Is Bulgaria home to Europe’s ‘oldest town’?
A prehistoric town uncovered in eastern Bulgaria is the oldest urban settlement found to date in Europe, claimed a Bulgarian archaeologist Vasil Nikolov. Vasil Nikolov (a professor from Bulgaria’s National Institute of Archaeology) stated that the stone walls unearthed by his team in proximity to the town of Provadia date likely between 4,700 and 4,200 BC. He claimed that the walls, which are two metres thick and three metres high, are supposed to be the earliest and most sizeable fortifications from Europe’s prehistory. “We started excavation work in 2005, but only after this archaeological season did we gathered enough evidence to back up this claim,” Nikolov told the Associated Press news agency way back in 2012. Settlement of two-storey houses encircled by a fortified wall was discovered. Excavations also led to discovery of series of pits used for rituals and parts of a gate. Vasil Nikolov said that carbon analysis dated them to the Chalcolithic age between 4,700 and 4,200 BC. That approximation dates them to over a millennium earlier then the start of the ancient Greek civilisation.
Bulgaria is a Balkan country that is home to many Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze Age settlement mounds apart from significant remains of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine urban centres. Nikolov stated that 350 people who probably produced salt from the nearby rock-salt deposits lived in the said settlement near Provadia. “They boiled brine from salt springs in kilns, baked it into bricks, which were then exchanged for other commodities with neighboring tribes,” Nikolov stated, citing as potential explanation for unearthing of the gold and copper jewellery and artefacts in the region. Collection of 3,000 gold pieces unearthed decades ago near the Black Sea city of Varna is a prime example of such unearthing. It is regarded as oldest gold treasure in the world. “For millenniums, salt was one of the most valued commodities, salt was the money,” Nikolov said adding that this provides a solid explanation for the substantial stone walls intended to keep the salt safe.
The two-storey houses along with the copper needles and pottery discovered in graves at the site is indicative of a community of wealthy well to do people whose probable work was the once-lucrative salt production.
Some claim that Lepenski Vir is the oldest urban settlement in Europe
Archaeological site Lepenski vir was discovered in 1965, on the bank of the Danube in Serbia. It is 15km away from Donji Milanovac in eastern Serbia. This discovery is regarded as one of the most significant discoveries of this kind in Serbia and Europe. Its culture is dated 8000 years ago. The site got its name from its location of discovery. Some key distinctions from other cultures can be noted. People had been inhabiting this place for 2000 years. During that period, they undergo the evolution from hunters and gatherers to an well-ordered social and economic community.
Lepenski Vir (Lepen Whirl) is counted among the most significant Mesolithic and Neolithic archeological sites. It is positioned on the right coast of the Danube. It was the nerve center of one of the most significant and most complex cultures of pre-history. Excavation brought to the fore seven successive settlements and 136 objects were unearth. As per the claims, they were constructed in the period between 6500 and 5500 BC.