Ancient Thracians’ Silver Showcased in Special Exhibition at History Museum in Bulgaria’s Kazanlak

The Silver of the Ancient Thracians exhibition features over 70 high-class artistic silverwork artifacts from the 5th-1st century BC. Photo: National Institute and Museum of Archaeology

A special exhibition entitled “The Silver of the Ancient Thracians" has been unveiled by the Iskra (“Spark") History Museum in the central Bulgarian town of Kazanlak.

The Kazanlak Valley located between the Balkan Mountain (Stara Planina) and the Sredna Gora Mountain is also known as the Valley of Odrysian Thracian Kings because of the numerous Ancient Thracian tumuli (burial mounds) containing tombs and graves from the Ancient Thracian Odrysian Kingdom (5th century BC – 1st century AD).

The Odrysians (Odrysae) were possibly the most powerful Ancient Thracian tribe, and the ruins of their capital, Seuthopolis, today lie on the bottom of the Koprinka Water Reservoir near Kazanlak.

A project for the “resurfacing" of the ancient city by walling it off in the middle of the large artificial lake, known as the Seuthopolis Project, is yet to be realized if sufficient funding is procured.

It is believed that over 1,500 Ancient Thracian burial mounds exist in the Valley of Odrysian Thracian Kings alone, i.e. the Kazanlak Valley, of which some 300 have been excavated by archaeologists.

Not unlike the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, the Valley of the Odrysian Thracian Kings is where the Thracian rulers and high aristocrats from Seuthopolis were buried.

The newly opened exhibition dedicated to “The Silver of the Ancient Thracians" can be seen in the Treasury Hall of the Kazanlak Museum of History “Iskra" from August 25 until December 18, 2017.

The exhibition has been organized by the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia as part of the upcoming 13th International Congress of Thracology entitled “Ancient Thrace: Myth and Reality", which is to be hosted by the town of Kazanlak on September 3-7, 2017. Thracology is the study of the civilization of Ancient Thrace.

“Thracology congresses have a 35-year-old history. This will be only the third thracology congress to be held in Bulgaria, after the congresses of 1972 and 2000, both of which were held in Sofia," explains Assoc. Prof. Hristo Popov from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology.

“Now, the third thracology congress to be held in Bulgaria will be hosted by Kazanlak, of which we are really happy. Over 200 scholars from 25 countries will take part in it," he adds.

“This was the reason we’ve put together a more concentrated exhibition showcasing some of the important monuments of Thracian culture from the 5th-1st century BC which are part of the collections of the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology," he elaborates.

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Kazanlak Mayor Galina Stoyanova (first on the left) and archaeologist Hristo Popov (second on the right) and archaeologist Totko Stoyanov (first on the right) at the opening of The Silver of the Ancient Thracians exhibition. Photo: Kazanlak Municipality

In “The Silver of the Ancient Thracians" exhibition, Bulgaria’s National Museum of Archaeology is showcasing some of the most notable items from its collections of Ancient Thracian treasures, the Museum has announced.

The exhibition features over 70 exhibits illustrating the crucial role that precious metals played in the life of the Thracian society, and especially of the life of Thracian elites.

The items included in the Thracians’ Silver exhibition are the product of high-class ancient jewelry and artistic metalworking (toreutics) such as jewels, vessels, and horse ammunition adornments – all made of silver.

“The general public will be shown some of the most important finds which became known over a century ago, such as the artifacts from Brezovo, Radyuvene, and Sindel," the National Museum of Archaeology in Sofia says.

“[These items] have become some of the main reasons for the intensive development of scientific research dedicated to the Thracian Antiquity, and for the long-lasting interest towards it by both the scientific community, and the general public," it adds.

While probably the most famous treasures from Ancient Thrace are gold – such as the stunning Panagyurishte Gold Treasure or the Valchitran Gold Treasure – silver also features strongly in Thracian treasures, and some of them are entirely silver.

Another major Ancient Thracian treasure is the Rogozen Treasure, the largest one in terms of weight, which is made of both silver and gold.

The Vratsa Regional Museum of History which hosts it celebrated last year the 30th anniversary since its discovery.

The exhibition features over 70 silver artifacts from various archaeological sites across Bulgaria. Photo: Kazanlak Municipality

“The Silver of the Ancient Thracians" exhibition in Bulgaria’s Kazanlak will feature a bilingual catalog, in Bulgarian and English, in two volumes.

The first volume will present the mining and processing of precious metals in Ancient Thrace before the Roman conquest in the 1st century AD, i.e. Pre-Roman Thrace, and the presence of silver in drinking sets, adornments, and horse ammunition.

The second volume of the catalog will present in detail all more than 70 artifacts included in the exhibition.

“The Silver of the Ancient Thracians" exhibition has been organized with the support of Kazanlak Municipality, the Kazanlak Museum of History “Iskra", and the Organizing Committee for the 13th International Congress of Thracology, “Ancient Thrace: Myth and Reality".

The exhibition is also part of the 12th Celebrations in the Valley of Odrysian Thracian Kings taking place in 2017.

Alongside “The Silver of the Ancient Thracians" exhibition, the Iskra Museum of History in Bulgaria’s Kazanlak has also opened an exhibition dedicated to the Black Sea town of Sozopol – the ancient Apollonia Pontica – entitled “Sozopol – the Eternal City".

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The official poster for the “Silver of the Ancient Thracians” exhibition. Photos: National Institute and Museum of Archaeology