Bulgaria is not a big country on land. But definitely it is a big country on culture history and culture.
Bulgaria occupies a territory of 111,000 square kilometres, has a population of 9 million and is situated in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula. It is a country of roses, staunch revolutionaries, famous singers and dancers. Its people are famous for their industriousness and hospitality.
A land of Ancient Civilizations
The Bulgarian state was founded in the year 681. Bulgaria is not only one of the oldest European states, but also a land in which man has appeared very early – some 150,000 years ago. Not far from the city of Stara Zagora (beginning of the rose valley only 35 km away from Kazanlak with the rose festival), Central Bulgaria, the world’s oldest and biggest copper mines have been discovered. They were exploited in the late 5th and early 4th millennium B. C. Metal tools ensured a labor productivity which was 30 times higher than that of stone tools, and their appearance brought about a veritable revolution in the development of human society. Besides, favorable climatic conditions made possible the comparatively early appearance of animal husbandry and plant-growing, which enriched the diet and made surer the existence of primitive man. Wheat was grown in the Balkans as early as the end of the 7th millennium B. C. and it was from here that it was spread to the rest of Europe.
The good climatic and material conditions determined the appearance on the territory of present-day Bulgaria of some of the earliest civilizations in history. Recently a gold trove was unearthed near the city of Varna, dating from the end of the 5th and early 4th millennium B. C. It is a proof not only of a high level of development of the crafts but also of an advanced stage of social stratification. The clay tablets with written signs on them found near the town of Vratsa, North-western Bulgaria, date back to approximately the same period.
The Thracians were the first population inhabiting the territory of present-day Bulgaria, known to science. In the works of the ancient Greek authors they are described as a numerous people, and Thrace – as a land of abundance and merriment. Thrace was the native land of the mythical musician Orpheus and of Spartacus, the leader of the slaves’ uprising which shook the Roman Empire early in our era. During the past few decades Bulgarian archaeologists have unearthed imposing tombs with magnificent frescoes, impregnable strongholds, workshops and exquisite gold jewels and vessels.
After the 7th century B. C. a considerable number of colonies of the Greek poleis (city-states) were founded along the Thracian Black Sea coast. They started an animated trade and cultural exchange with the hinterland, thus creating a second cultural layer on the present-day Bulgarian territory – of another brilliant ancient civilization – that of the Greeks.