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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Europe's oldest prehistoric town unearthed in Bulgaria

The oldest prehistoric town found to date in Europe has been unearthed by Archaeologists in Bulgaria. The walled fortified settlement, near the modern town of Provadia, is thought to have been an important centre for salt production. Its discovery in north-east Bulgaria may explain the huge gold hoard found nearby 40 years ago.

Archaeologists believe that the town was home to some 350 people and dates back to between 4700 and 4200 BC. That is about 1,500 years before the start of ancient Greek civilisation.

The residents boiled water from a local spring and used it to create salt bricks, which were traded and used to preserve meat.

Salt was a hugely valuable commodity at the time, which experts say could help to explain the huge defensive stone walls which ringed the town.

Excavations at the site, beginning in 2005, have also uncovered the remains of two-storey houses, a series of pits used for rituals, as well as parts of a gate and bastion structures.

A small necropolis, or burial ground, was discovered at the site earlier this year and is still being studied by archaeologists.

"We are not talking about a town like the Greek city-states, ancient Rome or medieval settlements, but about what archaeologists agree constituted a town in the fifth millennium BC," Vasil Nikolov, a researcher with Bulgaria's National Institute of Archaeology, told the AFP news agency.

Archaeologist Krum Bachvarov from the institute said the latest find was "extremely interesting".

"The huge walls around the settlement, which were built very tall and with stone blocks... are also something unseen in excavations of prehistoric sites in south-east Europe so far," he told AFP.

Similar salt mines near Tuzla in Bosnia and Turda in Romania help prove the existence of a series of civilisations which also mined copper and gold in the Carpathian and Balkan mountains during the same period.

BBC Europe correspondent Nick Thorpe says this latest discovery almost certainly explains the treasure found exactly 40 years ago at a cemetery on the outskirts of Varna, 35km (21 miles) away, the oldest hoard of gold objects found anywhere in the world.

Source: BBC


Emm in London said...

Wow! This is fascinating! I hope to visit Bulgaria one day but have finally booked flights to go to Split (Croatia) and Sarajevo and Mostar (Bosnia) next year. I had no idea the salt mines in Tuzla were so significant. Any news on your plans to visit Europe?

Lauren Axelrod said...


I wish I had news. Grad school has been so busy and I'm now working with international students, teaching them English. I had considered going to India in the summer for research, but now I'm not sure if my schedule will permit to go. I would like to take a tour of Italy, England, Ireland, and Scotland, but I don't even know how I'll start planning. Any suggestions on travel groups or tours you trust?

Emm in London said...

That's great though Lauren! It might all be going a little too slowly for you but you're such an inspiration. I don't know any tours per se but I could certainly draw up a tour of Britain for you if you gave me dates.

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