From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Thracian Gold

Some Interesting News...



Bulgaria has sent some ancient golden treasures on tour to Paris, and now they are back home again for a few days before traveling to Switzerland and then to Japan. I had read something about the exhibition of the treasure a few months ago, but I hadn't seen any pictures of the pieces.

An article on the news.bg site, "Thracian Gold Treasure from Abroad Back in Bulgaria" includes a photo of one of the pieces. It's not a large photo, but if you look carefully, you can see that the creativity and detail are beautiful, and the workmanship is just incredible, particularly for something that was made around 400 BC.

I learned from a summary of various Thracian treasures that the piece I admired is a rhyton, a vessel that can be used either for drinking or for pouring liquids (as in a ceremony.) It is part of a group of rhytons that was found in a mountain town in central Bulgaria by brickworkers who were digging up clay.

The Thracians were known as great warriors; Spartacus, the gladiator slave who led a rebel war against the Romans, was a Thracian. And they were renowned throughout the ancient world as expert metalworkers; in The Iliad, Homer describes the Thracian King's golden armor as "a wonder to behold, such as it is in no wise fit for mortal men to bear, but for the deathless gods."

Source: "Treasures Fit For The Kings," by Jumana Farouky, published in Time, May 29, 2005.

If you like history, I encourage you to look at the links I've included here. They whetted my curiosity about the Thracians enough that I'm going to see if I can find an article about them in the decades of National Geographic magazines shelved in our hallway. (And there I have revealed the source of my fascination with treasures like this -- many, many hours spent with National Geographic as a child.)

I'm glad that the people of Bulgaria are learning more about their ancient history, and I am impressed that they are sharing these priceless treasures with the world by sending them on tour. They should be very proud.

Update:
If you have a National Geographic archive near at hand, check out these articles:

  • July, 1980, "Ancient Bulgaria's Golden Treasure"
  • June, 1988, "Visage From Ancient Thrace"
  • Dec. 2006, "Bulgaria's Gold Rush"


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A year ago today, I wondered if America's bread basket has enough water to produce biofuels as well as food.

2 comments:

limey said...

Strangely enough I was reading about this in a recent edition of National Geographic. I can't tell you which one as it was not mine. But it told of the attempts being made to find and catalogue this treasure before the looters rob it or the developers build over it. It is sad that such an illustrious past is being destroyed through the greed of the few. The following is a link to a National geographic article.Unfortunately you will have to copy and paste.

http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0612/feature4/

Genevieve said...

Thank you for looking that up, Limey. That article has some great photos of some of the Thracian treasures in the gallery section. I think photo #12 is the same drinking vessel that I was admiring in the small photo I saw.

In a way, I hate it that the graves of those people are being opened, but since the looting is inevitable, the museums should own the treasures, not private collectors who buy from thieves.

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