Late Copper Age settlement ZAMINEC (4200-4000 BC)

The prehistoric settlement of Zaminec represents a typical example for settlement structures covering for more than 1000 years the whole Balkan area (5000-4000 BC). What is more it keeps evidences for the invasion of steppe tribes that destroyed flourishing Balkan civilizations of Copper age in the end of fifth millennium BC.

It is the only excavated site belonging to the Late Copper age in NW Bulgaria (although all registered sites there amount on 150). The results of its complete excavation will come to show the destiny of Central Balkan Chalcolitic cultures and probably will resolve the case: Did these cultures collapse completely as their Eastern neighbors opening place for expansion of steppe (Indo-European) culture or despite their decadence further development of local tribes mixed with steppe newcomers.

The prehistoric settlement of Zaminec lies in a picturesque valley in the Southern foothills of Veslets Mountain, some 7 km northwestern from Mezdra. Zaminec is actually a natural rocky hilltop surrounded by several karsts springs. Sheer cliffs rising up to 16m naturally protect it. Being a slope the eastern side is more accessible.

First excavations in 1973 covered an area of 500sq.m. In 2003 (after 30 year time gap) new excavations were initiated - they covered humble 50sq.m. The main results from both excavation campaigns come to show following: cultural layer of the site has an average depth of 0.80 m. and consists of three fired horizons. After first and second fires destroying almost whole settlement inhabitants backed and built their houses again on the same place they took before. The artifacts found belong to the Late Chalcolitic culture: Krivodol-Salcuta - Bubanj Hum Ia (spread out to present day NW Bulgaria, Eastern Serbia and SW Romania between 4500-4000 BC). Any findings belong to earlier epochs but during 2003 were found too many evidences for the presence of steppe invaders' culture in that site (low quality shell pottery, flint weapons etc.). We still don't know whether these traces mark a cultural diffusion or direct invasion about 4000-3900 BC.

The excavations in 1973 and 2003 discovered destructions of 12 dwellings and parts of fortification: a trench and a wall of stakes and wattle. All the dwellings found in Zaminec were aboveground, rectangular in shape (average 6m x 4,5m). Distance between them varied from 2 to 4m. Narrow streets (maximum 5 m wide) crossed the settlement. The Zaminec dwellings consist of one multifunctional room used simultaneously as living space, store and workshop.

A large number of tools and weapons were found in and out the dwellings excavated as well as in the trash pits behind each house. Axes, knives, scrapers, files, beaters, smoothers, whetstones, augers, chisels, hammers and arrowheads were made of flint, stone, bone, horn, clay and copper.

However, pottery fragments remain between most characteristic and interesting findings. Zaminec inhabitants both produced and imported vessels. The fine pottery production reached high level of proficiency, especially in further diversification of forms being spherical, conic, biconic or ascogonic and ornamentation covering often entire vessels - it consists of incised and pricked motifs, rhythmically, sparingly and modestly placed. Motifs painted with graphite, white, red, light brown and yellow mineral paints are also widespread.

In 2003 within the settlement was discovered first Late Copper age intramural necropolis in NW Bulgaria. 5 simple inhumatios with poor funeral inventar were studied. Of course in the last day of excavations was found inhumation of a woman with big beads-bracelet.



Publications

Г. Ганецовски, И. Василев, К. Лука. Археологически проучвания на късохалколитното селище в м. “Заминец”, с. Горна Кремена, община Мездра. – Археологически открития и разкопки през 2003 г., София, 2004, 40-41.



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