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2 July 2016
Prehistoric grave in Bulgaria of man holding stone axe sceptre

A 6,500-year-old grave of a man holding in his hands a stone axe sceptre has been found by archaeologists excavating a recently discovered Copper Age necropolis in northeast Bulgaria.
     A total of seven graves were found in the necropolis of Kamenovo when it was first discovered in September 2015, however these were all graves of women and children. The newly discovered grave is the first male grave to be found there.
     The newly found grave of the male who was buried holding a stone axe dates to 4,500-4,300 BCE. Inside the grave, archaeologists also found a bead from a Mediterranean seashell. Seashell beads were also found in some of the graves discovered in 2015.
     Head archaeologist Yavor Boyadzhiev has explained that the male grave has been found in a shallow layer, almost right under the modern-day surface in the yard of a former elementary school.
     The man was buried in a fetal position, lying on his left side, holding the stone axe in his hands, with his body oriented in an east-west direction. Boyadzhiev says the bodies of women and children discovered so far were buried in a similar way, and some of the graves were organised in rows.
     Boyadzhiev says that, while the sex of the person in the newly found grave is not yet confirmed, it seems certain that he was a male because of the stone axe sceptre found in his hands: all 15 similar prehistoric stone axe sceptres to have ever been discovered in Bulgaria have been found in male graves. There are no traces that the stone axe was ever used. Its purpose was likely symbolic.
     Shortly before finding the necropolis, the same archaeological team discovered a 6,500-year-old workshop for flint tools. The team plans to continue researching the workshop, which they believe began operating in the early Copper Age, around 4,800 BCE, within a settlement. The people extracted flint from nearby deposits, processed it, and distributed the tools they produced all over the southern Balkan Peninsula.

Edited from Archaeology in Bulgaria (14 June 2016)

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