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News 12 Aug 16

Bulgaria Claims Gold Artefact is World's Oldest

A tiny golden bead, unearthed at a pre-historic settlement in southern Bulgaria, is the world's oldest golden artefact, archaeologists claim.

Ivana Nikolic
BIRN
Belgrade
Illustration. Photo:Flickr/fossilmike.

A four-millimetre bead discovered in the Bulgarian village of Yunatsite close to the town of Pazardzhik dates back to 4,500-4,600 BC, Bulgarian archaeologists told the media.

They claim the dug-out gold is some 200 years older than jewels found at a Copper Age necropolis in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna, the oldest known processed gold items, discovered in 1972.

"I have no doubt that it is older than the Varna gold," Yavor Boyadzhiev, associated professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Science, said.

"It's a really important discovery. It is a tiny piece of gold but big enough to find its place in history," Boyadzhiev added.

Archaeologists believe the bead was made at the site, just outside Pazardzhik, which Boyadzhiev says was the first "urban" settlement in Europe, peopled by "a highly-cultured society" which moved there from Anatolia, in today's Turkey, around 6,000 BC.

The piece weighs only 15 centigrams and was found in the remains of a small house that would have stood there when metals such as copper and gold were being used for the first time.

According to Boyadzhiev, this important piece of world history will be exhibited in the historical museum in Pazardzhik once it has been analyzed and its age confirmed.

This is the second ground-breaking archaeological discovery in the Balkans in only a week.

Earlier, Serbian archaeologists found golden and silver tiles at Viminacium, site of a Roman city and legionary fort in eastern Serbia, reportedly dating back to the 4th century.

Another important Viminacium discovery happened less than a month ago, at the end of July, when the tomb of an upper class family was found.

The tomb adds to the already discovered 14,000 tombs at Viminacium - the biggest number of tombs excavated in the territory of the former Roman Empire.

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