Archaeologists Find nearly 7,000-Year-Old Copper Age Workshop for Production of Flint Tools near Belogradets in Northeast Bulgaria
A prehistoric workshop, or “manufacturing center”, for the production of flint tools going back to ca. 5,000 BC has been discovered by archaeologists near the town of Belogradets, Varna District, in Northeast Bulgaria, in rescue excavations for the construction of the Turkish Stream / Balkan Stream natural gas transit pipeline.
Finds from the newly discovered Early Chalcolithic (Aeneolithic, Copper Age) flint production center from the beginning of the 5th millennium BC have been presented in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology Exhibition.
The annual exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, which was opened in February 2021, traditionally showcases to the public the most interesting archaeological discoveries made in Bulgaria during the preceding year.
More specifically, the archaeological team points out that the newly discovered flint processing center near Belogradets dates back to the time boundary between the transition period between the Late Neolithic (New Stone Age) and the Early Chalcolithic (Copper Age), and the beginning proper of the latter.
The location of the nearly 7,000-year-old Early Copper Age flint workshop near Belogradets in Northeast Bulgaria is about 50 kilometers inland from the Black Sea coast, and from the Black Sea city of Varna, which is home of the world’s oldest and largest prehistoric gold treasure.
The newly discovered workshop for the manufacturing of flint tools near Belogradets appears to be a part of the wider sophisticated prehistoric civilization of the Danube – Black Sea region.
What was Europe’s first civilization ever goes back the 6th – 5th millennium BC (the Neolithic (New Stone Age) and Chalcolithic (Aeneolithic, Copper Age)), and is referred to by some Western scholars as “Old Europe”.
Another similar Copper Age production center for flint artifacts was discovered back in 2015, also in Northeast Bulgaria, in the town of Kamenovo, Kubrat Municipality, Razgrad District, about 80 kilometers northwest of the newly discovered archaeological site in Belogradets.
Subsequent research in the Kamenovo flint workshop, which is dated ca. 4,500 BC, has found the site had manufactory production, and also led to the discovery of intriguing Chalcolithic (Copper Age) burials, including that of a man holding a stone ax scepter.
The newly found prehistoric center for flint processing from the beginning of the 5th millennium BC is located on the Stana Plateau near the town of Belogradets, Vetrino Municipality, Varna District, in Northeast Bulgaria, inland from the Black Sea coast.
It has been excavated by a team of archaeologists led by Victoria Petrova from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, and including Evgeniya Naydenova from the Oryahovo Museum of History, Stanimira Taneva from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, Victoria Haleva, Stoyanka Radeva, Todor Valchev from the Yambol Regional Museum of History, Lyubomir Todorov, and Vladimir Vasilev.
A crucial prerequisite for the operation of the nearly 7,000-year-old flint production center near Bulgaria’s Belogradets appears to be the abundance of flint deposits in the respective region of Northeast Bulgaria, the archaeological team explains in the official catalog and poster for the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology Exhibition.
The archaeologists point out that the fling concretions found on the surface of the archaeological site belong to the flint type that is typical of the wider Ludogorie region (named after a larger plateau in today’s Northeast Bulgaria, right to the northwest of the Stana Plateau where the archaeological site has been found.) They note that the flint found in that particular place might have been extracted from the very plateau on which the workshop near Belogradets is located.
The archaeologists have discovered flint material in different stages of processing both inside several Early Chalcolithic pits and on their surface.
“[We] have researched pits dating to the transition period from the Late Neolithic to the Early Chalcolithic or the beginning of the Early Chalcolithic,” the archaeological team explains.
“Part of these pits are connected with the initial processing of flint materials and represent almost all stages of the production process for the manufacturing of flint tools,” the team adds.
The researchers reveal further that they have come across scattered flint concretions with traces of processing as well as flint cores and splits remaining from the initial processing around the prehistoric pits in question.
“[We] have also found flint artifacts inside the pits themselves. Here too the cores are [destined] mostly for splits, and there are specimens of up to 5 centimeters in length. Some of the splits are massive in size – up to 15 centimeters in length,” the archaeologists say.
They have also found retouched flint end-scrapers on splits and blades, and a small quantity of retouched and polished flint blades.
“One of the pits stands out containing a large quantity of retouching flakes, and small splits of 1-2 centimeters in length,” they explain, noting that the rest of the excavated prehistoric pits at the production site near Bulgaria’s Belogradets contain mostly flint debris.
Besides the debris from the processing of flint, in the Early Copper Age site, the archaeologists have also found pottery fragments, including parts of round bowls with encrusted decoration, and animal bones.
“An interesting find is a large flint core with a partially preserved crust,” the archaeological team points out.
Some of the nearly 7,000-year-old flint cores, flint end-scrapers, and manufacturing waste discovered in the Early Copper Age site in Northeast Bulgaria have been displayed in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology Exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia.
Other 2020 rescue excavations also near the town of Belogradets, Varna District, for the construction of the Turkish Stream natural gas transit pipeline dubbed Balkan Stream by the Bulgarian government, have led to the discovery of an Ancient Bulgar settlement from the Early Middle Ages, a previously unknown satellite town of Pliska, the then capital of the First Bulgarian Empire.
Also check out these other stories about discoveries in Bulgaria of prehistoric flint tools and their production sites:
Also check out this other story about a rescue excavation discovery near Bulgaria’s Belogradets during the construction of the Turkish Stream / Balkan Stream natural gas transit pipeline:
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Ivan Dikov, the founder of ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com, is the author of the book Plunder Paradise: How Brutal Treasure Hunters Are Obliterating World History and Archaeology in Post-Communist Bulgaria, among other books.
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