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06 april '20

Panayot Hitovo hoard, 2nd millennium BC

Panayot Hitovo hoard, 2nd millennium BC, National Museum of History, inv. N 45602 - 45632

The set of silver and electrum adornments was 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?), probably with a buckle (?) decoration. There were no traces of coals/ashes, bones or other artifacts detected at the site.

The find comprises 12 crescent plates – elements of a breast decoration, attached probably to a leather, or a metal armor; 12 bracelets with open ends, spirally coiled bands and 56 hemispherical appliqués that might have been sewn on a garment. The objects which undoubtedly represent royal insignia, may had been either funeral gifts, or parts of a deposited treasure like the similar finds from the Bronze and Early Iron Ages discovered elsewhere across the Lower and Middle Danube, and the central European regions. In both cases, they could be interpreted in connection with ritual interring of the royal insignias, designed to sacralize the ruler's territory, and at the same time to mark his symbolic death and the new birth / renewal of his power through the sacred marriage with the Great Mother Goddess.

1. The lunula-like breast decorations, shaped as a ‘collar’ are to be found both in representations and among archaeological material from the third – second millennia BC, coming from a broad geographic area, Anatolia, Asia Minor and Egypt, the regions of the middle and upper course of the Danube River, in the Pyrenean Peninsula in the west, and to the British Isles in the northwest.
The closest analogues of the plates from Panayot Hitovo were discovered in Emenska and Tabashka Caves in North Bulgaria (Early and Middle Bronze Ages), and in the region of the Carpathian Mountains (17th – 12th century BC). Approximately of the same dimensions and shape are the gold crescent appliques on the so-called ‘Nebra sky disk’ (1600 and 1560 BC).

2. The open-ended bracelets are made of thick silver wire with oval cross-section. The items are largely identical, although there are some differences in the diameters, the thickness of the wire and the way of shaping the ends. 

3. The spirally coiled bands have two small holes at each end. At the ends of one of the plaques, instead of holes, a wire is drawn and coiled into a small spiral. They are probably intended for the decoration of belts, or diadems. Before placing them in the vessel, the plates were bent spirally in a plane.

4. The fifty-six hemispherical appliques are shaped of thin silver plate on a matrix. There are four small holes for sewing on the periphery. Similar items that had been used to decorate clothing, armaments, horse equipment, etc., are widespread throughout ancient times. The earliest examples 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.
 
Author: L. Konova
Translation: S. Tsaneva/L Konova
Photos: T. Dimitrov
 
Further reading:
Конова, Л. Сребърно съкровище от бронзовата епоха в НИМ. – В: Пътят. Сборник и научни статии, посветени на живота и творчеството на д-р Г. Китов. София, 2003,107–120; Konova, L. Panayot Hitovo Hoard.  In: S. Alexandrov / Y. Dimitrova / H. Popov / B. Horejs / K. Chukalev (Hrsg.), Gold & Bronze. Metals Technologies and Interregional Contacts in the Eastern Balkans during the Bronze Age (Sofia 2018) 359–363 (engl./bulg.)

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