Development of the Chalcolithic Culture
The question quite rightly arises why a highly developed civilization, based on agriculture and cattle-breeding and whose main settlements were in Thrace, should be discovered here. An explanation can be put forward after the part played and the place taken by the Varna lakes in the development of the Chalcolithic culture are elucidated. In the last few decades, as the result of construction works of the shores of the lakes, traces have been found of about a dozen settlements which existed at that time on the Varna Necropolis. Up to the present day they are from three to eight metres below the present level of the water. For a long time it was assumed that they were the so-called pile dwellings, similar to those in Switzerland, France and Germany. But submarine excavations and researches have shown that it is a matter here of sunken settlements as a result of the rapid rise of the level of the sea. The exceptionally favorable position of the complex of settlements was a pre-condition for an active life. Being the best part of the region and with a deep bay on the western shore of the
Black Sea, the Varna lakes and their vicinity were also the most suitable place for contacts with the nomadic tribes in the northern areas bordering on the Black Sea and the steppes. The growth of metallurgy and brisk trading made it possible for the region to rise to a higher degree in social and economic respects. Along the valleys of the local rivers it was possible to penetrate dozens of kilometers inland, and through these valleys the raw materials of metal and flint to reach the coast of the Black Sea. There, in specialized workshops tools and ornamental objects were produced. Then, by means of coastal navigation these goods started on a long voyage to the valleys of the northern rivers and to areas lying on the Mediterranean Sea. Then the products of the local population also began to come along the valley of the Danube and gave a spur to the development of Central and Western Europe.
In throwing more light on the place of and the part played by the Varna Necropolis and on the appearance of the first European civilization, a parallel should be drawn with the already familiar Near East cultures in Asia Minor and Egypt. Relations with the region of Asia Minor date to the beginning of the sixth millennium BC, but later they were interrupted and the cultures developed independently.
It is difficult to compare the data, because of certain differences in the methods of dating, but according to the data obtained with radioactive carbon, in the present-day Bulgarian lands the pre-state form of organization took shape earlier than in Shumir and Egypt. The abrupt climatic and geographical changes that occurred at the end of the fifth millennium BC checked the natural development of the first highly developed human civilization by hundreds of years, and then it developed elsewhere, to the south of the Balkans and in the countries of the Western Mediterranean.