Before the glory of Greece and Rome, the first cities of Mesopotamia or temples along the Nile, people in the Lower Danube Valley and the Balkan foothills excelled in art and technology and participated in long-distance trade.
For 1,500 years, starting 5000 BC, they farmed and built sizable towns, a few with as many as 2,000 dwellings. The little-known culture is being rescued from obscurity in an exhibition, The Lost World of Old Europe: the Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC, which opened in the last week of November at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University.
More than 250 artifacts from museums in Bulgaria, Moldova and Romania are on display. The show will run till April 2010. At the exhibition preview, Roger S Bagnall, director of the institute, confessed that until now a great many archaeologists had not heard of these Old Europe cultures.
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