Georgi Kitov

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Georgi Kitov
Georgy Kitov.jpg
Born1 March 1943
Died14 September 2008

Georgi Kitov (Bulgarian: Георги Китов) (March 1, 1943 – September 14, 2008) was a Bulgarian archaeologist and thracologist. [1] [2] He specialized in Thracian archaeology. [3] He participated in the excavations of many sites including the Alexandrovo Tomb, Kosmatka, Svetitzata and Starosel Cult Complex. [4]


Kitov died from a heart attack on September 14, 2008 during excavations in Starosel, Bulgaria. [5]

Finding the Thracian tomb

On August 19, 2004 Kitov discovered a gold mask in a 5th-century BC burial mound outside the town of Shipka in a place he later named Golyamata Kosmatka. On September 21 he began an excavation of the mound with 12 others, including private security guards, and soon unearthed a large bronze head. Three days later he found the entrance of a tomb.

Instead of the more usual archaeological methods, Kitov used three large earthmoving machines. He claimed that he had to work quickly to deter looters. On October 4 Kitov and his team found a large marble door. Later that night they entered a chamber with a sarcophagus and a large amount of golden objects.

According to Kitov's later account, he informed the police in Kazanluk to ask for help of couple of police officers to help the take the treasure to his headquarters in a local hotel. Police sent 50 men and a local prosecutor—according to their later report, they were suspicious because the team intended to move the artifacts in the middle of the night.

Police officers proceeded to frisk everyone when they came from the tomb in case they were trying to smuggle out valuables. When the police demanded that the treasure be taken to the local police station, Kitov refused. Both groups spent the whole night outside the mound until the police escorted the team and the artifacts to their hotel the next morning. Apparent police overkill caused lots of public amusement.

Professional criticism

He rarely bothered to document or analyze the artifacts he fоund. He began to publish his findings only after several other archaeologists criticised [6] [7] him in public. He excavated the digs in a hurried manner, using heavy machinery. The quality of his scholarship, his business ethics, his self-promotion and his associations with people suspected of looting and selling antiquities were issues on which he was criticized.

In February 2001, the National Archaeological Institute and Museum censured him for excavating sites without permission and took away his authorization to lead expeditions for a year. [8] [9] Later the same year, they expelled Kitov from his post as a Thracian section. [8] [9]


Kitov was the author or co-author of about 17 books of which the following are available in English:

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  1. Toshkov, Veselin (September 20, 2008). "Georgi Kitov: Archaeologist Was an Expert On Thracians". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  2. "Georgi Kitov: Archaeologist who unearthed a remarkable Thracian treasure trove in Bulgaria's 'Valley of the Kings'". The Telegraph. 18 September 2018. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  3. Associated Press (September 25, 2008). "Obituaries: Georgi Kitov (1943-2008): Bulgarian archaeologist was an expert on the ancient Thracian culture". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  4. "". 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  5. Martin, Douglas (September 17, 2008). "Georgi Kitov, Who Excavated Thrace, Dies at 65". The New York Times . Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  6. TimesOnline,"But by this time his work had attracted professional criticism as well as popular acclaim. More scholarly archaeologists reprimanded him for not fully documenting and analysing the objects he had uncovered. His business ethics and his uninhibited self-promotion also drew fire. Far more serious was the accusation that he worked too rapidly, disdaining the trowel and brush of the classical archaeologist for bulldozers and other earth-moving machinery. His response was that he used these machines with such skill that he could extract individual beads without damaging them. And, more importantly, he had to use the diggers to remove the artifacts before they fell prey to the looters who operated with four-wheel drives and other modern equipment."
  7. Georgi Kitov, Who Excavated Thrace, Dies at 65, The New York Times,Criticisms of Mr. Kitov’s methods went beyond his heavy-machinery and high-speed digging techniques, a far cry from the careful brush-and-trowel approach of most archaeologists. An article in the journal Archaeology in 2005 questioned the quality of his scholarship, his business ethics, his self-promotion and his associations with people suspected of looting and selling antiquities.
  8. 1 2 TimesOnline,"His defences did not entirely convince his critics and in 2001 the National Archaeological Institute and Museum in Sofia withdrew for one year his licence to dig. It also expelled Kitov from his post as head of the Institute’s Thracian section; added to his professional misdemeanours was that he had called the chairperson of the committee which had investigated him “a moron”. "
  9. 1 2 Georgi Kitov, Who Excavated Thrace, Dies at 65, The New York Times,"The journal reported that in 2001 a 13-member field studies committee at the National Archaeological Institute and Museum in Sofia unanimously denied him permission to lead expeditions for a year. Later that year, the committee expelled Mr. Kitov as head of the institute’s Thracian section, partly for acting like a “spoiled child” and calling the chairwoman “a moron,” the panel said, according to the journal."