THE EMERGENCE OF EARLY MAN IN THE BALKANS
The Bulgarian lands of today were amongst the first cradles of human life on the European continent. The earliest traces of the presence of man go back to the Lower Paleolithic or Old Stone Age: and comprise mainly flint implements /flake and blade tools/ discovered in the region of the Rhodope mountains and in Northern Bulgaria. However, traces of old cultures in the territory of present day Bulgaria dating back to the Middle Paleolithic Age /from about 100 000-40 000 BC/ are greater in both number and variety. These were discovered mainly in caves /the Devetashka Cave in the Lovech district, Samuilitsa-II near the village of Kunino in the Vratsa district, the Bacho Kiro Cave near the Dryanovo Monastery and may others/ and in old settlements in Northern Bulgaria /near the village of Beloslav in the Varna district and the village of Musselievo in the Pleven district, in the Kremenete region not far from the town of Batak and elsewhere/. A great number of caves from the Upper Paleolithic Age /from about 40 000-10 000 BC/ have been found and explored and many settlements uncovered on the northern slopes of the Stara Planina /”Balkan Range”/, in the valleys of the rivers Iskur, Vit, Ossum, Yantra and elsewhere. Relics from this period provide evidence of the spiritual advancement of man. This was the time when a variety of primitive beliefs and rituals appeared – animism, fetishism, totemism, magic and others. The population increased considerably.
The culture of the Upper Old Stone Age in the Bulgarian lands differs in some respects from its development in Central and Western Europe mainly in the shape of tools and the techniques employed in their making. It has more features in common with the culture of the Mediterranean community and its kindred cultures in South East Europe. The Middle Stone Age /Mesolithic/ in the Bulgarian lands goes back to 10 000- 7 000 BC. The development of productive forces was given a new impetus; implements were now made of stone, wood and bone. Mesolithic finds have been mainly uncovered in the surface layers of the quicksands in the Pobiti Kamuni /”Stone Forest”/ locality near the villages of Beloslav, Strashimirovo, Slunchevo, Banovo and the town of Devnya /Povelyanovo quarter/ in the Varna district and some other settlements in North East Bulgaria.
The New Stone Age /Neolithic/, 6 000-5 000 BC and Copper Stone Age /Chalcolithic/, 4 000-3 000 BC witnessed a marked rise in the culture of the farming and stock breeding communities on the territory of modern Bulgaria. The most significant remnants of the settlement patterns of that period are the “tells’ /habitation mounds/, which are formations of different layers of culture resulting from successive settlements on one and the same spot. There are several hundred such mounds, most of them in South and North East Bulgaria. During the Chalcolithic Age material and spiritual culture reached a high level. Settlements were built following certain urbanization plans and some of these were fortified. The means of production developed still further; the making of stone and bone tools was improved and copper was introduced /excavations in the Stara Zagora district bear evidence of copper processing/. The rich finds in the necropolis in the town of Varna /gold ornaments and other objects/ and the abundance of objects evidencing the development of religious beliefs combine to present a picture of one of the most advanced civilizations in Europe at that time contemporaneous with the culture of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The ethnic origin of the population inhabiting the Bulgarian lands, however, has not been established with certainty.
SUPPLEMENT: HOMO SAPIENS FOSSILIS FROM BULGARIA