Who are the descendants of the Bulgarians

Bulgaria"We are all Thracians"

"This mosaic was not moved, it has been preserved as it was found." Georgi Thrak, director of Thrak Art, presents his treasures. "This was the entrance. There was a door up there with two marble pillars."

His museum is located in the center of Plovdiv - at basement level. In 1980, during road construction work, antique mosaics were discovered, half streets, 2,000 and more years old. The city in the center of Bulgaria is one of the oldest cities in Europe - inhabited for at least 8,000 years. Many have left their mark here.

The Thracians are particularly fond of Mr Thrak, 55. You are his mission. As a young art student, his name was Georgi Ivanov, just like the first Bulgarian cosmonaut. There were times, he recalls, when ancestors weren't that important.

Thracian tribes are known only to true experts

"We were proud of the nuclear power plants, of the flights in space, but not of something that was buried in the ground."

Ivanov became Thrace. The Thracians, he believes, are the Bulgarian indigenous people, so to speak.

"There are now studies that show that the Bulgarians have 54 percent Thracian DNA."

Homer once praised Thrace as a "home of fast horses". Herodotus said that after the Indian, the Thracian people are "the greatest on earth." The Greek poet Archilochus called them - less enthusiastically - "those with the hair on their asses."

But actually the Thracians didn't look like much in the last 1,500 years. Thracian tribes like Geten, Dacians, Myser, Triballer and Odrysen are only known to true experts. Romans, Greeks, Macedonians, Persians, Slavs and Ottomans dominated the terrain.

A people looking for a new identity?

It used to be said: The original Bulgarians came from the north as Slavs. Some Bulgarians no longer want to be Slavs, even though they speak a Slavic language and write in Cyrillic letters.

Thrak: "That's a joke: They tried to tell us that we had crooked legs, that we came from the north on our beloved horses and drove the Romans away.

A people looking for a new identity? Finds of large Thracian gold treasures have repeatedly sparked enthusiasm in Bulgaria over the past few decades. Even in communist times there were attempts to idealize the Thracians. When in 1967 the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party decided on a "patriotic upbringing", state and party leader Toder Zhivkov swore to the "Thracian blood". In 1972 an Institute for Thracology was created.

Thracianism, believes Valeria Fol, scientist and widow of Alexander Fol, founding director of the Thracian Institute, is becoming more and more important.

"This is incredibly important for Bulgarian society. Because it is the legacy of the founding of the Bulgarian state."

Bulgaria is inconceivable without Thracians

Today Bulgaria celebrates a "Thracian Day" and various Thracian dance and song festivals. Some also use the spade to search for identity: in search of even greater treasures. Memorial sites arise, especially for "Kapitan Petko Wojwoda", celebrated as a revolutionary and freedom fighter, born in 1844 in the Ottoman Empire, where he founded the "Thracian Association". The communists had already given him a TV series in the 80s.

Fol says: Bulgaria is inconceivable without Thracians. "This is very important because it shows that the Thracian substrate was very strong when Bulgaria was founded."

Critics regard the Thracian euphoria as an attempt at transfiguration and warn against an escapist search for old "greatness" that could become politically dangerous.

"I'm of course happy about this interest. But economy is of course more important. And sometimes it seems to me that we are trying to mix economy with ancient history here in Bulgaria. And that is a bit dangerous."

The archaeologist Lyudmil Vagalinksi says that culture has always been an exchange, especially in the Balkans, where so many peoples were at home.

"This is an exit for people's souls. If the economy is not going well and you want to see something good in your country, then you turn to history. "