Treasure Borovo


This treasure was also found by accident. It was brought to light in 1974 when found during deep ploughing of one of the cultivated fields of the town Borovo. It consists of 5 silver vessels: a cup, rhyton-like pitcher, three rhytons with protomes of a horse, a bull and a winged sphinx. It has been assumed that this is only a part of the treasure as it was buried in ‘two parts’. In any case, however, these vessels are part of Odryses’ treasury plundered by Phillip II the Macedon, i.e. the finding from Borovo had also fallen in the hands of Triballs after they defeated Phillip II the Macedon in 339 BC.

This is easily made out from the identical Greek inscriptions on two of the rhytons and the rhyton-like pitcher. Translated they sound like ‘To Kotys from Beo’, and Kotys could be only the Odryses’ King Kotys I (around 383 – 360 BC), while Beo occurs also on other vessels, found in the lands to the north of Stara Planina Range. The new owner of the treasury, some time after its sharing in 339 BC buried his share and this is suggested by the fact that
no traces of long use show on the vessels.

On the mouth of the rhyton with horse protome a kind of ‘monogram’ of two letters, ΑΔ, is inscribed. K. Boshnakov has deciphered it as Αδαμας, an Odryses’ aristocrat of ‘King Medok’s family’, who was castrated by Kotys I in his childhood (the translation of the verb from Greek as “castration” is not very certain, it is quite possible that its meaning is “circumcision”). A similar inscription, three pointed hasts of A or Δ can be seen on the bottom of the rhyton-like pitcher. The same ‘monograms’ have been hammered out also on the umbo and the mouths of two phials found near the village Alexandrovo and this was the reason to assume they formed, together with the treasure of Borovo, a special ‘dinner set of Adamas’. The inscriptions ‘To Kotys from Beo’ seem to have been additionally hammered out after the Odryses’ King had plundered ‘Adamas’ dinner set’ because the latter had recanted from him.
However, it seems far more probable that the ‘monograms’ are a kind of abbreviation, version or unclear sacred formula of the kind ΔΑΔΑΛΕΜΕ, which occurs on Odryses Kings’ vessels. It is not impossible in this case that the matter at hand is again some form of abbreviation of the name ‘Adamas’, not of the Odryses’ aristocrat but of the ‘Odryses’ nymph’ Adama (Αδάμας Όδρυσης Νυμφαις) known to us from a Dionysos relief from Paros from the 4th century BC (IG 12, 5, 245) and why not even from that Adam’ by which the ‘Orphic oath’ was taken.

The most interesting piece of the treasure is the rhyton-like little pitcher with one opening. The rhytonizing of amphorae and pitchers in Europe seems to have been a Thracian patent and the inscription proves in an indisputable way that the little pitcher and the impressive scenes on it (also with certainty on the two rhytons at least) were made in a workshop in the privileged Thracian commune of Beo. The vessel is decorated with three friezes with figurines. It has been accepted that the upper frieze presents a Bacchanalian procession of 9 figures: of dancing maenads, satyrs, a silen and a male and female figures. On the lower frieze with figures three swans turned to the left are depicted. The central frieze is thought to have illustrated scenes from the ‘Kabirs’ mysteries’.

Here again, however, only the figures of the Boreads with wings spread ‘down to their heels’ can be seen with a relative certainty. Anatolian-Carian-Phoenician parallels of the Cabirs that guard the sailors, participation of Zetes and Kallais in the campaign of Argonauts, the ‘Dragon’ (a similar one, according to some versions, was erected on the bow of the ship Argo’) and a number of other data have indeed raised the question of the existence of some ancient myth that has originated and developed in the environment of the Balkans, too that should yet to be investigated.

As a whole, the scene definitely illustrates ‘Deities at feast’ and the rhyton one of the gods holds in his hands is the most impressive piece. On it there is a griffon protome and the griffon head has a dentate crest. The griffon on the cup from this treasure is similar to the above and its more perfect (developed) version is known to us from the treasure of Letnitsa.

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