Prehistoric flint sourcing in NW Bulgaria and NE Serbia: Field survey and laboratory analyses

The project focuses on the identification of flint sources, used by prehistoric communities in the areas of northwest Bulgaria and northeast Serbia, by means of field survey and archaeometric analyses (LA-ICP-MS analyses). The aim of this research will be to reconstruct networks of acquisition of flint raw material along the Danube’s southern bank and in its immediate hinterland within the study area throughout early prehistory. In particular this research will address the question of diachronic changes from the Palaeolithic to the end of the Neolithic period in the study region with regard to the availability of certain types of raw material used by prehistoric populations. The chosen study area in the Danube Gorges is the only place in the eastern and central Balkans where one could research diachronic changes due to the existence of sites dated from the Upper Palaeolithic through the Neolithic within the same general area. On the other hand, NW Bulgaria is the most promising place for flint raw material prospecting. After this initial pilot research phase, we expect that this project will generate enough information in order to expand the research in the future to the northern bank of the Danube, i.e. the areas of present-day southwest Romania as well as to other regions in Bulgaria.

The risk element of the suggested project relates to the uncertainties of finding the potential locations of flint outcrops in the region as well as in matching archaeological flint with the one from mining sites. Furthermore, the methodology of flint characterization is still being developed and it remains to be proven as a useful analytical tool by providing a robust sample of analyzed specimens of both archaeological and naturally occurring flint. Only after this initial phase of research will it be possible to develop more developed research projects encompassing a wider catchment zone of potential mining sites.

Project proposal Pi: 
Dusan Boric, Cardiff University, and Maria Gurova, National Institute of Archaeology with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences