|15 January 2019
Hoard of Copper Age axes discovered in Bulgaria
A hoard of 6,500-year-old Copper Age axes and ax hammers - Europe's largest such find so far - has been discovered by accident near the town of Polkovnik Taslakovo, in Northeast Bulgaria.
The discovery of the hoard of prehistoric axes and ax hammers from the Chacolithic (Aeneolithic, Copper Age) has just been announced by archaeologist Dimitar Chernakov. The prehistoric tool hoard contains a total of 22 tools, including 18 flat axes and 4 ax hammers, with a combined weight of 11.629 kilograms. These axes and ax hammers are made of alloy with a high content of copper which was cast into molds, and the tools are dated from 4,500 to 4,200 BCE.
"The discovered find is the largest [of its kind] in Europe so far. It is a testimony to the [development and sophistication] of the earliest metallurgy in human history," the Ruse Regional Museum of History says. "The axes bear hardly any traces that they were used which leads to the supposition that they were not meant for practical purposes but were an indicator of prestige, or were [were used as] means of exchange," the Museum adds.
In his paper, archaeologist Dimitar Chernakov explains that the prehistoric axes and ax hammers from Polkovnik Talaskovo belong to "the second/third phase of the cultural complex Kodjadermen - Gumelnița - Karanovo VI." The archaeologist says it cannot be ruled out that the copper axes might have been manufactured in some of the large metal processing centers of the prehistoric civilization on the western coast of the Black Sea such as today's Varna, Durankulak, and Sozopol. "[The axes were] then prepared and sent for distribution into the internal part of the Balkan Peninsula," he writes.
Chernakov reveals Europe's largest hoard of prehistoric copper axes and ax hammers was found back in 2013 by accident by local farmers plowing the fields, at a depth of about 1 meter. On top of the ax hoard, there was an egg-shaped limestone rock as well as fragments from pottery vessels.
However, according to archaeologist Vladimir Slavchev from the Varna Museum of Archaeology, who studied the site, the ceramics found there are from a later period, the Late Iron Age. The site has not been properly excavated, and the archaeologists are therefore unable to say for sure whether the ax hoard was part of a Chalcolithic layer. Four prehistoric settlement mounds are located in the area where the axes and ax hammers have been found so Chernakov points out it is possible that the hoard might be connected with some of those settlements.
The hoard of Copper Age axes and ax hammers has now been put on display for the first time to the public by the Regional Museum of History in the Danube city of Silistra.
Edited from Archaeology in Bulgaria (9 January 2019)
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