|30 July 2005
Thracian treasure discovered in Bulgaria
Archaeologists have unearthed 2,400-year-old treasure in a Thracian tomb in eastern Bulgaria. Professor Daniela Agre, who led the team of 15 from the Bulgarian Archaeological Institute, said the finds provided enormous clues to understanding one of Europe's most mysterious ancient people. "The period of the grave is exceptionally important. It was a peak moment in the development of Thracian culture, statesmanship and art. They had very strong contacts and mutual influences with Greece, Anatolia and Scythia." she said.
Among the objects found were a golden laurel and ring, rhytons - silver drinking vessels shaped like horns, Greek pottery and military items including weapons and armour. The tomb in Zlatinitsa, 290 km east of the capital Sofia, has remained unopened since, Prof Agre estimated, the 4th century BCE. Most Thracians tombs were looted in antiquity and those that remain untouched are vulnerable to sophisticated looters. "This is the only way we can learn from artefacts, when they are in their original context," said Prof Vassil Nikolov, director of the Bulgarian Archaeological Institute.
Prof Agre said it was the tomb of an upper-class lord or similarly powerful and wealthy leader, perhaps a governor. "The used weapons and the arrow wounds in the bones of his horse indicated that he was a warrior. He was buried in the biggest burial mound in the region," said Prof Agre. "This was like a province of England, such as Kent, and he was the leader. The king's body was laid in a huge wood-paneled pit together with two horses and a dog, while Thracian kings were usually buried in vast stone tombs under huge earth mounds.
"Like the Egyptians built pyramids and used them as temples before they died, the Thracian rulers built mounds. When they died they were buried inside and earth was piled up on top. But here there was no mound," National Museum of History director Bozhidar Dimitrov said
Thousands of Thracian mounds are spread throughout Bulgaria, and archaeological finds suggest that the Thracians established a powerful kingdom in the 5th century BCE. Despite numerous archaeological discoveries, little is known about Thracian rulers, because no inscriptions have been found. Thracians had no alphabet and apparently refused to use Greek letters, Dimitrov said.
Last year, another archaeological expedition discovered two vast Thracian tombs in the Kazanlak region, prompting archaeologists to name it "the Valley of Thracian Kings" in reference to the Valley of Kings near Luxor, Egypt, home to the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. A 2,400-year-old golden mask was found then, along with many golden artifacts.
Sources: Associated Press, BBC News, Yahoo! News (25 July 2005), The Telegraph (26 July 2005)
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