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Chinese nephrite distribution in Europe

  • Last Updated: Thursday, 13 May 2021 15:31
  • Published: Tuesday, 04 November 2014 22:27
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  • 04 Nov

Following the discovering of a complete heavy ormamental set of an equestrian warrior from a rich Thracian necropolis at Chatalka in the Stara Zagora region (Bulgaria), É. Gonthier, R. I. Kostov and E. Strack present "A Han-dated ‘hydra’-type nephrite scabbard slide found in Chatalka (Bulgaria): the earliest and most distant example of Chinese nephrite distribution in Europe".

Nephrite Scabbard Slide - © E. Strack
Nephrite scabbard slide from Chatalka where a High dragon with multiple tails seems to walk along the upper side of the scabbard
© E. Strack.

Summary of the article
After a description of the jade-nephrite scabbard slide discovered in the Chatalka mound, the ‘hydra’ type engraved in high relief on the plate is demonstrated as an extremely rare and unique pattern for Eastern Europe as well as for the rest of the whole Europe. If the gold wreath on the urn and the rich burial artefacts point to a high-ranking military official or a ruler, and not to an ordinary warrior, the ethnic origin of the owner cannot be definitively determined.

With this artefact, we can say also the Bactrian center has to be considered as an important crossroads in Central Asia in the manufacture, trade and distribution of prestigious goods, including gemological materials. In conclusion, this jade-nephrite scabbard slide discovered in Bulgaria can be declared to be among the earliest known Chinese jade-nephrite artefacts found in such a distant western site.

Download the full paper in pdf

jade, nephrite, weapon, Silk Road, archaeology, geology, Han-period, China, Bulgaria

To reference the article: Gonthier É., Kostov R. I. and Strack E., "A Han-dated ‘hydra’-type nephrite scabbard slide found in Chatalka (Bulgaria): the earliest and most distant example of Chinese nephrite distribution in Europe", Arkéolog 65, April 2014, p. 5-12.

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