South Bulgaria was once ancient Thrace and part of the Roman Empire. Artifacts from Thrace are invaluable, but they may be at risk during archeological digs.
Bulgaria is as proud of its Thracian history as it is with its connection with Byzantium and Eastern Orthodoxy. Thrace, a geographically historical region that eclipses souther Bulgaria, was the land of the Indo-European Thracians. The Thracians, before they were subsumed by Slavic tribes, were a part of the Roman Empire and left archeological evidence of their existence for today’s archeologists.
Thrace Artifacts in Bulgaria – Archeological Finds
Archeologists have discovered remnants of Thrace that indicate metal-working skills, engineering skills for transportation, and interest in wealth and warfare. Therefore, archeological finds have included chariots, armor and weapons, jewelry made of precious metals, and the skeletons of wealthy Thracians buried with sacrificial animals or horses.
Thrace Artifacts in Bulgaria – Threats to to Artifacts from Thrace
While the international archeological community has an interest in Thracian finds in Bulgaria, these artifacts are nevertheless under constant threat. Looters, who scour the countryside for Thracian artifacts, have beaten many archeologists to important tombs or other burial sites. However, there is also some dispute over the methods of the archeologists living and working in Bulgaria, themselves. The means some of them use to unearth important Thracian finds is appalling to colleagues in the field; the use of large earth-moving equipment, as well as lack of carefully kept records about archeological sites and artifacts removed, has some archeologists shaking their heads at those who practice unorthodox methods. Another consideration is the archeologist’s affiliation – and some have been accused of involvement with former looters of archeological treasures.
One archeologist, Georgi Kitov, has even been reprimanded by colleagues for his rushed methods and lack of data collection. His affiliations have been questioned,as have his motives.
Thrace Artifacts in Bulgaria – Archeological Sensationalism
The pride Bulgaria feels in its Thracian history, and the fame to be had by archeologists who discover important finds, leads some individuals to allow the media to sensationalize their work. The desire for recognition also encourages the use of hurried collection methods and disregard for scientific bases for speculation. It may be that Kitov falls under this category – he has received media recognition for his discoveries of a rare gold mask and an unlooted three-room Thracian tomb.
While much can be learned from Thracian artifacts found in Bulgaria, including information about Thracian culture, rituals, and daily life, the rush to find Thracian puts intellectual discoveries about Thrace at risk.
- Brunwasser, Matthew. “Thracian Gold Fever.” Archaeology, Mar/Apr2005, Vol. 58, Issue 2.
- Brunwasser, Matthew. “ A Ride to the Afterlife.” Archaeology, Sep/Oct2007, Vol. 60, Issue 5.