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Re: [Ancientartifacts] Thracian Gold, Bulgaria

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  • jpisc98357@aol.com
    In a message dated 11/1/2004 2:02:45 PM Central Standard Time, doris-butler@sbcglobal.net writes: ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2004
      In a message dated 11/1/2004 2:02:45 PM Central Standard Time, doris-butler@... writes:

      From Reuters Science News


      There is a "slideshow" at the news page, which should be easily found
      off Reuters or any top Science News listing.
      -----------------------------Science - Reuters

      Bulgaria Strikes Gold in Hunt for Ancient Thracians

      Mon Nov 1,11:01 AM ET   Science - Reuters

      By Tsvetelia Ilieva

      SHIPKA, Bulgaria (Reuters) - Georgi Kitov's hands trembled as he
      cradled the glittering visage of an ancient king unearthed from a tomb in southern Bulgaria.  

      "This is the face of an evil ruler!" cried the archaeologist,
      marveling at the cruel gaze from the mask of solid gold, the size of
      a dinner plate.

      The mask dates back to the 5th century BC -- the golden age of the
      little-known Thracians -- and has been hailed as an unrivalled find
      in the study of classical antiquity.

      If Kitov and other archaeologists from Bulgaria have their way, it is
      just a glimpse of what is to come.

      The fall of communism 15 years ago halted the exploration of
      thousands of tombs and settlements, some said to be older than
      ancient Troy, as the impoverished Balkan state turned its attention
      to rebuilding its weak economy.

      As new funding begins to trickle in, Kitov and scores of others are
      working furiously to thwart modern-day tomb raiders and find out more
      about the mysterious Thracians, who experts say founded one of
      Europe's earliest refined cultures.

      "These are the biggest excavation works in 15 years," said Bozhidar
      Dimitrov, curator at the Bulgarian History Museum. "And it is no
      surprise that the findings are amazing."


      Not much history has survived of the Thracians, who some experts say
      lived in what is now Bulgaria, Romania, northern Greece and Turkey's
      European territory from as early as 4000 B.C. until being absorbed by
      the Roman Empire in 46 AD.

      The historian Herodotus described them as "savage, blood-thirsty
      warriors" who worshiped only the gods of war and wine, engaging in
      plunder and wild orgies on the fringes of the ancient Greek and Roman

      The Thracians left no written accounts, and archaeologists complain
      that sources from other cultures are biased -- the Greeks considered
      them barbarians.

      But a look at the hundreds of finely wrought pieces of jewelry and
      other artifacts excavated from burial mounds in Bulgaria's "Valley of
      Thracian Kings" tells a different story.

      A current exhibition of the treasures at Germany's Kunst und
      Ausstellungshalle museum describes the Thracians as "one of the most
      influential civilisations of the antique world."

      "We've excavated seven tombs this year and their design, along with
      decorated ceramics, bronze, gold and silver jewels, shows we are
      dealing with a developed civilisation," Kitov said.

      Living on the edge of Asia, the Thracians came into contact with
      great civilisations who passed through their homelands: the Persians,
      Scythians, Greeks, Celts, Romans and even the Egyptian empire.

      "Bulgaria indeed is one of the cradles of culture on the old
      continent. The first well-developed human civilisation dwelt here
      6,000 years ago," Dimitrov said.


      For thousands of years, Thracians rulers have lain in their tombs,
      accompanied in the afterlife by the most important of their wives and
      gold and silver vessels full of rich treasures.

      But now the troves face a new danger, as grave robbers grow bolder
      and more sophisticated and smugglers take advantage of weak laws,
      widespread corruption and lack of government funding.

      Experts complain that all of the 1,500 mounds in the Valley of
      Thracian Kings in southern Bulgaria have been disturbed by looters
      who are better equipped than the toiling archaeologists.

      Just a day after discovering the 690-gramme gold mask, Kitov returned
      to the tomb only to find that treasure hunters had ransacked it in
      search of other precious objects.

      "Looters do not care about anything else but the gold. They destroy
      everything else that is not worth exporting -- ceramics, frescos, and
      the chambers themselves," he said.

      "It is a disaster. We are just picking up the crumbs."

      Kitov and his team hope to investigate all of the mounds in the
      Valley, backed with private funding from the local museum and a
      private western European foundation.

      But further plans to open the sites to tourists are in doubt, as the
      struggling economy -- average wages are among the lowest in Europe at
      150 euros a month -- makes funding scarce.

      "We are planning to start a guided tour at the five most attractive
      Thracian tombs," said Kossio Zhelev, curator at the history museum in
      Kazanlak. "Hopefully the recent finds will open the tight purse
      strings of the state."

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