Treasures on display

The most valuable finds of archaeological season 2019 are showcased at the National Museum of History

The gold ring of Kaliakra.

Mycenaean ceramics of the late Bronze Age, gold jewellery and valued Byzantine coins are among the main attractions at an exhibition - titled Ancient finds. New discoveries. Archaeological season 2019 - which is staged at the National Museum of History from mid-December to mid-February. The exposition is a pool of the most interesting finds of last year's archaeological season.

Sixteen sites were excavated in 2019 and two field surveys were made. Geographically, the studied region stretches from the Danube plain via the Black Sea coast to the Rhodope Mountains, including Vitosha and Plana mountains down to the Thracian lowland. The studied sites are of different nature and encompass tells and mounds, antique and medieval fortresses and settlements.

One of the most impressive exhibits is a solid gold signet ring found in Kaliakra, the medieval 'Black Sea capital' of Bulgaria. The ring's band decoration is elaborate and exquisite - it features a dove, an inscription and a monogram of the Constantinople imperial family. It was discovered in one of the graves of the Palaeologus dynasty heirs and belonged to a nobleman who was probably a relative of Balik and Dobrotitsa, the rulers of the Despotate of Dobrudja in the 14th century. The unique find sheds light on the name of the buried man, Georgi, as well as on his noble antecedents.

An extremely rare monetary treasure, found in the late-antique and medieval fortress Balik Dere, is also part of the exposition. The unique coin hoard includes six coins of Alexios I Komnenos minted in 1081. The silver and gold coins are very fine and fragile and very well preserved. Four of them feature St Demetrius and Alexios I Komnenos holding a patriarchal cross, on the rest of the coins the two of them hold a banner. According to one of the theories, these coins were wartime money paid to soldiers as salaries or were used to pay for a military delivery. The find of Balik Dere is the second of its kind discovered within the present borders of Bulgaria.

One of the greatest surprises for the archaeologists was a layer with material from the archaic epoch (7th-6th centuries BC), unearthed near the town of Chernomorets. Numerous fragments of painted ceramic vessels made by the first Greek settlers in this part of the Black Sea coast were found under the floor level in one of the rich Byzantine houses. Among the rare finds are also bronze arrow-coins, forerunners of the first Greek coins of Apollonia Pontica, as well as a Greek bronze arrow dated to the 7th century BC.

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