The oldest salt-production
and urban centre in Europe
(5500 - 4300 BC.)

22
09

Doors open day

date
22.09.2019 г.
time
от 8:00 до 15:00 ч.

Come and join us on September 22, 2019, from 8:00, am to 3:00 pm. Experience the mysteries of Europe's oldest city, the history of the oldest stone fortresses on the old continent, and discover traces of ancient earthquakes. It will be a great pleasure for us to present to you the story of the unique complex and to introduce you to our latest discoveries! We are expecting you!

For more information:
087 617 8584
Fb: Provadia.Solnitsata
Free admission

How to get there:

Provadia-Solnitsata, 904, 9200

Provadia-Solnitsata

Provadia-Solnitsata

The oldest salt-production and urban centre in Europe (5500 - 4300 BC.)

The prehistoric complex Provadia-Solnitsata is located near the modern city of Provadia. It represents the remains of the oldest salt production center in Europe (5500 - 4300 BC), which became the first prehistoric urban center on our continent (4700 - 4300 BC). It consists of: 1. Neolithic-Chalcolithic production complex, 2. Non-fortified and then fortified with stone walls, Chalcolithic settlement (citadel) and a Thracian tomb above it, 3. Late Chalcolithic ritual field (pit sanctuary) 4. Late Chalcolithic necropolis, 5. Middle Chalcolithic necropolis. The site covers an area of ​​about 300 acres. The emergence and development of the complex are directly related to its location on top of the largest and in fact the only deposit of rock salt in the Eastern Balkans- the so-called Mirov salt field. This brief description of the archaeological site is based on 15 years of fieldwork (2005 - 2019) and defines it as one of the most significant prehistoric sites in Southeastern Europe. Currently, Provadia-Solnitsata is a very attractive site to visit, after conservation and restoration has been undertaken.

Virtual Map
Provadia-Solnitsata

Virtual Map
Provadia-Solnitsata

Learn more about the oldest salt-production and urban center in Europe - Provadia-Solnitsata
The oldest fortified settlement in Europe, 5th millennium BCmap
The oldest fortified settlement in Europe, 5th millennium BC

The intensive production of salt in the middle and second half of the 5th millennium BC. makes the inhabitants of Provadia-Solnitsata one of the richest people in Europe. At that time salt played the role of money and was more valuable than gold. Salt trade led to the accumulation of vast wealth, which had to be guarded from constant attacks by hostile neighbors. Around 4700 BC the settlement was guarded by a strong stone fortification system that was rebuilt and maintained for 350 years. So far, there is no evidence of similar stone citadel dated back to the 5th millennium BC in Europe, which makes it an incredible achievement of military thought and construction! The first defense system was severely damaged twice from earthquakes, forcing the inhabitants of Provadia-Solnitsata to build a new, extremely massive stone structure around 4600 BC. The fortress has an irregularly rounded shape with a total length of about 234 m and a total area of ​​about 4 decares, and is erected entirely from unworked stones. In some places, the height of the wall is preserved up to 3.50 m. Its base thickness is between 2.40 and 4.30 m, the greater portion of it is between 3 and 3.40 m, which suggests that its real height was 5 - 6 m! One of the gates of the fortress was to the northeast - opposite the production center, which facilitated the rapid gathering of the produced salt within the protected space. About 4500 - 4400 BC. the second stone wall was destroyed by an earthquake or military conflict, but the event was certainly accompanied by a strong fire. However, much of the majestic stone structure has been preserved for millennia and still impresses anyone who has the opportunity to see it.

Bone projectile for a spear
- late chalcolithic
Bone projectile for a spear - late chalcolithic
Radial structures in the third defense systemmap
Radial structures in the third defense system

A third stone defense system was built by the inhabitants of one of the last late-Chalcolithic settlements (about 4450 BC). It is a complex fortification system consisting of three elements and is regarded as an incredible achievement in military construction art. The first element of this system is the so-called 'stone casing', which has a dual function, namely to strengthen the slope of the already accumulated settlement mound and impede the movement of potential attackers. The second element is the stone clusters of larger and smaller stones along sloping lines or the so-called ‘radial walls’. They start from the highest part of the slope and reach the periphery of the settlement. They are relatively dense, about 1 - 2 m apart. They had the difficult task of breaking the attacking armies into smaller groups of two or three people, forming a kind of corridors that prevented a mass attack on the slope. At the highest part of this impressive system, was situated the massive 3rd stone wall that rose impressively above the surrounding terrain. At this point, we’ve discovered 21 radial lines, located in the western and northern part of the settlement- the rest have been destroyed in a later period.

Radial structures in the third defense system
Houses 16, 17 - Middle Chalcolithic; evidence of a devastating earthquakemap
Houses 16, 17 - Middle Chalcolithic; evidence of a devastating earthquake

A study of a large-scale building dating back to the Middle Chalcolithic (4700 - 4600 BC) in the southern periphery of the settlement revealed that it was devastated by a severe natural fire. Among the ruins, we found many ceramic vessels made of clay, piles of scattered, various charred grains. In the southeast of the house was laid the foundation of a large domed oven, along with a stone mill attached to it to grind grain. In addition, when the thick clay ceiling that was made with a reinforcement timber joist fell, it broke into pieces and squeezed ceramic vessels and other objects from the first floor. The numerous fragmented ceramic vessels (up until now - 27) found between the destructed elements and the floor of the building, and the large amount of charred grain scattered in the eastern half of the remains of the house, indicate that people were forced to abandon some of their food supplies and property... All this suggests that the fire was an accident and the ancient inhabitants did not have time to move their inventory. The fire is highly likely to have been caused by a high-magnitude earthquake. Evidence of significant strong seismic events in the 46th century BC. have been recorded within the settlement in previous archeological seasons as well. We’ve traced numerous cracks caused by earthquakes in the floor of a neighboring house.

Houses 16, 17 - Middle Chalcolithic; evidence of a devastating earthquake
Houses and Facilities - Late Chalcolithicmap
Houses and Facilities - Late Chalcolithic

The “Provadia-Solnitsata” Mound, which preserves the remains of everyday life of the most ancient salt producers on the European continent, was abandoned by its inhabitants around 4300 BC. The reasons must be sought in climatic changes that resulted in а drought and the drying up of the salt springs which provided the raw material for the extraction of salt. After more than 4,000 years, a Thracian aristocrat settled on the 9 m high settlement mound, and a little later began covering the prehistoric remains with an embankment of a huge Thracian mound about 13 m high. That is why for a long time, our archaeological studies could not reach the remains of the prehistoric settlement, but in recent years we have been able to investigate part of the tomb mound embankment and reach the remains of at least three houses from the last prehistoric settlement. Whether they are hiding traces of dramatic events is yet to be revealed. For sure, the material traces of the lives of the last salt producers will be very interesting - like this ceramic vessel, which is about 6300 years old, found in one of the houses.

Houses and Facilities - Late Chalcolithic
Anthropomorphic figure of bone
Ceramic vessel
about 6300 years old
Ceramic vessel
about 6300 years old
Late Hellenistic buildings and a tombstonemap
Late Hellenistic buildings and a tombstone

The settlement mound had a cultural stratum about 9 m thick and 105 m in diameter. During the Late Hellenistic Age (2nd - 1st c. BC) there was a "ruler’s mansion" fortified with stone-brick walls. Immediately after that, a tomb was accumulated during the Roman era, which gives the monument a total height of 22 m.

Ceramic dice. Signs on each wall - with values ​​from 1 to 6.
The side with value “1” has a deep hole in it, probably to put a weight in it.
Ceramic dice. Signs on each wall - with values ​​from 1 to 6. The side with value “1” has a deep hole in it, probably to put a weight in it.
Bronze ring
Bronze ring
mapVirtual Map
Provadia-Solnitsata Virtual Map
Provadia-Solnitsata Virtual Map
Provadia-Solnitsata Virtual Map
Provadia-Solnitsata Virtual Map
Provadia-Solnitsata

Virtual Map Provadia-Solnitsata

Learn more about the oldest salt-production
and urban center in Europe - Provadia-Solnitsata
scroll down
The oldest fortified settlement in Europe, 5th millennium BC

The intensive production of salt in the middle and second half of the 5th millennium BC. makes the inhabitants of Provadia-Solnitsata one of the richest people in Europe. At that time salt played the role of money and was more valuable than gold. Salt trade led to the accumulation of vast wealth, which had to be guarded from constant attacks by hostile neighbors. Around 4700 BC the settlement was guarded by a strong stone fortification system that was rebuilt and maintained for 350 years. So far, there is no evidence of similar stone citadel dated back to the 5th millennium BC in Europe, which makes it an incredible achievement of military thought and construction! The first defense system was severely damaged twice from earthquakes, forcing the inhabitants of Provadia-Solnitsata to build a new, extremely massive stone structure around 4600 BC. The fortress has an irregularly rounded shape with a total length of about 234 m and a total area of ​​about 4 decares, and is erected entirely from unworked stones. In some places, the height of the wall is preserved up to 3.50 m. Its base thickness is between 2.40 and 4.30 m, the greater portion of it is between 3 and 3.40 m, which suggests that its real height was 5 - 6 m! One of the gates of the fortress was to the northeast - opposite the production center, which facilitated the rapid gathering of the produced salt within the protected space. About 4500 - 4400 BC. the second stone wall was destroyed by an earthquake or military conflict, but the event was certainly accompanied by a strong fire. However, much of the majestic stone structure has been preserved for millennia and still impresses anyone who has the opportunity to see it.

Bone projectile for a spear
- late chalcolithic
Bone projectile for a spear - late chalcolithic
Radial structures in the third defense system

A third stone defense system was built by the inhabitants of one of the last late-Chalcolithic settlements (about 4450 BC). It is a complex fortification system consisting of three elements and is regarded as an incredible achievement in military construction art. The first element of this system is the so-called 'stone casing', which has a dual function, namely to strengthen the slope of the already accumulated settlement mound and impede the movement of potential attackers. The second element is the stone clusters of larger and smaller stones along sloping lines or the so-called ‘radial walls’. They start from the highest part of the slope and reach the periphery of the settlement. They are relatively dense, about 1 - 2 m apart. They had the difficult task of breaking the attacking armies into smaller groups of two or three people, forming a kind of corridors that prevented a mass attack on the slope. At the highest part of this impressive system, was situated the massive 3rd stone wall that rose impressively above the surrounding terrain. At this point, we’ve discovered 21 radial lines, located in the western and northern part of the settlement- the rest have been destroyed in a later period.

Radial structures in the third defense system
Houses 16, 17 - Middle Chalcolithic; evidence of a devastating earthquake

A study of a large-scale building dating back to the Middle Chalcolithic (4700 - 4600 BC) in the southern periphery of the settlement revealed that it was devastated by a severe natural fire. Among the ruins, we found many ceramic vessels made of clay, piles of scattered, various charred grains. In the southeast of the house was laid the foundation of a large domed oven, along with a stone mill attached to it to grind grain. In addition, when the thick clay ceiling that was made with a reinforcement timber joist fell, it broke into pieces and squeezed ceramic vessels and other objects from the first floor. The numerous fragmented ceramic vessels (up until now - 27) found between the destructed elements and the floor of the building, and the large amount of charred grain scattered in the eastern half of the remains of the house, indicate that people were forced to abandon some of their food supplies and property... All this suggests that the fire was an accident and the ancient inhabitants did not have time to move their inventory. The fire is highly likely to have been caused by a high-magnitude earthquake. Evidence of significant strong seismic events in the 46th century BC. have been recorded within the settlement in previous archeological seasons as well. We’ve traced numerous cracks caused by earthquakes in the floor of a neighboring house.

Houses 16, 17 - Middle Chalcolithic; evidence of a devastating earthquake
Houses and Facilities - Late Chalcolithic

The “Provadia-Solnitsata” Mound, which preserves the remains of everyday life of the most ancient salt producers on the European continent, was abandoned by its inhabitants around 4300 BC. The reasons must be sought in climatic changes that resulted in а drought and the drying up of the salt springs which provided the raw material for the extraction of salt. After more than 4,000 years, a Thracian aristocrat settled on the 9 m high settlement mound, and a little later began covering the prehistoric remains with an embankment of a huge Thracian mound about 13 m high. That is why for a long time, our archaeological studies could not reach the remains of the prehistoric settlement, but in recent years we have been able to investigate part of the tomb mound embankment and reach the remains of at least three houses from the last prehistoric settlement. Whether they are hiding traces of dramatic events is yet to be revealed. For sure, the material traces of the lives of the last salt producers will be very interesting - like this ceramic vessel, which is about 6300 years old, found in one of the houses.

Anthropomorphic figure of bone
Anthropomorphic figure of bone
Ceramic vessel
about 6300 years old
Ceramic vessel
about 6300 years old
Late Hellenistic buildings and a tombstone

The settlement mound had a cultural stratum about 9 m thick and 105 m in diameter. During the Late Hellenistic Age (2nd - 1st c. BC) there was a "ruler’s mansion" fortified with stone-brick walls. Immediately after that, a tomb was accumulated during the Roman era, which gives the monument a total height of 22 m.

Ceramic dice. Signs on each wall - with values ​​from 1 to 6.
The side with value “1” has a deep hole in it, probably to put a weight in it.
Ceramic dice. Signs on each wall - with values ​​from 1 to 6.
The side with value “1” has a deep hole in it, probably to put a weight in it.
Bronze ring
Bronze ring

Latest News

Visit of the Minister of Culture Boil Banov

Visit of the Minister of Culture Boil Banov

27.09.2019г.

In the recent years, Minister Banov has been actively interested in the archeological studies of Provadia-Solnitsata, as well as in the activities of emergency conservation of the stone defensive walls and structures dated back to the Chalcolithic. During his visit on September 27, he was greeted by the head of the research team, Corr. Prof. Vasil Nikolov from NAIM - BAS and was introduced with the latest scientific discoveries and the emergency conservation and restoration activities of the site.

Findings presenting the dreadful world of armed conflict

Findings presenting the dreadful world of armed conflict

24.09.2019г.

Among the wide variety of items that show the ingenuity of the inhabitants of Provadia-Solnitsata, there is one category that represents the terrifying world of armed conflict. The rich collection of over 500 bone and flint arrows, flinty spearheads, stone and flint axes, testify for the bloodsheds that were caused by the region's most significant natural feature - the salt springs and the stone salt that was made and stored behind the stone walls.

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The team
The team

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