The artifact was found in a settlement dating from the transitional period from the Stone Age to the Copper Age. The excavation was conducted near the town of Bata, Panagyurishte municipality, in south-central Bulgaria.
It is a prehistoric clay tablet, about 7000 years old. It is covered with carvings, which, according to archaeologists, are the so-called protoscript. The term was introduced in the 1960s after archaeologists found three adobe clay tablets with mysterious signs in Romania.
Even then, scientists suggested that the engravings on these tablets could be a means of communicating information, that is, it was prehistoric writing. It is not possible to decipher such messages. They were created by people who did not have and did not know the alphabet. However, perhaps in the near future, artificial intelligence will help scientists to translate these "texts.
To date, it is not reliably proven that these ancient signs were a very early form of transmission of information in written form. However, over the last 60 years similar tablets have been repeatedly found on both sides of the Balkan Mountains.
There is even a certain classification of such artifacts, with the oldest of them being 8000 years old. Most of these plates have the same elliptical shape. Some of them contain images of animals, but in most cases ancient "scribes" limited themselves to depicting simple lines and patterns.
In this case, a clay tablet with a proto-script was found by a team of archaeologists led by Yavor and Kamen Boyadzhiev from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia and Valery Petrov from the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies in Sofia.
The prehistoric settlement where it was found is "a scattered spacious settlement of at least 150,000 square meters. It dates from the late Neolithic (New Stone Age) to the early Chalcolithic (Copper Age).
According to archaeologists, the settlement appeared and existed in the period from 5100 to 4800 BC. It was situated on a terrace on both banks of a small river.
It should be noted that in recent years in Bulgaria found similar artifacts. For example, in 2017, a small ceramic tablet of the sixth millennium BC with mysterious written signs was discovered near Nova Zagora in the south of the country.
Another similar find is a fragment of a 7,000-year-old ceramic tablet with prealphabetic writing from the late Neolithic period. It was found in 2016 during excavations of a prehistoric settlement in the north of the country. Interestingly, an ancient Roman fort, known to scholars as Ad Putea, was built on the site of this settlement.
Another similar letter, almost 7,000 years old, was discovered in 2008 near the Black Sea town of Burgas. It had been lying for thousands of years inside an early Eneolithic mound. By the way, archaeologists reported this find to the general public only in 2016.
One of the most famous archaeological artifacts with pre-alphabetic writing are still the so-called Gradeshnitsa Tablets, discovered in 1969 near the town of Gradeshnitsa, Vratsa district in northwestern Bulgaria. Artifacts comparable to the Gradeshnitsa tablets have also been found in modern Romania, that is, north of the Danube River.