In 1902 , when Svilengrad and the village of Mezek were still under the domination of the Turkish Empire, Angel Chobana, a local treasure hunter, was digging next to the Mezek Thracian Tomb (then still an mound looking like from outside as a small hill) with the purpose of searching gold treasures. The only object he found was a life-size bronze figure of a boar. He believed that the boar was hallow and was hiding a lot of gold – so heavy was the statue. He broke three legs of the boar and its maw to find the treasure, but the boar was solid bronze. Disappointed, Angel re-buried the statue back, hoping to sell his booty later. But a rumor of a boar “full of gold” reached Sofia antiques dealers. They did not believe that the boar did not contain any gold treasure and after serious convincing techniques (mainly strong body manipulations), they obliged Angel to tell them the location and took the boar. Of course, the local Turkish governor had heard about the boar too. Just before the Sofia antiques dealers left Mezek village, they were obliged to return the “property of the Turkish Empire” to the local governor.
Few years later, the region of Svilengrad was rightfully returned to the Bulgarian state. The newly created Archaeological museum sent specialists from Sofia to interrogate the treasure hunter. Angel gave the legs to the Bulgarian archaeologists. Armed with the legs, the Bulgarian government negotiated a deal with the Turkish government: to give to the Turks the legs, so they can have a complete boar, in exchange the Turkish craftsmen to make an exact copy to the boar and give it to Bulgaria.
Now you can see the original boar from Mezek Thracian Tomb in the Archaeology Museum in Istanbul, while the copy is hosted by the Bulgarian National Archaeological Museum in Sofia.
© Rossitza Ohridska-Olson – text editing and English version
© Jechka Todorova – Bulgarian text information
© Stevan Olson - photography