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The exhibition catalogue “Sport in ancient Thrace” has been released


The book presents a catalogue of the temporary exhibition “Sport in ancient Thrace” organized by the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences on the occasion that Sofia has officially been named European Capital of Sport in 2018. The exhibition aims at displaying the place and role of sport in ancient Thrace which had come under the strong cultural influence of the ancient Greco-Roman civilization. Besides, it may afford another occasion for the audience to be acquainted with the rich historical and cultural heritage of the Bulgarian lands refracted through the prism of the sports culture. Sport has a long and rich history, referring to universal values and traditions that make it one of the cardinal unifying aspects of European culture.   

The first part of the catalogue treats the gradual adoption and adaptation of the sports culture in ancient Thrace in the pre-Roman and Roman periods. It took some time to complete this whole process that probably started in a somewhat curious fashion, an attempt to imitate, or something appealing about its spectacular nature. The adoption of sports culture in ancient Thrace became particularly visible in the Roman period, when information on sporting games is found in official inscriptions set up by city authorities, and specially issued coins popularized sporting festivals held in the cities. Thus, Roman Thrace was included in the network of sporting events that took place in the Roman Empire. 

The information about the objects in the exhibition comes in the second part of the catalogue, with extensive entries and high-quality images. Some of the main accents are to be found in the unique gold signet ring with an image of a resting athlete, discovered together with the famous gold funeral mask in the Svetitsa Tumulus, near the town of Shipka; the silver plate (phiale) decorated with a composition of engraved and gilded images representing a race of four chariots (quadrigae); a spherical bronze vessel (unguentarium) decorated with various sporting scenes in relief found in a grave near the village of Slokoshtitsa, Kyustendil region; a marble head of a heavyweight athlete found in Almus (present-day Lom), vividly recreating the athlete’s physique and fatigue. The catalogue also includes entries and images of objects which were not add to the exhibits but would complement the theme of sport in ancient Thrace, and thus could help the reader to get acquainted with this interesting sphere of life in our lands in Antiquity.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all the museums and colleagues for providing their support that allowed us to realize the exhibition and the catalogue.

The exhibition catalogue was published with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria.

P. Andreeva (ed.). Sport in ancient Thrace. Catalogues, vol. IX. Sofia, NAIM-BAS, ISSN 2367-8860; ISBN 978-954-9472-61-5. 152 p.