Thracian gold from the National Historical Museum in Bulgaria

The so-called Panagyurishte Treasure – now on display at the National Historical Museum in Sofia, Bulgaria. © Nenko Lazarov, Wikipedia

The ancient Thracians of central and southeastern Europe produced some spectacular artefacts using gold, as can be seen in the photograph above. Recently, Bulgarian archaeologists found a number of exceptionally well preserved golden objects in a wooden box while excavating at the largest of the Thracian tombs, the Tomb of Sveshtari. Besides the outstanding preservation and intricate detail, the objects that date back to the beginning of the 3rd century BC are unique in their design and decoration. Photographs of these exquisite pieces have been published by print and online media all over the World. And, it has just been announced this amazing collection will soon go on display in the Louvre, Paris.

Speaking during an interview on Bulgarian TV, the nation’s Culture Minister, Vezhdi Rashidov, announced that these new pieces will form part of an exhibition of Thracian culture at the Louvre that is currently in planning stages for 2014. The intricately decorated, gold objects include a tiara, four spiral bracelets, and various other small pieces that were probably attached to clothing and, or horse riding equipment. These were definitely objects created for an elite, who were buried in the tomb.

In 1985 the tomb of Sveshtari was placed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in recognition of its unique architectural and decorative elements, as well as its state of preservation. This is the largest of 150 known Thracian tombs. The decoration and architecture of the tomb shows Hellenic influence as a result of trade and exchange between Thrace and the ancient Greeks. This influence is once again evident in these newly recovered gold pieces.

The Thracians covered an area that extended over what is today Romania, Bulgaria, northern Greece and the western part of Turkey. They were on the edge of both the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations, but were finally absorbed into the Roman Empire circa 45 AD.