- SOFIA (AP) -- A recently
unearthed sacrificial altar where ancient villagers left offerings to their
gods may be up to 8,000-years-old, making it the oldest of its kind found
in Europe, a Bulgarian archeologist said Thursday.
- The altar was discovered earlier this week in a mound
that contained many traces of Stone and Copper Age settlements near the
village of Kapitan Dimitrievo, some 100 kilometres southeast of the capital,
- "The archeological layer where the sacrificial altar
was found dates back to 6,000 BC," said Vasil Nikolov, the head of
the excavation team.
- "In the fifth and sixth millennium BC, these lands
used to be Europe's civilization core," Mr. Nikolov said. "The
people who lived there were among the first farmers in Europe."
- The altar is 1.85 metres deep. Three steps lead to the
bottom of the cylindrical hole where religious rituals were performed.
- "The cylindrical bottom of the altar is meant to
symbolize the womb of the Mother Goddess of Earth," he said. "The
religious rituals ñ mainly food sacrifices ñ were supposed
to secure a rich harvest."
- In the mound's earliest Neolithic layer, the archeologists
discovered an ancient wood and clay lodging with three rooms, a grain depot
and a domed fireplace. The sacrificial altar, where people left offerings
of grain and cereals, was found near the fireplace.
- "An altar well of such dimensions dating back to
the sixth millennium BC is a first-time discovery in Europe," Mr.
- The mound where the altar was found is 13 metres high,
with a diameter of 140 metres.
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