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Once upon a time the Thracians inhabited Bulgarian lands. Millennia after, their ancient and mysterious culture revealed its true magnificence. In the last few decades a number of significant collections of Thracian treasures have been discovered in present-day Bulgaria, providing much of our present knowledge of ancient Thrace.
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.
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. When 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.
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. 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.
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).
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.