November 9, 2012
Bounty Of Golden Artifacts Unearthed From 2,400-year-old Bulgarian Tomb
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Bulgarian archeologists announced that they have unearthed a bounty of golden jewelry, sculptures, and other artifacts from a 2,400-year old tomb located in northern Bulgaria.
The artifacts were found in a wooden box that contained burnt bones and ritual items, which had been wrapped in a gold-weave cloth. The tomb belonged to the Getae, an ancient tribal people that were rivals with the ancient Greeks and part of a larger group of tribes called the Thracians. The Thracians inhabited an area west of the Black Sea for around 1,000 years, starting around the 5th century B.C.E.
Among the artifacts discovered were four bracelets with snake heads, a tiara with reliefs of lions and fantasy animals, a horse-head ornamental piece, a golden ring, 44 female figure depictions and 100 golden buttons.
"These are amazing findings from the apogee of the rule of the Getae," lead researcher Diana Gergova, from the Sofia-based National Archaeology Institute, told The Guardian. "From what we see up to now, the tomb may be linked with the first known Getic ruler, Cothelas."
The Thracians are well-known among archeologists for their goldsmithing skills and the volume of valuables in the tomb could indicate that the person buried there was among the society´s elite--possibly Cothelas himself. Cothelas was well-connected in this area of the ancient world and even forged a treaty with the Macedonian king Philip II, becoming his vassal.
The location where the artifacts were found is located in a larger Getic burial complex about 250 miles northeast of Sofia. One of the tombs in the larger site is the Tomb of Sveshtari, a UNESCO world heritage site. The tomb is famous for its murals and half-woman, half-plant sculpture that are unique throughout the Thracian territory, what is currently Bulgaria, northern Greece, Romania and Turkey.
Of all the Thracian tribes, the Getae had a more prominent reputation among the peoples of the ancient world; with the Greek historian Herodotus writing that they were “the noblest as well as the most just of all the Thracian tribes.”
The Getae saw their series of conflicts over the centuries with Philip II conquering the region in the 4th century B.C.E. The Macedonian Wars of the late 3rd and early 2nd century B.C.E. found the Thracians squarely between the Romans and Macedonians. The region would eventually fall under Roman control after 50 years of conflicts.
The volatility of the region would remain consistent even under Roman control. In the early first century B.C.E. the Romans marched against the Getae as they had aligned themselves with Mithridates VI, a Pontic king who ruled parts of Asia Minor. They were eventually subjugated by Augustus in the late first century B.C.E., with the exception of the Getic peoples living north of the Danube River who maintained their autonomy.
Several hundred years later, as the Roman Empire was in decline, several historians of the time began to refer to the Visigoths and other invading peoples as Getae.
From History of the Wars by the Procopius: "There were many Gothic nations in earlier times, just as also at the present, but the greatest and most important of all are the Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, and Gepaedes. In ancient times, however, they were named Sauromatae and Melanchlaeni; and there were some too who called these nations Getic.”