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07 march '18

Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis: Symbolic burials from tombs 1, 2 and 3

The Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis is a burial site in the western industrial zone of Varna (approximately half a kilometer from Lake Varna and 4 km from the city centre), Bulgaria, 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.

Grave No. 1 – Symbolic burial
The grave was disturbed during construction works with a digger. The grave pit was nearly rectangular, with a NE-SW orientation and was at a level 0.80 - 1.45 m from the surface. A 1cm wide stripe of red ochre was followed along the profile of its southern wall and the bottom of the pit. A small portion of a necklace was found on a lump. It consisted probably of three strings: the uppermost - of gold beads; the middle - of white and green colored beads; the third - of white and yellow colored beads. 
The funeral offerings comprise 222 gold objects with a total weight of 1092 g, 7 copper tools, 6 flint lamellae, a fragment of a marble vessel, a convex (shell-like) bone idol, a lid and fragments of two ceramic vessels, beads made of kaolin and a green mineral (malachite) and 1640 Dentalium shells.
Varna chalcolithic necropolis, 5th millennium BC
AM Varna/NMH

Grave No. 2 - Symbolic burial
The grave pit was rectangular - 2.25m long, 0.90m wide and 1.50m deep - with a NE-SW orientation. Various objects - gold, copper, flint, bone and clay - laid on the concave part of the pit bottom. The latter was covered with a thin layer of dark, decomposed, organic matter and red ochre. A similar layer of organic matter and ochre was followed over the objects. A representation of a human head is molded en face out of clay in the north-east part of the grave pit. It is 20cm long and 19.5cm wide. The clay is slightly baked (fired). A gold diadem is placed on its forehead, 5 gold earrings are put on the left ear and 3 - on the right. The eyes are denoted by circular convex appliques. The mouth is represented by a gold rectangular lamella - 7 gold nails were driven in the clay under it. Two gold anthropomorphic amulets were found on its neck. A group of four ceramic vessels and two gold rings were situates to the east of the head. A convex (shell-like) bone idol, a copper needle, a flint lamella, a stone spindle vertebra, gold appliques and Dentalium shells were found in the south-west end of the grave pit. 
Varna chalcolithic necropolis, 5th millennium BC

Grave No. 3 - Symbolic burial
The grave pit is rectangular - 1.95m long, 1m wide and 1.60m deep. It is situated 0.6m to the south-west of grave no. 2. The pit is with a NE-SW orientation. A layer of dark organic matter and red ochre is discernible along the bottom of the pit and over the finds. A relief representation of a human full-face was discovered in the north-east half of the pit. It is made of insufficiently fired clay and is 21cm long and 18cm wide. The decoration and the denoting of the anatomic details are again of gold - a diadem, circular and rectangular lamellae for the eyes and the mouth, 5 earrings on the left ear and 3 - on the right, 6 nails under the “mouth”. Two strings of kaolin beads are placed on its neck. Two gold anthropomorphic amulets had been strung in the middle of both necklaces and two gold and two quartz beads had been strung at the ends of both strings. A group of three ceramic vessels was situated to the east of the clay face. A convex (shell-like) marble idol, gold appliques and nails, a copper hair-pin, a flint lamella, a marble vessel, a piece of graphite and 39  Dentalium shells were found in the south-west part of the pit. A pile, consisting of 28 triangular bone appliques - most probably from a belt - was discovered almost in the middle of the pit.
Varna chalcolithic necropolis, 5th millennium BC

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