Bulgarian Police Seize Rare 5th Century BC Ancient Greek Krater from Treasure Hunter
Bulgarian police officers have confiscated a unique 5th century BC Ancient Greek krater, a special vessel for mixing wine (and water) used in Ancient Greece and Thrace, from a treasure hunter from the southern town of Susam, Haskovo District.
The 33-year-old man has been arrested after the local police were tipped off, and searched his home and car.
The extremely rare ancient krater was found in the man’s car, the press center of Bulgaria’s Ministry of Interior has announced.
The ceramic vessel features a ritual scene from the Ancient Greek and Thracian mythology.
“Over the centuries, the baked clay has been severely cracked, and a botched attempt at restoration [of the vessel] appears to have been made,” archaeological consultants of the Bulgarian police are quoted as saying.
Yet, they point out that regardless of its condition, the Ancient Thracian krater is still of great antiquary value.
Ancient vessels of its kind are usually discovered in the burial mound tombs of Ancient Thracian aristocrats.
Unfortunately, the Thracian tumuli (burial mounds) dotting Bulgaria’s landscape come very often under attack by ruthless treasure hunting looters.
Later, upon more detailed inspection of the vessel, Bulgarian archaeologists have concluded that the krater was produced in Ancient Greece, and possibly in Athens itself, during the Age of Pericles, part of the Golden Age of Athens.
Treasure hunting and illegal trafficking of antiques have been rampant in Bulgaria after the collapse of the communism regime in 1989 (and allegedly before that). Estimates vary but some consider this the second most profitable activity for the Bulgarian mafia after drug trafficking. One recent estimate suggests its annual turnover amounts to BGN 500 million (app. EUR 260 million), and estimates of the number of those involved range from about 5 000 to 200 000 – 300 000, the vast majority of whom are impoverished low-level diggers.