Catalog for ‘Silver of Ancient Thracians’ Exhibition Published by Bulgaria’s National Archaeology Museum

Cover of the catalog for The Silver of the Ancient Thracians exhibition by Bulgaria’s National Institute and Museum of Archaeology. Photo: National Institute and Museum of Archaeology

Bulgaria’s National Institute and Museum of Archaeology has announced the publishing of the catalogue for the special exhibition entitled “The Silver of the Ancient Thracians", which can be seen at the Iskra (“Spark") History Museum in the central Bulgarian town of Kazanlak until December 18, 2017.

The exhibition, which was opened on August 25, 2017, was organized by the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia as part of the 13th International Congress of Thracology entitled “Ancient Thrace: Myth and Reality".

Thracology is the study of the civilization of Ancient Thrace. The thracology congress is hosted by the town of Kazanlak on September 3-7, 2017.

The first International Congress of Thracology was held in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia in 1972, and since then it has been hosted by the country a total of three times: in 1972, again in Sofia in 2000, and now in 2017 in Kazanlak.

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 amd artifacts.

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 the 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.

The exhibition is curated by archaeologists Milena Tonkova, Totko Stoyanov, Krastyu Chukalev, and Yana Dimitrova, and coordinated by archaeologists Maria Reho, and Hristo Popov.

The catalog for the “The Silver of the Ancient Thracians" exhibition is bilingual, in Bulgarian and English, and consists of two volumes. It is edited by Margarit Damyanov.

The first volume is authored by Milena Tonkova and Totko Stoyanov, and presents 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 is authored by Diana Dimitrova, Krastyu Chukalev, Marlena Krasteva, Milena Tonkova, Slava Vasileva, and Totko Stoyanov, with photographs by Krasimir Georgiev. It presents in detail all more than 70 artifacts included in the exhibition.

M. Damyanov (editor), The Silver of the Thracians, Catalogs volume VII, Sofia, NAIM at BAS, 2017, ISBN 978-954-9472-50-9. 64 pages.

“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.

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.

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.

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