The Bulgarian Palaeolithic record is crucially important in understanding the nature of the early movement of modern humans, the development of the technology of the early Upper Palaeolithic and the disappearance of Neanderthals. Bulgaria has a very strong archaeological record, with several important sites that have a long history of excavation.
The PalaeoChron team is working with Dr Nikolay Sirakov (far right), of the National Institute of Archaeology with Museum in Sofia and Dr Jean-Luc Guadelli of the Universite of Bordeaux (second from left) on material from their excavations at the key site of Kozarnica and also at other sites including Temnata. Rachel Hopkins, the DPhil student on the PalaeoChron project, will be working on these sites as part of her research project, as well as others. We visited the National Institute of Archaeology with Museum for 3 days to discuss material, sites, results so far obtained and future work with Jean-Luc and Nikolay. It was an excellent trip and we learnt much.
Tom gave a talk on the second day. The museum sits opposite the office of the Bulgarian President. Prior to the talk we noticed a lot of soldiers marching and playing music to herald the arrival of the President of Malaysia. It was an official state visit. The lecture started at the precise moment another leader (President of Laos) arrived again to great fanfare. Loud marching music made it quite difficult for the audience to hear the speaker! Quite a strange experience and not one that we have ever had before.
The Kozarnica site is interesting because it has a very early Aurignacian/Gravettian level which has been difficult for archaeologists to properly interpret. There are indicators of Gravettian like points, as well as material that echoes the Emiran of the Near East. Scholars such as Tsenka Tsanova see possible evidence for a bridge between the Proto-Aurignacian of the west of Europe and the EUP industries of the Levant. It is a very important assemblage. Our aim of course is to produce a bullet-proof chronology, and we aim to do this by selecting good material and date it using the most rigorous techniques, as usual. The same applies for Temnata (bottom left).
It is very exciting to be back in Bulgaria and working on the Palaeolithic sequence here.