Varna culture

The Varna culture belongs to the later Neolithic of northeastern Bulgaria, dated ca. 4400-4100 BC. It is contemporary and closely related with Gumelnița in southern Romania, often considered as local variants.

It is characterized by polychrome pottery and rich cemeteries, the most famous of which are Varna Necropolis, the eponymous site, and the Durankulak complex, which comprises the largest prehistoric cemetery in southeastern Europe, with an adjoining coeval Neolithic settlement (published) and an unpublished and incompletely excavated Chalcolithic settlement.

294 graves have been found in the necropolis, many containing sophisticated examples of copper and gold metallurgy, pottery (about 600 pieces, including gold-painted ones), high-quality flint and obsidian blades, beads, and shells. The site was accidentally discovered in October 1972 by excavator operator Raycho Marinov. Research excavation was under the direction of Mihail Lazarov and Ivan Ivanov. About 30% of the estimated necropolis area is still not excavated.

The findings showed that the Varna culture had trade relations with distant lands, possibly including the lower Volga region and the Cyclades, perhaps exporting metal goods and salt from the Provadiya rock salt mine. The copper ore used in the artifacts originated from a Sredna Gora mine near Stara Zagora, and Mediterranean spondylus shells found in the graves may have served as primitive currency.

20140611 Varna 08
Elite burial at the Varna necropolis (reconstruction)
Burial with gold treasure, 4600-4200 BC, AM Varna, Varm25
Detail
Grave offerings
Artefacts from the Varna necropolis
Insignias of power, gold, 4600-4200 BC, AM Varna, Varm28
Gold artefacts from the Varna necropolis
Small bulls, thin gold sheet, 4600-4200 BC, AM Varna, Varm27
Gold bulls
Vessel, pottery, 4500-4000 BC, AM Varna, Varm12
Varna ceramic vessel

Burial rites

Burials at Varna have some of the world's oldest gold jewelry. There are crouched and extended inhumations. Some graves do not contain a skeleton, but grave gifts (cenotaphs). The symbolic (empty) graves are the richest in gold artifacts. 3000 gold artifacts were found, with a weight of approximately 6 kilograms. Grave 43 contained more gold than has been found in the entire rest of the world for that epoch. Three symbolic graves contained masks of unfired clay.

“The weight and the number of gold finds in the Varna cemetery exceeds by several times the combined weight and number of all of the gold artifacts found in all excavated sites of the same millenium, 5000-4000 BC, from all over the world, including Mesopotamia and Egypt”.[1]

Religion

The culture had sophisticated religious beliefs about afterlife and developed hierarchical status differences: it constitutes the oldest known burial evidence of an elite male. The end of the fifth millennium BC is the time that Marija Gimbutas, founder of the Kurgan hypothesis claims the transition to male dominance began in Europe. The high status male was buried with remarkable amounts of gold, held a war axe or mace and wore a gold penis sheath. The bull-shaped gold platelets perhaps also venerated virility, instinctive force, and warfare. Gimbutas holds that the artifacts were made largely by local craftspeople.

Decline

The discontinuity of the Varna, Karanovo, Vinča and Lengyel cultures in their main territories and the large scale population shifts to the north and northwest are indirect evidence of a catastrophe of such proportions that cannot be explained by possible climatic change, desertification, or epidemics. Direct evidence of the incursion of horse-riding warriors is found, not only in single burials of males under barrows, but in the emergence of a whole complex of Indo-European cultural traits.

Important sites

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ 'The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC'
  • Khenrieta Todorova, The eneolithic period in Bulgaria in the fifth millennium B.C. Oxford : British Archaeological Reports, 1978. BAR supplementary series 49.
  • Henrieta Todorova, Kupferzeitliche Siedlungen in Nordostbulgarien. München: Beck 1982. Materialien zur allgemeinen und vergleichenden Archäologie 13.
4th millennium BC

The 4th millennium BC spanned the years 4000 through 3001 BC. Some of the major changes in human culture during this time included the beginning of the Bronze Age and the invention of writing, which played a major role in starting recorded history.

The city states of Sumer and the kingdom of Egypt were established and grew to prominence. Agriculture spread widely across Eurasia.

World population growth relaxes after the burst due to the Neolithic Revolution. World population is largely stable, at roughly 50 million, with a slow overall growth rate at roughly 0.03% p.a.

5th millennium BC

The 5th millennium BC spanned the years 5000 through 4001 BC. It saw the spread of agriculture from Western Asia throughout Southern and Central Europe.

Urban cultures in Mesopotamia and Anatolia flourished, developing the wheel. Copper ornaments became more common, marking the beginning of the Chalcolithic. Animal husbandry spread throughout Eurasia, reaching China.

World population growth relaxes after the burst due to the Neolithic Revolution. World population is largely stable, at roughly 40 million, with a slow overall growth rate at roughly 0.03% p.a.

7th millennium BC

The 7th millennium BC spanned the years 7000 BC to 6001 BC (c. 9 ka to c. 8 ka). It is impossible to precisely date events that happened around the time of this millennium and all dates mentioned here are estimates mostly based on geological and anthropological analysis.

Dimini

Dimini (Greek: Διμήνι; older form: Diminion) is a village near the city of Volos, in Thessaly (central Greece), in Magnesia. It was the seat of the municipality of Aisonia. The name Aisonia dates back to ancient times and it is the westernmost place in the Volos area. The Dimini area contains both a Mycenean settlement and a Neolithic settlement. The Neolithic settlement in Dimini was discovered near the end of the 19th century and was first excavated by the archaeologists Christos Tsountas and Valerios Stais.

The palace of ancient Iolcos is believed to be located in modern-day Dimini, where a Mycenaean palace was excavated recently.

Ezero culture

The Ezero culture, 3300—2700 BC, was a Bronze Age archaeological culture occupying most of present-day Bulgaria. It takes its name from the Tell-settlement of Ezero.

Ezero follows the copper age cultures of the area (Karanovo VI culture, Gumelniţa culture, Kodzadjemen culture and Varna culture), after a settlement hiatus in Northern Bulgaria. It bears some relationship to the earlier Cernavodă III culture to the north. Some settlements were fortified.

The Ezero culture is interpreted as part of a larger Balkan-Danubian early Bronze Age complex, a horizon reaching from Troy Id-IIc into Central Europe, encompassing the Baden of the Carpathian Basin and the Coţofeni culture of Romania. According to Hermann Parzinger, there are also typological connections to Poliochne IIa-b and Sitagroi IV.

Gumelnița–Karanovo culture

The Gumelniţa–Karanovo VI culture was a Neolithic culture of the 5th millennium BC, named after the Gumelniţa site on the left (Romanian) bank of the Danube.

Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period

The Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period (ca. 5500/5400 to 5200/5000 BC) is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. It lies chronologically between the Halaf period and the Ubaid period. It is still a complex and rather poorly understood period. At the same time, recent efforts were made to study the gradual change from Halaf style pottery to Ubaid style pottery in various parts of North Mesopotamia.

Hamangia culture

The Hamangia culture is a Late Neolithic archaeological culture of Dobruja (Romania and Bulgaria) between the Danube and the Black Sea and Muntenia in the south. It is named after the site of Baia-Hamangia, discovered in 1952 along Golovița Lake.

Heavy Neolithic

Heavy Neolithic (alternatively, Gigantolithic) is a style of large stone and flint tools (or industry) associated primarily with the Qaraoun culture in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon, dating to the Epipaleolithic or early Pre-Pottery Neolithic at the end of the Stone Age. The type site for the Qaraoun culture is Qaraoun II.

Karanovo culture

The Karanovo culture is a neolithic culture (Karanovo I-III ca. 62nd to 55th centuries BC) named after the Bulgarian village of Karanovo (Караново, Sliven Province 42°30′41″N 25°54′54″E). The culture, which is part of the Danube civilization, is considered the largest and most important of the Azmak River Valley agrarian settlements.Archaeologists discovered the Karanovo settlement in the 1930s when a tell - a settlement mound - was excavated at Karanovo. The hilltop settlement is constituted of 18 buildings, which housed some 100 inhabitants. The site was inhabited more or less continuously from the early 7th to the early 2nd millennia BC.

The layers at Karanovo are employed as a chronological system for Balkans prehistory.

Levantine corridor

The Levantine corridor is the relatively narrow strip between the Mediterranean Sea to the northwest and deserts to the southeast which connects Africa to Eurasia. This corridor is a land route of migrations of animals between Eurasia and Africa. In particular, it is believed that early hominins spread from Africa to Eurasia via the Levantine corridor and Horn of Africa. The corridor is named after the Levant.

The Levantine Corridor is the western part of the Fertile Crescent, the eastern part being Mesopotamia.

Botanists recognize this area as a dispersal route of plant species.The distribution of Y-chromosome and mtDNA haplogroups suggests that during the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, the Levantine corridor was more important for bi-directional human migrations between Africa and Eurasia than was the Horn of Africa.The first sedentary villages were established around fresh water springs and lakes in the Levantine corridor by the Natufian culture. The term is used frequently by archaeologists as an area that includes Cyprus, where important developments occurred during the Neolithic revolution.

List of Neolithic cultures of China

This is a list of Neolithic cultures of China that have been unearthed by archaeologists. They are sorted in chronological order from earliest to latest and are followed by a schematic visualization of these cultures.

It would seem that the definition of Neolithic in China is undergoing changes. The discovery in 2012 of pottery about 20,000 years BC indicates that this measure alone can no longer be used to define the period. It will fall to the more difficult task of determining when cereal domestication started.

Neolithic Tibet

Neolithic Tibet refers to a prehistoric period in which Neolithic technology was present in Tibet.

Tibet has been inhabited since the Late Paleolithic. During the mid-Holocene, Neolithic immigrants from northern China largely replaced the original inhabitants, bringing with them elements of Neolithic culture and technology, although a degree of genetic continuity with the Paleolithic settlers still exists.

Peiligang culture

The Peiligang culture was a Neolithic culture in the Yi-Luo river basin (in modern Henan Province, China) that existed from 7000 to 5000 BC. Over 100 sites have been identified with the Peiligang culture, nearly all of them in a fairly compact area of about 100 square kilometers in the area just south of the river and along its banks.

Sredna Gora

Sredna Gora (Bulgarian: Средна гора) is a mountain range in central Bulgaria, situated south of and parallel to the Balkan mountain range (Stara Planina) and extending from the Iskar River to the west and the elbow of Tundzha north of Yambol to the east. Sredna Gora is 285 km long, reaching 50 km at its greatest width. Its highest peak is Golyam Bogdan at 1,604 m (5,262 ft).

The mountain is divided into three parts by the rivers Topolnitsa and Stryama — a western (Zapadna or Ihtimanska Sredna Gora), a central (Sashtinska Sredna Gora) and an eastern part (Sarnena Gora).

The fauna of Sredna Gora is relatively poor compared to other regions of Bulgaria, with typical Central European species being present.

Trihedral Neolithic

Trihedral Neolithic is a name given by archaeologists to a style (or industry) of striking spheroid and trihedral flint tools from the archaeological site of Joub Jannine II in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon. The style appears to represent a highly specialized Neolithic industry. Little comment has been made of this industry.

Varna

Varna (Bulgarian: Варна, Varna [ˈvarna]) is the third largest city in Bulgaria and the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Situated strategically in the Gulf of Varna, the city has been a major economic, social and cultural centre for almost three millennia. Varna, historically known as Odessos (Ancient Greek: Ὀδησσός), grew from a Thracian seaside settlement to a major seaport on the Black Sea.

Varna is an important centre for business, transportation, education, tourism, entertainment and healthcare. The city is referred to as the maritime capital of Bulgaria and headquarters the Bulgarian Navy and merchant marine. In 2008, Varna was designated seat of the Black Sea Euroregion by the Council of Europe. In 2014, Varna was awarded the title of European Youth Capital 2017.The oldest gold treasure in the world, belonging to the Varna culture, was discovered in the Varna Necropolis and dates to 4200–4600 BC.

Varna (disambiguation)

Varna is a large city in Bulgaria.

Varna may also refer to:

GeographyVarna Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica

Varna Province, a province in Bulgaria

Varna Municipality

Gulf of Varna, on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast

Lake Varna, Bulgaria

Varna, the Italian name of Vahrn comune (municipality) in Italy

Varna, Azerbaijan, a village in Azerbaijan

Varna, Iran, previous name of Varamin, a city in Iran

Varna, Isfahan, a village in Iran

Varna, Russia, a rural locality (a selo) in Varnensky District of Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia

Varna (Šabac), a village in Serbia

Varna, Illinois, a village in the United States

Varna, New York, a hamlet in the United States

Varna, Ontario, a rural community in the municipality of Bluewater, OntarioHistory and sociologySiege of Varna (1201), in which the Bulgarians captured the city from the Byzantines

Crusade of Varna (1443-1444), ended by the Battle of Varna

Battle of Varna (1444), in which the Ottomans defeated the Crusaders

Varna culture, neolithic culture of north-eastern Bulgaria

Varna (Hinduism), the social class systemOtherSS Varna, a number of ships with this name

MFC Varna, a professional futsal team based in Varna, Bulgaria

Varna, the Telugu language name for the 2013 Tamil language film Irandaam Ulagam

Varna Necropolis

The Varna Necropolis (Bulgarian: Варненски некропол) (also Varna Cemetery) is a burial site in the western industrial zone of Varna (approximately half a kilometre from Lake Varna and 4 km from the city centre), internationally considered one of the key archaeological sites in world prehistory. The oldest gold treasure in the world, dating from 4,600 BC to 4,200 BC, was discovered at the site.

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