Echoes of an Ancient African past

negro head thracian phialeA significant discovery in Europe has been overlooked for nearly 60 years.

The Panagyurishte gold treasure was found in 1949 by Pavel, Petko and Michail Deikov while excavating clay for the tile factory where they worked located in present day Bulgaria. They noticed the shiny objects and then immediately called in archaeologists who confirmed that the treasure dated to the 4th millennium b.c. and belonged to royalty of the ancient kingdom of Thrace in modern day Bulgaria.

This discovery was displayed and discussed in the web article Ancient Treasures, Ancient Thracianswith special attention paid to the ornate craftsmanship and peculiar designs depicted on the objects. Diana Gergova gives a thorough examination of this find and goes into detail about its significance in her work Orphic Thrace and Achaemenid Persia.

What is most peculiar about this magnificent treasure is one artifact in particular, a round shaped dish called a “phiale” with concentric rows of dozens of heads representing Africans! To those that do not have a special interest in history i suspect that the magnitude of the discovery of this one piece would not be as great as it is to one such as myself who has a deep interest in Africa in antiquity as it relates to ancient Greco/Roman society.

This is a monumental discovery which has for whatever reason gone virtually ignored for over sixty years even though it was hailed as the find of a lifetime when it was first discovered. I think the reason for this is as simple as it is a common practice in the study of history, racism.

Here you have the famous ancient kingdom of Thrace of which Greek mythology is replete with stories, and you have a magnificent treasure one of which forces a conversation about the possibility of there being an African presence in Europe nearly 2500 years ago.

This “argument from silence” can be witnessed by reading an article about the treasure and observing how the “negro head” dish is mentioned but no scholarly effort is made to postulate its meaning or why they were depicted on royal treasure in the first place.