Over the summer of 2008, Bulgaria's National Museum of History and Ministry of Culture gave 22 000 leva to fund archaeological research. Turns that it was worth it - a 1.5m gold necklace-like piece of jewellery, made of 320 beads, was discovered, thought to date to the Bronze Era.
It was found at a dig at a 31m-wide, 2.9m-high mogila (a man-made hill-shaped grave) in the area of Isvorovo, Harmani municipality, by team led by Borislav Borislavov of Sofia University and Nadezhda Ivanova of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
The south Sakar-area mogila, built out of quartz and held together by argillaceous soil, is situated on a small (eight metre-by-two metre) square designed out of gravel and packed-down clay. Researchers discovered that layers of the burial hill dated to two periods - the first, to the first half of the second millennium BCE (the Middle Bronze Age, 2000-1550 BCE); the second, to the second century CE (the Roman era), the National History Museum wrote in a press release on October 20.
Findings from the dig were presented to the press at a news conference at the museum on October 21. The serpentine piece of gold-bead adornment was made of a combination of two mm spherical beads and seven mm barley-shaped pieces; along with the necklace were found two gold objects in the form of a spindle with a solar decoration; gold and silver plating connected by a silver clinch; a sliver clevis; and a bronze blade with a whetstone.
The objects were transported in a richly decorated ceramic container and then buried in between the stones of the mogila.
Items with a similar grain of barley design have also been found on the island of Crete. There, the necklace had 24 beads: the Bulgarian find was 15 time larger.
Borislavov has said that the person buried in the mogila was most likely a high-society figure, perhaps a ruler and high priest. The quantity and the quality of the craftsmanship seen in the items would indicate that the lands of present-day Bulgaria had served as a main trade route connecting Asia Minor, the Balkans and Central Europe - which does not exclude the possibility of the finds having been made by local residents as well.
In the press statement from the National History Museum, also raised was the question of whether it would be beneficial to create a fund dedicated to archaeological research, given Bulgaria's wealth of such finds. The question remains unanswered.