'Oldest Gold of Mankind' Is Discovered

It's minuscule, but its importance is anything but
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2016 8:23 AM CDT

It measures just 0.16 inches in diameter and weighs just 0.005 ounces, but its importance could be countless magnitudes of that: A tiny gold bead has been found in southern Bulgaria and dated to as early as 4600 BC. If confirmed, that would make it the "oldest gold of mankind," a title that has been held by gold found in Varna, a city along Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, reports Discovery News. "I have no doubt that it is older than the Varna gold," which dates to 200 years later, Bulgarian professor Yavor Boyadzhiev tells Reuters. The 13 pounds of Varna gold are still not thoroughly understood, reports Smithsonian. Varna's people were thought to have been farmers who had come from the Anatolia Peninsula just a few centuries before the gold was processed. "How they were able to master [that] ... in that short span of time" remains a mystery.

With the new discovery at Tell Yunatsite, our understanding of man's ability to process gold, and the area over which it occurred, expand. Reuters reports that the excavations at Tell Yunatsite—first excavated in 1939 and the site of ongoing digs since 1976 — have surfaced what Boyadzhiev calls the "prototype of a modern town" over some 25 to 30 acres. A website on the excavations notes that only a third of the tell (an archaeological mound) has been excavated. A 2012 Popular Archaeology article about the site notes it "may have been Europe's first civilization," and met an unfortunate end. Violence befell the settlement around 4100 BC. "Many skeletons of children, elderly men, and women were found scattered on floors, suggesting a massive massacre." (Archaeologists are currently hunting for some legendary gold.)

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