Roman-Era Necklace Discovered in Bulgaria

Roman-Era Necklace Discovered in Bulgaria

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Roman-Era Necklace Discovered in Bulgaria

Roman-Era Necklace Discovered in Bulgaria
The 4th century AD gold necklace discovered in the ancient city of Heraclea Sintica in Southwest Bulgaria was likely produced by a jeweler in Rome.

A team of archeologists working on the site of Heraclea Sintica near Petrich in Bulgaria found a large, extremely well-preserved gold necklace, possibly dating back to the 4th century CE.

A Hellenistic and later Roman city, Heraclea Sintica, about 180km south of today’s Bulgarian capital Sofia, was founded in the 4th century BCE and lasted about 800 years when it was destroyed by an earthquake. Earlier, the city was the site of a settlement by the Thracian tribe the Sintians.

According to a Bulgarian National Television report, the gold necklace was made in one of the elite workshops in ancient Rome. Researchers suggest that when the violent earthquake destroyed the city, the necklace was lost in the panic.

The find was an unexpected one. Most finds of jewellery and gold are in necropolises, in the graves of wealthy people, not in the city.

Professor Lyudmil Vagalinski of the National Archaeological Museum in Sofia, who has headed the dig since 2007, said that the good state of preservation of the gold necklace suggested that it was produced in the 4th century.

The necklace was found in what had been one of the shops in the central square of the city. Apart from the necklace, however, there are no proofs to suggest that it was a goldsmith’s shop.

Vagalinski indicated that he did not believe that this had been a jewellery shop: “If we were going to find a jewellery shop, we would find some other jewellery and there would have to be some other tools, but in this context, we find that it is a building from the end of the 4th  century”.Over the centuries, Heraclea Sintica experienced several strong earthquakes, triggering the decline of the city. Shops became dwellings.

Necklaces of the kind found at the Bulgarian site were in fashion for a long time, from the 2nd  to the 5th  centuries. They were made in specialist workshops.

Vagalinski said that the necklace was a typical Roman product, called Istmion. It was 48cm long including the fasteners and weighed 50 grams.“And what impresses us is that in the city, to the last, to the last moment, until the end of the 4th  century, there were wealthy people who continued to live in the city.”

According to the report, the owner of the necklace probably survived the earthquake, because no human remains had been found. The residents of the city seemed to have been able to escape to a safe place.

The ruins of the Ancient Thracian, Greek, and Roman city of Heraclea Sintica near today’s Bulgarian town of Petrich.
The ruins of the Ancient Thracian, Greek, and Roman city of Heraclea Sintica near today’s Bulgarian town of Petrich.

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Jessica Saraceni has been a part of Histecho Since 2018, drawn to the site for its quirky character and through Articles about the Mysteries of earth and human behavior. previously, she was an assistant editor and Research fellow at Archaeology magazine, where she gained an appreciation for the field work. A master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental science from the Center for Archaeological Research, the University of Texas at San Antonio. She enjoys all forms of exercise; reading works by her favorite author, Haruki Murakami; and playing with her sons.

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