Found Treasure: The Oldest Gold Treasure Known in the World

found treasure

Varna Burial: Grave 43

In 1972, while digging a trench for electrical wires, Rycho Marinov unintentionally discovered what is considered the oldest gold treasure known in the world today.  It is nicknamed the Varna Gold after the site where it was unearthed.

The Varna Necropolis, a gravesite in Varna, Bulgaria, is an ancient burial ground dating back to approx. 4500 BC (over 6500 years old!). It is here where numerous man-made gold artifacts, along with other incredible and historical relics were found.

The find challenged history.  It was believed by most archaeologists, that the time for when the graves dated back to, only small groups existed. These small groups were not believed to have been very well organized and were thought to live a simple life.

However, as excavations continued at Varna Necropolis, it became clear this maybe wasn’t the case.  Graves revealed a social hierarchy, and suggested there was a male leadership responsible for ruling and regulating a community of people living there.  It seemed there was a sophisticated division of those who were laborers, and those ruling.

The graves were showing a more established society of people lived during the time.  Excavations of the grounds uncovered that only a small number of burials held the majority of all the gold artifacts found.  Most of the graves consisted of very little wealth or gold inside them. This variance highly suggests a separation and ownership of wealth amongst the community.

One of the most remarkable graves, Grave 43, included a male skeleton adorned with an abundance of gold artifacts.  Gold beaded necklaces, gold earrings, gold pendants, gold bracelets, gold sheath for his penis, and other decorative gold relics, were worn by this presumably important member of the community. He is known to have sported some of the world’s oldest gold jewelry ever crafted.

While Grave 43 presented an elaborate and expensive burial, with a spectacular display of wealth, it was of the few.  As mentioned, most of the graves of the Varna Necropolis, over 300, (with more to be excavated yet today), contained only a few items, if any of gold.  Still, though, the site offers a glimpse into one of the earliest known buried and found treasures of gold.

A great mystery for the site exists, however. It is the question on what happened to the people living there?  The grave site covers a span of a few hundred years (4200BC-4600BC), and then nothing.  Further excavations of this area, and other surrounding areas, show settlements abruptly ending.  The people of the time vanish without leaving clues for why they were leaving.  There are not any signs of battles, land depletion, or widespread illnesses, and other explanation or evidence for why they left, is missing.

It is one mystery which might never become solved.


Best of luck with all that you seek!  Treasure the Adventure!


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7 Responses

  1. Twingem says:

    Thanks for sharing this Jenny. Interesting.

    I think the picture of the gold sheath between his legs leaves me a bit speechless. Must not have been cold where he lived because that would have been uncomfortable.

  2. Focused says:

    I agree Twingem… also it makes one wonder how much can be found beneath our feet. In some of the most unexpected places and what mysteries still wait to be found. Amazing story Jenny , thank you for sharing it with us….
    Until we meet again… see ya

  3. Buckeye Bob says:

    The arrangement of the items is curious.
    For example, those large gold discs around his head don’t seem to be something worn. More like a pillow decoration? Which seems to me to be a step beyond personal adornment and maybe an important clue to the social order.
    And there’s that stone mallet like thing thing on the golden rod, with another one of the same shape under it made of..something dark green. Curious.
    And all those gold buttons, as if he had worn a gold studded robe. Or were they simply spread over and around his corpse?

    That black disc, top left corner, is very curious.

  4. Spallies says:

    Cool Jenny… why are his eyes so perfectly round? Is that normal?

  5. Jenny Kile says:

    The image is a reconstruction of how the grave and items were found. The gold sheath does make one pause for a smile and say Wtheck? lol. As Buckeye Bob mentions, many of the Golden Beads and Discs are assumed to have been on clothing or other items that had deteriorated– leaving the gold treasures where they settled, but who knows?

    It is amazing to think how much treasure is yet to be found….. I love the thoughts…!

    As for his round eyes… I’m not sure…. more mystery!

  6. Twingem says:

    Yes, love a good mystery and a good solve.his vertebrae look in goid show. I could use a few!

  7. JC1117 says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Jenny. I had never heard of this.

    Very interesting burial. All that treasure going back to the Earth reminds me of Beowulf’s burial.

    Gold has always had immense value for mankind…so this man must have had a high social status to be buried with all that treasure…like the Egyptian Pharoahs.

    And I have a question. Sheath…or shot glass? 🙂 Just kidding. I REALLY do NOT want to know.

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