Ancient treasures of Bulgaria

Ancient treasures of Bulgaria

25.09.2018

 

Bulgaria is considered a treasure trove of infinite riches hidden underground. From the period of antiquity, two great cultures, Greek and Thracian, coexisted. Archaeological excavations are constantly conducted in the country. Scientists have discovered many valuable artifacts, which are of great historical and cultural value. But experts must work hastily, because in Bulgaria the business of "illegal diggers" is widespread. Such people plunder ancient burials and sell the treasures on the black market.

 

The main thing is to buy time

A well-known archaeologist in Bulgaria Georgi Kitov unearths mounds in which the tombs of the rulers of the Ancient Thracian state were located. Stone structures contain a large number of ancient gold jewelry, precious decorations and household items of the Thracians.

Ancient Thrace is a country in the Northern Balkans, inhabited by various tribes, which flourished in the years 5800-5500 BC. Currently, its territory is divided between Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece.

Kitov uses special equipment: excavators and bulldozers, so that the pace of his excavation is greatly accelerated. "If I did this hard work manually, it would take months," says the archaeologist. "I don’t have time." For the sake of treasure "illegal diggers" are ready to destroy any historical object no matter its value. I try to get ahead of them and prevent them from destroying archaeological sites."

Many experts are dissatisfied with the activities of Georgi Kitov, because when using heavy equipment, the quality of his excavation suffers — leaving mess. Others take the side of the archaeologist, giving him a proper credit: half of the gold artifacts exhibited in the museums of Bulgaria were found by Kitov. Among them: ancient cups, knight armor, precious masks, women's necklaces and gold earrings. If it were not for the "quick" excavations of Kitov, these treasures would most likely have been obtained by "illegal diggers".

Many products are dated to the 4th millennium BC. They belonged to various conquerors, traders and immigrants.

In the photo: Archaeologist Georgi Kitov with a discovered gold item of ancient Thracians

 

Illegal excavations

Artifacts that were left on the lands of Bulgaria by ancient Macedonians, Persians, Romans, Greeks, Byzantines and Slavs, nowadays cost a lot of money. On Bulgarian territory, traces of illegal excavations of "illegal diggers" are everywhere — destroyed ancient graves, deep trenches and dips of soil. Marauders, who discovered ancient gold treasures, immediately sell them on the black market.

According to the Bulgarian legislation, archaeological treasures found in the country are the property of the state. But after the collapse of the socialist system in 1989, the law is not always strictly enforced. Bulgaria is experiencing an economic crisis; the country has hundreds of thousands of unemployed. The salaries of the local citizens are very small, barely enough to sustain a basic living. Many people who are trying to make some money carry out looting of archaeological monuments.

Famous Bulgarian archaeologist and scientist Nikolay Ovcharov believes that today the trade in precious artifacts "brings more profit than drug trafficking."

Small gold items found in ancient treasuries can be bought today even on a street market in the center of the Bulgarian capital Sofia. "And all this happens within a few tens of meters from the Parliament building," complains Ovcharov. "Thracian gold coins, buckles, fragments of ancient chariots are sold on our central market. All these are originals!"

In the photo: in 1949, near the city of Panagyurishte in Bulgaria, unique Ancient Thracian gold items (named after the place of discovery: Panagyurishte Treasure) were found.

 

The problem of the international scale

Rich Bulgarian collectors buy valuable artifacts without asking unnecessary questions about their origin. Rumor has it, some of them pay "illegal diggers" for their work, because illegal excavations of ancient treasures are hugely profitable. Perhaps the collection of old gold items that were excavated illegally will eventually legalize, and then the owners will be able to showcase them to the public.

Experts consider Bulgaria to be the main exporter of illegally extracted antiquities.

A significant part of the historical artifacts found in Bulgaria is exported abroad — to Switzerland, Austria, Great Britain. "International smuggling is the most negative side of this business," says archaeologist Ovcharov. "The best products are exported abroad. Recently, in one of the antique shops in Berlin, I saw a large collection of Thracian gold jewelry. They are sold freely in a foreign country."

In Bulgaria everything is imbued with history. During the excavations, specialists regularly find new valuable artifacts accumulated in this land for millennia.

In the photo: Ancient Thracian culture and unique archaeological objects that have survived to this day attract thousands of tourists to Bulgaria every year.

 

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