Fri, May 24 2013
A gold Thracian breastplate found near the village of Golemanite, Veliko Turnovo municipality, has proven pivotal to the re-construction of the Thracian Calendar. Using a mathematical model, Ventseslav Tsonev of the Regional Historical Museum in Veliko Turnovo presented his findings at a conference on Treasures and Sacred Typography, held recently in Sliven.
"In the Thracians' calendar, there are three seasons and 60 main holidays. A year consisted of 12 months with 360 days, five days being added to the last month every year." As there are no written records dealing with the Thracians' concept of time, the reconstruction of the calendar was done on the basis of the symbols on the metal plates worn by the Thracians. Tsonev has studied seven out of 40 Thracian breastplates found in Bulgaria. Particular attention has been paid to a gold breastplate found near Golemanite. The inscriptions on these breastplates consist mainly of serpents, geometrical figures and lines. Studies have indicated that the number of serpents and lines are fixed to correspond to the numbers considered to be holy by the Thracians. According to Tsonev, the Thracians' calendar resembles very closely the one used by Egyptians for thousands of years. In the main, knowledge of the Thracians has tended to rely solely upon ancient Greek depictions of them as a savage, tribal society that had no politics and no alphabet of its own.
However, in July 2004, Bulgarian archeologist Georgi Kitov excavated an ancient tomb near Kazanluk. After three months of digging, Kitov surfaced with more than 130 pieces of magnificent jewellery, weaponry and ritual artefacts that show Thracian culture rivalled that of the Greeks. They prove that the Thracians were "not a society of barbarians," says Alexander Fol, a Bulgarian expert on Thracian history.
"They had a system of values and were consciously abiding by it. This was an aristocratic society with a great hierarchy."
Gold breastplates of the kind studied by Tsonev were also discovered by Kitov. It is mainly due to the archaeological discoveries of Kitov and men like him that any light has been shed on the mysterious Thracians.
Thrace was an ancient geographical and political area ruled by the Byzantine Empire until early in the ninth century when most of the region was incorporated into Bulgaria. Subsequently the region formerly known as Thrace has been fought over by Bulgaria, Byzantium, Turkey and Greece. The Thracians were known as great warriors; Spartacus, the gladiator slave who led a rebel war against the Romans, was a Thracian. And they were renowned throughout the ancient world as expert metalworkers; in The Iliad, Homer describes the Thracian King's golden armour as "a wonder to behold, such as it is in no wise fit for mortal men to bear, but for the deathless gods".
It is quite fitting that Sliven was the location for the presentation of Tsonevs' findings, Sliven being a former Thracian city itself. Other Bulgarian cities associated with Thrace include; Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Kazanluk, Haskovo and Bourgas.
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