Bizarre 3rd Millennium BC ‘Trojan Cups’ Imported from Troy Become November 2020 ‘Exhibit of the Month’ in Bulgaria’s National Museum of Archaeology

Bizarre 3rd Millennium BC ‘Trojan Cups’ Imported from Troy Become November 2020 ‘Exhibit of the Month’ in Bulgaria’s National Museum of Archaeology

These two more than 4,000-year-old “Trojan Cups”, likely imports from ancient Troy, have been found in an Early Bronze Age settlement near the Bulgarian – Turkish border. Photo: National Institute and Museum of History

A couple of bizarrely shaped ceramic cups from the 3rd millennium BC, or the Early Bronze Age, which are believed to have originated in ancient Troy, and are known as the Trojan Cups, have been declared “exhibit(s)" of the month for November 2020 by Bulgaria’s National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia.

The Trojan Cups in question have been discovered during excavations of an Early Bronze Age settlement near today’s town of Mihalich, in the Sakar Mountain, in Southeast Bulgaria, close to the border with the European part of Turkey, some 200 kilometers north of the site of ancient Troy near Asia Minor’s Aegean Sea coast.

The more than 4,000-year-old Trojan Cups have just now been brought to the public’s attention.

Each of the two Trojan Cups presented by the National Museum of Archaeology in Sofia is a tall, narrow ceramic vessel with large symmetrical handles starting at the middle, and going down to the bottom of the cup.

“The Cups are known in archaeological literature as “Trojan Cups" or Depas Amphikipellon, they are among the most popular and discussed ceramic shapes from the Early Bronze Age," says Bulgaria’s National Institute and Museum of Archaeology.

It notes that the Trojan Cups are connected with the discovery of ancient Troy, the city-state whose story was told by Ancient Greek poet Homer in his epic Iliad about the Trojan War.

“They owe their fame to the wrongful identification proposed by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann during his excavations in Troy with a certain vessel from the depas amphikipellon type mentioned by Homer in the Iliad," the Museum says.

These two more than 4,000-year-old “Trojan Cups”, likely imports from ancient Troy, have been found in an Early Bronze Age settlement near the Bulgarian – Turkish border. Photo: National Institute and Museum of History

These two more than 4,000-year-old “Trojan Cups”, likely imports from ancient Troy, have been found in an Early Bronze Age settlement near the Bulgarian – Turkish border. Photo: National Institute and Museum of History

These two more than 4,000-year-old “Trojan Cups”, likely imports from ancient Troy, have been found in an Early Bronze Age settlement near the Bulgarian – Turkish border. Photo: National Institute and Museum of History

These two more than 4,000-year-old “Trojan Cups”, likely imports from ancient Troy, have been found in an Early Bronze Age settlement near the Bulgarian – Turkish border. Photo: National Institute and Museum of History

It notes that the emergence and distribution of the so called “Trojan Cups" testifies to the intensive cultural and commercial contacts in the Aegean Sea world, the Balkan Peninsula, Anatolia (the Asia Minor Peninsula), and Northern Syria.

This includes the role in the said trade of Ancient Thrace, which occupied the eastern and central part of the Balkan Peninsula.

The two Trojan Cups owned by the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia have been discovered near the Early Bronze Age settlement Mihalich, on the southern slopes of the Sakar Mountain in Southeast Bulgaria, about 1.5 kilometers away from today’s town of Mihalich.

The archaeologists hypothesize that two bizarrely shaped ceramic cups from the 3rd millennium BC have been imported from ancient Troy.

The Trojan War described by Homer in the Iliad itself is believed to have taken place ca. 1,300 – 1,200 BC, at the end of the Bronze Age, and towards the beginning of the Iron Age.

According to Homer’s Iliad, the Ancient Thracians were crucial allies of the Trojans.

The archaeological site of the 3rd millennium BC Early Bronze Age settlement of Mihalich in the Sakar Mountain in Southeast Bulgaria, near the border with Turkey where the two Trojan Cups have been discovered. Photo: National Institute and Museum of Archaeology

“It is worth underscoring that these specific vessels could be viewed as not only a commercial item but also as an indicator for the organizing of wine production and the traditions in drinking alcohol," the National Museum of Archaeology in Sofia says.

“It is interesting that most [Trojan] cups are unstable when filled up with a liquid, and they were probably used during ceremonies involving the consumption of wine, usually held by the elite," the Museum concludes.

The 3rd millennium BC Trojan Cups have been exhibited in the Prehistory Hall of the National Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, on the lower floor in the northern wing of its building.

The Sakar Mountain, the site of the Mihalich prehistoric settlement, is also the discovery site of some of the oldest gold artifacts in the world, the Sakar Gold Treasure.

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Ivan Dikov, the founder of ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com, is the author of the book Plunder Paradise: How Brutal Treasure Hunters Are Obliterating World History and Archaeology in Post-Communist Bulgaria, among other books.

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