Archaeologists Discover 10 Graves in Necropolis of Bronze Age Danube River Culture near Bulgaria’s Baley

The 2015 excavations of the necropolis of the settlement of the "Culture of the Encrusted Ceramics of the Lower Danube" took place in mid October 2015. Photo: Monitor daily

The 2015 excavations of the necropolis of the settlement of the “Culture of the Encrusted Ceramics of the Lower Danube” took place in mid October 2015. Photo: Monitor daily

A total of 10 graves from the necropolis of a Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age settlement located near the town of Baley, Vidin District, in Northwest Bulgaria, have been discovered and explored during the 2015 excavations of the site which belongs to the so called “Culture of the Encrusted Ceramics of the Lower Danube”.

In one of the ten newly found graves, the archaeologists have found a total of 16 ceramic vessels, some of which are funeral urns, reveals Nikolay Kazashki from the Vidin Regional Museum of History, who is the deputy head of the archaeological expedition in Baley.

The excavations are led by Assist. Prof. Georgi Ivanov, and consulted by Assoc. Prof. Stefan Alexandrov, both of whom are from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia.

The newly discovered artifacts from the Baley necropolis, which dates back to 1,600-1,100 BC, are from three distinct chronological stages of the Bronze Age culture, reports the Bulgarian daily Monitor.

The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age settlement and necropolis near the town of Baley, Brevogo Municipality, in Northwest Bulgaria represent a unique Bronze Age culture that thrived in the western part of the Lower Danube Valley (the area between the towns of Bregovo and Oryahovo).

The culture that the settlement belonged to is known as “The Culture of the Encrusted Ceramics (of the Lower Danube)” because of the large number of ceramic artifacts found there which are encrusted with ornamental motifs made with white paste. The decorative paste was produced by mixing crushed animal bones with glue.

The Bronze Age pottery of this river civilization is unlike the ceramics of any other culture. The encrusted ceramic artifacts in question include household vessels, idols, artifacts used by women, and zoomorphic child toys.

White encrusted ceramic items from the Late Bronze Age settlement near Baley in Northwest Bulgaria. Photos: SeverozapazenaBG

White encrusted ceramic items from the Late Bronze Age settlement near Baley in Northwest Bulgaria. Photos: SeverozapazenaBG

Baley White Encrusted Ceramics 1 Baley White Encrusted Ceramics 2The Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age settlement near Baley was first found in 1970, and was excavated for 18 years. Its necropolis was discovered only in 2010, 40 years later, by accident.

Every year since then, archaeologists from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Vidin Regional Museum of History excavate new sections of the necropolis discovering new graves.

With the completion of the 2015 digs, which took place in the middle of October 2015, a total of 20% of the territory of the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age necropolis have been excavated.

One of the most interesting artifacts found recently is a 25 cm ceramic statuette with engraved decoration.

Over 40 ceramic vessels have been found in the latest digs, including a couple of dozens of urns, all of which are more than 3,000 years old.

Restored white encrusted ceramic artifacts discovered near Baley as seen in a museum in Bulgaria's Vidin. Photos: Konkurent

Restored white encrusted ceramic artifacts discovered near Baley as seen in a museum in Bulgaria’s Vidin. Photos: Konkurent

Baley White Encrusted Ceramics 4 Baley White Encrusted Ceramics 5

Background Infonotes:

The Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age settlement and necropolis near the town of Baley, Brevogo Municipality, Vidin District, in Northwest Bulgaria, represent the remains of a unique Bronze Age culture that thrived in the western part of the Lower Danube Valley (the area between the towns of Bregovo and Oryahovo) between 1,600 and 1,100 BC.

The Bronze Age settlement near Baley was discovered in 1970, and was excavated for 18 years by Bulgarian archaeologists Rumen Katincharov from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, and Ana Yotsova from the Vidin Regional Museum of History.

The culture that the settlement belonged to is known as “The Culture of the Encrusted Ceramics of the Lower Danube” because of the large number of ceramic artifacts found there which are encrusted with ornamental motifs made with white paste.

The decorative paste was produced by mixing crushed animal bones with glue. The Bronze Age pottery of this river civilization is unlike the ceramics of any other culture. The encrusted ceramic artifacts in question include household vessels, idols, artifacts used by women, and zoomorphic child toys.

Even though in the 1970s and 1980s the archaeologists unsuccessfully looked for the settlement’s necropolis, it was discovered only in 2010, exactly 40 years after the original discovery of the settlement. It was found by accident in the yard of a local home during the digging of a pit for a traditional “outside toilet” by local resident Lyubo Petrov. Petrov stumbled upon ceramic vessels, and alerted the archaeologists from the Vidin Regional Museum of History; the necropolis of the Bronze Age settlement near Baley has been excavated ever since.

The settlement near Bulgaria’s Baley is the latest Bronze Age settlement in the Lower Danube Valley. During its excavations, the archaeologists found over 60,000 archaeological artifacts, including 60 intact ceramic vessels, and lots of bone artifacts, household items, and tools.

Other settlements and necropolises that belonged to the Bronze Age Culture of the Encrusted Ceramics of the Lower Danube have been found near the towns of Vrav, Novo Selo, Yasen, Kutovo, Antimovo, and Archar.

However, the one near Baley is the only one to have been fully excavated. Most of the settlements from the extinct Bronze Age culture were located right on the bank of the Danube, and have been found when the river level decreases.

The necropolis of the Bronze Age settlement near Baley found in 2010 is located 400 meters from the settlement itself, and 2 km away from the bank of the Danube River. Inside the excavated graves, the archaeologists have found single, double, and triple funerals.

The Bulgarian archaeologists have found that the Culture of the Encrusted Ceramics on the Lower Danube was an agricultural civilization which raised plants and livestock but which also did a lot of hunting of deer, wild boars, and especially of beavers.

Since 3,500 years ago, the western part of the Lower Danube Valley had a huge beaver population, it has been proven that the people from the Bronze Age culture in question hunted beavers for food. They also had horses from the “European breed” which were only about 1.3 meters tall.

The people from the settlement near Baley also used flint tools which are found to have originated from a flint deposit located near the town of Muselievo, some 200 km to the east, which apparently made it to Baley through trade.