Gold of Varna: The oldest gold in the world

(ORDO NEWS) — Varna gold became a real sensation in the 1970s. Not just somewhere in the East, but in the Balkans, in Bulgaria, not only the richest burials in the world were found, but also the most ancient gold. As shown by radiocarbon analysis, the craftsmen who smelted gold lived in the 5th millennium BC.

At the excavations, archaeologists were surprised not only by the age of the burials, but also by the abundance of gold jewelry. More than six kilograms of priceless artifacts were recovered from the graves. From burial No. 43 alone, 990 gold objects, plaques and ornaments were obtained. “It’s fantastic!” – the most experienced scientists shook their heads.

Men are in the center

It all started casually: in the center of Varna, a 22-year-old excavator operator Raicho Marinov was digging a trench for laying a cable and suddenly saw something flash in the bucket. Climbing out of the cockpit, he found small gold plaques and fragments of pottery in the ground. The young man collected gold and ceramics in a box and took them home. If capitalism were in the courtyard, who knows how things would have turned out, but in those years the workers of the countries of the socialist camp were also quite “conscious”, so the next day Marinov still took the finds to archaeologists and even received an award of 500 Bulgarian leva, which was equal to those years, several monthly salaries.

Soon the place where the cable was laid was cordoned off, and archaeologists began work under the leadership of employees of the Archaeological Museum of Varna, Ivan Ivanov and Mikhail Nazarov. Scientists quickly realized that they had found a huge burial complex, in the center of which were two male graves, surrounded by female burials.

Excavations in Varna lasted ten years; during this time, 294 burials were found, more than 600 samples of ceramics, flint and obsidian blades and tips of fine work, but most importantly, more than three thousand gold objects were found, which turned out to be the oldest processed gold in the world! It turned out that people buried in Varna graves lived, fought and processed metal from 4690 to 4330 BC, that is, Varna gold is two thousand years older than the very first pyramid in Egypt and the stones of the megalithic complex Stonehenge.

As it turned out, the ancient inhabitants of the Balkans buried men, laying them on their backs, and women in a crooked position on their right side. There were also symbolic graves that were arranged when they could not find the body of the deceased – for example, he was carried away by a river or torn to pieces by wild animals.

In this case, the ancient Varna people buried the head of a person, molded from clay, in which gold was put in instead of a mouth, nose and eyes. Obviously, they believed that the grave and the rituals that were carried out at the same time would help the soul of a fellow tribesman find its way to the land of the dead.

Power symbol

Most often, gold, possibly as a symbol of power and strength, was placed in the graves of men. In female burials, it was almost never found. Of the total mass of gold of six and a half kilograms, almost five kilograms were found in symbolic graves and in burial number 43, which made a great impression on the Bulgarian archaeologists.

A local prince, leader or elder was buried in this grave. He was a man of 40-45 years old, strong constitution, 175 centimeters in height. Anthropologists managed to recreate the appearance of this man. A handsome man appeared before them, whose appearance was close to the appearance of modern southern Slavs.

The burial ground was called the “golden burial of the king”, because its “owner” was dressed in expensive clothes, at the right hand lay a rod – a symbol of royal power, at the thigh – three axes and a dagger. The king’s belly was covered with a huge gold plate, and many gold plaques were sewn onto his clothes. It was this burial that gave archaeologists a thousand gold jewelry with a total weight of one and a half kilograms, many copper and stone tools and a gold-plated bow. In addition, figurines of various deities, images of people and animals and ornaments that played the role of amulets were found in the grave.

The symbolic burial at number 36 was also nicknamed “royal”. It brought scientists more than 850 gold jewelry, including a gold tiara, earrings, a necklace and a bib, gold bracelets and belt plaques, animal plates, a golden sickle, a golden hammer with a handle shaped like a scepter, and 30 gold plaques in the form of animal head with horns.

Perhaps, evidence of a drama played out many years ago appeared before archaeologists – a young king or leader did not return from a hunt or was killed by enemies, and his body was never found.

The beginning of time

Burials of the Varna culture turned the ideas of scientists about the history of the development of Europe. It turned out that it was in the Balkans that the first developed European civilization arose.

The finds confirmed that the ancient inhabitants of the Balkan Peninsula had extensive trade links with the Mediterranean and the Black Sea coast. Salt was delivered to the residents of Varna from the city of Provadia-Solnitsata, which existed at that time on the shores of the Black Sea. The inhabitants of this settlement, numbering about 3400 inhabitants, were engaged in cooking salt, which, since 5500 BC, was mined from a unique salt source, evaporating water in huge adobe ovens. She was supplied to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and to Asia. Here, during the excavations, more than three thousand jewelry were also found – salt was valued at that time its weight in gold, and the city flourished.

In addition to gold in the graves of Varna, shells of the sea mollusk Spondylus were found, which were used as money on the islands of Micronesia. Apparently, they were also valued in the Balkans, where they could be used as a medium of exchange. Were found gold bracelets of various thicknesses, bracelets and necklaces consisting of tiny gold beads, patch plates that were sewn to clothes, onlays for weapons, copper and stone axes decorated with gold, and even … a golden phallus!

There were also unique finds – for example, golden figurines of bulls, which served as length measures and were equal to 52 centimeters, that is, corresponded to the Egyptian elbow. Along the edge of the golden bulls, the researchers counted 56 holes, which they attributed to the “Orby holes” – depressions that they found on the outer perimeter of Stonehenge. This suggests that the beliefs of the people of the Balkans and Britain were similar.

Axes, hammers, a nail-hammer, a chisel, a blacksmith’s hammer, awls, needles and numerous dishes – cups with ritual food and salt, vases were found from the tools.

The finds of blacksmithing tools allowed scientists to conclude that in the V millennium BC, the goddess-mother, the deity of fertility, began to come to replace the goddess-mother, the god, who embodied the masculine principle. This indicated the replacement of matriarchy with a patriarchal way of life. Obviously, the blacksmith was not only considered a good master, but was revered as a person close to the gods, and, possibly, to some extent deified.

Treasures, treasures …

But Varna’s gold is far from the only Bulgarian treasure found in the country.

In 1924, a Thracian treasure was found near the village of Vylchitran, consisting of 13 gold ritual vessels with a total weight of 12 and a half kilograms.

In 1949, near the village of Panagyurishte, three potters were digging clay for a local factory and found a gold treasure weighing six kilograms. It consisted of bowls, amphorae and rhytons – goblets in the form of an animal’s head. It is believed that the owners of the gold were the kings of the Odrysian kingdom, which once existed on the territory of Bulgaria.

In 1953, the Lukovit treasure was found consisting of 15 items: cups, bowls, silver dishes and miniature plaques in the form of a lion’s and a man’s head.

In 1956, Hotnitsa gold was found, which was found in a burial mound. Among the gold objects were rings, spirals and round plates.

In 2004, during excavations near the village of Zagara, Dubensky gold was discovered, among which were rich necklaces and a ritual gold dagger. The finds were 4500 years old.

But the find in 2016 – a tiny gold bead found in the ancient settlement of Tell Yunatsite – may not be as beautiful as the earrings or Thracian cups already found, but very valuable.

The fact is that the ancient city of Tell Yunatsite, which is located far from the coast near the village of Yunatsite in the Pazardzhik region of Bulgaria, was founded in the 7th millennium BC, which means that the gold bead may be even older than the gold of Varna.


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