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In 2004 Bulgarian archeologists, Dr. Kitov and Dr. Dimitrova, discovered a unique Hellenistic era bronze head in a Royal Thracian burial, outside the Golyamata Kosmatka tomb. Research and visual analysis has shown that this head is most likely a portrait of Seuthes III, the ruler of Odrysian Thrace. This identification is indicated by its close resemblance to realistically sculpted profile images of Seuthes III found on Thracian coins. In both cases the heads are characterized by a thick beard and a crooked nose, which create a singular, individual identity. Traditional Greek bronze heads around 4 B.C. are beardless.

The head is a masterpiece of Hellenistic realism, dated to c. 4th Century BCE. The archaeologists further suggest that the bronze head of Seuthes III played a significant part in spiritual rituals of the Odryssian Thracians. Further objects inside the Golyamata Kosmatka tomb reveal the substantial influence of Hellenistic Greek art: a silver pitcher, a silver vial, a gold wreath with oak leaves, and a bronze helmet engraved in Greek script with the name of Seuthes III. Fragmentary images of the Gorgon Medusa were found on the funeral bed and the gold wreath. We conclude that the bronze head of Seuthes III is unique and has no analog in the Greek World.

Publication Date

Fall 11-15-2021




Greek sculpture; Bronze head; Thracian culture; Thombs; Royal Burial

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Faculty Mentor: Aya Louisa McDonald, ph.D.


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The Bronze Head of Thracian Ruler Seuthes III