Tiny bead from Bulgaria may be world's oldest gold artefact

A 15-centigrams gold bead is pictured in village of Yunatsite

It may be just a tiny gold bead – 4 mm (1/8 inch) in diameter – but it is an enormous discovery for Bulgarian archaeologists who say they have found Europe’s – and probably the world’s – oldest gold artefact.

The bead, found at a pre-historic settlement in southern Bulgaria, dates back to 4,500-4,600 B.C., the archaeologists say, making it some 200 years older than jewellery from a Copper Age necropolis in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna, the oldest processed gold previously unearthed, in 1972.

“I have no doubt that it is older than the Varna gold,” Yavor Boyadzhiev, associated professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Science, said.

“It’s a really important discovery. It is a tiny piece of gold but big enough to find its place in history.”

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