Bulgaria’s Most Recently Found Ancient Thracian Gold Treasure Returns Home to Black Sea Town Primorsko after Exhibition

The Primorsko Gold Treasure 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. Photo: Primorsko Museum of History

Bulgaria’s most recently discovered Ancient Thracian gold treasure – the Primorsko Gold Treasure found in 2016 – has returned to its home, the Museum of History in the Black Sea town of Primorsko.

The Primorsko Gold Treasure, a complete set of gold appliques for a horse harness, has been showcased as part of an exhibition of the Regional Museum of History in the city of Shumen in Northeast Bulgaria entitled “The Treasures of [Bulgaria’s] Southern Black Sea Coast."

The Ancient Thracian gold treasure from ca. 300 BC has been returned to Primorsko for the town holiday, May 24, which is also the Day of St. Cyril and St. Methodius and the Day of Bulgarian Culture and Bulgaric (Cyrillic) Alphabet.

It has been exhibited once again in the Treasury Hall built specially for it in the Museum of History of the Black Sea town in Southeast Bulgaria.

“The Primorsko Ancient Thracian Gold Treasure has charmed museum visitors with its pronounced uniqueness and unmatched craftsmanship which conveys the skill and style of the local jewelry [who created it]," the Primorsko Museum of History says.

“It is also notable that the [Primorsko Gold Treasure] is one of the several full [Ancient Thracian] sets of horse harness appliques discovered in Bulgaria," it adds.

The Primorsko Ancient Thracian 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 had a special safety vault built.

The Ancient Thracian gold treasure from Primorsko 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.

The Ancient Thracian burial mound where the treasure was 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.

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.

Bulgaria’s Primorsko, a Black Sea resort, plans to promote as cultural tourism destinations archaeological sites excavated around the town in recent years .

An entire previously unknown Ancient Thracian fortress, the Pharmakida Fortress, which was the fortified residence of a dynast in the 2nd-1st century AD, was discovered nearby in 2015. 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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