Studying Philip II’s Remains

Ages ago when I first started gathering news items and the like to share in various fora, I subscribed to the Athens News Agency feeds … as they were subscribed via a very old email address (which is basically a spamtrap now) I didn’t pay much attention to them any more but out of curiosity last week I was browsing through them and found this item, which does not seem to have made it into an English newspaper source:

A small portion of the skeleton of the ancient king Philip II of Macedon,
the father of Alexander the Great, is to be taken for testing to the
Demokritos National Centre for Scientific Research, Thessaloniki’s
Archaeological Museum announced on Wednesday.

The ancient king’s remains were found inside a golden larnax, or casket,
considered one of the most valuable objects of the ancient world, found
inside the main chamber of grave II at the Vergina archaeological site
in northern Greece.

The aim of the transfer is the microscopic examination, analysis and
photography of an unknown substance covering the bones, which has
also been found in other Macedonian tombs. This is the first time
this substance will be analysed to discover its chemical and mineral
composition, with the results are expected to yield valuable information
concerning the larnax corrosion processes and the ritual materials used
in that period.

A request for the transfer of the shards of bonds from the head of
the Vergina digs was approved by the Central Archaeological Council
on Tuesday.

… I guess I’ll have to monitor this source a bit more closely …

Thracian Gold

This is another one I’ve been sitting on because the darned story kept developing — something not normally seen with finds from Bulgaria. In any event, here’s the original notice from Novinite:

Bulgarian archaeologists have found a unique gold Thracian treasure in the famous Sveshtari tomb.

The team, led by one of the most prominent Bulgarian experts on Thracian archaeology, Prof. Diana Gergova, from the National Archaeology Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, BAS, made the discovery during excavations at the so-called Omurtag mount.

The researchers found fragments of a wooden box, containing charred bones and ashes, along with a number of extremely well-preserved golden objects, dated from the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century B. C.. They include four spiral gold bracelets, and a number of intricate applications like one which shows the head of a female goddess adorned with beads, applications on horse riding gear and a forehead covering in the shape of a horse head with a base shaped like a lion head. The objects weigh 1.5 kg, but the excavations continue.

The precious find also contains a ring, buttons and beads. Gergova explains that it seemed the treasure was wrapped in a gold-woven cloth because a number of gold threads were discovered nearby.

The Professor says these were, most likely, remnants from a ritual burial, adding the team expects to discover a huge burial ground, probably related to the funeral of the Gath ruler Kotela, one of the father-in-laws of Philip II of Macedon. She notes this is a unique find, never before discovered in Bulgaria.

According to her, the Omurtag mount is the biggest one in the Gath center, which was their religious and political capital while the Gath were the tribe that influenced the most western tribes such as the Celts.

Gergova expects the treasure will entice the Culture Ministry to finally fund in full this emblematic Thracian site, part of the archaeological reserve Sboryanovo with the Sveshtari tomb, which is on the world cultural-historical heritage list of UNESCO.

The Professor says the Omurtag mount must be turned into a museum where the excavated segment could become an exhibit hall.

… and I initially found the connection to Philip II interesting, and planned on mentioning that and moving on. Then, for reasons unknown, this story caught on. Art Daily, Greek Reporter, and the Telegraph, to name but three, were giving the find some attention.  Al Jazeera gave a nice video report as well:

And shortly after this media frenzy, the story seems to have taken a different turn. Novinite then was telling us that the Louvre ‘Eyes’ Bulgaria’s Newest Thracian Treasure and that Magnificent Bulgarian Thracian Gold ‘Outshines’ Obama’s Win. Of course, it’s only natural to follow those up with being told Bulgarians Want Unique Thracian Treasure Back in Hometown, while the Daily Mail decided to take it to it’s usual sensationalistic extreme: Golden discovery: Archaeologists discover astonishing haul ‘linked to Alexander the Great’ in network of tombs in Bulgaria … but they had some really nice photos. Things seem to have quietened down a bit over the past few days … it is a nice find.