Archaeologists Discover 8,000-Year-Old Stone Structure, Obsidian from Armenia in Prehistoric Settlement in Bulgaria’s Ohoden

An aerial view of the 2016 summer excavations at the Ohoden Early Neolithic Settlement near Bulgaria's Vratsa. Photo: Vratsa Regional Museum of History

An aerial view of the 2016 summer excavations at the Ohoden Early Neolithic Settlement near Bulgaria’s Vratsa. Photo: Vratsa Regional Museum of History Facebook Page

An 8,000-year-old stone structure and an obsidian artifact of the same age which appears to have originated in Armenia have been discovered during the 2016 excavations of the prehistoric settlement located in an area known as Valoga near Ohoden, Vratsa District, in Northwest Bulgaria.

Ever since it was first discovered in 2002, the Early Neolithic site near Ohoden has been described as one of the settlements of Europe’s earliest civilization.

The Ohoden Early Neolithic settlement belongs to the so called Gradeshnitsa-Karcha Early Neolithic Culture which developed in today’s Northwest Bulgaria and Southwest Romania.

The finds from the Ohoden excavations indicate that the Balkan Peninsula was the center of a prehistoric civilization which spread to the rest of Europe.

Since July 2016, the settlement, which also had a religious shrine of the sun cult, has been excavated for a 15th season in a row by lead archaeologist Georgi Ganetsovski, Director of the Vratsa Regional Museum of History, the Museum has announced.

The archaeological team has excavated a total area of 100 square meters establishing the location of two large Early Neolithic pits with traces of fire.

Next to the northern pit, an 8,000-year-old stone structure set at a right angle and featuring an arch has been discovered.

“This is one of the earliest stone structures in the Balkans," [respectively, in Europe], the Vratsa Regional Museum of History has announced.

The archaeologists are still working on the detailed 3D photographing of archaeological layers and the finds that they contain, it says.

The newly discovered prehistoric artifacts from the settlement in Valoga near Ohoden include perforated ceramic weights, ceramic plates, flint nuclei, flint and stone artifacts used for smoothing and hammering, bone tools, and three artifacts made of obsidian, i.e. volcanic glass, one of which appears to have originated on the territory of modern-day Armenia.

“One of the obsidian plates displays the characteristics of the raw materials from the region of today’s Armenia. This find is another piece of evidence of the highly developed commercial relations [that existed] 8,000 years ago in today’s Northwest Bulgaria," states the Vratsa Museum of History.

It adds that thanks to the newly discovered artifacts, it already possesses the richest collection of prehistoric obsidian artifacts in all of Bulgaria.

Bulgaria’s Vratsa Municipality is presently working on establishing of an EU-funded open-air archaeological museum at the Valoga prehistoric settlement in cooperation with the Romanian commune Dobrosloveni.

Learn more about the Early Neolithic Settlement in Valoga near Ohoden in the Background Infonotes below!

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The Early Neolithic settlement in Bulgaria's Ohoden belonged to the Kercha prehistoric culture. The 2016 excavations have marked the 15th archaeological season in a row since its discovery. Photo: Vratsa Regional Museum of History

The Early Neolithic settlement in Bulgaria’s Ohoden belonged to the Gradeshnitsa – Karcha prehistoric culture. The 2016 excavations have marked the 15th archaeological season in a row since its discovery. Photo: Vratsa Regional Museum of History Facebook Page

Background Infonotes:

The Early Neolithic settlement in the area called Valoga near the town of Ohoden, Vratsa Municipality, in Northwest Bulgaria is one of the earliest human settlements in Europe dating back to the 6th millennium BC. It consists of prehistoric homes, a necropolis, and a fertility and sun temple. It features what might be the earliest known sun temple which is about 8,000 years old, as are the prehistoric human skeletons found there.

The analysis of the artifacts found at the Ohoden Early Neolithic settlement shows that it belongs to the so called Gradeshnitsa-Karcha Early Neolithic Culture which developed in today’s Northwestern Bulgaria and Southwestern Romania. The finds from the Ohoden excavations indicate that the Balkan Peninsula was the center of a prehistoric civilization that spread to the rest of Europe.

Back in 2011, the archaeologists excavating Ohoden discovered a shrine with a prehistoric altar decorated with huge trophy elk horns placed 2 meters away from the ritual burial of a man discovered in 2010. The scholars have stipulated that the altar was used to glorify the buried man’s hunting achievements.

The shrine is believed to have been a fertility and son temple as its floor was paved with U-shaped stones directed to the east; it contained dozens of clay and stone disc symbolizing the sun disc, respectively the sun cult, in early agrarian societies. These finds that are unique of their kind in the entire world have led the scholars to hypothesize that it might be the world’s oldest temple dedicated to the sun.

The first grave excavated at Ohoden was found in 2004. It belonged to a woman who was named with the Bulgarian female name “Todorka" by the local archaeologists. Todorkas burial is exhibited in the Vratsa Regional Museum of History.

Three more Early Neolithic graves have been discovered at Ohoden.The Early Neolithic homes whose remains were discovered at Ohoden showed traces of beams and columns 45 cm in diameter which is evidence of massive walls and roofs.

The 8,000-year-old Early Neolithic settlement in Ohoden in Northwest Bulgaria was first found in 2002. It has been excavated by a team of archaeologists from the Vratsa Regional Museum of History led by archaeologist Georgi Ganetsovski.

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