By Angel Krasimirov, Reuters
It may be just a tiny gold bead - 4 mm (1/8 inch) in diameter - but it is an enormous discovery for Bulgarian archaeologists who say they have found Europe’s - and probably the world’s - oldest gold artifact.
The bead, found at a pre-historic settlement in southern Bulgaria, dates back to 4,500-4,600 B.C., the archaeologists say, making it some 200 years older than jewelry from a Copper Age necropolis in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna, the oldest processed gold previously unearthed, 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, believes the bead was made at the site, just outside the modern town of Pazardzhik, which he 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 B.C.