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Journal of the Union of Scientists - Varna. The Cultural Heritage of Varna and the Black Sea Region

Varna, the prehistoric trade center in the studies of Harald Haarmann. Some critical notes

Svetlozar Popov


The name Varna occupies a key place in world ancient history. Everyone has heard  about the gold of the phenomenal Varna I necropolis. This is the reason for our interest in the two books published in recent years by the famous German archaeolinguist Harald Haarmann: "The Mystery of the Danube Civilization" (2015) and "In the Footsteps of Indo-Europeans" (2020).

The author defines Varna as one of the oldest, permanently inhabited places in Europe. He connects it with the earliest gold and the earliest processing of grapes for wine. He examines the social development of the local society and proclaims the emergence of the upper class and hierarchical structure of the society. For him, the Varna I necropolis testifies to the earliest elitist model, in contrast to other egalitarian Balkan Chalcolithic cultures.

These are generally the positives, but along with them, there are many negatives. It turns out that H. Haarmann does not know or does not use terms such as "Varna culture" and "necropolis", but speaks of Varna as of a city and trade center, and of the Varna necropolis as a "field with graves", which is absolutely incorrect. As for the thesis about the "elite cavalry detachments of steppe nomads, bearers of the Kurgan culture, who had conquered Varna peacefully", it reveals a weak knowledge of the facts and is close to absurd.

In this sense, the article gives positive assessments of a number of the views of the great archaeolinguist referred to the Chalcolithic center near Varna. At the same time, it does not spare him some critical remarks. Moreover, his books are aimed at the mass reader with a promotional focus. This is what makes some mistakes unwanted and dangerous, which can create a misconception and mislead the reader.


Varna, culture, Chalcolithic, Harald Haarmann, сritique

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