Blessing of the Gold

The golden treasure is a brilliant illustration of life in the Preslavian palace. It was discovered during agricultural work in 1978 in Castana, a site nearby the ancient town. More than 170 golden, silver and bronze objects, decorated with cellular enamel, precious stones and pearls were found in the rescue researches that followed. A thorough analysis of the finding showed its collective nature. It consists of 10th - century ladies’ jewels made in Konstantinopolus and Preslav, but it also includes artifacts dating far back to the period between 3rd and 7th centuries. The latter suggests their owners’ taste to old and luxurious articles.

The excavations helped explain some curious and important facts. First, there was an old-Bulgarian settlement in Castana, which was a suburb of the capital, Preslav. Second, there are signs of the town being destroyed by fire for which we find proof in the records of Byzantine authors who were contemporaries of the town’ s conquering in 972. Third, the valuable articles from the treasure were hidden in a mason furnace of a humble poor man’s hut in the village. Judging from the rich nature of the finding and the 15 Byzantine coins belonging to Constantine VII and Roman II (from 945 to 959) which were found in the treasure, we have the right to assume that the luxurious jewelry somehow got there in the turbulent events between 969 and 972. This was the time when Preslav was besieged and conquered first by Kiev royal prince, Svetoslav and two years later by the Byzantine Emperor, John Tzimisshi. We could only make conjectures on whether the treasure was hidden by a faithful servant of the ruler or was plundered during the attack of the Palace. Now we know this treasure was only a part of the emperor’s richness and the other founds illustrate that fact.


The most beautiful jewels of the Preslav Gold Treasure are decorated with cellular or cloisonné, enamel. The technique for creating this jewelry is a complicated one.  This skill was shared with Bulgaria under the influence of the Byzantine goldsmiths. The enamel was prepared from a glass powder and coloring agents with a mixture of lead, and then melted in earthen crucibles. After cooling, the blend was crushed to a dust and diluted with water.  On the metal base setting, usually made of gold, the contours of the image were printed. The details of the latter were additionally inscribed with a sharp needle. After, very thin plates were stuck to the article, long side up, with the help of pinchers and special glue. The base of the setting was heated so the plates would weld with the help of a metal solder. After cooling, different coloring enamel pastes are put in the spaces enclosed by the plates. The article was then heated once again to the temperature required to change the paste to enamel. When the piece was cooled, it was polished to a glass-like finish. Additionally, the artist had the option to further decorate the jewels with filigree or gems.