Bulgaria unearths huge hoard of gold
A 4,200-year-old hoard of gold, comparable to the fabulous treasures of Troy, has been found in Bulgaria to the delight of archaeologists desperate to beat looters to tombs in the former communist country.
The miniature pieces were unearthed in an ancient tomb in Dabene, 120km east of the capital, Sofia. The objects, including around 15 000 ornate golden rings, may have been made by a race predating the ancient Thracians.
Scholars have described the objects as the oldest ever found in Bulgaria.
Bulgarian archaeologists said the find matched the magnificent trove of jewels, bracelets, golden diadems, rings, and cups unearthed at Troy in 1873 by the retired German merchant Heinrich Schliemann.
“This treasure is a bit older than Schliemann’s finds in Troy and contains many more golden ornaments,” said Vasil Nikolov, director of the Bulgarian Archaeological Institute, who oversaw the dig.
Nikolov said the finds had been gradually unearthed over the past year.
Known as the “jewels of Helen”, Schliemann had his Greek wife, Sophia, photographed wearing the Troy jewels before smuggling them to Berlin.
The gold has since been on display in Moscow’s Pushkin Museum, much to the consternation of Turkey, which wants it back.
With tomb raiders also making their presence felt in Bulgaria, local archaeologists are battling to reach the country’s ancient burial sites first. Experts estimate there are about 15 000 tombs dotted across the Balkan state.
But despite the excitement of the new treasure, archaeologists are uncertain as to which civilisation produced the hoard.
Nikolov said it was most likely that it was the work of “proto-Thracians” living in what is now Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Macedonia and Turkey.
Dismissed as illiterate “barbarians” by the ancient Greeks, the Thracians remain one of Europe’s most mysterious civilisations.
- Guardian Unlimited Â