Bulgaria’s law enforcement agencies have confiscated a cache of archaeological finds, including gold artefacts dating back to the third millennium BCE, which were handed over to the National Museum of History in Sofia on April 14.
The three unique golden necklaces, made of as many as 15 000 individual pieces, is thought to be the second oldest golden treasure dug out in Bulgaria (only the items found in the Varna necropolis, dating back to the mid-fifth millennium BCE, which are among the oldest samples of golden artefacts in the world, are older).
The other items seized by the State Agency for National Security (SANS) include a marble slab with a relief of the Thracian horseman, dating to the second or third century CE, two artillery guns and about 100 coins and items dating from antiquity to the Middle Ages.
Details of the bust are scarce, with SANS declining to give any details because the investigation is ongoing. However, Bulgaria’s Culture Ministry said in a statement that two people were detained and one was facing charges.
Archaeological finds are considered state property in Bulgaria, but illegal treasure-hunting remains a lucrative industry, given the long history of human habitation in Bulgaria – going back to the Neolithic, through Thracian and Roman sites, as well as a rich medieval history pre-Ottoman conquest.
National Museum of History director Bozhidar Dimitrov estimated that the golden necklaces alone could have fetched a price of up to five million euro from private collectors.
“This historical value of this treasure is exceptional, because it dates to the third millennium BCE, a time during which we have no marks of high civilisation in Bulgarian lands. The three necklaces, all from the same necropolis, were likely worn by high-born women,” Dimitrov said, as quoted by Focus news agency.
(Photo: Bulgarian Culture Ministry)