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Durankulak Gold Treasure – Durankulak Lake Lagoon – Durankulak, Dobrich, Bulgaria

Gold artifacts from the Durankulak Gold Treaure, from the second half of the 5th millenium BC. Photo: Dobrich Regional Museum of History

The Durankulak Gold Treasure is a prehistoric gold treasure, possible the world’s oldest gold treasure, or at least one of the five or six prehistoric gold treasures claiming the title of being “the world’s oldest gold", i.e. the world’s oldest gold treasure or artifacts processed or produced by humans – all of which have been discovered in Bulgaria.

The Durankulak Gold Treasure was discovered among burial inventories in graves from the Durankulak Necropolis, which was found in 1979 by archaeologists Henrieta Todorova and Todor Dimov.

The prehistoric gold artifacts from the Durankulak Gold Treasure include gold beads, amulets, earrings, and a spiral hairpin (bobby pin), and date back to the second half of the 5th millennium BC, the Late Chalcolithic (Aeneolithic, Copper Age).

The spiral hairpin in particular is alleged to date back to the Middle Chalcolithic, possibly making it the world’s oldest human-made gold artifact, and thus 200-250 older than other gold items from the Durankulak Gold Treasure, or from the more famous and far larger Varna Gold Treasure from the Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis found in 1972 in the Black Sea city of Varna, 100 kilometers to the south.

The Durankulak Necropolis was discovered on the western bank of the Durankulak Lake, a lagoon off the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria’s northeastern-most corner, which also harbors impressive archaeological traces from the Paleolithic and Neolithic period, such Europe’s earliest stone city and Europe’s largest prehistoric stone building.

The front (above) and back (below) of a gold amulet found in grave 694 of the Durankulak Necropolis from the Late Chalcolithic, Varna Culture II-III. Photos: Dobrich Regional Museum of History

The gold woman’s hairpin from grave No. 165 of the Durankulak Necropolis, which is believed to be from the Middle Chalcolithic, and possibly the world’s oldest gold artifact. Photos: Dobrich Regional Museum of History

A fragment from the gold woman’s hairpin from grave No. 165.

The Durankulak Necropolis was found to contain a total of 1,204 graves, some of which contained adornments made of gold, copper, and the shells of Spondylus and Dentalium mollusks.

The gold spiral hairpin was found in grave No. 165, and is dated to the Middle Chalcolithic based on other finds from the burial inventory discovered in the same grave.

The Durankulak Gold Treasure is roughly the same period as the other prehistoric gold treasures discovered in Bulgaria, each of which claims the title of being the “world’s oldest gold", that is, the world’s oldest gold treasure, respectively, the world’s oldest gold artifacts processed or produced by humans:

The Varna Gold Treasure, the Hotnitsa Gold Treasure, gold artifacts from the Yunatsite Settlement Mound near Pazardzhik, the Sakar Gold Treasure as well as gold items such as beads and jewels found in the Provadiya – Solnitsata (“The Salt Pit") Settlement Mound.

All of these, together with the Durankulak Gold Treasure, date to the 5th millennium BC, the Chalcolithic, or Copper Age, period, and are the product of Europe’s first human civilization, which developed in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic in today’s Bulgaria and other parts of the Balkan Peninsula, along the Lower Danube and the Western Black Sea coast, a prehistoric civilization referred to by some American scholars as “Old Europe".

The Durankulak Gold Treasure is kept at the Regional Museum of History in the city of Dobrich in Northeast Bulgaria.

A necklace of gold and chalcedony beads found in grave No. 211 of the Durankulak Necropolis from the Late Chalcolithic, Varna Culture I. Photo: Dobrich Regional Museum of History

Gold earrings found in two different graves of the Durankulak Necropolis from the Late Chalcolithic, Varna Culture II-III. Photo: Dobrich Regional Museum of History

A gold nail that was part of an earring found in grave No. 558 of the Durankulak Necropolis from the Late Chalcolithic, Varna Culture II-III. Photo: Dobrich Regional Museum of History

Strings with beads from gold, malachite, and a black mineral found in different graves of the Durankulak Necropolis from the Late Chalcolithic, Varna Culture II-III. Photo: Dobrich Regional Museum of History

A biconical gold bead discovered in building No. 18 in the Big Island Settlement Mound in the Durankulak Lake from the Late Chalcolithic, Varna Culture I. Photo: Dobrich Regional Museum of History

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