The Kazanlak Tomb in south Bulgaria is famous for
its beautiful wall paintings of the early 3rd century BC, one of
the most unique masterpieces of Early Hellenistic pictorial art.
Despite the small surface containing the decorative friezes, the
unknown artist has created an exceptional work of art. This tomb
was built during the reign of king Seuthes III, either for him
personally or for close relatives among the nobility.
It is situated 2,5 km south-west of Sveshtari (a
village 42 km north-east of Razgrad). Uncovered during excavations
of a sepulchral mound. Dating back, in approximation, to the first half
of the 3rd century BC. The central camera of the vault is rich in
decoration - it is designed as a facade of a temple with the image of a
horseman, being bestowed with a golden wreath by a goddess, and a
religious procession; on three of the walls - a high relief with 10
stone statues of clad women figures. The funeral rites, the building
technique, the architectural design and the decoration, distinguished
for Hellenistic models, provide evidence that a Thracian ruler has been
Teams of Bulgarian archeologists have made phenomenal discoveries in the summer
of year 2000. One of the major discoveries was the grave of what is
believed to be a Thracian ruler. The site, at the village of Starosel near Plovdiv in southern Bulgaria, has been dated from the
forth or fifth century BC. The two-chamber grave is approached by monumental stairs
and a corridor. It is surrounded by a wall made out of some 4 000
stone blocks and was hidden under a 20-meter high mound of earth.
Within, archeologists found a magnificent trove of relics, including
a large gold funerary wreath, other gold jewelry, bronze shields,
helmets and swords, and two sets of silver decorations for horses.
The grave and its surroundings are also thought to have been an
important religious site for Thracians.
HELVETIA TOMB, SHIPKA
On July 29, 1996 a
Thracian tomb of the 4th century BC was uncovered
near the town of Shipka, in the south foothills of the Balkan Range.
Large regular stones were used to build the tomb, situated five meters
underground. The metal part of a Roman soldier's shoe found at the site
indicates that the tomb may have been plundered as early as in Roman
times. The Shipka Tombs are seven in total on an area of Central
Bulgaria considered to have been the Valley of the Thracian Kings.
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
It 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
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 Lukovit 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.
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
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
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 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.