The gold treasure of Panagjurischte is an example of the goldsmithing of the Thracians. Photo: Nenko Lazarov Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution 2.5)
The people of the Thracians, who lived in present-day Bulgaria from the third millennium BC, were for a long time a people of robbers and barbarians. Far from it, archaeologists now say: New finds prove that the Thracians were far superior to their much more famous neighbor Troy as a goldsmith. And its mountain sanctuary was even bigger than the Acropolis in Athens. The story of one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries of recent years began in a grocery store: Two Bulgarian archaeologists entered a shop in Sopot on the southern slope of the Balkan Mountains that spring in the spring of 2004 when they noticed a necklace of small gold beads on the neck of a young saleswoman. The young woman's husband had found the pearls while plowing, turned out. The scientists went about it, and soon after, the excavations began among ten artificial heaped mounds in the fields of the village of Dabene, 120 kilometers east of Sofia.

Just over three years later, archaeologist Martin Christov of the National Historical Museum of Sofia and his team had recovered around 25, 000 gold pieces: beads, discs, spirals, cylinders, small rings and platelets - an overwhelming amount, even for Bulgaria, where time and again Gold jewelry appears. The researchers were all the more surprised when they determined the age of the jewelry: it dates from the beginning of the third millennium BC, making it the second oldest known processed gold of humanity.

But the amazement continued as jewelry experts examined the quality of the gold treasure. Despite their size of only one to two millimeters, the beads showed no processing errors - a precision that nobody would have thought possible for the time and which could be achieved only with the help of magnifying glasses. Boshidar Dimitrov, director of the National Historical Museum in Sofia, suggests that the goldsmiths cut, polished and used volcanic glass to thin lenses, the science magazine "bild der wissenschaft" reported in its October issue. However, such lenses have not been discovered so far.

One of the most outstanding finds was a dagger made of an alloy of gold and platinum. The rare and harder precious metal platinum gave the weapon hardness and durability: The blade was therefore razor-sharp even after thousands of years. display

At the latest after this find, it was clear: the people who had once made these weapons and jewelry had a sophisticated culture. You must have belonged to the people of the Thracians - a collective term for numerous tribes that lived in the Mediterranean up to the Carpathians in present-day Romania. The center of the settlement area of ​​the once great people was today's Bulgaria.

At the beginning of the third millennium, the Thracians could have had a superior position in the Aegean, according to archaeologists. In any case, the Thracians were superior in goldsmithing. For example, the legendary treasure of Priam excavated by Heinrich Schliemann in Troy is not only much younger, he has also not worked artificially. The archaeologists in Troy had not encountered Platinum objects at all. The Bulgarian thracologist Vakeruha Fol was therefore even carried away to the provocative question: "Was Troy in the end a colony of early Thracians?" Quotes "image of science" the archaeologist.

The great influence of the Thracians on the cultural development of this region is also indicated by numerous other finds and not least written records. Both Homer and Herodotus report on Thracian cults and sites of religious significance. The designations often correspond to the later Greek traditions. Thus, the Thracians worshiped a nameless mother goddess as the central divinity - a figure that later made the Greeks Artemis. Her son Sabazios was the sun god, who corresponds to the Greek Apollo.

For the outstanding importance of the Thracians also speak the excavations on the mountain Perperikon in the Rhodope Mountains, about twenty kilometers northeast of the city Kardshali. Over the past three decades, archaeologists have advanced further and further into the past as they work on the 470 meter high massif and have gradually unearthed a kind of Thracian acropolis in a giant format: the cult complex on the top of the mountain peaked at its greatest expansion in the first millennium Christ was an area of ​​twelve square kilometers and was thus a hundred times larger than her later built famous Greek counterpart.

The complex consisted of cultic towers carved out of the rock and open to the sky, stone carved altars, halls, staircases, corridors and palaces. The architectural similarities to Greek cities and to Troy are often unmistakable. Ceramic finds indicate that a solar cult was practiced here. The finds also show that the Thracians maintained trade relations as far as Crete.

All these discoveries make the Thracians appear as an equal culture alongside the Cretan, Mycenaean and Trojan cultures. One thing is for sure: the Thracians had their reputation as rogue and bankrupt.

Ronald Sprafke: "Thrace beats Troy" bild der wissenschaft 10/2008, p. 68 ddp / Ulrich Dewald

Recommended Editor'S Choice