The objects were discovered by chance in the lands of the village of Panayot Hitovo, Omurtag Region. According to the information given by the discoverers, they had been deposited in a crudely made ceramic vessel (urn?) with a buckle decoration. They did not notice any traces of coals and bones.
The find comprises several groups of adornments: 11 silver crescent plates and one electrum – elements of a breast decoration, attached probably to a leather, or a metal armor; 12 silver bracelets with open ends; spirally coiled silver bands and 56 hemispherical appliqués that might have been sewn on a garment. Their shape, the material they are made of, and their purpose give reason to interpret them as insignias that had marked the position of the ruler-priest in the Mycenaean Thrace during the Bronze Age.
The two possible hypotheses concerning the character of the objects in the find – as funeral offerings or as a deposited treasure – are both related to the ritual interring of the royal insignias, a ritual act intended to make the space sacral, and at the same time, to mark the symbolic death of the ruler and his sacred marriage with the Great Mother Goddess.
1. Crescent-shaped plaques, 12 pcs, silver, electrum.
The lunula-like breast decorations, shaped as a ‘collar’, made of whole gold or bronze sheet – single or composed of separate, situated in bands elements – are observed both in representations and among archaeological material from the third – second millennia BC, coming from a broad geographic area: from Anatolia, Asia Minor and Egypt to the regions of the middle and upper course of the Danube River in the west, and to the British Isles in the northwest.
The closest analogues of the plates from Panayot Hitovo, made in silver and electrum are exceptionally rare: two similar objects were found in Emenska and Tabashka Caves in North Bulgaria (dated in the Early and Middle Bronze Ages), and two were discovered in the region of the Carpathian Mountains (pres. Romania), which had been deposited in a ceramic vessel together with bronze axes, sickles, weapon parts, etc. from the late Bronze Age. Approximately of the same dimensions and shape are the gold crescent appliques on the so-called ‘Nebra sky disk’ discovered about 60 km in the west of the town of Leipzig, Germany, and dated in the period between 1600 and 1560 BC.
2. Open-ended bracelets, 12 pcs, silver
Made of thick silver wire of oval cross-section, which was initially quadrangular, but later the edges were additionally treated and smoothed. The items are largely identical, although there are some differences in the diameters and the thickness of the wire. The ends of all bracelets are thickened. In some cases, this thickening is more pronounced and cone-shaped, while in others it is almost imperceptible.
3. Spirally coiled plaques, 6 pcs, silver
Made of rectangular silver sheet. At each end, they have two small holes, arranged transversely. On one of the plaques, there are traces of decoration, organized unevenly along the very edge. The ornament is executed with a punch, shaped as “bird’s tail” and producing stamped circle with bulging center. The blows on the tool have been irregular, delivered with unequal strength, and part of the decoration was partially cut off when the item was finished off. At the ends of one of the plaques, instead of holes, a wire is drawn and coiled into a small spiral.
4. Hemispherical appliques, 56 pcs, silver
Shaped of thin silver plate on a matrix. There are four small holes on the periphery, arranged two by two symmetrically to the central axis. Similar appliques, made of bronze, silver, and gold, are among the most widespread elements of the decoration of clothing, armour and weapons, and horse trappings throughout ancient times. The earliest parallels of the above-described items are the gold appliques from Grave 43 of Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis (late 5th mill. BC) that were sewn to the garment or the shroud that covered the body of the deceased.