The Preslav Treasure from Bulgaria (10th Century)
Research on the 10th-century Preslav Treasure (Bulgaria) began in January of 2017, in cooperation with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (Prof. Dr Stanislav Stanilov) and the Museum Preslav (director Dr Plamen Slavov). The treasure was discovered in 1978 near the Bulgarian town of Preslav and is one of few medieval hoards with an archaeological context that proves the provenance of the jewellery. The objects are rare examples of secular medieval goldsmiths’ works.
The Preslav Treasure consists of over 180 objects made of gold and silver and adorned with enamels, gemstones and pearls. Among them are five diadem plaques, a necklace, three large gemstone pendants and 15 coins of the Byzantine emperors Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos and Romanos II (945-959). The valuable goldsmiths’ works weigh c. two Byzantine pounds (c. 640 g) and were probably buried in 971, when Preslav (893/971) functioned as the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire and was conquered by the Byzantine emperor John I Tzimiskes (969-971).
In addition to restoration measures and analyses of the goldsmithing techniques, materials science investigations will be undertaken in co-operation with the Archaeological Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Finally, archaeological-historical studies will also be conducted.
The jewellery was likely made in the Byzantine Empire or was made by Byzantine craftsmen and came to Bulgaria as a diplomatic gift. Therefore, the jewellery allows conclusions to be drawn regarding Byzantine imperial representation and diplomacy of gift exchange in the 10th century, as well as providing insight into typology and style of luxury objects and medieval craftsmanship, technology and materials. In particular, the enamels that belong to the small group of datable Byzantine objects made in this technique will provide important information on the composition and materials, since such analyses of medieval enamels are hitherto rare.
The project maintains a close relationship to another project of the Leibniz-ScienceCampus Mainz: Byzantium between Orient and Occident, the aim of which is to edit and comment on a Greek treatise on goldsmithing that comprises 69 recipes describing technical processes, such as wire drawing, enamel and niello.
Prof. Dr. Stanislav Stanilov
(Bulgarian Academy of Sciences)
Dr. Plamen Slavov (Archaeological Museum Veliki Preslav)
- Antje Bosselmann-Ruickbie/Susanne Greiff: The 10th-century Preslav Jewellery Treasure from Bulgaria under Investigation, in: Jewellery History Today 34, 2019, 3-5.
- Antje Bosselmann-Ruickbie/Susanne Greiff: Spektakulär: Der Preslav-Schatz aus Bulgarien (10. Jh.), in: Damals. Das Magazin für Geschichte, 1/2019, 45-46.
- Marlène Aubin/Antje Bosselmann-Ruickbie/Susanne Greiff/Matthias Heinzel: Le trésor de Preslav en Bulgarie: un projet de recherche centré sur un trésor médiéval, in: J. Durand (Ed.), Le trésor de Preslav, Ausstellungskatalog Musée du Louvre (2018), 64-67.
- Antje Bosselmann-Ruickbie/Susanne Greiff, Hochzeitsschmuck einer byzantinischen Prinzessin? Der Preslav-Schatz aus Bulgarien, in: Antike Welt 4 (2018), 24-26.
- K. Presser, Schmuck. Kostbarkeiten aus Kostantinopel. In: Restauro. Zeitschrift für Konservierung und Restaurierung, 2, (2018), 46-47.