Friday, November 2, 2012

Before it was Bulgaria


Archaeologists in what has since become Bulgaria have uncovered what they say is the oldest prehistoric town ever found in Europe. Roughly 350 people lived in the walled fortified settlement not far from the Black Sea resort of Varna, Provaida – Solnitsata. The site dates back to 4700-4200 B.C.E. - 1,500 years before the start of ancient Greek civilization. "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 5th millennium B.C.," explains Vasil Nikolov, a researcher with Bulgaria's National Institute of Archaeology. The ancient town is thought to have been an important center for salt production in which salt bricks were created from a local spring, meat was preserved with it, and the valuable commodity was traded. Nikolov has led excavations since 2005 (photos here, details and maps here) that have uncovered the following ruins:
  • 2-storey houses
  • stone walls up to 2m thick and 3m high
  • pits used for rituals
  • a gate and bastion
  • a necropolis
Regarding the latter, Phillip Butler writes on Argophilia.com, "Graves near the town suggest a citizenry that was not only rich, but in some ways unique for their burial rituals. According to the archaeologist, some corpses having been chopped in half and only the torso above the waist being buried." I knew if I drilled deeply enough, there'd be skeletons in the story (image above), but I didn't think they'd be so gruesomely dealt with and strangely positioned...
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