Silver Wreath from Ancient Thrace’s Roman Era Discovered near Bulgaria’s Prehistoric Dyadovo Settlement Mound

These surviving parts of an Ancient Thracian silver wreath have been found in a grave from the 1st-3rd century AD. Part of the wreath was melted because its owner was most probably cremated. Photo: National Museum of History

Archaeologists have found parts of a silver wreath dating back to the period after Ancient Thrace was conquered by the Roman Empire (1st-3rd century) during excavations of a burial mound located near the 8,000-year-old Dyadovo Settlement Mound in Southeast Bulgaria.

The Dyadovo Settlement Mound is a world-famous archaeological site near Bulgaria’s town of Dyadovo, Nova Zagora Municipality, features traces of civilized human life from the end of the 7th millennium BC until the High Middle Ages (11th-12th century AD).

Probably the most valuable discoveries there, however, date from the Middle Bronze Age up until the Iron Age – 3rd-2nd millennium BC because of the Thracian fortress found there which exhibits a number of similarities with the organization of ancient Troy. Troy is known, including from Ancient Greek poet Homer’s Iliad, to have been allied with the Ancient Thracians.

Learn more about the Dyadovo Settlement Mound in the Background Infonotes below!

Parts of a “sophisticated" silver wreath have been discovered in a burial mound located close to Bulgaria’s town of Dyadovo and the prehistoric and ancient Dyadovo Settlement Mound, Bulgaria’s National Museum of History has announced.

The discovery has been made by a team from the museum led by archaeologists Martin Hristov and Iliya Kirov. The excavations have been funded by a private foundation called “Bulgarian Memory – Dinev Brothers".

Part of the silver wreath is melted which suggests that the person who owned and was buried in the excavated burial mound was cremated, says the National Museum of History in Sofia.

The surviving parts of the Ancient Thracian silver wreath depict plant leaves and fruit.

“The appearance of the silver wreath found in Dyadovo demonstrates that it probably belonged to a person with a high social and economic status," the Museum says.

In another of the graves in the burial mound, the archaeologists have found an almost fully intact wooden bead.

Other burial afterlife gifts have also been discovered, including ceramic and glass vessels.

“The material and the appearance of the finds suggest that they are from the period between [the reign of] Roman Emperor Domitian (r. 81-96 AD), i.e. the 1st century AD, and the reign of Roman Emperor Geta (r. 209-211 AD), i.e. the beginning of the 3rd century AD," the Museum adds.

“The burial mound was built and used during this entire period. The population was most probably made up of local Thracians. No research has been done on the Roman period in Dyadovo so far, so these are the first Roman Era finds from the area," Bulgaria’s National Museum of History elaborates.

It also emphasizes that the craftsmanship of the new finds does resemble that of ancient artifacts discovered in Troy and its vicinity, a further piece of evidence that Troy and the Ancient Thracian settlement in the Dyadovo Settlement Mound have much in common.

The National Museum of History in Sofia also mentions that its collection features a golden Ancient Thracian wreath found near Troy. The golden wreath in question is believed to have belonged to a Thracian military leader who may have been hired to fight in the Trojan War.

The Museum reminds that the Dyadovo Settlement Mound in Southeast Bulgaria is the only one of its type.

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A 2009 aerial photo of the 8,000-year-old Dyadovo Settlement Mound in Southeast Bulgaria. Photo: Wikimapia

“It is a valuable prehistoric monument which offers information about the urbanistic processes in the Thracian lands in the 3rd-2nd millennium BC… [including] the unique system of moats from the Middle Bronze Age (2,000 BC), with the innermost stone-paved moat surrounding an inner city, or a citadel, connected with the royal-priestly authority in the early Thracian society," the Museum elaborates.

“The more than 30 years of joint research by Bulgarian, Dutch, and Japanese archaeologists have turned the Dyadovo Settlement Mound into one of the most important sites in Europe not just for scholars from around the world but also for all who are interested in the development of the human civilization," it adds.

“With their [urban] planning from 2,000 years ago, the settlement mound, and the other Thracian mounds, resemble the urban planning of Troy. They give reasons to suggest that the city at the Dardanelles [Troy] underwent a process of “thracization", and even Homer described how the Thracians were among the most loyal allies of Troy," the Museum says.

“At the present stage, the similarities between the settlement mounds at Dyadovo and Troy are not sufficient to draw definitive historical conclusions but research to this end continues. Some scholars who have researched the area of Dyadovo, presume that [both places were inhabited] by the same population which also lived in Troy, namely, the Thracians. The pottery is close in terms of composition and craftsmanship, the fortress walls are similar, and both settlements existed in the same period. Daydovo reminds of Troy as a cultural and defensive center, and as a way of social life,” Bulgaria’s National Museum of History concludes.

Background Infonotes:

The Dyadovo Settlement Mound, including the Dyadovo Fortress, is located near the town of Dyadovo, Nova Zagora Municipality, Sliven District, in Southeast Bulgaria.

The Dyadovo Settlement Mound is about 220 meters long and 140 meters, and towers at 18-20 meters in height. It is deemed to be one of the largest prehistoric settlement mounds in all of Europe.

The mound was first explored by the fathers of Bulgarian archaeology, Czech-Bulgarian brothers Karel and Hermann Skorpil, back in 1898. Regular archaeological excavations on it began in 1977, with the participation of archaeologists from the Netherlands and later from Japan.

The earliest traces of organized human life from the Dyadovo Settlement Mound date back to the end of the 7th millennium BC, i.e. the Neolithic period, and then the Chalcolithic (Aeneolithic, Copper Age) period.

However, the most important discoveries from it are generally thought to be those from the 3rd – 2nd millennium BC, i.e. the Early and Middle Bronze Age because of the insight that it provides in the urban development of the earlier periods of Ancient Thrace.

From the period of the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, the archaeologists have found at the Dyadovo Settlement Mound an Ancient Thracian fortress featuring a main street connecting the center of the respective settlement with the fortress’s eastern gate.

Several residential buildings on both sides of the main street have been excavated, yielding artifacts such as figurines depicting animals and women.

The Ancient Thracian fortress in the Dyadovo Settlement Mound had a fortification system built about 2,000 BC.

It consisted of several concentric moats. The innermost circle was paved with stones, and formed the inner city, or a citadel. There the researchers have found a ritual pit, with deer antlers buried in it.

In the southeastern section of the settlement mound, the archaeologists have found a lot of graves, skeletons of males, animal bones, and ritual figurines.

A number of ancient homes have been discovered in the innermost circle of the Thracian fortress.

The Early Bronze Age finds from the Dyadovo Settlement Mound have been compared to the discoveries made in ancient Troy from the Trojan War described in Homer’s Iliad. The similarities in the urban planning between the Thracian fortress in Bulgaria’s Dyadovo Settlement Mound, and in ancient Troy are often the reason for dubbing the former “the Thracian Troy". Troy itself is known to have been allied with the Ancient Thracians, including as testified to by Homer in the Iliad.

In the Late Antiquity / Early Middle Ages, more precisely, the 6th century AD, an Early Byzantine fortress was built on top of the Dyadovo Settlement Mound. Its walls are still relatively well preserved.

The Early Byzantine fortress has the shape of a rectangle, 80 meters long, and 60 meters wide. The fortress wall is 1 meter wide. Each of the four corners had a fortress tower.

A settlement with a small church existed there as late as the later period of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD) and the ensuing conquest by Byzantium (11th-12th century).

The Dyadovo Settlement Mound was excavated jointly by archaeologists from Bulgaria and the Netherlands starting in 1977. Japanese archaeologists joined in 1984. One of the most notable experts on Ancient Thrace, Prof. Diana Gergova, has led the archaeological excavations.

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