The Thracian Civilization Orphaned Again
Dr. Kitov – In Memoriam
He was the king of the Bulgarian archaeology and a slave of it. Trying to save the Thracian Civilization heritage, almost alone against all treasure hunters, against the bureaucracy of the government and the spiteful critiques of his jealous colleagues. He was one of the last remaining believers in the importance of the science of Thracology and the magnitude of the Thracian Orphism. Together with Prof. Alexander Fol, who passed away in 2006, and 2-3 surviving Thracologists, Dr. Kitov was one of the few left defending this great civilization against the intents of the Greek government to melt down the significance of the Thracians’ cultural heritage into a small contribution to Magna Graecia.
With more than 200 publications and books about the Thracian culture, he became famous after discovering the gold mask of Seuth III in 2005, together with a rich burial and cult tomb of the great Thracian King. National Geographic featured him in a sad article about the Bulgarian Gold Rush as the savior of the remaining treasures. Discovery channel filmed him while unearthing the next gold mask in 2007 in a typical Orphic burial. Sites as Alexandrovo Tomb, Kosmatka, Svetitzata, Starosel Cult Complex, and others in the Valley of the Thracian Kings owe him not only the discovery, but also the documentation, publication and preservation of the finds. The Kazanluk Museum of History owes him half of its artifacts, and the most valuable ones.
Because of the immense value of the gold artifacts and the monumental and artistic significance of the discovered Thracian tombs, Dr. Kitov became a star. Everybody from Russia to USA and from Sweden to Spain knows that. Only he didn’t know it. When I asked him for an autograph, he looked at me as if I was crazy and said “I am not a star”. I tried to argue that he is, that Prof. Dr. Marazov. Prof. Dr. Valeria Fol and he, Dr. Kitov are the starts of a science, where few succeed and fewer are left.
All Thracologists in Bulgaria can be fit in less than a 50 seats room – that includes archaeologists, who are specialized in the period, the Institute of Thracology (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), and the ones from the Archaeological Institute of Bulgaria (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences). For these handful of people, Dr. Kitov was the only one with private funding who didn’t totally depend on the miserable support of the Bulgarian government, neither from foreign government funds with their correspondingly attached political agendas.
Who will follow him and who will be next star of the Thracian archaeology? Nobody in the horizon yet. In the meantime, the treasure hunters will have a field day (textually) digging out cultural heritage from this great civilization and exporting it to richer countries. In the meantime, Bulgarian archaeologists paid by foreign governments will try to dismiss the importance of the Thracian Civilization (as they were trying during the communist times) in favor of Magna Graecia (Greek paid), Scythia (paid by Russia) or Anatolian cultures (paid by Turkey).
This way, a civilization surviving 3 millennia will be thrown into oblivion again for who knows how many years. And instead to admire its remnants in the Bulgarian museums, we will have to make the tour of Christies and Sotheby’s or Louvre, the Metropolitan and British Museums.
The Thracian civilization orphaned again today. We, the Bulgarians too – since we are the grandsons and granddaughters of this glorious people, the Thracians, known to the history since the down of times.
© Rossitza Ohridska-Olson