“With money – in the heavens, without money – at the edge“. Оn a 17th century coin hoard found at the Kremikovtsi monastery





Kremikovtsi Monastery, 15th-17th century, European Coins, Burial practices, Cultural Anthropology


A necropolis of 29 graves was partially explored during the archaeological excavations at the Kremikovtsi Monastery. It is located under the modern monastery buildings. The necropolis functioned probably between the second half of the 15th century and the mid-17th century. Almost all individuals were laid to rest without grave goods except for the one in grave no. 24. The person buried in it was a man, aged between 50 and 65. Six silver coins with a total value of 3.75 thalers were found next to his right hip bone (five of the Spanish King Philip III (1598–1621) and an imitation thaler of Cosimo II de’Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1608–1621). Leaving money as a grave good is a practice known in academic literature as the “Charon’s obol”. The practice is known in the Bulgarian lands from the Antiquity to the modern times. Coins of small denominations are usually found in the graves – usually one, less often three, and a few silver coins of high denomination is unusual and rather an exception. The paper here provides some of the possible answers to the questions what was the reason to bury the man in grave no. 24 together with such a fortune? Was he of a high social status? Did he have any sins he had to pay for before entering Heavens? Here are some possible interpretations: according to some beliefs, the dead have the same needs as the living. The dead live in communities, in villages and houses. Money is needed to buy property in Otherworld. According to some others, if the deceased owes money to someone who died before them, their relatives bury them with the amount owed to repay the debt in the afterlife. In several cases, things that the deceased loved during their lifetime are arranged in the coffin, including money if they were lovers of money. All these beliefs give only a part of the possible answers, but they certainly do not exhaust the options of some other different interpretations.




How to Cite

Todorov, V. . (2024). “With money – in the heavens, without money – at the edge“. Оn a 17th century coin hoard found at the Kremikovtsi monastery. Bulgarian Numismatic Journal, 2(1), 19–28. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.11077816