Pure gold and Pompeian red in Heraclea Sintica

Sanctuary at the Heraclea Sintica forum
The golden necklace from Heraclea Sintica

On July 23 our media platform, Archaeologia Bulgarica showed in а clip the “Pompeian” red of the plaster in one of the sanctuaries of the forum in Heraclea Sintica – alongside with the ruined by the earthquake near arches. And after the reactions, we once again realized how great is the interest in everything related to the city and the destructive natural disaster that occurred in the end of the 4th century.

In Heraclea Sintica (unlike Pompeii) there is no evidence of a volcanic eruption throughout its existence. But the archaeologists find various signs of panic which has roused during the earthquakes. For example during the excavations in August last year in one of the chain premises, located at the northern end of the forum, a massive gold necklace was found – buried in a thick layer of ruins, caused by the earthquake. “Together with it we also found two Late Roman coins, one of them was cut off under the rule of Constantine the Great – said the head of the excavations, Assoc. Prof. Ludmil Vagalinski. – The golden necklace was produced in the second half of the 4th century, the length is 49 cm and weighs 49.15 g, and the hook on the buckle is upright. Probably this damage is one of the reasons why the jewelery was lost when escaping from the city.”

Golden necklace from Heracleia Sintica, detail

The necklace has already been studied in all possible non-destructive ways, and Assoc. Prof. Vagalinski summarized the results and drew the conclusions from them in an article, which will soon be published in a thematic edition of the University of Poznan. But especially for Archaeologia Bulgarica the author gave a few more details: according to the analyze the knit part of the jewelry and its fastener is made of almost pure gold, 22.62 and 22.58 carats, respectively. Impurities of silver and copper are within the natural values of native gold. The necklace is type “istmion”, which appeared in the 2nd century and gained popularity in the 3rd – 4th century.

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