists of a bit, a headstall and small pierced silver plaques, part of harness. Each appliqués has a ring on its back, through which the strap fastening is passed.

What is new about this treasure are the twenty-four square or rectangular scenes of mythology or of everyday life. For the first time in these appliqués a human figure is used for a horse trappings adornment. According to the depicted subject the appliqués may be divided into two groups: appliqués representing a fight between animals and others with mythological scenes.



History and Religion

The earliest traces of human presence in the environs of the town of Kazanluk in Central Bulgaria date back to the Neolithic age, i.e. 6th-5th millennium B.C. In latter years the Thracians settled permanently in those lands. A vestige of their advanced civilization are the numerous mounds, in which archaeologists discovered ancient sanctuaries or royal burials. The latter artifacts have brought the name of Valley of Thracian Kings. More than two millennia ago Thracian tribes founded their first settlements on the banks of the river Tundzha in the environs of present-day town of Kazanluk. In the 4th-3rd c. B.C. they founded the city of Seuthopolis that became the capital of the state of the Odrisi tribe. This period is characterized by huge monolithic cult complexes, where the Thracians used to bury their kings. Thus with the years, the valley locked between the steep slopes of the Balkan Range and the wavy plateau of Sredna gora mountain range became a mausoleum in the open air of sorts similar to the Egyptian Valley of Kings along the Nile. For the time being archaeologists have studied more than 20 of the mounds in the region. The golden jewels and exquisitely crafted objects shed new light on the livelihood and beliefs of the ancient Thracians. Thracian believed in afterlife, that is why they wept bitterly whenever a child was born into this world, and rejoiced and celebrated with ostentatious rituals a person's death. The royal burials for instance lasted for three full days. The first day had been dedicated to sacrificial offerings at the tomb's entrance; the second day was devoted to sports events and chariot races, and it was not until the third day that the defunct king had been seen off to the netherworld with a rich meal and plenty of song and dance.
The most famous among those tombs is the Kazanluk tomb, a UNESCO cultural monument dated back to the 4th-3rd c. B.C. it is the only kind in Europe with preserved murals. In a nearby mound in 1992 archaeologists came across a peculiar phenomenon: a false burial used to mislead treasure hunters even at that time, for they had been well aware of the looters of tombs and royal burials who were pestering the region.
In 1993 in the Ostrusha mound the scientists unearthed a rich cult from the 5th c. B.C. built into a 40 t monolith. The ceiling carved in reliefs and replicas of people, plants and animals. "When the Christian faith first came to our lands in the 4th-6th c. A.D. the Christians destroyed many of the marvellous mural as they considered them pagan vestige. In 2004 archaeologists dug out a golden mask weighing almost 700 g, which was thought to belong to King Teres, the founder of the Odrisi Kingdom. Among other items the experts have come across golden and silver articles and horse harness, swords, spears and two huge amphorae filled with wine to the brink. It is interesting to note that initially the tombs used to be sanctuaries where religious services and sacrificial offerings had been performed, but later when the king or the priest died they became mausoleums. In the summer of 2005 archaeologists unearthed the mausoleum of King Seuthes III, founder of the city of Seuthopolis.

GOLDEN TREASURES Of The Bulgarian Archaeology The Bulgarian Historical Memory

"King Seuthes III died in combat in the environs of hic capital. But was buried outside the boundaries of the Odrisi Kingdom. That is why the burial mound contained only personal effects that the king might need in his afterlife. The Thracians had managed to build a burial chamber at the back of the sanctuary out of stone block weighing some 60t and sealed by a 20 t stone lid. We can't keep wondering how the ancient had carried the huge blocks from the quarries of Sredna gora mountain range," Kosta Zarev, director of the Museum of History in Kazanluk exclaims.

Written by Veneta Nickolova