Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Varna and the social context of early metallurgy

  • Colin Renfrew
Extract

The discovery of what is demonstrably, on the basis of present knowledge, the earliest major assemblage of gold artifacts to be unearthed anywhere in the world is an event of some note, comparable in significance with Schliemann's find of the Great Treasure at Troy more than a century ago. The finds at Varna must be at least 1,500 years older than those of Troy 11, yet apart from the original announcement by their excavator (Ivanov, 1975), and useful, although brief, descriptions by Gimbutas (1977 a and b), the Varna cemetery has so far excited little archaeological comment. The publication by Ivanov (1978) of the first well-illustrated account of the cemetery allows an assessment of its importance. Its status as the oldest substantial find of gold emphasizes the position of south-east Europe as an early and independent centre of metallurgical innovation. But the gold is only one of several materials indicative of high status in the cemetery: what had hitherto seemed a moderately egalitarian society now displays clear evidence of salient ranking. This in turn has major implications for our understanding of the social context in which early metalworking in Europe developed and prospered.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Angelov, N. 1959. Le trésor en or de Hotnica, Archaeologiya, I, 38-46 (Sofia).
Baumgartel, E. J. 1960. The cultures of prehistoric Egypt, II (Oxford, Griffith Institute).
Chernykh, E. N. 1975- Aibunar: a Balkan copper mine of the fourth millennium BC, Sovietskdya Archeologija, 4, 132-53
Chernykh, E. N. 1976. Metallurgische Bereiche des 4.-2. Jahrtausend v. Chr. in der UDSSR, Paper presented to the IX Congress of Prehistory and Protohistory, Nice.
Clark, R. M. 1975. A calibration curve for radiocarbon dates, Antiquity , XXXIX, 251-66.
Dumitrescu, H. 1961. Connections between the Cucu- teni-Tripolje cultural complex and the neigh-bouring cultures in the light of the utilisation of gold pendants, Dacia, 5, 69-93.
Evans, R. K. 1973, Craft specialisation in the chalcolithic period of the Eastern portion of the Balkan Peninsula (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California at Los Angeles).
Georgiev, G. I. 1961. Kulturgruppen der Jungstein- und der Kupferzeit in der Ebene von Thrazien (Südbulgarien), in (eds.), Bohm, J. Laet, S. J. De, L’Europe à la fin de l’âge de la pierre (Prague), 45-100.
Gimbutas, M. 1977a. Gold treasure at Varna, Archaeology, XXX, 44-51.
Gimbutas, M. 1977b. Varna: a sensationally rich cemetery of the Karanovo civilization, Expedition, 19 (4), 39-47.
Iovanovic, B. Ottaway, B. S., 1976. Copper mining and metallurgy in the Vinia group, Antiquity, L, 104-13.
Ivanov, I. S. 1975. Raskopki na Varnenskija eneoliten nekropol prez 1972 g., Izvestija na Narodnija Muzeji Varna (Bulletin du Musée National de Varna), XI, 1-16.
Ivanov, I. S. 1978. Sukrovishtata na Varnenskiya Chalkoliten Nekropol (Treasures of the Varna chalcolithic necropolis), Sofia, ‘September’. (Text in Bul-garian with translation into Russian, English and German.)
Makkay, J. 1976. Problems concerning Copper Age chronology in the Carpathian basin, Acta Archaeo- logica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 28, 251-300.
Mikov, V. 1958. Zlatnoto Sukrovishte ot Vulchitran (Le trésor d’or de Valcitran), Sophia, Académie des Sciences.
Muhly, J. D. 1977. The copper ox-hide ingots and the bronze age metals trade, Iraq, XXXIX, 73-82.
Oates, J. 1972. A radiocarbon date from Choga Mami, Iraq, XXXIV, 49-53.
Parović-Pešikan, M. Trbuhović, V.. 1971. Isko- pavania tumula ranog bronzanog doba u Tivatskom poliu, Starmar, 22, 129-41.
Peebles, C. S. Kus., S. M. 1977. Some archaeological correlates of ranked societies, American Antiquity, XLII, 421-48.
Popescu, D. Popescu., V. 1955. Asupra tezearului de aur de la Ostrovul Mare, Studii si Cercetàri de Istorie Veche, 4, 865-80.
Renfrew, C. 1969. The autonomy of the south-east European copper age, Proc. Prehist. Soc., XXXVI, 12-47.
Renfrew, C. 1971. Sitagroi, radiocarbon and the prehistory of south-east Europe, Antiquity, XLV, 275-82.
Renfrew, C. 1973. Monuments, mobilisation and social organi-sation in neolithic Wessex, in (ed.), Renfrew, C., The explanation of culture change (London), 539-58.
Renfrew, C. 1978. The anatomy of innovation, in (eds.), Green, D. Haselgrove, C. C. Spriggs, M. J. T., Social organisation and settlement (British Archaeological Reports, Series International), 47, 89-117.
Shackleton, N. Renfrew., C. 1970. Neolithic trade routes realigned by oxygen isotope analyses, Nature, 228, 1062-5.
Tobler, A. J. 1950. Excavations at Tepe Gaiora, II (Philadelphia).
Tsountas, C. 1908. Ai Proistorihai Akropoleis Dhiminiou kai Sesklou (Athens).
Woolley, C. L. 1931. Excavations at Ur, 1930-1, Antiq. J., XI, 343-81.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed