Updated May 2013

 

 

 

 

 

THE MATERIAL EVIDENCE

 

 

A number of factors should be borne in mind when dealing with the coin collections from Bulgarian museums. Since the early 1990’s attempts have been made by a number of Bulgarian and international experts to get access to information on the coin collections in the various museums around Bulgaria, and publish a comprehensive account of the information contained within. This fine work, which has resulted in catalogues of the collections from a handful of museums being published (the CCCHBulg series) has met with varying success. The philosophy of the authors of the CCCHBulg project is based ‘on the understanding that this type of information is not a personal or even a national property in perpetuity, but is above all – a universal patrimonium’.  (Paunov et al, 2011).

 

  From the perspective of Celtic culture in Bulgaria, the completion of such a project would bring long awaited clarity on this controversial issue, surely something which would be welcomed by all those involved in Bulgarian archaeology and culture? However, as has been recently pointed out by those involved in the project – ‘Unfortunately specific information on the contents and details of each hoard preserved in the collections in Bulgaria’s museums remained closed for the foreign scientific community and Bulgarian numismatists as well. This is largely the case for the biggest collection in Bulgaria – in the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Academy of Sciences, Sofia. Under the care of the NAIM, access to information for some 600,000 coins is sealed. This huge amount of material includes valuable collections and complete hoards discovered and donated to the museum by the general public and adherent followers of immaculate reputation in the past when the spirit of academicism and fellowship reigned. It is a pity that even today the collection of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at Sofia is still being managed by people whose ill-intentioned and perverted policy is reduced to shameless trading with the data about the coin hoards and collections’ (Paunov, Prokopov, Filipova op. cit.; see also Paunov 2012).

 

 A further problem has been the wholesale theft of coins from Bulgarian museums over the decades, and in particular in the post communist period, one of the main reasons why many museums are reluctant to open their collections to the prying eyes of outside experts. A well known example of this phenomenon is that of Veliko Tarnovo regional museum in northeastern Bulgaria where the entire numismatic collection was stolen in December 2006. According to preliminary information, the number of coins stolen is around 30,000 (Prokopov 2007:5), although, as indicated below, this statistic is certainly a gross underestimate, and the real number of recorded and documented coins discovered in Bulgaria, which have subsequently disappeared, is many times that number.

 

 

 

 How does this phenomenon relate to the finds of Celtic coins in Bulgaria ? Until recently virtually none of the thousands of Celtic coins found on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria had been properly published. This situation has changed slowly in recent years, thanks chiefly to the fine work of experts such as Paunov, Prokopov and Filipova, and a small fraction of the vast amount of Celtic numismatic material from Bulgaria has slowly come to light in official publications. However, these publications have raised a number of new and disturbing questions, not least the discrepancy between the finds of Celtic coinage officially recorded in Bulgaria, chiefly in the pre-communist period, and those which today are actually in the collections of these museums.

 

 

  For example, an analysis of the recorded finds and present status of Celtic coinage of the ‘Macedonian Types’ reveals that in addition to thousands of individual examples found across the country, 49 larger hoards of such types of Celtic coinage have been registered in Bulgaria over the last century. However, the present state of this numismatic evidence paints a tragic picture:

 

 

 

 

PRESENT STATUS OF ‘MACEDONIAN TYPE’ HOARDS OF CELTIC COINS IN BULGARIA

 

(P II = Celtic ‘Philip II type’; P III = ‘Philip III type’; M = Mixed hoards)

 

 

Hoard #       Location Type

(P II/III type or mixed

Literature/Reference Present Status
         
# 1 Harsovo, Razgrad reg. P  II Gerassimov 1967, 190; Preda 1973, 240, no. 43 ALL STOLEN
# 2 Kavarna, Dobruja reg. P  II Filow 1911, 281-282; Preda 1973, 209, no. 34 Unknown – Possibly in NAIM (?). Access denied to academics.
# 3 Pissanets, Rousse reg. P II Shkorpil, 1914, 49, fig. 46.2; Gerassimov, 1939,   344 ALL STOLEN
#4 Slivo Pole, Rousse reg. P II Gerassimov 1969, 234; Preda 1973, 240, no. 47 ALL STOLEN
# 5 Nikolovo  (fmr. Gagalya), Rousse reg. P II Gerassimov 1952, 403-404; Preda 1973, 240, no. 44 ALL STOLEN
# 6 Gorsko Novo Selo, Veliko Tarnovo reg. P II Gerassimov 1937, 320 Unknown – Possibly in NAIM (?). Access denied.
# 7 Krousheto, Veliko Tarnovo reg. P II Gerassimov 1969, 233 ALL STOLEN  
# 8 Lublen, Targovischte reg. P II Mouchmov 1914, 272; Avdev 1981; Stoykov   2002-3, 82, no.11 ALL STOLEN  
# 9 Palamartza, Targovischte reg. P II Stoykov   2002-2003, 82, no. 10 ALL STOLEN  
# 10 Vlassatitsa, Vratza reg. P II Gerassimov 1946, 236 ALL STOLEN  
# 11 Pirgovo   I, Rousse reg. P II + P III Gerassimov 1938, 455;; Preda 1973, 240, no. 45 Of 98 coins, 78 STOLEN. 20 possibly in NAIM (?).  Access denied.  
# 12 Pirgovo   III, Rousse reg. PII + P III Draganov 2008, 37, note 11 Only 7 of original ‘large’ hoard in Rousse Museum. Rest STOLEN  
# 13 Rousse – ‘Sredna kula’, Rousse reg. P II + P III Gerassimov   1966, 213; Preda 1973, 209, no. 36;   Draganov 2001, 40 Rousse Museum (?) Unpublished  
# 14 Belyanovo, Rousse reg. P II  and P   III Gerassimov 1963,   257; Draganov 2001, 40 Possibly in NAIM (?). Access denied  
# 15 Ostritsa, Rousse reg. P III Gerassimov 1962,   231; Draganov 2001, 40 ALL STOLEN  
# 16 Pepelina, Rousse reg. P III Gerassimov 1966,   213; Preda 1998, 219 ALL STOLEN  
# 17 Gorna Oryahovitsa II, Veliko  Tarnovo reg. P. III Gerassimov 1939,   342 1000 + Drachms

ALL STOLEN

 
# 18 Radanovo, Veliko Tarnovo reg. P III Gerassimov 1964,   240; Draganov 2001, 40 ALL STOLEN  
# 19 Kutzina, Veliko Tarnovo reg. P III Gerassimov 1979, 139; Draganov 2001, 40 Possibly in Rousse Museum (?) Unpublished.  
# 20 Pordim I, Pleven region P III Gerassimov 1960, 231; Draganov 2001, 38 Unknown/Unpublished  
# 21 Rousse city centre, Rousse reg. P II + P III Gerassimov 1966, 213; Preda 1973, 209, no. 35 Rousse Museum (?)/Unpublished  
# 22 Rousse area, Rousse reg. P II + P III Gerassimov 1979, 138 Possibly in NAIM (?) – Access denied  
# 23 Mechka, Pleven reg. P II + P III Moushmov 1932, 314 Possibly in NAIM (?) – Access denied  
# 24 Kamenovo, Razgrad reg. P II + P III Gerassimov 1963, 263; Draganov 2001, 40; CCCHBulg I, 2007, nos. 95-146 Published  
# 25 Kostandenets, Razgrad reg. P II and P III Gerassimov 1959, 358; Draganov 2001, 40 Most STOLEN. 4 remain in Rousse museum.  
# 26 Varna, Varna reg. P. II + P III Preda 1973, 209, no. 38 Unknown/ Unpublished  
# 27 Pordim II, Pleven reg. P III Gerassimov 1962,   261 NAIM Sofia (?). Access denied/Unpublished.  
# 28 Alexandrovo, Lovech reg. P III Gerassimov 1939, 341 STOLEN/DISPERSED  
# 29 Smochan   I, Lovech reg. P III Gerassimov 1950,   322; CCCHBulg I, 2007, nos. 57-101 Published  
# 30 Glavatsi, Vratza region P III Gerassimov 1937, 320 224 tetradrachms. 12 in Sofia museum (?) – access denied. 12 in Vratza   Museum – subsequently STOLEN/DISPERSED. The remaining 200 STOLEN/DISPERSED.  
# 31 Lomets, Lovech reg. P III Muchmov 1927, 324; Noe 1937, no. 622; Pink 1974,   87 ALL STOLEN/DISPERSED  
# 32 Vrachesh, Sofia reg. P III Gerassimov 1934,   467 ALL STOLEN/DISPERSED  
# 33 Glozhene, Lovech reg. P III Jurukova 1978, 72 1 in Teteven museum. Rest STOLEN  
# 34 Choba, Plovdiv reg. P III Gerassimov   1943, 285 ALL STOLEN/DISPERSED  
# 35 Kroumovo, Plovdiv reg. P III Jurukova   1978, 72 ALL STOLEN/DISPERSED  
# 36 Stara Zagora, Stara Zagora   reg. P III Jurukova   1978, 72, no.5 ALL STOLEN/DISPERSED  
# 37 Russe II, Rousse reg. P III (M) Jurukova 1979, 60; Prokopov 2006,   no. 260 Part in NAIM (?) – Access denied. Rest STOLEN/DISPERSED  
# 38 Bratya Daskalovi, Stara Zagora reg. P III (M) Paunov   – Filipova 2011, 44-53, nos. 11-12 Published  
# 39 Pirgovo II, Rousse reg. P II + P III(M) Jurukova 1979, 60; Draganov 2001, 41; see now   Draganov 2008, 36-37 Rousse Museum (?)

Unpublished

 
# 40 Samovodene, Veliko   Tarnovo reg. P III (M) Gerassimov   1934, 469; Karayotov 2012, 274, no. 34; Prokopov 2012, no. 104 ALL STOLEN/DISPERSED  
# 41 Tvarditza, Sliven reg. P III Batzova-Kostova 1973, 14-15 A large hoard. Partly STOLEN/DISPERSED. Rest in Sliven museum (?)  
# 42 Pirgovo  1910, Russe reg. P III Dessewffy,   G. (1910); Gerassimov 1938:455 Unknown/Unpublished  

 

 

# 43 Chavdar, Sofia reg. P III Gerassimov   1934: 473 STOLEN/DISPERSED
# 44 ‘Between Lovech and   Vratza’ P III Prokopov et al. 2011: 49 n. 33. Unknown/Unpublished
# 45 Stara Zagora (1973) P III Youroukova 1978: 72 Unknown/Unpublished
# 46 Arkovna, Varna reg. P II Lazarov, 2010. 53-121 Published
# 47 Kruscheto, Veliko Tarnvov reg. P II Stoykov   2002-2003: 82, # 10 Unknown/Unpublished
# 48 Slana Bara, Vidin reg. P II + P III Gerassimov  1942, BIAB vol. 14, pp. 284-285 STOLEN/DISPERSED
# 49 Troyanovo, Burgas reg. P II Gerassimov  op cit. STOLEN/DISPERSED

 

(Based on available information as of May 2013; the author would like to express his gratitude to Dr. Evgeni Paunov of Cardiff University who provided invaluable information on the current state of this material; see also (Paunov E. (2012) From Koine To Romanitas: The Numismatic Evidence For Roman Expansion And Settlement In Bulgaria In Antiquity (Moesia and Thrace, ca. 146 BC – AD 98/117) Phd. Thesis. School of History, Archaeology and Religion. Cardiff University. November  2012, with cited lit.; also DEUS EX MACHINA article on this site).

 

 

 

Thus, of the 49 hoards of ancient Celtic coinage of the ‘Macedonian Types’ registered in Bulgaria over the last century, only 4 of the smaller hoards have actually been published, and these in the last five years by private individuals; a further 25 have been stolen in their entirety, many in the last decade from the museums themselves; 4 have been partially stolen, and the whereabouts of the rest of the hoards concerned unknown; a further 16 hoards remain unpublished, in many cases 100 years after their discovery, and their present location is ‘unknown’:

 

Published (4) – 8.16%

Stolen/Unknown – 91.84%

 

 

 

 

  Thus, as the reader will observe, a number of serious obstacles must be overcome in documenting Celtic coinage from the territory of today’s Republic of Bulgaria. However, these conditions make it even more urgent that the available numismatic evidence pertaining to this culture be recorded before it too is lost for posterity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail