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."
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.
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.