Dubene prehistory

Dubene (Dabene) gold finds from the third millennium cal BCE, discovered in Karlovo Valley, Bulgaria, have become world popular for a few days. Despite the initial information was not very precise, it is really an important discovery for European Prehistory. Photos at http://www.iianthropology.org/Dubenegoldeba

Monday, August 22, 2005

Dubene (Dabene) Gold from Karlovo Valley, Bulgaria

The oldest golden objects in Bulgaria and in the world come from later 5th millennium cal BCE, most popular of which are those from the Varna cemetery. We know them even from tells (multilevel settlements) such as Hotnitsa tell in Northern Central Bulgaria.
In the third millennium cal BCE in the Bulgarian lands there is a second period of distribution of gold adornments, this time together with silver objects. Dubene gold ornaments are neither bigger nor older than Troy's finds in light of recent evidence. It is not a huge hoard but the newly discovered cemetery is very essential for European prehistory since had confirmed many already well defined theses in historiography and updated them. For instance:
1. During the third millennium Thrace was a flourishing region in close contacts with Troy (I-III) and the northwestern Balkans.
2. In Western Thrace developed a leading cultural center known as Yunatsite culture and there was a chiefdom or chiefdoms.
3. The tell of Dubene-Sarovka to which the cemetery belongs was a central place.
4. Since Dubene was a center of production of bronze objects including a lead flange axe, the gold objects could be a result of exchange or even local production, but we do not have a detailed publication of the newly discovered finds for more comprehensive interpretations.

For the first time it was also discovered a cremation tumuli cemetery in Thrace that connect the population with the rituals from Western Balkans and Central Europe and confirmed two theses: first, cremation was distributed in the Balkans from west and the tumuli have in the Balkans different origin - some of them are connected with the Steppe nomadic tribes while other (coming with cremation) have Central European origin. The tumuli are very small (c. 6 m in diameter according to preliminary information) and almost invisible (abt 0.50 m high).

Unfortunately, the cemetery of Dubene being discovered by local people, has been excavated by non-professionals in Early Bronze Age cemeteries seeking obviously for sensations and popularity instead being tight to the science. On top of everything, instead of bringing the finds in the City Museum of History, Karlovo which is abt 7 km from the site and where have been curated all material from the settlement, the golden objects were looted to Sofia National Museum without the knowledge even of the local cultural leaders trying to keep all discoveries in secrets (21st century!) . We believe soon the finds will be back to the Karlovo Museum as well.

Dubene-Balinov Gorum cemetery is really very important for Balkan and Indo-European Prehistory, but only in the context of the already known discoveries in Thrace and especially in connection with the village located in abt 200 m from the cemetery.

Lolita Nikolova, Ph.D.August 22, 2005