Treasures in Bulgaria

Treasures in Bulgaria

Written by Alice Rochester on 29 November 2012

I’m always fascinated to hear about ancient treasures being unearthed, so I was really excited to hear about a recent discovery in northern Bulgaria… Archaeologists there say they have discovered a hoard of golden artifacts in an ancient Thracian tomb that are almost 2,400 years old.

The treasure was found around 250 miles northeast of Sofia, near the village of Sveshtari. Diana Gergova, the team leader, said that among the hoard was gold jewellery including bracelets and a ring, a tiara with reliefs of lions and other fantasy animals, and elements that would have been used in horse harnesses. Whilst the scale of this find sounds really exciting it seems that Bulgaria is not a stranger to these sorts of discoveries. When I googled ‘treasure in Bulgaria’ to find out more about this recent find, I struggled to find much information about this particular hoard as there were so many others to read about!

The Thracians lived in what is now Bulgaria, and parts of modern Greece, Romania, Macedonia, and Turkey between 4,000 B.C. and the 7th century A.D. Their treasures were sometimes buried to protect them from invaders, but also with their dead, and both practices of course mean that there is a lot to find today. Silver coins are the oldest, but younger objects include amphorae, phials, pitchers and of course the bit I’m most passionate about... jewellery! Some of the earliest European worked gold has been found in this region and this has given us incredible insight into life at those times.

The most valuable pieces from before the 4th century BC seem to be related to the Royal economy at that time. The Odryses’ royal family strictly regulated contact with the outside world and had ownership of everything over and under the earth, effectively controlling the extraction of gold and silver (among other things) until the middle of the 4th century. Most of this was kept in the treasury until Philip II the Macedon captured it, when it was re-distributed somewhat. After this point objects began to be placed in tombs and barrows by families other than the Royals.

Thracian gold and silver smiths were well respected and were often part of the royal entourage. Their fine embossed and chased relief work was highly regarded and meant that they had quite a lot of creative freedom. The pieces that have just been found show evidence of this – the fantastical animals on the tiara show not only that someone had the money for something as decorative as a tiara in the first place, but also that the person who made it was given the time to create something so ornate.

We are so lucky that we have such fabulous goldsmiths to work with at HKBespoke – I know they have always commented that they relish the challenges involved with making some of the more complicated, unique designs for our customers . I hope that they feel as loved and valued as their counterparts in Thrace.