The Hotnitsa Treasure
The oldest gold treasures in the world – 5th millennium BC.
The village mound near the village of Hotnitsa dates back to the 5th millennium BC. It was 6 m wide and was discovered by chance. In 1955 by the construction works of irrigation canals, the workers unearthed one side of a mound and found clay wares and stone implements. The regional museum in Veliko Tarnovo is informed about the finds.
Archaeological excavations 1956-1959
In 1956 archaeologists from Veliko Tarnovo started excavation works. They found relatively well preserved settlement with 20 one-room dwellings. They were built of wooden stakes fixed into the ground, and walls weaved of branches and pasted over with mud. They had thatches. There were streets separating the dwellings, which were organized in blocks as residential quarters. The dwellings had a fireplace in one of the corners, plank-beds and scanty utensils, consisting of clay vessels and items of copper, bone, stone and flint. The settlement dated back to the 5th millennium BC. Totally unexpected for that time period, when people used mainly primitive instruments and objects, in one of the rooms the archaeologists found a heap of gold items, weighing about 350 g (0.80 lb). 40 rings made from wire, and 4 strangely shaped plates. The plates had openings – one bigger in the middle and 2 smaller over it, and on one of the plates – 3 little openings, forming symbolic human faces. It is supposed that these are occult items, which belonged to the priest, and he used them in cult rituals or as an amulet. The unearthed treasure became famous to the world as the Hotnitsa Golden Treasure. In 1958, the further excavations in the village, revealed a room, where many prehistoric little idols made of bone were found. Their great number and the fact that some of them were not finished suggest to the archaeologists that they came across a prehistoric workshop. The inhabitants of the settlement were forced to leave it because of a fire and it was found intact after 7 000 years.
Archaeological excavations 2000-2007
After the initial excavations near the village of Hotnitsa the researches began again and continue to the present day. Over 300 sq. m. of the northern side of the mound were unearthed for this period. The findings exceed 5000 items. 6 dwellings were examined. Especially interesting are the new gold items, copper implements, rich collection of anthropomorphous and zoomorphous sculptures. Many ceramic vessels and stone instruments were also found. In 2000 three golden plates were unearthed. One year later the archaeologists found a golden spiral and then in 2006 they came across another one. However the latter was unique and pretty interesting. It was found several cultural layers deeper than the entire Hotnitsa treasure, which together with the treasure from the Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis is qualified as the world’s oldest gold. And the depth where the spiral was found proves that it is older than «the oldest gold». That is also evident by the way it is wrought. The previously found items were drawn out, and the metal, pure natural 23,5-carat gold for the last spiral was forged. A very important fact concerning the finds in Hotnitsa is that the gold was found in its natural environment, not in tombs or necropolises. It becomes clear that the people wore the ornaments and used them in their everyday life.
The experts claim that the civilization from the 5th millennium BC, a coeval of Varna Culture, whose traces and golden jewellery were unearthed in the village of Hotnitsa, Bulgaria, is older than Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations.