The Discovery of Old Europe

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford exhibits a remarkable exhibition of gold, pottery and archaeological finds from the prehistoric civilisation of the Danube Valley, southeast Europe . Before the invention of writing and the first cities of Mesopotamia and were established in 4500 BC, ‘Old Europe’ was among the most technologically advanced and sophisticated places in the world. Highlights of the exhibition include the earliest major assemblage of gold artefacts to be found in the world from the Varna cemetery, along with elaborate female figurines, stunning painted pottery and metalwork. Although archaeological work has taken place in the region since the end of the 19th century, there is little awareness of the wealth of its prehistoric cultural heritage due to the confines of the late 20th century ‘Cold War’. Today with new studies and international exhibitions, recognition of the early prehistory of southeastern Europe enters a new exciting era.