Unique Silver Kantharos Depicts Theseus In Crete | The Vasil Bojkov Collection

Silver Kantharos with Theseus

The Vasil Bojkov’s collection is brimming with history and meaning, so much so that it is necessary to experience it in person to fully appreciate its greatness. This is precisely why the National Gallery of Arts in Sofia held the exhibition, The Golden Fleece. Quest of the Argonauts from March 16th to June 10th 2018. People came from all around the world to see the collection of astounding and rare artefacts. The fascinating stories and myths depicted on the items took visitors back in time to experience cultural representations from a different perspective.

One of the most impressive features of the exhibition was a silver kantharos, which was on public display for the very first time during the event. The unique kantharos portrays a scene involving the famous ancient Greek hero and king Theseus, on the island of Crete. This piece in particular is dated to around 440-435 BC; it stands out from other kantharoi found by historians for several reasons. Firstly, because it depicts one of the most tragic but most iconic myths in Greek mythology – The story of Theseus and the minotaur. Theseus travelled to the island of Crete to kill the minotaur, saving seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls from being sent to and devoured by the supernatural creature.

Secondly, this particular item has become popular and is admired by history lovers because it features a range of iconic imagery. For instance, on one side of the exterior of the kantharos, we can see king Minos alongside his daughter Ariadne and the goddess of love Aphrodite, accompanied by Eros. On the opposite side, drawings of the naked hero Theseus and the goddess Athena are etched into the silver. Next to the goddess is the town of Knossos, and here lies a paculiarity that makes this piece especially intriguing. What at first appears to be a depiction of a middle-aged man, is in fact a highly detailed figure shaped representation of a town. Knossos is famous historically as the town in Crete where Daedalus created his labyrinth. The minotaur which was defeated by Theseus resided within this complex maze, located underneath the court of King Minos. This precise detail is what makes this artefact pique the curiosity of historians and cultural experts alike. It is an image which has never really seen before in the history of art, making it truly unique.

Vasil Bojkov’s collection of precious archaeological artefacts from the ancient Thracian era is unrivalled. It is the largest and most famous collection of its kind, making it truly priceless. It consists of more than 3000 individual, cherished pieces. Sixteen of them featured for the very first time during the Golden Fleece exhibition at the National Gallery of Arts in Sofia earlier this year. The unique event attracted visitors from an impressive 45 different countries. All came to marvel at the cultural riches and historical findings on display.

Including captivating artefacts such as the silver kantharos described above, Bojkov’s collection offers something completely different for audiences looking to satisfy their cravings for history and culture. In an increasingly modernised world, breathtaking artefacts like these remind us that sometimes it is just as rewarding to glimpse into our past, as it is to wonder at our future.

About the author Iliyana Ivanova is a journalist and historian born in Bulgaria but currently based in London, UK. She has studied at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski and graduated from the Faculty of History with a BA in Archeology and MA in Ancient History and Thracian Studies. Throughout the years, Iliyana has organized various cultural and historical events back in Bulgaria with the idea to reveal little-known-information about the ancient world of Thrace. She continues her practice in the UK as well with the main goal to promote the history and ancient treasures of Bulgaria. Currently, her main focus is one of the most fascinating private collections of Thracian artefacts – that of the philanthropist and collector Vasil Bojkov. Her personal blog contains articles about the pieces owned by Vasil Bojkov, their meaning to her country and the world, his personal life, and all the deeds, charity events, and exhibitions initiated by him.

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