The Oldest Town in Europe—Dating to 4,700 BC—Is Discovered in Bulgaria

Friday, November 02, 2012
Oldest European Town Is Unearthed (Photo: Valentina Petrova, AP)


Bulgaria can now lay claim to having the oldest known settlement in ancient Europe, following a discovery by archaeologists near the city of Provadia.


Located near the Black Sea resort of Varna, the previously buried town was established sometime between 4,700 and 4,200 BC. This would mean the settlement predated the Greek civilization by 1,500 years.


Archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of two-story houses, perimeter walls, and parts of a gate, all of which were located near rock-salt deposits. It has been estimated that this establishment was home to about 350 people.


It is believed that the high stone walls encircling the area were built as fortifications to protect the town’s hoards of salt, which was as valuable then as oil and gold are today.


“At a time when people did not know the wheel and cart, these people hauled huge rocks and built massive walls. Why? What did they hide behind them? The answer was salt,” Vasil Nikolov, a researcher with Bulgaria’s National Institute of Archaeology, told the French news service AFP.


“Salt was an extremely valued commodity in ancient times, as it was both necessary for people’s lives and was used as a method of trade and currency starting from the sixth millennium BC up to 600 BC,” Nikolov added.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Archaeologists find Europe's most prehistoric town (by Nick Squires, The Telegraph)

Europe's oldest prehistoric town unearthed in Bulgaria (BBC)

The ancient town where they sliced their dead in half and buried them from the pelvis up (by Damien Gayle, Daily Mail)


andrew 7 years ago
add 2000 years to 4700-4200. thats how old this settlement is. note the date, b.c. its older than 5500 years. they say "didn't know" because there is no evidence to suggest they did use these technologies. in the face of a lackof evidence, they are going to assume what the evidence suggests. not what someone thinks is "common sense."
BDub 7 years ago
"didnt know the wheel or cart"? that incredibly presumptuous. And since when is Malta's 5500 year old Ggantija not part of Europe.

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