Contemporary Copper Age Burials from the Varna Mortuary Zone, Bulgaria



Gaydarska B, Bayliss A & Slavchev V (2021) Contemporary Copper Age Burials from the Varna Mortuary Zone, Bulgaria. Antiquaries Journal, 101, pp. 1-15.

The Copper Age cemetery in Varna, Bulgaria, is famous for the earliest known, massive deposition of exquisite golden artefacts. Radiocarbon dating of the Varna i cemetery, excavated in the period 1972–91, places it in the mid-fifth millennium bc and suggests a duration of c 225 years from c 4550 to c 4325 cal bc. Construction work in the adjacent area (2.5 km to the east of Varna i cemetery) in December 2017 led to the discovery of sixteen new graves, whose characteristics are identical to the burials in the cemetery investigated in the last century. This article discusses the AMS dates of ten newly discovered inhumations. The results match well the existing cemetery chronology, showing that the new graves start slightly later and end earlier than Varna i and have a shorter duration of probably no more than a few decades. It is demonstrated for the first time that some areas of burial on the terrace were in continuous use for one or two generations only, suggesting multi-focal depositional activities as opposed to expedient and opportunistic spatial utilisation.

Bulgaria; Chalcolithic; Varna cemetery; AMS dates

Antiquaries Journal: Volume 101

Publication date30/09/2021
Publication date online04/06/2021
Date accepted by journal04/06/2021

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Professor Alexandra Bayliss

Professor Alexandra Bayliss

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences

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