A city built on salt

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Bulgaria has found one of the oldest cities of the Bronze Age, has already called the media the oldest city in Europe. Meanwhile, for the title claim several ancient proto, including in Russia.

Bulgarian archeologists discovered a Bronze Age settlement, which can be considered one of the oldest, if not the oldest ( of reliably dated) prehistoric cities in Europe. Settlement, excavated near Provadia ( Varna region, Bulgaria), consisted of a two-storey houses, powerful defensive walls, the streets, the necropolis and facilities for production and ritual, dating from 4700-4200 radiocarbon years BC. e., that is, during the Late Bronze Age.

At the end of the fifth millennium BC. e. the city population was about four hundred men, and the basis of its economy was salt production: the area is rich in Bulgarian Provadia rock salt, which has been developed by people for eight thousand years ago. That resulted in the production of salt, according to archaeologists, the flourishing of the Varna culture – the culture of the Bronze Age, dating from the VI-V centuries BC
People began to mine salt in Varna Lake is in the late Neolithic, around mid-VI millennium BC.

Salt is evaporated from the solution in thin-walled ceramic vessels placed in a massive mud-brick oven, built right inside the houses. Later, the process has been improved stoves were made outside the settlements, and during the Middle and Late Bronze Age ( Culture Hamangiya IV, 4700-4500 years BC. Oe., and Varna culture, 4500-4200 years BC. Oe.) production salt has reached industrial scale: salt cooked  conveyor “method in large ceramic vessels that are placed in the ground dug deep deepening oven – Kiln. At a time from one of the Kiln could receive up to 25 kg of salt, which were packed into small blocks, which played the role of a universal currency until the VII century BC. e., when exchange-salt began to replace metal money.

The high value of this product showed the Bronze Age burial found in the vicinity of Varna. Thus, 40 years ago it was discovered the richest ancient gold treasure in the world – three thousand jewelry and ritual objects, at the time a lot of puzzled archaeologists since ancient times the region has never been famous for rich resources. However, the later excavations have shown that the best future for the Varna bronze culture was just salt, literally tsenivshayasya weight in gold.

The excavation of the hill, the ancient settlement of concealed salter, began in 2005 at the initiative of Vassil Nikolov and Krum Bahvarova – employees of the National Institute of Archaeology. Work has been repeatedly interrupted because of funding problems, and the most important and interesting results were obtained for the 2011 season, when the two houses were excavated diameter of 100 meters, the remains of streets and powerful defensive walls, bastions, and a complex of pits and laid stone objects area of 350 square meters. meters north-east of the settlement.

Presumably, they can be used for ritual purposes: another similar complex, easier to lay, was on the west side of the city. In the report , published online Vasil Nikolov, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the assumption is that the emergence of more sophisticated Western Complex, located outside the city limits, due to the evolution of the religious and social practices in the late Bronze Age.

Naming of Late settlement near Provadia town, keep in mind that this is not a city in the understanding, applies to policies Greek, Roman municipality, medieval or modern cities, but that is called  the city “in relation to the settlements V Millennium BC. e. This, archaeological, meaning excavated settlement fully satisfies the definition of urban “: it was surrounded by defensive walls, it lived at the same time a large ( by the standards of the time), the number of people, and it has played the role of economic, social, and religious center.
Hardly, since Provadia too many competitors in the competition for the title of  the forerunner of the European Urbanism “, including in Bulgaria itself. Thus, while the base of Plovdiv ( Pupudeva Thracian, Greek Philippopolis) also goes back centuries – to the VI millennium BC. e. The same date from the time of settlement of urban type in place of Argos, and the most ancient European capital Athens are based in the IV-V millennium BC. e. In the context of pre-historic cities of the Bronze Age can not mention the famous Arch – fortified settlement abroad III-II millennium BC. e., part of the so-called  country towns “- South Ural protourbanisticheskoy developed culture of the Bronze Age. 

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