Gold wreath

First Kings of Europe

Category: Exhibitions

Exhibition Summary


Requires All-Access Pass

When exhibit closes

Closes Jan 28, 2024

Targeted age groups

All ages


Anchor: #this-gathering-of-more-than-700-exquisite-objects-including-jewelry-weapons-armor-and-more-has-never-before-been-shown-together

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.

Exhibition Highlights:

  • 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

Image slideshow

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