Mystery Explored: The Golden Mask of Thrace
Expedition Dates: July 8 - 26, 2007


In the 5th Century BC, the Thracians were among the most powerful and numerous people in the known world. Their contemporaries — the Greeks, Persians, Dacians, Egyptians, Macedonians — knew the Thracians as the wild men of the North. They were feared in battle, experts with sword, spear, and knife, and particularly lethal with their special war blade known as the Rhomphaia. By the 3rd Century BC, the Thracians had fallen to the Macedonians and were eventually Hellenized, but their legacy remains in the 10,000 tombs and burial mounds that dot the landscape of Bulgaria today. There’s just one problem: since the collapse of the Soviet Union, looters have begun using backhoes and front-end loaders to plunder these tombs and sell Thracian gold artifacts on the black market at an alarming rate. I went to Bulgaria to learn more about the kingdom of Thrace and to meet Dr. Georgi Kitov, Bulgaria’s most successful archaeologist. Over the course of 3 weeks, I witnessed Dr. Kitov’s unorthodox and controversial excavating techniques, traveled with the Bulgarian police to search for looters, and rappelled into mineshafts to see how artifacts are being stolen. I met Bulgaria’s wealthiest man and learned how he’s trying to buy back Thracian artifacts and return them to his country. And, in a moment of rare luck, I watched Dr. Kitov unearth one of the most amazing and rare discoveries in Thracian archaeology.

Sponsoring Institution: Discovery Channel

Experts involved:
Mr. Andrey Vladov
Dr. Georgi Kitov
Dr. Peter Delev
Mr. Vasil Boshkov
Mr. Richard Bull
Mr. John Ruthven
Mr. Andrei Borrisov
Dr. Maria Chichikova
Dr. David Scahill
Locations Visited:
Sofia, Bulgaria
National History Museum, Bulgaria
Institute of Morphology, Bulgaria
Kazanlak Tomb, Bulgaria
Sliven, Bulgaria
Koprinka Dam, Bulgaria
Seuthopolis, Bulgaria
Haskovo, Bulgaria



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