”The Old, so called Great Bulgaria, is situated around the Maeotian Lake along the Kuphis River”.
The territory which the Byzantine patriarch Nicephoros depicted – between the Dnieper River and the North Caucasus – was inhabited by Bulgarian tribes in the 7th century. During the thirties of the 7th century the Bulgarians under the rule of Khan Kubrat from the Dulo clan, in alliance with the Byzantine Empire, reject the dependancy of the Avar Khaganate and founded Great Bulgaria. Proof of its power is the treasure from the village of Malaya Pereshchepina. It was discovered accidentally on the 29th of May, 1912. The treasure consists of about 800 gold and silver vessels, armaments and harness, adornments and Byzantine coins. Now they are kept in the State Hermitage – St. Petersburg, Russia. The find includes objects produced in Byzantium and Sassanid Iran as well as objects that made in the steppe craftsman workshops with analogies to the Avarian, Turkic and Sogdian artistic traditions. The heterogeneous composition of the find arouses various hypotheses about its ethnic and cultural affiliations. Today, the treasure is identified as a stock from the grave of a noble nomadic ruler from the middle of the 7th century. The characterization and peculiarities of the rite, which includes cremation, and the richness of the stock suggest a funeral in accordance with the pagan traditions. This circumstance as well as the presence of Christian possessions, particularly the rings with cross‐shaped monograms, deciphered as ”Kubrat”, ”to Kubrat the patrician”, relate the treasure to the founder of Great Bulgaria – Khan Kubrat.
In 1989 in the National History Museum in Sofia, the State Hermitage Museum organized a temporary exhibition, "The Treasure of Khan Kubrat. Culture of Bulgarians, Khazars, Slavs ”. The exhibition shows many of the items found near the village of Mala Pereshchepina, as well as monuments of the synchronous cultures of Bulgarians, Slavs and Khazars from the area of the North Black Sea steppes from the period of 6th - 7th centuries. Identifying the find as the tomb of Khan Kubrat directly links it to the dawn of Bulgarian statehood. With the kind permission of the Hermitage, silicone prints were taken of a small part of the visiting monuments without damaging the originals. Today, copies of this significant for the Bulgarian history treasure are part of the permanent exhibition of the National Museum of History in Sofia.
Author: Mariela Inkova
Photo: Rosen Kolev and Todor Dimitrov