Rogozen Treasure

The famous treasure was discovered in the village of Rogozen near Vratsa and is the largest silver find in our country, with an overall weight of over 20 kg and a total of 165 silver objects, some of them gilded. According to experts, this is also one of the most significant ancient treasures found in South-eastern Europe; it represented Bulgaria even in the Paris Louvre!

Its unlikely discovery took place by accident, in a vegetable garden bang in the centre of the village, and not such a long time ago, in 1985. A local was digging a trench for a water pipe in his yard and suddenly, just 50 cm below the surface, something incredible flashed up: a bunch of silver utensils - 42 Little jars, 22 phials and one cup! For a while, the lucky guy kept them at home and even sipped brandy from the jars, but after a while the rumour spread out and he handed the found objects to the Vratsa History Museum. Archaeologists continued digging and soon found another 100 vessels. Thus, the total number of objects in the Rogozen treasure reached 165 silver objects, out of which 54 jars, 3 cups and 108 phials. This is twice as many phials as all phials across European museums!

Several versions have been tossed about in the attempts to identify the treasure ancient owners, the most likely being the one that it belonged to a noble family from the Triballi, a Thracian tribe that lived around this area. According to experts from the Vratsa museum, the trove was accumulated over many years, from the 5th century BC to the 40s of the 4th century BC. Archaeologists argue that such an opulent collection provides evidence that a strong Thracian state existed in these lands, and its rulers oversaw a sizeable territory beyond the present-day north-western Bulgaria.

Its items were most likely acquired in different ways – as loot, by trade or as diplomatic gifts, with the latter being corroborated by inscriptions from the rulers of the Odrysians' kingdom, Kotis I and his son Kerseblept. One of the most interesting items is the phial presenting the myth of Heracles and Auge. The presence of this vessel, made in one of the Aegean costal studios, proves the interactions of the local Thracian population with the rest of the ancient world. Another object is presumed to be the work of Persian goldsmiths. The decoration of the trove's items depicts multiple scenes from the religion of the ancient Thracians, in which the great Thracian goddess, represented as the mistress of nature and especially of the animal world, is central. In one of the jars, the goddess is riding a lioness and is armed with a bow and arrow.

There are different theories as to why the treasure was buried in the ground – and not in one, but in two places. The most widely spread version is that it was concealed during a military conflict: Philip's campaign in Thrace (339 BC) or the "Great Celtic invasion" (279 BC).

Useful information:

You can see most of the Rogozen treasure in Vratsa's Regional History Museum, with the twenty remaining vessels owned by the National History Museum in Sofia.

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