Biggest ever Thracian hoard
The treasure of Valchitran is a unique sample of ancient toreutics
7 June, 2018
The gold treasure of Valchitran ranks among the most remarkable works of ancient toreutics ever found in Bulgaria. It was discovered accidentally by farmers ploughing their vineyard near the village of Valchitran (Pleven district) in 1925. The treasure consists of 13 vessels weighing in total 12.5kg of pure gold with natural admixtures of silver, copper and iron alloys, which makes it the largest Thracian treasure discovered in our country. Experts date back the treasure to the end of the Bronze Age, i.e. circa 13-12th century BC. Supposedly, it belonged to one of the Thracian king-priests mentioned in The Iliad. At that time, rulers were buried with gold artefacts used by the Thracians during their solar rites. The Thracians believed that gold articles absorb and preserve human energy vibrations. That is why they used to put such articles in a grave together with a buried king-priest and then made new ones for his heir.Seven of the articles in this treasure are shaped like lids (or platters) of different diameter with slightly elongated onion-shaped handles resembling percussion instruments (drums or cymbals). Four are deep cups with upbent handles, as one of the cups is considerably bigger. One vessel weighing 4.4kg is a crater-shaped bowl with high swung handles.One of the pieces is a truly unique work of art - a triple vessel consisting of three almond-shaped bowls connected with tubes forming a system of interconnected vessels. The three almond-shaped bowls are connected in a way that allows to pour in three different liquids, for instance, wine, milk and honey, which then mix with each other. Most probably the vessel was used in rituals dedicated to Dionysus, worshipped by both Greeks and Thracians. Thracian priests used it for fortune-telling and prediction of the coming events. All vessels are exquisitely done and are similar in technique. The handles of the bigger vessel are richly adorned with parallel hems and notches. The gold bodies of the bigger lids are inlaid with silver strips and the centrepiece of the cross-like bronze encasement is decorated with a grain of amber. The smaller lids have three hems, their handles have bronze “lining”. The ornaments of the two bigger lids are made of thin silver plates interlaced with gold.Nowadays, the gold treasure of Valchitran is among the most valuable and interesting monuments of art kept in the Museum of Archaeology in Sofia.
The unique almond-shaped triple vessel.
The ornamented gold lid (platter).
The gold crater weighs over 4kg.
Lids without ornaments.