Bulgarian archaeologists say that they have found 60 houses from a Neolithic settlement, estimated to date back 8000 years, that were seven to eight metres high and that had streets between them.
The find was made near the village of Mursalevo, about 67km from Bulgarian capital Sofia, in the Kyustendil region in south-western Bulgaria by archaeologists working along the route of the Struma motorway being built to link Sofia to the Greek border.
According to archaeologists, the people who developed the settlement had a high level of culture, considering that it would have required strong social organisation to pre-plan the settlement.
Those who lived here are believed to have come from Anatolia (Asia Minor).
The archaeologist in charge of the dig, Professor Vassil Nikolov, said that they had built two-storey houses, with wooden frames and clay. The dig had found three parallel, wide streets.
A report by Bulgarian National Television said that at the site, evidence had been found of a “strange prehistoric custom”, that people apparently had set strong fires inside their houses, which in turn had roasted and preserved the walls, enabling the modern-day find – and that the people who lived their had “buried” their houses symbolically.
Associated Professor Krum Buchvarov said that the fact of walls having been exposed to very high temperatures had enabled the team to “reconstruct” the ancient constructions.
Inside the remainders of rooms at the site, researchers found furnaces, stones for grinding flour and painted clay vessels.
Researchers said that people at the site had believed that their houses had souls, and therefore they had “buried them symbolically” – burying various pieces of the house in small burial pits.
Professor Nikolov said, “We can assume that there was a string of problems connected with the corresponding cycle of life and perhaps they wanted to break this cycle, to complete it and start a new cycle of life elsewhere, and therefore burnt the village”.
Archaeologists also had found shells, which probably had been strung into a necklace. This was one of the few objects that could say anything about the prestige of its owner, because otherwise, there was nothing to indicate a hierarchy.
“They were pastoralists and hunters and so were people who had a very rich culture, they were people of the first European civilisation. This civilisation which actually gave life to Europe in the sixth millennium,” Nikolov said.
The village was presenting scholars with mysteries, such as ritual pits four metres deep, though it was not known why they were so deep and why they were arranged in a line.