Bulgaria’s Primorsko to Build Special Vault to Exhibit Newly Found Ancient Thracian Gold Treasure

Part of the sophisticated gold appliques making up the Primorsko Gold Treasure. Photo: Primorsko Municipality

Part of the sophisticated gold appliques making up the Primorsko Gold Treasure. Photo: Primorsko Municipality

The Ancient Thracian gold treasure, which was discovered recently near Bulgaria’s Black Sea resort of Primorsko, is to be exhibited in a special safety vault to be built with local funding.

The Primorsko Gold Treasure was formally shown to the public at the end of October 2016. It consists of a total of 37 gold appliques which decorated the harness of the horse of an Ancient Thracian dynast (i.e. ruler) during parades and formal religious ceremonies.

It was discovered in a tomb during the rescue excavations of an Ancient Thracian burial mound located in an area known as Silihlyar, about 7 km away from the town of Primorsko, near the Black Sea coast.

The gold appliques are dated to the end of the 4th – beginning of the 3rd century BC, more precisely, to ca. 320 – 280 BC.

In order to guarantee the safety of the newly discovered gold treasure, the Primorsko Museum of History is going to have a safety vault built, which is going to cost over BGN 100,000 (app. EUR 50,000), museum Director, archaeologist Daniel Pantov, has told BNR.

“The requirements [for keeping the treasure] include hi-tech [equipment] and reinforced glass. This is going to be quite an investment for a single vault but if we have the venue to exhibit [the artifacts], we will be able to attract tourists who will come specially to see the treasure," Pantov says.

What has already been dubbed the “Primorsko Gold Treasure” has been presented at a news conference at in the Black Sea town by its discoverers, archaeologists Assoc. Prof. Petar Balabanov from New Bulgarian University in Sofia and Daniel Pantov, Director of the Primorsko Museum. Primorsko Mayor Dimitar Germanov also participated in the presentation.

The funding for the safety vault is supposed to be allocated from the budget of Primorsko Municipality in early 2017 so that the Primorsko Gold Treasure could be exhibited in time for the 2017 summer tourist season.

The newly found Ancient Thracian treasure consists of a total of 8 large and 29 small appliques. The top applique is made up of two round shields and a protome depicting an eagle’s head.

Thracian rulers used the harness adornments for their horses only on very special occasions. The harness decorations were placed in their tombs as part of the burial inventories together with the horses who were sacrificed in order to follow their master into the afterlife.

The gold appliques from the Primorsko Treasure are believed to have been the work of a local Ancient Thracian goldsmith. Their decorative motifs are said to be typical of the Early Hellenistic Period.

The treasure has been discovered during rescue excavations of one of some 10 Thracian burial mounds situated in the Silihlyar area near Primorsko, after they had been attacked by modern-day treasure hunters.

Immediately after it was found, the treasure was taken for safety reasons to the Primorsko police department.

The archaeologists discovered that the tomb had already been looted in the Antiquity period. The golden appliques, however, had been deliberately hidden very well in order to be survive potential looting.

The Ancient Thracian burial mound where the treasure has been found was probably erected after the burial of the local Thracian ruler to whom it belonged. It is the largest of the burial mounds in Silihlyar, being 6 meters tall, and measuring 110 meters in diameter.

It was also the first of all mounds in the area to have been excavated in rescue digs following the modern-day treasure hunting raids.

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The newly discovered Primorsko Gold Treasure. Photo: Primorsko Municipality

The newly discovered Primorsko Gold Treasure. Photo: Primorsko Municipality

The public presentation of the newly fund Ancient Thracian gold treasure in the Primorsko Museum of History in October 2016. Photo: Primorsko Municipality

The public presentation of the newly fund Ancient Thracian gold treasure in the Primorsko Museum of History in October 2016. Photo: Primorsko Municipality

The Primorsko Gold Treasure appears similar to other Ancient Thracian treasures containing gold horse harness decorations such as the Ivanski Gold Treasure found in 1986 near the town of Ivanski, Shumen District, in Northeast Bulgaria, and the especially impressive Sveshtari Gold Treasure found in 2012 in the the Sboryanovo Archaeological Preserve, Razgrad District, also in Northeast Bulgaria, which also contains other jewelry in addition to harness decoration appliques.

The Sveshtari Gold Treasure belonged to a dynast of the Getae (Gets), a powerful Thracian group of tribes who inhabited today’s Northeast Bulgaria and Southern Romania, and the Ivanski Gold Treasure belonged to a dynast of the Krobyzoi tribe which was part of the tribal union of the Getae.

The newly found Primorsko Gold Treasure is associated with a different group of Thracian tribes which inhabited today’s Southeast Bulgaria and Northwest Turkey, and especially the region of the Strandzha Mountain, a large Ancient Thracian kingdom consolidated in the Strandzha Mountain, with its capital in Bizye, today’s Vize in Turkey.

Primorsko plans to promote archaeological sites excavated in and around Primorsko in the past two years as a cultural tourism destination.

An entire previously unknown Ancient Thracian fortress, the Pharmakida Fortress, which was the fortified residence of a dynast in the 2nd-1st century AD. Primorsko Municipality is also famous for the Beglik Tash Thracian rock shrine.

Fortified homes of aristocrats from the Ancient Thracian tribe Asti have also recently been discovered and/or excavated near the towns of Brodilovo and Sinemorets in Tsarevo Municipality on the Black Sea, right to the south of Primorsko Municipality.

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