Archaeologists Unearth Advanced Early Modern Human Stone Projectiles in South Africa
Wed, Nov 07, 2012
Finds dated to 71,000 years ago imply early modern human behavioral complexity began in southern coastal regions of South Africa.
At a site called Pinnacle Point near Mossel Bay on the south coast of South Africa, a team of scientists have uncovered evidence for an advanced stone age technology dated to 71,000 years ago. The technology, featuring small, sharp stone implements called microliths, allow projectiles used for hunting to be thrown at greater distances, enhancing killing power and providing for greater protection to the thrower from injury when encountering game. The technology is known to have emerged in other regions, including both Africa and Eurasia, about 20,000 years ago.
As reported in the article "An Early and Enduring Advanced Technology Originating 71,000 Years Ago in South Africa" in the November 7 issue of the journal Nature, the findings lend further support to the theory that early modern human behavioral complexity may have first evolved in the coastal regions of South Africa.
"Every time we excavate a new site in coastal South Africa with advanced field techniques, we discover new and surprising results that push back in time the evidence for uniquely human behaviors," said co-author Curtis Marean, project director and Arizona State University professor in the Institute of Human Origins, a research center of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.
The technology was based on the methodical production of long, thin blades of stone that were then blunted (called "backing") on one edge so that they could be glued into slots carved in wood or bone. This created light armaments for use as projectiles, either as arrows in bow and arrow technology, or more likely as spear throwers (atlatls). They provide a significant advantage over hand cast spears, so when faced with a fierce animal or competing human, having a projectile weapon of this type increases the killing reach of the hunter and lowers the risk of injury. The stone used to produce these special blades was carefully transformed for easier flaking by a complex process called "heat treatment," a technological advance also appearing early in coastal South Africa and reported by the same research team in 2009.
"Good things come in small packages," said Kyle Brown, a skilled stone tool replicator and co-author on the paper, who is an honorary research associate with the University of Cape Town, South Africa. "When we started to find these very small carefully made tools, we were glad that we had saved and sorted even the smallest of our sieved materials. At sites excavated less carefully, these microliths may have been discarded in the back dirt or never identified in the lab."
Producing the projectiles requires a sophisticated and well-thought process that, according to many scientists, reflect a behavioral complexity more closely akin to modern hunter-gatherer groups in the world today. The artifacts thus suggest that, at least by 71,000 years ago and given other findings from other locations throughout South Africa, perhaps as far back as over 100,000 years ago, the humans became "modern" humans as was represented, for example, by Cro-Magnons in prehistoric Europe tens of thousands of years later.
Prior work has indicated that the microlithic technology appeared briefly between 65,000 and 60,000 years ago during a worldwide glacial phase, and then it was thought to vanish, thus supporting what many scientists have come to accept as a "flickering" pattern of advanced technologies in Africa. The so-called flickering nature of the pattern was thought to result from small populations struggling during harsh climate phases, inventing technologies, and then losing them due to chance occurrences wiping out the artisans with the special knowledge.
But some scientists challenge this scenario. "Eleven thousand years of continuity is, in reality, an almost unimaginable time span for people to consistently make tools the same way," said Marean. "This is certainly not a flickering pattern."
These researchers suggest that the flickering effect is more likely a function of the small sample of well-excavated sites in Africa. Because of this small sample, each new site has a high probability of adding a novel observation. The African sample is a tiny fraction of the known European sample from the same time period.
Pinnacle Point preserves about 14 meters of archaeological sediment dating from approximately 90,000 to 50,000 years ago. The documentation of the age and span of the technology was made possible by an unprecedented fieldwork commitment of nine, two-month seasons (funded by the National Science Foundation and Hyde Family Foundation) where every observed item related to human behavior was plotted directly to a computer using a "total station." A total station is a surveying instrument that digitally captures points where items are found to create a 3D model of the excavation. Almost 200,000 finds have been plotted to date, and excavations continue. This was joined to over 75 optically stimulated luminescence dates by project geochronologist Zenobia Jacobs at the University of Wollongong (Australia), creating the highest resolution stone-age sequence from this time span.
"As an archaeologist and scientist, it is a privilege to work on a site that preserves a near perfect layered sequence capturing almost 50,000 years of human prehistory," said Brown, who codirected excavations at the site. "Our team has done a remarkable job of identifying some of the subtle but important clues to just how innovative these early humans on the south coast were."
The findings lend support to theories related to the later stages of human evolution.
"When Africans left Africa and entered Neanderthal territory they had projectiles with greater killing reach, and these early moderns probably also had higher levels of pro-social (hyper-cooperative) behavior. These two traits were a knockout punch. Combine them, as modern humans did and still do, and no prey or competitor is safe," said Marean. "This probably laid the foundation for the expansion out of Africa of modern humans and the extinction of many prey as well as our sister species such as Neanderthals."
Information Source: This article was adapted and edited from an Arizona State University Press Release.
Israeli archaeologists ponder possible whodunit
Reuters – Thu, Nov 8, 2012
Israeli archaeologists are scratching their heads over a possible 8,500-year-old murder mystery after discovering two skeletons at the bottom of an ancient well.
Flint sickle blades and arrowheads found in the eight-meter (26 foot)-deep Stone Age well in the Jezreel Valley in Israel's Galilee region, suggest it was used by the area's first farmers.
But archaeologists cannot explain why the skeletal remains of a woman, believed by archaeologists to have been aged about 19, and those of an older man were also uncovered deep inside the now-dry well.
"How did these come to be in the well? Was this an accident or perhaps murder? As of now the answer to this question remains a mystery," the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.
YotamTepper, who directed the excavation on behalf of the Authority, said that "what is clear, is that after these unknown individuals fell into the well, it was no longer used for the simple reason that the well water was contaminated and was no longer potable".
(Writing by Jeffrey Heller, editing by Paul Casciato)
Iceman was Central Europe native, new research finds
Genetic testing backs theory that Stone Age farmers spread widely in prehistoric times
A new genetic analysis reveals that Öetzi the Iceman is most closely related to modern-day Sardinians.
By Tia Ghose
11/9/2012 11:41:37 AM ET
Ötzi the Iceman, an astonishingly well-preserved Neolithic mummy found in the Italian Alps in 1991, was a native of Central Europe, not a first-generation émigré from Sardinia, new research shows. And genetically, he looked a lot like other Stone Age farmers throughout Europe.
The new findings, reported Thursday here at the American Society of Human Genetics conference, support the theory that farmers, and not just the technology of farming, spread during prehistoric times from the Middle East all the way to Finland.
"The idea is that the spread of farming and agriculture, right now we have good evidence that it was also associated with a movement of people and not only technology," said study co-author Martin Sikora, a geneticist at Stanford University.
In what may be the world's oldest cold case, Ötzi was pierced by an arrow and bled to death on a glacier in the Alps between Austria and Italy more than 5,000 years ago.
Scientists sequenced Ötzi's genome earlier this year, yielding a surprising result: The Iceman was more closely related to present-day Sardinians than he was to present-day Central Europeans.
But the researchers sequenced only part of the genome, and the results didn't resolve an underlying question: Did most of the Neolithic people in Central Europe have genetic profiles more characteristic of Sardinia, or had Ötzi's family recently emigrated from Southern Europe?
"Maybe Ötzi was just a tourist, maybe his parents were Sardinian and he decided to move to the Alps," Sikora said.
That would have required Ötzi's family to travel hundreds of miles, an unlikely prospect, Sikora said.
"Five thousand years ago, it's not really expected that our populations were so mobile," Sikora told LiveScience.
To answer that question, Sikora's team sequenced Ötzi's entire genome and compared it with those from hundreds of modern-day Europeans, as well as the genomes of a Stone Age hunter-gatherer found in Sweden, a farmer from Sweden, a 7,000-year-old hunter-gatherer iceman found in Iberia and an Iron Age man found in Bulgaria.
The team confirmed that, of modern people, Sardinians are Ötzi's closest relatives. But among the prehistoric quartet, Ötzi most closely resembled the farmers found in Bulgaria and Sweden, while the Swedish and Iberian hunter-gatherers looked more like present-day Northern Europeans.
The findings support the notion that people migrating from the Middle East all the way to Northern Europe brought agriculture with them and mixed with the native hunter-gatherers, enabling the population to explode, Sikora said.
While the traces of these ancient migrations are largely lost in most of Europe, Sardinian islanders remained more isolated and therefore retain larger genetic traces of those first Neolithic farmers, Sikora said.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence showing that farming played a major role in shaping the people of Europe, said Chris Gignoux, a geneticist at the University of California San Francisco, who was not involved in the study.
"I think it's really intriguing," Gignoux said. "The more that people are sequencing these ancient genomes from Europe, that we're really starting to see the impact of farmers moving into Europe."
Ancient Roman Giant Found—Oldest Complete Skeleton With Gigantism
At six feet, six inches, he would have towered over his contemporaries.
Photograph by SimonaMinozzi, Endocrine Society
for National Geographic News
Published November 9, 2012
It's no tall tale—the first complete ancient skeleton of a person with gigantism has been discovered near Rome, a new study says.
At 6 feet, 8 inches (202 centimeters) tall, the man would have been a giant in third-century A.D. Rome, where men averaged about 5 and a half feet (167 centimeters) tall. By contrast, today's tallest man measures 8 feet, 3 inches (251 centimeters).
Finding such skeletons is rare, because gigantism itself is extremely rare, today affecting about three people in a million worldwide. The condition begins in childhood, when a malfunctioning pituitary gland causes abnormally growth.
Two partial skeletons, one from Poland and another from Egypt, have previously been identified as "probable" cases of gigantism, but the Roman specimen is the first clear case from the ancient past, study leader SimonaMinozzi, a paleopathologist at Italy's University of Pisa, said by email.
Piecing Together a Giant
The unusual skeleton was found in 1991 during an excavation at a necropolis in Fidenae (map), a territory indirectly managed by Rome.
At the time, the Archaeological Superintendence of Rome, which led the project, noted that the man's tomb was abnormally long. It was only during a later anthropological examination, though, that the bones too were found to be unusual. Shortly thereafter, they were sent to Minozzi's group for further analysis.
To find out if the skeleton had gigantism, the team examined the bones and found evidence of skull damage consistent with a pituitary tumor, which disrupts the pituitary gland, causing it to overproduce human growth hormone.
Other findings—such as disproportionately long limbs and evidence that the bones were still growing even in early adulthood—support the gigantism diagnosis, according to the study, published October 2 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
His early demise—likely between 16 and 20—might also point to gigantism, which is associated with cardiovascular disease and respiratory problems, said Minozzi, who emphasized that the cause of death remains unknown. (Explore an interactive of the human body.)
A Giant of the Stage?
Charlotte Roberts, a bioarchaeologist at the U.K.'s Durham University, said she's "certainly convinced with the diagnosis" of gigantism. But she'd like to know more.
"You can't just study the disease, you have to look at the wider impact of how people functioned in society, and whether they were treated any differently," Roberts said.
Goods buried with a body, for example, can offer hints to the person's role in life and how they were treated in their community.
The Roman giant, though, was found with no funerary artifacts, study leader Minozzi said. And, she added, his burial was typical of the time, suggesting he was included as part of society.
"We know nothing about the role or presence of giants in the Roman world," she said—other than the fact that the second century A.D. emperor MaximinusThrax was described in literature as a "human mountain."
Minozzi noted, though, that imperial Roman high society "developed a pronounced taste for entertainers with evident physical malformations, such as hunchbacks and dwarfs—so we can assume that even a giant generated enough interest and curiosity."
Whatever the Roman giant's lot in life, the information to be gleaned after his death might someday further science.
"Normally a doctor will be looking at a patient with a disease over short term span," Durham University's Roberts said. "We've been able to look at skeletons from archaeological sites that are thousands of years old. You can start to look at trends of how diseases have changed in frequency over time." (See pictures of ancient Egyptian mummies with heart disease.)
If by studying ancient remains "we can teach the living and help them plan for the future," she said, "that's a good thing."
A mammoth find in France provides evidence of a savage demise
Neanderthals may have dealt killer blow
JOHN LICHFIELD CHANGIS-SUR-MARNE FRIDAY 09 NOVEMBER 2012
The first complete mammoth skeleton to be found in France for more than a century has been uncovered in a gravel pit on the banks of the Marne 30 miles north-east of Paris.
The find, first made in July but kept secret until this week, has yielded a second, even more exciting, discovery. Two tiny fragments of flint blade have been found embedded in the mammoth's skull close to one of its tusks.
Archeologists speculated, when they first found "Helmut le Mammouth" that he had come to a sticky end between 130,000 and 190,000 years ago. They concluded that the animal, maybe 9ft high and weighing up to five tonnes, had foundered on soft mud or quicksand.
Now another possibility arises. The mammoth could have been attacked by one of the bands of Neanderthal men and women who wandered over the European tundra in the cold, dry period between two ice ages more than a thousand centuries ago. The predecessors and distant cousins of Homo sapiens must, at the very least, have feasted on the mammoth's carcass, possibly some time after its death.
"What we have found here is a moment in pre-history in an absolutely extraordinary state of preservation," said Pascal Depaepe, technical director of the French national institute for preventative archeology, INRAP. "It is my belief that the mammoth was butchered by Neanderthals on this spot. Whether the animal was hunted down by them, or found dead some time later, we may never be able to tell. The concept of rotten meat is, after all, a relatively modern idea."
No complete, or almost complete, mammoth skeleton has been found in France since the late 19th century. Only two other Paleolithic sites in western Europe have produced signs of human activity directly linked to mammoth remains. Both are in Germany.
In the next few days, the remains of "Helmut" will be removed from the gravel quarry at Changis-sur-Marne, just north of Meaux, in the Île-de-France. Archeologists and zoologists are nor sure yet whether the creature was a "small male or a large female".
"The bones have to be removed from the site rapidly because they could be damaged by exposure to the elements," said StéphanePéan, a paleo-zoologist from the Muséum National d'HistoireNaturelle in Paris. Eventually, it is hoped that it will be possible to reassemble Helmut and put him, or her, on display at the museum in Paris.
The woolly mammoth was about the size of its distant relative, the Asian elephant. From roughly 190,000 years ago until the demise of the last herds in Siberia 10,000 years ago, they roamed North America, Siberia and Europe.
Nov 9th, 2012 Archaeology | By Sergio Prostak
New Study Reveals First Polynesians Arrived in Tonga around 826 BC
Archaeologists, using new high-precision techniques, have come to the conclusion that first settlers arrived in Polynesia almost 2,900 years ago.
Polynesia was one of the last places on our planet to be settled by humans. In 2008, Prof David Burley of Simon Fraser University in Canada and his team claimed that Tonga was the first group of islands in the region to be settled by migrants – the Lapita people – some 3,000 years ago, and that Nukuleka, a small village on the coast of the Tonga’s Tongatapu Island, was their first settlement.
In a recent study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, the team has revealed that the first settlers lived in Nukuleka between 2830 to 2846 years ago.
To arrive at this precise figure, the researchers used a high-precision technique to estimate the age of coral files that Lapita people used to sculpt and smooth wood and shell surfaces.
This image shows pristine, upper, and used, lower, surfaces of an Acropora coral file used to sculpt and smooth wood and shell surfaces (David Burley et al)
“High precision U/Th dates of Acropora coral files from Nukuleka give unprecedented resolution, identifying the founder event by 2838±8 BP and documenting site development over the ensuing 250 years,” the archaeologists said.
“This degree of precision is impossible using radiocarbon and other dating techniques. It provides significant new opportunities for our understanding of the exploration and settlement of the far distant islands spread across the South Pacific,” Dr Burley explained.
Bibliographic information: David Burley et al. 2012. High Precision U/Th Dating of First Polynesian Settlement.PLoS ONE 7(11): e48769; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048769
Archaeologists explore site on Syria-Turkey border
By Christopher Torchia/The Associated Press
Nov. 8, 2012 7:36 p.m.
Few archaeological sites seem as entwined with conflict, ancient and modern, as the city of Karkemish.
The scene of a battle mentioned in the Bible, it lies smack on the border between Turkey and Syria, where civil war rages today. Twenty-first century Turkish sentries occupy an acropolis dating back more than 5,000 years, and the ruins were recently demined. Visible from crumbling, earthen ramparts, a Syrian rebel flag flies in a town that regime forces fled just months ago.
A Turkish-Italian team is conducting the most extensive excavations there in nearly a century, building on the work of British Museum teams that included T.E. Lawrence, the adventurer known as Lawrence of Arabia. The plan is to open the site along the Euphrates river to tourists in late 2014.
The strategic city, its importance long known to scholars because of references in ancient texts, was under the sway of Hittites and other imperial rulers and independent kings. However, archaeological investigation there was halted by World War I, and then by hostilities between Turkish nationalists and French colonizers from Syria who built machine gun nests in its ramparts. Part of the frontier was mined in the 1950s, and in later years, creating deadly obstacles to archaeological inquiry at a site symbolic of modern strife and intrigue.
“All this is very powerfully represented by Karkemish,” said Nicolo’ Marchetti, a professor of archaeology and art history of the Ancient Near East at the University of Bologna. He is the project director at Karkemish, where the Turkish military let archaeologists resume work last year for the first time since its troops occupied the site about 90 years ago.
At around the same time, the Syrian uprising against President Bashar Assad was escalating. More than 100,000 Syrian refugees are sheltering in Turkish camps, and cross-border shelling last month sharpened tension between Syria and Turkey, which backs the rebellion along with its Western and Arab allies. NuhKocaslan, mayor of the nearby Turkish town of Karkamis, said he hoped the Syrian war would end “as soon as possible so that our region can find calm,” and that the area urgently needs revenue from tourists, barred for now from Karkemish because it is designated a military zone.
Archaeologists say they felt secure during a 10-week season of excavation on the Turkish side of Karkemish that ended in late October. One big eruption of gunfire from the Syrian side turned out to be part of a wedding celebration. The team arrived in August, one month after Syrian insurgents ousted troops from the Syrian border town of Jarablous. A Syrian government airstrike near Jarablous killed at least eight people that same month.
About one-third of the 90-hectare (222-acre) archaeological site lies inside Syria and is therefore off-limits; construction and farming in Jarablous have encroached on what was the outer edge of the ancient city. Most discoveries have been made on what is now Turkish territory.
When a British team began work in 1911, the undivided area was part of the weakening Ottoman Empire. Germans nearby were constructing the Berlin-Baghdad railway, which traverses the ancient site along the border. Archaeologist C.L. Woolley and his assistant, Lawrence, found basalt and limestone slabs carved with soldiers, chariots, animals and kings; many are displayed today in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, the Turkish capital. The remains of palaces and temples were also uncovered.
A 1913 photograph shows Woolley and Lawrence at Karkemish. They appear to squint in harsh sunlight. Lawrence’s hands rest, partly clenched, over his bare knees. He wears Western dress.
Lawrence wrote letters about making casts of Hittite inscriptions, mending pottery, photographing items, settling “blood feuds” among workers on the dig, a foray into gun-running in Beirut, and a sense of wonder on a visit to nearby Aleppo, today the scene of fierce battles in Syria’s civil war.
“Aleppo is all compact of colour, and sense of line: you inhale Orient in lungloads, and glut your appetite with silks and dyed fantasies of clothes,” he wrote. “Today there came in through the busiest vault in the bazaar a long caravan of 100 mules of Baghdad, marching in line rhythmically to the boom of two huge iron bells swinging under the belly of the foremost.”
Lawrence later acquired fame for his role in an Arab revolt against the Ottomans, who allied with the Germans during World War I. Photographs of Lawrence in Arab garb, his later writing, and eventually the cinema epic “Lawrence of Arabia” elevated his legend.
The Bible’s Jeremiah refers to Karkemish for a battle there in which the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar II, defeated the Assyrians and their Egyptian allies. Invading forces sacked the city on several other occasions. Irene Winter, an archaeologist who visited Karkemish in 1974 and recently retired from Harvard University, said the place was significant as a “hub of all east-west traffic” and “a powerful, crucial juncture in the topography of movement and trade and military activity.”
In the ruins of the excavation house of its British predecessors, the Turkish-Italian team discovered old archaeological tools, statue fragments and a Roman mosaic. Elsewhere, they found a bronze cylinder seal inscribed with hieroglyphs that belonged to a town official and a bronze statuette of a god with a double-horned tiara and a skirt, along with a silver dagger set into the left hand.
“You do feel a connection with what has been written, with what has been found and, of course, with the people who were here,” said Marchetti, whose team used a laser scanner to create digital models of artifacts. It got a more complete picture with satellite imagery as well as aerial photos taken from a kite.
The British only excavated a small area of Karkemish, and the Turkish military occupation shielded the site from smugglers, suggesting its archaeological potential remains vast. Despite the many finds, there are gaps in the understanding of the city’s chronology.
Philologist HasanPeker of Istanbul University, deputy director of the project, said he hoped to find the city’s “royal archives” dating from the height of the Hittite empire more than 3,000 years ago. The team has asked the Turkish military for access to the acropolis, where a watch tower stands.
A demining agency from Azerbaijan helped Turkey to remove anti-tank and anti-personnel mines around Karkemish under a program to rid the nation’s borders of minefields, mostly near Syria. There remains a statistical risk of mine blasts, however remote. The new team, which includes university students, sticks to approved paths. Plans for tourist facilities include paths with rails on both sides to ensure the safety of visitors.
In 2009 and 2010, Prof. Tony Wilkinson, an archaeologist at Durham University in Britain, participated in a survey of the Syrian side of Karkemish. He could not return in 2011 because of the uprising. As late as May this year, Wilkinson said, Syrian colleagues from the archaeological museum in Aleppo reported that they were checking the Karkemish site.
Since then, fierce fighting has swept Aleppo. Contact has faded. Last month, Wilkinson received a nighttime telephone call from Syria.
“It didn’t get through. They tried to call me and I tried to call back,” he said. “Communications with Syria are very, very difficult.”
Suzan Fraser contributed from Ankara, Turkey.
Thracian Gold Treasure Discovered in Bulgaria
Published November 10, 2012
A golden horse head—an ornament from one end of a long-gone iron horse bit—is part of a 2,400-year-old treasure recently discovered in an ancient Thracian tomb in Sveshtari, Bulgaria, archaeologists announced Thursday.
The Thracians were ruled by a warrior aristocracy that had access to plentiful gold deposits at the mouth of the Danube River, which contained one of the largest ancient supplies of the metal. They enjoyed a vibrant trade with their neighbors, including the Scythians to the north, and the Greeks to the south—a fact reflected in Thracian art.
"The styles that have been found in Thracian art and Thracian gold represent a mix of Scythian, Greek, and Macedonian cultures, and of course Thracian culture itself," said U.S. archaeologist and National Geographic fellow Fredrik Hiebert, who was not involved in the discovery.
Bulgaria has a long history of gold metallurgy. "There are sites on the Bulgarian coast that are literally thousands of years older than any other culture that used gold in a ritual fashion," Hiebert said.
In 1972, for example, a worker discovered a 6,000-year-old necropolis near the Bulgarian city of Varna that was filled with graves containing the oldest known gold hoard ever found. (See "At 'Europe's Oldest Town,' Unusual Fortifications Hint at Prehistoric Riches.")
Ancient Thracian gold hoard unearthed
November 9 2012 at 03:30pm
Sofia - Bulgarian archaeologists unearthed ancient golden artefacts, including bracelets with snake heads, a tiara with animal motifs and a horse head piece during excavation works at a Thracian tomb in northern Bulgaria, they said on Thursday.
The new golden artefacts are dated back to the end of the fourth or the beginning of the third century BC and were found in the biggest of 150 ancient tombs of a Thracian tribe, the Getae, that was in contact with the Hellenistic world.
The findings also included a golden ring, 44 applications of female figures as well as 100 golden buttons.
“These are amazing findings from the apogee of the rule of the Getae,” said Diana Gergova, head of the archaeologist team at the site of the ancient Getic burial complex situated near the village of Sveshtari, some 400km northeast from Sofia.
“From what we see up to now, the tomb may be linked with the first known Getic ruler Cothelas,” said Gergova, a renown researcher of Thracian culture with the Sofia-based National Archaeology Institute.
One of the tombs there, known as the Tomb of Sveshtari, is included in the World Heritage List of UN education and culture agency, Unesco, for its unique architectural decor with half-human, half-plant female figures and painted murals.
The Thracians, ruled by a powerful warrior aristocracy rich in gold treasures, inhabited an area extending over modern Romania and Bulgaria, northern Greece and the European part of Turkey from as early as 4,000 BC.
They lived on the fringes of the Greek and Roman civilisations, often intermingling and clashing with the more advanced cultures until they were absorbed into the Roman Empire around 45 AD.
Archaeologists have discovered a large number of artefacts in Bulgaria's Thracian tombs in recent decades, providing most of what is known of their culture, as they had no written language and left no enduring records.