Varna Necropolis | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Varna Necropolis

Varna, Varna, Bulgaria

Lucy Davidson

31 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shuttershock

About Varna Necropolis

Varna Necropolis is the site of some 300 excavated burials from the 5th millennium BC which are said to have once contained the world’s greatest amount of manufactured gold. Today, many findings from Varna Necropolis – also known as the Eneolithic Necropolis – are displayed at the Varna Archaeological Museum.

History of Varna Necropolis

The Varna Necropolis (also known as Varna Cemetery) is a large burial site in the western industrial zone of Varna. It is internationally considered to be one of the key archaeological sites in world prehistory.

It was at this site that the oldest worked gold treasure in the world was discovered, dating from 4,600 BC to 4,200 BC.

The site was discovered by accident in 1972 by local excavator Raycho Marinov, who then recognised the scale of the site and subsequently signed government papers which handed over the research to Mihail Lazarov and Ivan Ivanov. Around 30% of the Necropolis is still not excavated.

A total of 294 graves dating between 4569-4340 BC have been discovered at Varna Necropolis so far, containing sophisticated examples of gold, copper, pottery (including gold-painted pottery), flint, obsidian blades, beads, and shells.

Three thousand gold artefacts have been discovered; when grave 43 was excavated, it contained more gold than had been found in the entire rest of the world at that time.

The discovery of the site continues to be internationally significant, giving historians an insight into pre-historic trade and movement patterns and the emergence of certain technologies.

Varna Necropolis Today

Today, many of the artefacts are on display at Varna Archaeological Museum and the National Historical Museum in Sofia.

In 1973, the Varna gold started touring the world, and has since been featured in two full-length documentaries and has graced the cover of National Geographic Magazine. In 2006, some of of the gold objects were included in a major and widely-advertised national exhibition of antique gold treasures that was held in both Sofia and Varna.

Getting to Varna Necropolis

The Necropolis itself can be reached in 10-20 minutes by car from the centre of Varna along a number of roads that wind through the city centre. It is also reachable in about an hour by foot.

In order to see the best display of the many finds from the site, visitors are encouraged to visit the Varna Archaeological Museum, which is a 15 minute walk from the centre of Varna.

The city itself is renowned for its bar-lined waterfront promenade which fronts the 19th century Primorski Park. A truly historic city, it makes for an unusual but fulfilling destination of choice for many tourists every year who can enjoy a range of cultural heritage sites.

 

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