The Archaelogical Museum in Varna

музейIt is housed in the magnificent building of the former Girls Secondary School designed by the Bulgarian architect Petko Momchilov. Today it keeps over 55 000 exhibits on an area of 2000 m2. They date from the Paleolithic era (the Old Stone Age) to the Late Middle Ages. The overall reconstruction work in 1983 revived the old magnificence and charm of the building – stern symmetry, frugal but dynamic silhouette and many plastic elements in the spirit of the Italian Renaissance. The first exhibits making up the two main departments – Art and Archeology – were entered in the depository of the museum in 1888 when a group of teachers led by Karel Shkorpil laid the beginning of the museum collection.

The visitors can see extremely valuable exhibits linked with the ancient Thracian culture, Slav and Proto-Bulgarian pottery, jewellery from the Middle Ages and others. The museum has a rich collection of tomb stones that any European museum would be proud to possess. The collection of icons includes some masterpieces of icon painting from the National Revival Period in North Eastern Bulgaria the oldest of which date back to the 16th century.

No doubt the greatest number of visitors are attracted to the exposition of the oldest gold in the world (4th millenium BC). This treasure was discovered by chance in 1972 during construction work in the vicinity of Varna. It is hard to imagine how long these fine gold decorations and objects lay in the ground until the moment when historians and archaeologists from all over the world began studying and speaking in superlatives about the treasure in the Heliolithic Necropolis. This find comprises about 2000 objects of nearly pure 23.5 – carat gold totaling 5.5 kg. It includes gold necklaces, bracelets, breast decorations and vessels. The discovery of this treasure overturned the historians’ concepts about the development of human civilization. One of the most striking exhibits is the gold sceptre – the symbol of power of a royal character. One can also see a whole grave No.43 moved from its original place to the exhibition hall. It contains the skeleton of a 40-50 year-old man, covered with over a hundred gold decorations. It depicts the image of a chieftain (the king) who has sacred functions and holds the symbols of power.