The Dabene Treasure
Golden treasures of a Ancient civilization from the 3rd millennium BC.
In 2004, by a mere chance, archaeology received a precious gift – the treasure from the village of Dabene, Karlovo, Bulgaria.
In the spring of 2004, near the town of Sopot, an archaeological expedition was making excavations in a Roman roadside service station, located on an old Roman road that passed nearby. One day two archaeologists entered a shop in the town and noticed a woman wearing a golden necklace reminding them of ancient gold. She told them that her husband came across it while ploughing a field in Dabene. The man showed them the place and soon after that the archaeologists started their excavations. In the period 2004-2007 over 20 000 gold jewellery items from 18 to 23 carats were found – beads, necklace rings, earrings, spirals, hairpins, little golden amulets in the form of an adze and other exquisitely wrought ornaments – the smallest are with a diameter of 1,5 mm. That’s an unthinkable size according to our idea of the technologies of the Bronze Age. The items date from the end of the 3rd millennium BC. It turned out that a highly developed civilization inhabited the Karlovo Valley at that time and according to some scientist the precious metal was exported to the entire Middle and Southern Europe. And the gold was wrought by local master goldsmiths who lived in these regions. Especially interesting is the place itself, where the items were found. The archaeologists knew about a prehistoric settlement from the 4th-3rd millennium BC but it was located several kilometers from here. On the place of the findings there are no traces of a settlement or buildings, of fires, and there are no clues that this is an ancient necropolis. The finds are made in hundreds of little mounds in the field itself. Ceramic, bronze and silver vessels, as well as a golden plaque were found in them. Probably the items were buried as a sacrifice to an unknown deity, most likely to the Great Mother Goddess of the Thracians. The vessels were put in the ground, the golden necklaces were torn and scattered above them and then covered with earth as a gift to the Goddess.
By the excavations in 2006 a unique golden dagger or poniard was found – alloy of gold, platinum and other metals with a high purity of the gold. The golden dagger is 16 cm (6.3 inch) long. Its point end is cut and sharpened and at the butt end there are two holes used for fastening the haft, made of bone or wood. The alloy that it was made of is so hard that the dagger remained sharp through the millennia and the gold content is so high that it was preserved in a perfect condition without patina. It is one of a kind in the entire world. Scientists assume that it represented the power of its owner and most probably belonged to a ruler or a priest.
At the time of the excavations in 2007, in a deep and stone-filled pit, were found eight different in kind and size ceramic vessels, one cup and a golden spiral made of high quality gold and interestingly wrought – from a narrow golden pipe.
The research continues. We don’t know what more will be found out about the ancient civilization that existed here, but the Dabene finds have already changed the ideas of the archaeologists and scientists regarding the forming of the European civilization. They threw light on the influence of this ancient civilization, existed on the territory of contemporary Bulgaria, on the development of the European civilization. The Dabene treasure gives the connection between the age old civilization of the Varna Culture and the treasures from the village of Hotnitsa from the 5th millennium BC, which were somehow isolated in time until now, with no relation to the Thracian tribes and their masterpieces from the better known 1st and 2nd millennia BC. Are these the more ancient ancestors of the Thracians, called “pre-Thracians”? What happened in the 5th millennium so they disappeared for 2 000 years? Invasions of other tribes, wars, a world cataclysm, a flood? We hope to find answers to these questions with the help of the archaeologists.