2500-year-old Scythian scepter found by archaeologists in Bulgaria

2500-year-old Scythian scepter found by archaeologists in Bulgaria

Archaeologists found a 2500-year-old Scythian scepter in the final days of this season's excavations at the prehistoric salt mine and urban center of Provadia - Solnitsata in northeastern Bulgaria, Vasil Nikolov, who is leading excavations at the site, said on Saturday. The scepter was found in a grave examined by Violeta Stoitsova and Kalina Samichkova.

The excavated pit is different from those found so far, Nikolov explained. He emphasized that Scythian graves are something very rare in today's northeastern Bulgaria. "Only four or five have been discovered so far," he added.

The shape of the Scythian warrior's grave resembles a boot, with a hollow part. It was apparently excavated in later times, but people saw the skull and the upper part of the human skeleton, which are missing today, and immediately stopped, Nikollov explained. Archaeologists have now found the bone sceptre, which the researcher described as "an incredible achievement of the art of that time". In addition to human bones, they also found those of a horse, a small dog, and a turtle. The warrior was buried with an iron knife, but over the centuries the weapon has corroded and is in very poor condition.

The Scythians were a steppe and semi-steppe population that reached the Danube in the 5th century BC, Nikolov said. They entered the territory of present-day Bulgaria, but there is no evidence that they fought with the natives. There is information that they had confrontations with the Thracians after the XNUMXth century BC. According to scientists, in the early Bronze Age, the Scythians buried their people in an already existing earthen mound. This is the first time that a grave has been found in a mound of earth in the settlement, Nikolov emphasized.

The Scythians had extraordinary traditions in the art of bone carving. The scepter is a testament to their skills, Nikolov noted, adding that it probably belonged to a military commander of a small military unit. The horse bones in his grave suggest that the man was a horseman.

The scepter is 39 centimeters long. The handle is made of two pieces of bone glued together. The connection between the head and the handle of the scepter is very precisely worked. Seen from one side it looks like an eagle's beak, but on the other hand the ancient master carved an anthropomorphic image on which the beak looks like a hat.

"I consulted one of the best experts on Scythian culture, the director of the Varna Historical Museum, Igor Lazarenko, but even he does not know that such a bone scepter has been found before," said Nikolov. "Those found so far are usually cross-shaped, with an ornithomorphic top. Most often, the masters carved an eagle, because this bird is part of the Scythian religious-mythological system," he added. /BTA/