Archaeologists Discover 6,500-Year-Old Prehistoric Necropolis underneath School Yard in Bulgaria’s Kamenovo

Archaeologists Discover 6,500-Year-Old Prehistoric Necropolis underneath School Yard in Bulgaria’s Kamenovo

The site of the archaeological excavations in the former school yard in the town of Kamenovo in Northeast Bulgaria, with the skeletons from the newly found Chalcolithic necropolis visible on the ground. Photo: Radka Mincheva, Darik Razgrad

The site of the archaeological excavations in the former school yard in the town of Kamenovo in Northeast Bulgaria, with the skeletons from the newly found Chalcolithic necropolis visible on the ground. Photo: Radka Mincheva, Darik Razgrad

A 6,200-6,500-year-old necropolis has been discovered by archaeologists underneath a former school yard in the town of Kamenovo, Razgrad District, in Northeast Bulgaria.

A total of four prehistoric graves with intriguing funeral inventories have been found by the archaeologists in the yard of the former elementary school in Kamenovo, reports Darik Radio Razgrad.

The new archaeological excavations in Kamenovo been led by Assoc. Prof. Yavor Boyadzhiev from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and Dimitar Chernakov from the Ruse Regional Museum of History, and Dilen Dilov from the Razgrad Regional Museum of History as the deputy head of the expedition.

Back in May – June 2015, the same team of archaeologists led by Boyadzhiev, Chernakov, and Dilov made headlines when they discovered during excavations in the town of Kamenovo a huge workshop for flint tools dating back to the Chalcolithic (Aeneolithic, Copper Age), or about 4,500-4,200 BC, i.e. the same time period as the newly found necropolis.

The funeral inventories in the four newly found prehistoric graves in Kamenovo include ceramic vessels, flint tools, and beads made from Spondylus mollusks which were harvested in the Mediterranean in prehistoric times.

According to lead archaeologist Yavor Boyadzhiev, the discovery of the Spondylus beads is evidence of the trade relations that the region of today’s Northeast Bulgaria had with the Aegean (Mediterranean) Sea coast back in 4,500-4,200 BC.

The four graves in the prehistoric necropolis in Kamenovo were found last week; they contain three skeletons of adults, and one child skeleton.

Their bodies were placed in the graves in fetal positions, on their left sides, and were oriented in the eastern and northeastern direction.

On top of one of the adult skeletons in Bulgaria’s Kamenovo, the archaeologists have found flint bowls painted in black, red, and white, and placed with their bottoms up.

In the other two adult graves, the funeral inventories consist of flint tools, while it is in the child grave that the researchers have found three beads of the Spondylus mollusk put on top of the skeleton.

Three beads from the Spondylus mollusk harvested in the Mediterranean have been found in a child grave in the Chalcolithic necropolis in Bulgaria's Kamenovo. Photo: Darik Razgrad

Three beads from the Spondylus mollusk harvested in the Mediterranean have been found in a child grave in the Chalcolithic necropolis in Bulgaria’s Kamenovo. Photo: Darik Razgrad

It was typical of the Chalcolithic culture in today’s Northeast Bulgaria to place symbolic gifts for the afterlife on top of the bodies as they were buried.

According to Boyadzhiev, the people who lived in today’s Northeast Bulgaria some 6,000 years ago did not differ anthropologically from modern-day people.

Their height averaged between 167 and 173 cm (5 feet 5 inches – 5 feet 8 inches).

The skeletons found in Bulgaria’s Kamenovo belonged to individuals from a Mediterranean people who came from the region of Anatolia (in today’s Turkey) but mixed with a population that originated north of the Danube River, in today’s Romania.

Boyadzhiev believes that this mixture of cultures in what is today Northeast Bulgaria stimulated trade and development, and for several hundred years the region became the economic center of Europe; later, however, the culture that emerged there saw its demise.

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A total of four Chalcolithic graves have been found in the necropolis in Kamenovo so far. Photo: Darik Razgrad

A total of four Chalcolithic graves have been found in the necropolis in Kamenovo so far. Photo: Darik Razgrad

A flint nucleus (below) which was used for the carving out of flint tools discovered in Bulgaria's Kamenovo. Photo: Darik Razgrad

A flint nucleus (below) which was used for the carving out of flint tools discovered in Bulgaria’s Kamenovo. Photo: Darik Razgrad

The new discovery of the Chalcolithic (Aeneolithic, Copper Age) graves in the yard of the former school in Bulgaria’s Kamenovo is connected with the discovery of the flint tool workshop found nearby in the spring of 2015, which dates back to the same period.

The archaeologists note that the towns of Ravno and Topchii located near Kamenovo have deposits of flint stone of the highest quality. The flint extracted in their quarries was processed in the workshop in the Chalcolithic settlement in Kamenovo, and exported.

This resource was highly valued several thousand years ago because it was used for the production of knives, sickles, and other tools.

“In different parts of the Old Continent (i.e. Europe) there is evidence of tools from flint that originated in the region of Ludogorie (today’s Northeast Bulgaria, the Razgrad region – editor’s note)," says lead archaeologist Yavor Boyadzhiev, mentioning Central Europe, Moldova, and the Aegean Sea coast as the most remote export destinations for the flint tools from Kamenovo.

“In that respect, this region was like what Sweden is today in terms of steel production," he adds.

The archaeologists have found it rather interesting that the Chalcolithic flint tool workshop and the newly found necropolis from the same period are located next to one another, reports local news site Top Novini Razgrad.

They are yet to figure out whether there is any precise chronological difference between the two sites – i.e. whether the flint production in Kamenovo started before or after the necropolis appeared.

One of the four graves found in the Chalcolithic necropolis in Bulgaria's Kamenovo. Photo: Darik Razgrad

One of the four graves found in the Chalcolithic necropolis in Bulgaria’s Kamenovo. Photo: Darik Razgrad

Boyadzhiev points out that his team’s recent Chalcolithic finds in Bulgaria’s Kamenovo confirm the records about the site left by Karel and Hermann Skorpil, the Czech-Bulgarian archaeologists who founded modern-day Bulgarian archaeology at the end of the 19th century,

What is more, during the construction of a local chitalishte, a Bulgarian cultural community club, in Kamenovo back in 1967, the builders came across copper axes and bracelets in graves from the Late Chalcolithic.

The archaeological team of Boyadziev, Chernakov, and Dilov hopes for more finds from the newly found Chalcolithic necropolis which might turn out to be one of the richest of its kind in today’s Northeast Bulgaria.

The excavations of the Chalcolithic necropolis in the former school in Kamenovo started a week ago, and will continue until September 28, 2015. They are funded by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture.

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