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BBC Article--Bulgaria

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    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3999145.stm Bulgaria hopes to exploit golden heritage By Albena Dimitrova BBC Bulgarian service Bulgaria s ancient Thracian
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 11 6:47 AM
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      Bulgaria hopes to exploit golden heritage
      By Albena Dimitrova
      BBC Bulgarian service

      Bulgaria's ancient Thracian heritage has been thrust into the
      spotlight this year with a number of key archaeological discoveries
      in the so-called "Valley of the Thracian Kings".

      The find near Shipka uncovered beautiful gold artefacts
      The golden treasures are attracting international attention and there
      is a push to make the Thracian heritage Bulgaria's trademark abroad
      in a bid to boost tourism in one of the poorer East European

      Even the local people cannot believe that Bulgaria, with an income
      per capita reaching less than a third of the EU average, has managed
      to unearth kilos of pure gold worth millions of dollars.

      But, for many, there is more interest in a tapping a richer vein as
      property sales to foreign buyers are going through the roof.

      Among the latest archaeological finds was the discovery of a 2,400-
      year-old Thracian shrine near the small town of Shipka, in the very
      heart of Bulgaria. Experts say it contains the burial of local king
      Seutus III - a mighty rival to Alexander the Great.

      The shrine consisted of three chambers buried under a big hill. The
      entry was sealed with a marble door, a masterpiece in itself.

      Gold valley

      In the first chamber, there lay the skeleton of a horse. But the real
      treasure waited in the third. The team went in to find a lavishly
      arranged burial place, a gold wreath and objects lying around.


      Lived in what is now Bulgaria, Romania, northern Greece and Turkey
      from around 4000 BC
      Conquered by Romans in AD46
      Not thought to have had own alphabet
      Described by Herodotus as "savage, blood-thirsty warriors"
      Finds include ceramics, bronze, gold and silver jewels
      It took the archaeologist several minutes to realise that the
      cracking sound under their feet came from smaller gold parts lying
      all over the place.

      Ancient findings such as this are not uncommon for this area south of
      the Balkan Mountains, aptly named the "Valley of the Thracian Kings".

      Weeks earlier the same team had discovered a rare gold mask.

      Scientists compare the new find to the discovery of King Agamemnon's
      tomb in Mycenae by Sir Arthur Evans in the 19th century.

      Archaeological excavations have therefore taken centre stage in
      Bulgaria. The Bulgarian media rediscovered the Indiana Jones type
      mystery of ancient civilizations and 2004 became "The Year of the

      Public emotion went as far as the idea of using the new gold treasure
      to promote Bulgaria, under the logo "The Valley of the Thracian

      But can ancient gold change Bulgaria's image and attract foreign
      tourists and investment?

      Historians themselves are not really fond of the idea.

      The director of The National Archaeological Museum told the BBC the
      real treasures are not the gold objects, but the tombs discovered in
      the area.

      About a dozen of these tombs are really interesting and can attract
      foreign visitors if an adequate infrastructure is developed.

      Putting the ancient gold to work is not a new idea for Bulgaria.
      Three other earlier, and much bigger treasures, are touring Europe,
      America and Japan under the general title "The Thracian gold".

      These exhibitions started long back in communist times. The result so
      far is that they can hardly ever be seen in the country. However,
      public relations experts admit it is difficult to judge to what
      extent, if any, these exhibitions have increased interest in Bulgaria

      Property prospecting

      Even if such treasures were to prove worldwide success (the
      organisers of the Expo 2005 in Japan have already invited the new
      treasure for an exhibition), for Bulgarians there might be a better
      shortcut to prosperity.

      Many Bulgarians hope foreigners will bring them wealth
      The last two or three years registered record property sales in areas
      close to the Black Sea coast and in Bulgaria's mountain resorts.

      Many British and German buyers are being drawn to Bulgaria, attracted
      by lower property prices, a longer summer, beautiful countryside,
      cheap natural food and a generally easier living for people with
      Western pensions in a country with a much lower cost of living.

      The trend is welcomed by local people who can otherwise barely
      subsist on their own modest pensions.

      Gossip between neighbours over the fence as to who sold what for how
      much to a foreigner has become a common subject for conversation - an
      interest the Thracian gold is yet to arise even in the hearts of
      Bulgarians themselves.
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