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Clay pot full of coins and precious metal objects found at Kaliakra fortress

Clay Pot Filled With 1000 Precious Metal Treasures Found at Kaliakra Fortress

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The National Museum of Bulgaria has announced that they have discovered a small clay pot at Kaliakra Fortress that contains a hoard of priceless objects from the 14 th century. There are believed to be up to 1000 rare objects in the pot, mostly coins, and jewelry.  The find is believed to be one of the most important in recent years in Bulgaria and is expected to provide new insights into the history of its Black Sea region.

View of sunrise looking out from Kaliakra fortress. (Image:© diyanadimitrova/fotolia)

View of sunrise looking out from Kaliakra fortress. (Image:© diyanadimitrova/fotolia)

Kaliakra Fortress

This fortress is located on a cape on the Black Sea coast and it is now located in an archaeological reserve. The cape was peopled by the Thracian tribes and they apparently fortified the area by building a defensive wall across the cape. When the Romans conquered Thrace, they colonized the area and it became Romanized as indicated by the remains of baths (thermae) on the cape. 

Remains of the Kaliakra fortress wall and buildings. (Image: ©Sergey Kohl/ fotolia)

Remains of the Kaliakra fortress wall and buildings. (Image: © Sergey Kohl / fotolia)

The Bulgarians who dominated much of the Black Sea region in the Middle Ages built a fortress on the cape, on the remains of some previous fortresses. The Kaliakra fortress was one of the most important centers of the Bulgarian Empire and following its demise was frequently fought over by rival armies. The fortress was also the capital of the short-lived Bulgarian state of the Despot of Dobruja and was regularly attacked by the Ottomans . Today the Kaliakra fortress is recognized as a national monument by the Bulgarian government.

Clay pot contained up to a thousand valuable metal items. (Image: National History Museum, Bulgaria)

Clay pot contained up to a thousand valuable metal items. (Image: National History Museum , Bulgaria)

The discovery of the clay pot

The team of experts funded by the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture and the National Museum made the find beneath a room in the ruined stronghold that was gutted by fire during the Middle Ages. The leader of the team of experts was Associate Professor Bonnie Petrunova. The ruins have been excavated by archaeologists for fifteen consecutive years.

Professor Bonnie Petrunova inspects one of the pieces of jewelry. (Image: National History Museum, Bulgaria)

Professor Bonnie Petrunova inspects one of the pieces of jewelry. (Image: National History Museum , Bulgaria)

The clay pot was examined and inside was a treasure trove of medieval objects, all in good condition. In total, some ‘873 silver and 28 golds coins’ were held in the earthenware vessel, reports the Archaeology News Network . Also found were 11 belt buckles and a variety of buttons, some of which are silver. There were also beads made from precious stone and inlaid with gold.  Jewelry was also found, including eleven earrings and one gold ring.

Jewelry, buckles and buttons were found with the coins in the pot. (Image: National History Museum, Bulgaria)

Jewelry, buckles and buttons were found with the coins in the pot. (Image: National History Museum , Bulgaria)

After a preliminary examination of the hoard, experts found that the coins are mainly from the Ottoman or the Second Bulgarian Empire. The majority of them are Ottoman, from the reign of Sultan Byazid Yildrum (1389-1402), who was defeated and captured by Tamerlane at the Battle of Ankara and died in captivity. A small portion of the coins are from the reign of ‘Murad I (1362-1389)’ reports novinite.com.

The find is probably linked to dramatic events, at the end of the 14 th century, which are narrated in chronicles of the time. The Aktav Tartars invaded the area in 1399 and seized the fortress but was later defeated and forced to evacuate the area. It is speculated that the coins and jewels were left behind by the leader of the Tartars. According to the Sofia Globe it “appears that he had seized them from different people and places and hid them under the floor of his house shortly before it was burnt.”

A coin found in the hoard. (Image: National History Museum, Bulgaria)

A coin found in the hoard. (Image: National History Museum , Bulgaria)

The archaeological importance of Kaliakra fortress

This is only the latest find at the Kaliakra fortress complex. In recent years a fragment of a silver church bookcase, a jade buckle and a small hoard of copper coins were also unearthed. There have also been coins found from the Byzantine Nicene dynasty of the 13 th century. Similar discoveries of coins and jewelry including a poison ring have also been found, but this find is the largest find of objects, yet found at the Kaliakra fortress.  The treasure is once more demonstrating the importance of the fortress and its role in the history of the Black Sea region.

Top image: Clay pot full of coins and precious metal objects found at Kaliakra fortress      Source: National History Museum , Bulgaria

By Ed Whelan

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