| 8 August 2006
5000-year-old dagger found in Bulgaria
Archaeologists have discovered a well-preserved golden dagger dated to about 3,000 BCE in a Thracian tomb in the centre of Bulgaria. It is the latest find from one of many tombs believed to have formed the cradle of Thracian civilisation.
The dagger, made of an alloy of gold and platinum, was found near the village of Dubovo. "It's really a sensational discovery," said Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of the Bulgarian National Museum of History. "The dagger, which we believe is made of gold and platinum, most probably belonged to a Thracian ruler or to a priest." It is the latest in a string of finds in the area in recent years which has excited archaeologists and has provided more details of the skills of the still mysterious Thracian civilisation. According to officials at the museum, the dagger is about 16 inches (41cm) long and is sharp enough to shave with. The detail on the dagger suggests that it was used for sacrificial purposes.
More than 500 pieces of delicate golden jewellery were also found in the tomb, itself discovered two years ago near the village of Dubovo, 75 miles east of the capital, Sofia. The objects, unearthed over the past few weeks, have been faultlessly preserved and will soon go on public display.
Little is known about the Thracians, who are believed to have lived in what is now Bulgaria, Romania, northern Greece and Turkey until the 8th century CE when they were assimilated by migrating Slavs. But, because they are thought not to have used writing, little material has been available for academics to study. In recent decades, however, light has been shed on the culture through a series of finds from a group of mounds in central Bulgaria. Last year, archaeologists found more than 15,000 fragments of golden artefacts near Dubovo - which restorers reassembled to form several golden necklaces. Other finds include a golden mask and a magnificent crown wreath.
"The mounds seem to be part of a complex. Some of them resemble tombs, while others appear to be ritual sites where ancient people buried gifts for the gods," said Martin Hristov, the lead archaeologist at the digs in the region. This latest find suggests they were expert at more delicate industry. Archaeologists say the dagger indicates they used complex metal-working methods which, for the period, were sophisticated.
Sources: BBC News, Reuters, The Scotsman (6 August 2006), The Independent (8 August 2006)
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