Saturday, 7 January 2017

Gold of the Varna Necropolis

Varna is one of the oldest cities of Europe, it was founded in 570 BC by the Milethians, but it was populated much earlier than that.

The Varna Necropolis is near Lake Varna, about 4 km from the city center.
In the 1970s, archaeologists in Bulgaria stumbled upon a Copper Age necropolis from the 5th millennium BC containing the oldest golden artifacts ever discovered. But it was not until they reached grave 43 that they realized the real significance of the find. Inside burial 43 were the remains of a high status male with unfathomable gold riches.

Varna is considered one of the key archaeological sites in world prehistory. Bulgarian archaeologists spent more than 15 years excavating 312 graves. All date to a relatively brief period between 4600 and 4450 BC. — a pivotal point in human history, when people were beginning to unravel the secrets of metalworking.
Of the many graves only a handful contain sophisticated examples of metallurgy (gold and copper), pottery, high-quality flint and obsidian blades, beads, and shells.

A total of over six kilograms of gold, comprising more than 38 different kinds of objects unique to Varna were found. The gold is very pure - 23.5 carat and experts are unable to agree on its source.
The golden age entombed in the Varna cemetery was brief. The bones were all buried within a few centuries, between 6,600 and 6,200 years ago. All along the lower Danube, settlements and cultures that flourished during the Copper Age come to an abrupt end around 4000 BC.
The artifacts can be seen at the Varna Archaeological Museum and at the National Historical Museum in Sofia

Pendant necklace of gold, carnelian, and Spondylus shell
In 2012 archaeologists in eastern Bulgaria unearthed the oldest prehistoric town ever found in Europe, along with an ancient salt production site that gives a strong clue about why massive riches were discovered in the region.

The area is home to huge rock-salt deposits, some of the largest in southeast Europe and the only ones to be exploited as early as the sixth millennium BC. Excavations at the site near the town of Provadia uncovered the remains of a settlement of two-storey houses, a series of pits used for rituals as well as parts of a gate, bastion structures and three later fortification walls – all carbon dated between the middle and late Chalcolithic age from 4,700 to 4,200 BC.