The Thracians, as old as the hills

The emergence of the Thracian ethno-cultural community dates back to the Middle and Late Bronze Age. It is determined by the achievements and specific occurrences in the field of mythology, architecture, sculpture, painting, lifestyle and artistic crafts. 

The Thracians are closely related to the past and the ancient history of Bulgaria. The preserved written information about their culture is often incomplete or subject to interpretation. According to them, the emergence of the Thracian ethno-cultural community dates back to the Middle and Late Bronze Age.
For most of their history, the Thracians were divided into many tribes. In the period between the 5th and the 1st century BC, the famous Thracian kingdom of the Odrysians emerged and flourished. It left a significant mark in the Bulgarian archaeological landscape due to their immense cultural heritage, with discoveries like the ancient city of Sevtopolis, the golden mask of King Teres, the bronze head from the period of King Seuthes III, the Panagyurishte gold treasure and many other valuable artefacts.

Thracian culture is determined by its achievements and peculiarities in the field of mythology, architecture, sculpture, painting, life and artistic crafts. Its characteristic features are seen in the construction of cities and fortified palaces (Kabile, Sevtopolis), centres of worship with mound necropolises (Valley of the Thracian kings, Starosel, Perperek, Tatul and Sborianovo) and the monumental dome tombs with sculptures and artistic paintings (Alexandrovo, Strelcha, Mezek, Starosel, Shipka, Kazanlak, Sveshtari). The rich finds of precious metals (Vratsa, Rozovets, Duvanli, etc.) are of exquisite workmanship (Panagyurishte treasure, Rogozen treasure, etc.). The Thracian tradition of building domed tombs is typical of the Late Antiquity (the Valchitran gold treasure’s characteristic design links it to certain ritual ceremonies dedicated to the cult of the Sun). The solar cult of the kings-priests, who embody the celestial body, include the funerary rock niches of the Eastern Rhodopes, as well as the Thracian megaliths, which are found in different parts of Bulgaria.

By the first and second centuries AD, Rome's expansion in the Balkans subjugated most of the Thracian tribes. During the 3rd century, the Roman Empire fell into a severe crisis caused by internal struggles for power. This weakened to some extent the military power of the Empire and the Thracian provinces became the scene of invasions by the Goths and other barbarian tribes. As a result, around a period from the 3rd to the 5th centuries, the native Thracian population was largely reduced – a part of it was displaced and the other was assimilated. However, priceless artefacts and numerous objects remain, as witnesses of the Thracian achievements and their civilization.