August 23, 2004

2,400BC golden mask of Thracian king

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Bulgarian archaeologist Georgi Kitov holds a 2,400-year-old golden mask he discovered Thursday in the tomb of a Thracian king in Shipka, Bulgaria. The solid gold mask “has no comparison in the world,” said Kitov, who believes it may depict the image of King Seutus III.

Toronto Star. Aug. 21, 2004. 01:00 AM.

Golden mask `sensational'

Artifact unearthed in Bulgaria

Find may depict ancient king

SHIPKA, Bulgaria—A Bulgarian archaeologist has unearthed a 2,400-year-old golden mask in the tomb of an ancient Thracian king — a find he says is unrivalled in the study of classical antiquity.

"It is sensational," said Georgi Kitov, who found the mask Thursday near the village of Shipka, 200 kilometres east of Sofia.

He believes it may depict King Seutus III, a 5th century BC leader of the Thracians, the dispersed tribes who once lived in parts of what is now modern-day Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece.

Kitov said the mask "has no comparison in the world," and may be a more significant find than the Mask of Agamemnon, the Greek hero described by Homer in the Iliad. It's one of the most famous images of Greek antiquity, and the centrepiece of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

"The Mask of Agamemnon was made of gold foil and weighs only 60 grams, while this mask weighs 690 grams (24 oz.) and is of solid gold," Kitov said.

The burial place was covered with six stone slabs, each weighing at least two tonnes. The king's remains have not yet been found, but excavations at the tomb continue.

The Thracians lived on the fringes of the Greek and Roman civilizations, often intermingling and clashing with the more advanced cultures until they were absorbed around 45 AD. Archaeological finds have provided most of what is known of the culture.

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