The Varna culture was a late Chalcolithic (Copper Age) culture that flourished in the northeastern part of present-day Bulgaria, particularly around Varna, between approximately 4500 and 4100 BC. It emerged from the earlier Gumelnița culture and is considered a significant prehistoric culture in southeastern Europe.
The Varna culture is best known for its advanced metallurgy and remarkable gold artifacts, considered the oldest processed gold discovered in the world. This culture displayed high social stratification, as evidenced by the wealth disparity in their grave goods. Furthermore, the Varna culture produced fine pottery featuring complex geometric designs and intricate decorations.
The Varna Necropolis, the most famous archaeological site related to the Varna culture, was discovered in the 1970s. Over 300 graves have been excavated, revealing many gold artifacts, including jewelry, weapons, and decorative items. The total weight of gold found at the site is approximately 6 kilograms. Other grave goods include high-quality pottery, copper and stone tools, and various items made from shells and bones. Prestigious and elaborate burials suggest a complex society with a well-defined hierarchy. Today, a permanent exhibition at the Varna Archeological Museum displays the Varna Culture discoveries.
Interactions With Other Cultures
The Varna culture interacted with neighboring cultures throughout its existence. It shared similarities in pottery styles and burial practices with the contemporary Hamangia Culture found along the western Black Sea coast. Moreover, the Varna culture likely engaged in trade with other regional groups, such as the Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture to the north, the Karanovo culture in the interior of Bulgaria, and various Aegean cultures to the south.
The Varna culture was a highly advanced late Chalcolithic culture in present-day Bulgaria, known for its sophisticated metallurgy, particularly gold craftsmanship, and complex social structure. The culture’s archaeological findings, especially the Varna Necropolis and Durankulak, reveal much information about its society and interactions with neighboring cultures during that period.