Bulgaria’s Capital Sofia to Rebuild 8,000-Year-Old Prehistoric Homes from Slatina Neolithic Settlement

Lead archaeologist Prof. Vasil Nikolov shows artifacts discovered in the Slatina Neolithic Settlment in Bulgaria's capital Sofia at the presentation of the project for a museum park. Photo: Novinar daily

Lead archaeologist Prof. Vasil Nikolov shows artifacts discovered in the Slatina Neolithic Settlment in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia at the presentation of the project for a museum park. Photo: Novinar daily

Bulgaria’s capital Sofia is going to build exact replicas of 8,000-year-old homes whose remains have been discovered in the Slatina Neolithic Settlement located in the city’s Slatina Quarter.

The restoration of the Early Neolithic homes will be a joint project of Sofia Municipality and the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The project has been presented to the media by lead archaeologist Prof. Vasil Nikolov, who has been excavating and studying the Slatina Neolithic Settlement since 1985, and by Sofia Deputy Mayor Todor Chobanov.

“Apparently, the roots of the European civilization are connected with the Sofia Valley, and this has become a scientific fact," Nikolov has stated regarding the archaeological significance of the Slatina Neolithic Settlement, as quoted by the Novinar daily.

The lead archaeologist has also revealed that the latest data from radiocarbon dating indicates that the Early Neolithic settlement in Sofia is even older – it dates back to the end of the 7th millennium BC – whereas it was earlier dated to beginning of the 6th millennium BC, i.e. 6000-5500 BC.

One of the prehistoric homes to be rebuilt in the Bulgarian capital could have been one of Europe’s largest dwellings in the 6th millennium BC.

“Back in 1985, when I started the exploration in Slatina, I came across a very well preserved house with an area of 117 square meters – one of the largest for the 6th millennium BC. Our idea is to rebuild it in full so that the people can see something that cannot be seen anywhere else," Nikolov explains, as cited by the Monitor daily.

He has noted that at present only the Neolithic Dwellings Museum in Bulgaria’s Stara Zagora features ruins of a two-story Early Neolithic home exhibited indoors.

The excavations of the prehistoric settlement in Slatina, which was first found by accident by construction workers in 1950, had been terminated in 1997, and have been resumed in 2013.

The future Slatina Neolithic Settlement Park is expected to become a top attraction for recreational and cultural tourism located in one of the central quarters of the Bulgarian capital, according to Deputy Sofia Mayor Todor Chobanov. It will feature a visitor’s and children’s center.

In Chobanov‘s words, the restored Early Neolithic homes in Slatina will be exhibited under a glass pavilion, not unlike the underground museum in the necropolis of the 4th century St. Sofia Basilica.

“We are going to exhibit a Neolithic home under the leadership of Prof. Nikolov in order to guarantee its 100% authenticity. We have a very clear idea of what exactly the homes looked like. We have entire walls that have been preserved," Chobanov says.

The archaeological excavations of the Slatina Neolithic Settlement are going to continue parallel to the restoration of the homes and the construction of the visitor’s center.

Unfortunately, some 90% of the total area of the Neolithic settlement was destroyed because of urban development projects back in the 1960s and 1970s.

Luckily, even the surviving 8 decares (app. 4 acres) of its territory harbor a great potential for further excavations. Learn more about the Slatina Neolithic Settlment in the Background Infonotes below.

Also check out this update about the Slatina Neolithic Settlment:

Archaeologist Discovers 8,000-Year-Old Nephrite ‘Frog-like’ Swastika in Slatina Neolithic Settlement in Bulgaria’s Capital Sofia

Background Infonotes:

The 8,000-year-old Slatina Neolithic Settlement is located in the Slatina Quarter in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.

It was discovered by accident in 1950 by construction workers near the Shipchenski Prohod Blvd. During the first archaeological excavations of the site in 1958, the archaeologists found remains from prehistoric homes, including clay-plastered poles, hearths, and ceramic vessels.

The prehistoric settlement mound was found to be located on the left bank of the Slatinska River. At first, the settlement was dated back to the 3rd millennium BC.

However, new rescue excavations starting in 1985 revealed additional information, and based on the new data and more modern dating methods, in 1987, the settlement was dated to about 6000 BC, i.e. the Early Neolithic. Back then, the archaeologists excavated nine homes and discovered dozens of axes and claw hammers, flint knives, sickles, handmills, loom weights, as well as funerals of Neolithic people.

Since 1985, the prehistoric settlement in Slatina has been excavated and studied by Prof. Vasil Nikolov, from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia.

Thus, the Slatina Neolithic Settlement is the earliest human settlement on the territory of the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia. It was settled in the Early Neolithic by people who came from Asia Minor.

The Slatina Neolithic Settlement had a total territory of 80 decares (app. 20 acres). Unfortunately, during urban construction in the 1970s, most of it was destroyed, and today only 8 decares (app. 2 acres), have been preserved.

The Neolithic homes in Slatina were built of wattle plastered with clay. The ceilings were made of wood, and covered with straw or reed. The prehistoric people’s main food was wheat grown nearby; the archaeologists also found there 8,000-year-old lentils. The livestock was kept outside of the settlement.

The Slatina Neolithic homes had granaries inside them as well as kilns, cult (religious) hearths, and wooden beds. The materials used by the prehistoric people there include wood, clay, stone, flint, bone, and horns. Some of the clay vessels feature geometric motifs. One of the most interesting finds has been a part of a marble figure of the Mother Goddess used for fertility rituals.

The Slatina Neolithic Settlement in Bulgaria’s Sofia belongs to the first phase of the Neolithic period when the first agriculturalists and livestock breeders settled down in today’s Bulgaria. They came from Asia Minor to the Balkan Peninsula, gradually advancing from the south and southeast to the north, deeper into Europe.

Thus, similar Neolithic settlements found in the Struma Valley in Southwest Bulgaria such as the Mursalevo Neolithic Settlement are about 50-100 years older than the Slatina settlement in Sofia.

The Slatina Neolithic Settlement was a large one and had contacts with all neighboring regions – it is believed that some ceramic vessels and other items were brought from today’s regions of Southern Bulgaria (Thrace), Southwest Bulgaria (the Struma Valley), Serbia, and Northwest Bulgaria.

The Stara Zagora Neolithic Dwellings Museum is part of the Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History. It features what are described as “Europe’s best preserved homes from the early Neolithic period". It is based on discoveries made at a Neolithic settlement in the western part of the city dating back to the 7th-6th millennium BC first excavated in 1969 during rescue digs. In addition to the best preserved in situ early Neolithic dwelling in Europe, the museum also features an exhibition of prehistoric art.