Between six and seven thousand years ago, salt was every bit as valuable as gold; and the inhabitants of this ancient, heavily guarded settlement (recently named the oldest ever discovered in Europe) were swimming in the stuff.

Several clues - uncovered in and around the ruins of the prehistoric burg, which resides in what is now northeast Bulgaria - point to its linchpin role in the salt trade of 4700 BC. A nearby spring, archeologists surmise, would have provided the town with access to mineral-rich water that could be boiled to produce bricks of salt, an all-important preservative of meat and other foodstuffs. The massive walls that encompass the settlement - an infrastructural feature archeologist Krum Bachvarov says is "unseen in excavations of [other] prehistoric sites in southeast Europe" - strongly suggest that the community had goods to protect.


And then there's the massive stockpile of gold.

Almost 40 years ago exactly, archeologists uncovered an assortment of 3,000 gold objects at a nearby burial ground, representing what The Telegraph calls "the oldest trove of ancient gold treasure in the world."


But the impressive collection of gold is not the only hoard of precious metal in the area; many other stockpiles of jewellery and ritual objects have been discovered throughout the region over the years, and the discovery of these ancient ruins may finally account for their presence.

Read more at The Telegraph and The BBC.