This gathering of more than 700 exquisite objects— including jewelry, weapons, armor, and more— has never before been shown together.
Explore the rise to power of ancient Europe’s first kings and queens and discover how once egalitarian farming communities developed power, inequity, and hierarchy for the first time. Travel back to 5000 BCE to uncover what prehistoric tools, weapons, and ritual sculptures can tell us about life in the Balkans’ earliest societies. Venture through the trade routes that shaped the world as we know it today. Immerse yourself in the ceremonies of the Ages as you view a Neolithic altar, and hear the crackling fire of a life-sized funerary pyre simulation. See the precious axes, swords, and crowns that turned warriors into royals and forever changed the structure of society.
Image of gold breast plate. Kosmatkite, Bulgaria. Courtesy of National Museum of History, Sofia, Bulgaria. Photo by Todor Dimitrov.
First Kings of Europe brings together the work and stories of 26 museums and 11 countries throughout southeastern Europe.
- The oldest human-made gold objects, known as the Varna treasure, created over 6,000 years ago
- Bronze Age masterpieces of swordmaking and armor
- The glimmering gold crown of a Thracian prince, featuring a wreath of gold leaves and the figure of Nike, the Goddess of victory.
- The famous “Borovo Treasure” of sphinx and horse-shaped drinking cups, part of a feasting set once owned by King Kotys I
- Multimedia video, audio, and soundscapes made to immerse you in ceremonial rituals of this eras
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First Kings of Europe was organized by the Field Museum.
The Field Museum is grateful to the ministries, research institutes, and enthusiastic advocates for First Kings of Europe in the following countries and we give heartfelt thanks to our museum partners.
Archaeological Museum in Tirana/Institute of Archaeology
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina
National Museum of History
Rousse Regional Museum of History
Varna Regional Museum of History
Archaeological Museum in Zagreb
Budapest History Museum
Hungarian National Museum
Koszta József Museum
Móra Ferenc Museum
Munkácsy Mihály Museum
Szent István Király Museum
National Museum of Kosovo
Museums and Galleries of Podgorica
Institute for Protection of Cultural Heritage and Museum–Bitola
Institute for Protection of the Monuments of Culture and Museum–Prilep
National Institution Museum–Gevgelija
Buzău County Museum
Museum of Oltenia National History
Museum of Romania
National Museum of Transylvanian History
Neamț County Museum Complex
The Museum of Gumelnița Culture
National Museum of Serbia
National Museum of Slovenia
Field Museum Major Sponsor
Generous foundation support provided by the America for Bulgaria Foundation
The First Kings of Europe exhibition has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.