Panagyurishte treasure


One frosty morning on the 8th of December 1949 three brothers – Pavel, Petko and Michail Deikovi worked together at the region of “Merul” tile factory near Panagyurishte. It’s about ten o’clock in the morning, when processing a new layer of clay they came across unusual glossy objects. With all of its magnificence a fabulous set of vessel glittered in front of the workers.

At once, the three brothers, without hesitation decided to report this discovery to the city authorities.

This is the rebirth of an unique masterpiece of an ancient art. A triumphal tour includes more that 40 worlds capitals and cities – Rome, Paris, New York, Moscow, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Tokyo, Mexico city, New Delhi, Montreal, Madrid, Boston, Detroit, Helsinki. Wherever shown in the world, it arouses administration of academics and admirers of antiquity.

The Panagyurishte treasure consists of nine utensils with rich decoration. It is made of solid gold and weights 6.164 kg.

The biggest utensil is an Amphora rhyton. Seven utensils are rhyta (horn-shaped), three are in the shape of animal heads, one is like front part of he-goat’s body, three are like women’s heads, and one is phiale. It’s most likely that the set was used for drinking wine in religious context or in everyday life. There is opinion, that it was designated for ritual purifying of a liquid, probably wine, by decanting from one utensil into another.

The biggest, most interesting and most important utensil is the amphora-rhyton, which is interpreted as being used for swearing brotherhood (two men drink at the same time from it or they fill two other utensils, placed under the amphora) because of its two apertures at the bottom. The two other rhyta are in the shape of heads of a stag of a fallow deer. The “Judgment of Paris”, the cause of the Trojan War, well known from mythology, is portrayed on one of the necks. On the neck of the other one are portrayed two heroic scenes – Herakles overcomes the foe and the Thesus fights the Marathonian Bull. The he-goat rhyton is embossed too. Zeus’s wife – Hera, is sitting in the middle of the image and beside her – Artemis and Apollo. On the backside is shaped the goddess of the victory – Nike. Three of the Rhytons probably present Amazons. The phiale from Panagyurishte treasure, with its size and weight, is biggest and the heaviest phiale so far from the antiquity know. Its decoration, which is placed in four concentric circles, is unique too. The circle closest to the center consists of acorns and the rest three circles represents Negro heads.

The treasure is dated to the last 3-4 decades of the 4th century b.c. There are reasons to presume the existence of a Thracian art workshop around Panagyurishte.

Masters with different skills made decorations at this workshop. Some were perfunctory shaped like those on the golden pectoral from Strelcha, the Mramor collection near Panagyurishte, and possibly like those on the bottom of the amphora rhyton. Others were imposing exquisite images like skyphos from Strelcha, the rhyton from Poroyna – Romania, and why not, the whole Panagyurishte treasure.

This treasure represents Thracian the creative and technical traditions. Their traditions contributed to the development of Balkan nations culture.



Nadejda Karaboycheva


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