Galabovo tell is situated on the left bank of the old bed of the Sazliyka River, 2 km east from the modern town of Galabovo. It was one of the biggest tells in Thrace and Europe and is known in the literature under the names “Assara” or “Galabovo tell”. In the past it was over 10 m in height and 150 m in diameter. One hundred years after its first description, the mound does not exceed 8 m and its western half is almost completely destroyed. During the construction of two thermo-electrical plants situated in the proximity, a mediaeval fortress, a settlement and a necropolis from the 11th – 13th c. AD as well as cultural layers from 12th to 4th/1st c. BC have been completely destroyed. The Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze Age layers (7th – 2nd mill. BC) still remain.
Rescue excavations of the tell were carried out in 1988 – 1992 and in 1995. The Neolithic layer has not been explored, and the Late Chalcolithic one was explored only in small-scale trenches. The Bronze Age layer – with more than 14 building levels – was much better investigated. So far, the tell is the only multi-layered site in Bulgaria, presenting archaeological materials from the end of the 3rd – beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.
The central part of the settlement – a well-defined artificial hill – was surrounded by an unfortified flat sites at least 10 times larger. In general, the dwellings bi-partite with a shelter in front, built in picé and wattle-and-daub technique. Heating and cooking installations (hearths, ovens and andirons), silos and storage pots, grinding-stones and looms were recorded. Thanks to the fact that most of the settlements had been burnt in fires, lots of ceramic vessels, tools, weapons and ornaments were found within the houses. The collection of artefacts from the site enlists thousands of items, some of them being unique for the Bulgarian lands.
The culture of the Bronze Age inhabitants of Galabovo tell was advanced. We have ground to assume the site as a trading centre (factoria), in which goods from thousands of kilometers arrived and were redistributed. To the central position of the site we can add two environmental factors which describe the value of Galabovo – the fertile soil providing high yields and the charcoal exploitation in the region. The results of the analyses suggest that the ancient inhabitants of Galabovo were quite aware of the charcoal deposits in the region and exploited them more than 4000 years ago.
Galabovo tell has a high scientific value as for the archaeology and history, as well as for the ancient economy. The well-developed metallurgy is re-constructible through the moulds, bronze tools and weapons as well as bronze and golden adornments. In the field of the stockbreeding, the use of horses – in farming and caravan trade – as well as for horseback riding is to be mentioned. Such suggestion is based on the antler cheekpieces found both as finished and semi-finished items and blanks. However, the imported objects from Asia Minor and Near East found in Galabovo tell support the idea that leading economic activities were related to trade. Some true imports, such as “Syrian bottle”, deep cups with two handles (“tankards”), amphorae, tea-pots, jars and pithoi, “pilgrim-flasks” etc. are of great importance. It is worth to mention depata cups (“depas amphikypellon”) too. Majority of the listed vessels are wheel-made – a technological innovation for the 3rd millennium BC in the region. The comparable finds from Bulgarian lands are quite a few. The best parallels come from Anatolia – Troy, Beycesultan, Boğazköy (Hattusa), Kültepe (kârum Kaneš), Tarsus etc. as well as from the Aegean. Some of these sites with their cuneiform archives set the end of Galabovo tell in the period before the beginning of the Hittite Empire. The existence of imports from such a long distance suggests a colonial interest towards the Balkan Peninsula. Galabovo tell can be plotted in the line of other key-sites near the Sea of Marmara and Eastern Thrace tracing the caravan road along the Maritsa River valley connecting Trace to Troad, West and Central Anatolia. It could be suggested that this road followed west to the Central Balkans and Central Europe. Galabovo region is connected via road arteries with the Lower Danube as well as with Western Thrace and Thessaly. Therefore, Galabovo tell is a cross-point of some of the most important ancient roads. Thousands of years later one of these roads connecting the East with Europe has been called Via diagonalis, a road on which the Roman legions moved from Pannonia to Bithynia and back.