Archive for April 6th, 2021

3,000-year-old duck vessel found in Bulgaria

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

A pottery vessel shaped like a duck or another water bird has been discovered in a Bronze Age grave near the town of Baley, northwestern Bulgaria. The vessel is an exceptional example of the highly decorated ceramics produced by the Encrusted Pottery culture, a Bronze Age people that settled the Lower Danube. Their graves are replete with the highly decorated and varied pottery after which the culture is named.

The Baley settlement was inhabited for about 400 years in the 2nd millennium B.C. Its necropolis was discovered by accident 40 years ago and archaeologists have been excavating it ever since. Baley is the only Bronze Age site in Bulgaria where the necropolis can be conclusively linked to a nearby settlement.

The 2020 dig unearthed 15 new graves richly furnished with the characteristic ceramics of the Encrusted Pottery culture, bringing the number of graves discovered at the necropolis up to 132 and making it the largest known Bronze Age necropolis in the Lower Danube region. Of the 15 newly-excavated graves, two date to the first half of the 2nd millennium B.C., 13 to the second half. Eight of them were intact with grave goods and cinerary remains.

“The Baley Bronze Age necropolis is offering [us new] information about the burials rites of the [earliest Ancient] Thracians and their beliefs and aesthetic sense. [The archaeological team] has found very richly decorated vessels. They were used simultaneously as burial gifts and urns in family tombs. The remains of adults and children were placed next to one another,” says [archaeologist Kamen] Boyadzhiev who was not part of the 2020 Baley field research team.

“A finely crafted vessel in the shape of a bird with rich encrusted decoration has made a very strong impression [from among the newest Baley necropolis finds],” he emphasizes. […]

The archaeological team explains that the remarkable bird-shaped encrusted ceramic vessel, which seems like a duck, has been found inside an urn.

“The other [impressive burial] structure consists of three urn vessel preserving the remains of the dead [which were] covered with lid bowls. Among the urns the ancient people had placed three vessels with tall handles and another bowl. In one of the urns, [we] discovered a vessel in the shape of a bird and a bone needle, and in another one – two bronze hair pendants,” the researchers elaborate.

Duck-shaped vessel found in Encrusted Pottery Culture grave, ca. 3,000 years old. Photo by National Institute and Museum of Archaeology.

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