The Durankulak Archaeological Preserve is located near the Black Sea coast and Bulgaria’s land border with Romania; it features several archaeological sites from different ages, the most ancient one dating back to the Paleolithic and Neolithic Era, and the most recent one – to the First Bulgarian Empire in the 10th century.
The Paleolithic and Neolithic settlement on the Big Island in the Durankulak Lake, a lagoon with an area of 3.4 square km on Bulgaria’s Black Sea Northern Black Sea coast near the town of Durankulak, Shabla Municipality, is known as the Lake City or the “European Troy”.
It features prehistoric remains from what is said to be the first sedentary agricultural culture in Europe. The so called Big Island is today a peninsula with an area of 19 decares (app. 4.7 acres, or 0.019 square km).
The excavations of the Paleolithic and Neolithic settlement on the Big Island in Bulgaria’s Durankulak Lake first started in 1974 by Bulgarian archaeologists Henrieta Todorova and Todor Dimov.
They discovered Paleolithic finds dating back to around 10,000 BC; and a Neolithic settlement dating back to between 5500-5400 BC and 5100-5000 BC.
The settlement, which created what is said to be Europe’s first stone city, is characterized as belonging to Blatnitsa, the earliest phase of Europe’s Late Neolithic Hamangia-Durankulak Culture (whose remains are found in today’s Black Sea regions of Romania and Bulgaria).
The Bulgarian archaeologists found archaeological layers from a total of 8 prehistoric settlements on the Durankulak Lake island, the first two of which belong to the Late Neolithic Hamangia-Durankulak Culture and the next four – to the Chalcolithic (Aeneolithic, Copper Age) Varna Culture.
What is said to be the world’s largest Paleolithic-Neolithic necropolis – containing traces of about 1400 and 1204 studied graves – dating back to 5300-3800 BC – has also been found there.
The first burial mounds dating to about the 3500-3400 BC are said to have mark the arrival of the proto-Thracians.
The archaeological site on the island also features remains from Ancient Thrace – a Thracian settlement dating back to 1300-1200 BC, around the time of the Trojan War; a 4th century BC rock shrine of Thracian (Greek, Anatolian) Mother Goddess Cybele; and a 9th-10th century AD fortress from the period of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD), and an Ancient Bulgar necropolis.