The images you'll see as you scroll down to the current text are all part of the story telling in my novel, Realms of Gold:Ritual to Romance.

Bianca Caldwell, pen name, Bianca Fiore, is a writer for an art magazine. In each of her monthly stories she describes an object used in ancient ritual.

Thracian Gold: Panagyurishte Gold Rhytas

The golden treasure from Panagyurishte was found in 1949 two kilometers to the south of Panagyurishte. It is dated back to the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century BC . The treasure consists of an extremely beautiful set of Rhytas with rich decorations and ornaments. It was used in feasts or in libations and rituals related to the Thracian mythology. It consists of 9 vessels made of pure gold, weighing over 6 kg (13.2 lb).

Four of the rhyta are shaped as animals’ heads or torsos – ram, goat, and two of them have fallow deer heads.

The upper part of the rhyta is decorated with scenes and heroes from the Greek mythology.

Rams Head

Goat Torso

The Rhyton is with antler”s head and very elaborately modeled big horns.The handle end is with the body of a lion whose forepaws rest on the mouth rim.The decoration on his neck illustrates the popular story from the Greek mythology about the Judgement of Paris,also known by the name Alexander, which caused the burst of the Trojan War.

The importance of the event is emphasized by using the typical for the Thracian art solar disc on the animals forehead.The hero was supposed to choose among three goddesses: Athena ,Hera and Aphrodite,in order to ward the most beautiful one with the golden apple, Paris chose the goddess of love and beauty who gave him as reward Helen of Troy to be his wife. This kindled not only the war but also the wrath of the two neglected goddesses. With the exception of the awarded Aphrodite, all the figures are seated. Their clothing is depicted in great detail,with all natural curves, jewellery and typical for everyone attributes. Even though easily recognizable,there is a dotted inscription about their names.The handle ends in the lower part in the shape of beautiful woman”s head.

On one of the rhyta are depicted god Dionysus with Ariadne (a Cretan princess) on the feast on the occasion of their wedding. Three of the vessels are jugs with Amazon heads. Their handles are formed as mythological creatures with animal figures and human heads.

Thracian Gold: Panagyurishte Treasure

The Panagyurishte Treasure is a Thracian treasure excavated on December 8, 1949 by three brothers, Pavel, Petko and Michail Deikov who worked together at the region of “Merul” tile factory near the town of Panagyurishte, Bulgaria.

It consists of a phiale, an amphora and seven rhytons with total weight of 6.164 kg of 24-karat gold. All of the objects are richly and skilfully decorated with scenes of Thracian myths, customs and life. It is dated from the 4th-3rd centuries BC, and is thought to have been used as a royal ceremonial set by the Thracian king Seuthes III.

The items may have been buried to hide them during 4th century BC invasions of the area by the Celts or Macedonians. The phiale carries inscriptions giving its weight in Greek drachmae and Persian darics.

Golden phiale (4th–3rd century BC)

A skilfully made shallow bowl, called phiale has four concentric circles on it, with 24 relief ornaments in each circle, which become smaller from the rim to the centre of the phiale. The biggest and the next two circles are arranged with Negro heads, and the last, most internal, circle consists of a row of acorns. Between the rows of elements the phiale is decorated with floral ornaments.

A rhyton (plural rhytons or, following the Greek plural, rhyta) is a container from which fluids were intended to be drunk or to be poured in some ceremony such as libation.

The Thracians were ruled by a warrior aristocracy that had access to plentiful gold deposits at the mouth of the Danube River, which contained one of the largest ancient supplies of the metal. They enjoyed a vibrant trade with their neighbors, including the Scythians to the north, and the Greeks to the south—a fact reflected in Thracian art.

"The styles that have been found in Thracian art and Thracian gold represent a mix of Scythian, Greek, and Macedonian cultures, and of course Thracian culture itself."

Golden amphora, part of the Panagyuriste treasure, 4th to 3rd century BC.
Most interesting regarding its form and decoration is the big amphora above. Its handles are formed as fighting centaurs, and the two openings for pouring the wine, located at the bottom end of the vessel, represent Negro heads. Between the Negro heads is the figure of the child Heracles, fighting the snake. The amphora is richly decorated with realistic scenes from the Greek mythology.

Amphora-detail. The Panagyurishte Golden Treasure

The Thracians either had skillful craftsmen themselves, or access to Greek craftsmen. They made beautifully ornate golden and silver objects such as various kinds of vessels, rhytons, facial masks, pectorals, jewelry, weapons, etc. These show strong, and increasing, influence from the neighboring cultures, especially the Greeks. They used to bury rich hoards of precious objects both to hide them in times of enemy invasions and unrest as well as for ritual purposes. To date, more than 80 Thracian treasures have been excavated or, more often than not, accidentally found in Bulgaria.