Archaeological excavation and research at the Early Neolithic settlement Ilindentsi-Masovets in Southwestern Bulgaria and archaeological field school.
The village of Ilindentsi, Southwest Bulgaria
Balkan Heritage Foundation
Project started / Status:
2011 – 2018
Magnetic gradiometer map of the site shows two anomalies in the southern and northern parts. Excavations in 2011-2017 revealed a system of concentric trenches around the Neolithic ditch (their purpose remains unclear) and a Neolithic well structure in the south. The cultural layer was rich with artifacts dated to the first half of 6th millennium BCE: white-on-red and red-on-red painted pottery, anthropomorphic figurines, stone and bone tools and esp. jewels (rings, necklace beads, and bracelets).
Although the possibility of acculturation of an indigenous population can not be completely disregarded at this stage, archaeologists assume that the settlement at Ilindentsi was established by a group of people from the neighboring Neolithic settlement of Kovachevo. The latter is the earliest and largest Neolithic settlement found in the Middle Struma Valley some 30km to the south of Ilindentsi. It was established by people of Anatolian origin (culture Hacilar VI-I) in the late 7th millennium BCE. These migration patterns trace the routes of European Neolithization and indicate multiple origins. Early farmers likely started moving to Europe for complex and varied reasons possibly related to social stress and climate change.
The archaeological site: The Neolithic settlement at the locality Massovets
Periods: The period of the site existence (6000 – 5500/5400 BCE) corresponds chronologically to other Balkan, Anatolian and Near Eastern sites and cultures such as: Karanovo I (Eastern Balkans), Achilleon (Southern Balkans), Hacilar VI-I, Çatalhöyük West (Anatolia).
Excavation Directors: Dr. Małgorzata Grębska-Kulova (PhD in Archaeology) archaeologist and curator, Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, Bulgaria; Petar Zidarov (PhD candidate), assistant at the Laboratory for Archaeometry and Experimental Archaeology, New Bulgarian University and PhD student at Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen (Germany); and Ivan Vasilev, PhD student at New Bulgarian University and CEO, Balkan Heritage Foundation.
BHF contribution: Excavated over 250 sq. m., including several houses and the areas between them. Involvement of more than 15 team members and visiting specialists and more than 70 volunteers – students. The excavated finds have been cleaned, documented and stored.
BHF project partners: Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History; New Bulgarian University; Municipality of Strumyani (Bulgaria) and the Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA.
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