Romanian History and Culture

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The Danubian Culture or the Old European Culture

 Danube, The Iron Gates _Gate_Danube.jpg

Danube Delta

 Danube Delta, Daniel Petrescu photo at:

 Before Sumer, Crete or the Maltese civilization, there was ?Old Europe?, or the Turdash-Vinca culture? a forgotten, rather than lost civilization that lies at the true origin of most of our ancient civilizations. Philip Coppens

Harald Haarmann Danube civilization SUBTITRAT IN ROMANA at: mCzHl1IGJjc

 Old European cultures - Definition

Even before the Indo-European migration, that began around 4000 BC, several cultures had already appeared in Europe, particularly in the Carpathian and Balkan surrounding area. These are known collectively as Old European cultures: Linear Ceramic culture; Starcevo-Cris culture; Precucuteni culture;
Cucuteni Trypillia culture; Vadastra culture; Vinca Turdash culture; Gumelnita Culture; Dudesti culture; Salcuta culture 

Table of Contents-Cuprins:   

A Lost European Culture, Pulled from Obscurity (Exhibit New York and all)

Neolithic Settlement Excavation and Survey

Compare it with Sumer-Mesopotamia

Turdash Vinca Culture

Vadastra Culture

Gumelnitza Culture, (The Lovers, Indragostitii)

Hamangia Culture

Oldest Gold Treasure in the World Varna Necropolis

Cucuteni-Trypillia Culture

 Asemanari dintre cultura Cucuteni si cultura chineza Yangshao

The World Oldest Wooden Wheel Found in Slovenia and Cucuteni Cow-on Wheels Toy

Religion and Ritual of the Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture 

Trypillian Culture

Cucuteni and Gumelnita Culture site at Cotatcu, Valea Morilor, Buzau, 6,000 BC

Linear Pottery Culture

Cernavoda Culture

Starcevo-Koros-Cris Culture

Mezolithic at Schela Cladovei, Mehedinti, and Lepenski Vir,8,000 BC


The Hungarian Point of View

 Venus de la Sint Petru German


A Lost European Culture, Pulled from Obscurity


 New Exhibit at the New York University Museum

A Lost European Culture, Pulled From Obscurity


Published: November 30, 2009

Before the glory that was Greece and Rome, even before the first cities of Mesopotamia or temples along the Nile, there lived in the Lower Danube Valley and the Balkan and Carpathian foothills people who were ahead of their time in art, technology and long-distance trade. Rumyana Kostadinova Ivanova and Marius Amarie

LIVING SPACE Artifacts from the Lower Danube Valley and the Balkan foothills are presented in an exhibition, ?The Lost World of Old Europe,? at New York University?s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. More Photos »

This Image

Hamangia, Vinca, Cucuteni, Gumelni?a (5500-3500BC).
WOMEN IN SOCIETY A fired clay Cucuteni figurine, from 4050-3900 B.C. More Photos >



 Maternity, Vinca culture, 5,000 BC

MINA C. n° 39487 ;  L= 8,5 cm

 Harsova, (Gumelnita Culture) The Chalcolitic Village- 6,000 yers old whistle in working condition at:



Spondylus artifacts in the Carpathian land at: 

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World will present a series of public programs, accompanying The Lost World of Old Europe exhibition with the goal of furthering the understanding and appreciation of Romanian, Bulgarian and Moldovan culture. Public programs will include a Romanian Film Series, music nights, a scholarly lecture series, which will further elucidate topics explored in the exhibition and public tours.

For 1,500 years, starting earlier than 5000 B.C., they farmed and built sizable towns, a few with as many as 2,000 dwellings. They mastered large-scale copper smelting, the new technology of the age. Their graves held an impressive array of exquisite headdresses and necklaces and, in one cemetery, the earliest major assemblage of gold artifacts to be found anywhere in the world.

The striking designs of their pottery speak of the refinement of the culture?s visual language. Until recent discoveries, the most intriguing artifacts were the ubiquitous terracotta ?goddess? figurines, originally interpreted as evidence of the spiritual and political power of women in society. New research, archaeologists and historians say, has broadened understanding of this long overlooked culture, which seemed to have approached the threshold of ?civilization? status. Writing had yet to be invented, and so no one knows what the people called themselves. To some scholars, the people and the region are simply Old Europe. The little-known culture is being rescued from obscurity in an exhibition, ?The Lost World of Old Europe: the Danube Valley, 5000-3500 B.C.,? which opened last month 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 for the first time in the United States. The show will run through April 25.

At its peak, around 4500 B.C., said David W. Anthony, the exhibition?s guest curator, ?Old Europe was among the most sophisticated and technologically advanced places in the world? and was developing ?many of the political, technological and ideological signs of civilization.? Dr. Anthony is a professor of anthropology at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., and author of ?The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World.? Historians suggest that the arrival in southeastern Europe of people from the steppes may have contributed to the collapse of the Old Europe culture by 3500 B.C. 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.? Admiring the colorful ceramics, Dr. Bagnall, a specialist in Egyptian archaeology, remarked that at the time ?Egyptians were certainly not making pottery like this.?

A show catalog, published by Princeton University Press, is the first compendium in English of research on Old Europe discoveries. The book, edited by Dr. Anthony, with Jennifer Y. Chi, the institute?s associate director for exhibitions, includes essays by experts from Britain, France, Germany, the United States and the countries where the culture existed. Dr. Chi said the exhibition reflected the institute?s interest in studying the relationships of well-known cultures and the ?underappreciated ones.?

Although excavations over the last century uncovered traces of ancient settlements and the goddess figurines, it was not until local archaeologists in 1972 discovered a large fifth-millennium B.C. cemetery at Varna, Bulgaria, that they began to suspect these were not poor people living in unstructured egalitarian societies. Even then, confined in cold war isolation behind the Iron Curtain, Bulgarians and Romanians were unable to spread their knowledge to the West. The story now emerging is of pioneer farmers after about 6200 B.C. moving north into Old Europe from Greece and Macedonia, bringing wheat and barley seeds and domesticated cattle and sheep. They established colonies along the Black Sea and in the river plains and hills, and these evolved into related but somewhat distinct cultures, archaeologists have learned. The settlements maintained close contact through networks of trade in copper and gold and also shared patterns of ceramics.

The Spondylus shell from the Aegean Sea was a special item of trade. Perhaps the shells, used in pendants and bracelets, were symbols of their Aegean ancestors. Other scholars view such long-distance acquisitions as being motivated in part by ideology in which goods are not commodities in the modern sense but rather ?valuables,? symbols of status and recognition. Noting the diffusion of these shells at this time, Michel Louis Seferiades, an anthropologist at the National Center for Scientific Research in France, suspects ?the objects were part of a halo of mysteries, an ensemble of beliefs and myths.?

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In any event, Dr. Seferiades wrote in the exhibition catalog that the prevalence of the shells suggested the culture had links to ?a network of access routes and a social framework of elaborate exchange systems ? including bartering, gift exchange and reciprocity.?

Artifacts From Old Europe

Over a wide area of what is now Bulgaria and Romania, the people settled into villages of single- and multiroom houses crowded inside palisades. The houses, some with two stories, were framed in wood with clay-plaster walls and beaten-earth floors. For some reason, the people liked making fired clay models of multilevel dwellings, examples of which are exhibited.
A few towns of the Cucuteni people, a later and apparently robust culture in the north of Old Europe, grew to more than 800 acres, which archaeologists consider larger than any other known human settlements at the time. But excavations have yet to turn up definitive evidence of palaces, temples or large civic buildings. Archaeologists concluded that rituals of belief seemed to be practiced in the homes, where cultic artifacts have been found. The household pottery decorated in diverse, complex styles suggested the practice of elaborate at-home dining rituals. Huge serving bowls on stands were typical of the culture?s ?socializing of food presentation,? Dr. Chi said.

At first, the absence of elite architecture led scholars to assume that Old Europe had little or no hierarchical power structure. This was dispelled by the graves in the Varna cemetery. For two decades after 1972, archaeologists found 310 graves dated to about 4500 B.C. Dr. Anthony said this was ?the best evidence for the existence of a clearly distinct upper social and political rank.?

Vladimir Slavchev, a curator at the Varna Regional Museum of History, said the ?richness and variety of the Varna grave gifts was a surprise,? even to the Bulgarian archaeologist Ivan Ivanov, who directed the discoveries. ?Varna is the oldest cemetery yet found where humans were buried with golden ornaments,? Dr. Slavchev said. More than 3,000 pieces of gold were found in 62 of the graves, along with copper weapons and tools, and ornaments, necklaces and bracelets of the prized Aegean shells. ?The concentration of imported prestige objects in a distinct minority of graves suggest that institutionalized higher ranks did exist,? exhibition curators noted in a text panel accompanying the Varna gold.

Yet it is puzzling that the elite seemed not to indulge in private lives of excess. ?The people who donned gold costumes for public events while they were alive,? Dr. Anthony wrote, ?went home to fairly ordinary houses.?

Copper, not gold, may have been the main source of Old Europe?s economic success, Dr. Anthony said. As copper smelting developed about 5400 B.C., the Old Europe cultures tapped abundant ores in Bulgaria and what is now Serbia and learned the high-heat technique of extracting pure metallic copper.Smelted copper, cast as axes, hammered into knife blades and coiled in bracelets, became valuable exports. Old Europe copper pieces have been found in graves along the Volga River, 1,200 miles east of Bulgaria. Archaeologists have recovered more than five tons of pieces from Old Europe sites.

An entire gallery is devoted to the figurines, the more familiar and provocative of the culture?s treasures. They have been found in virtually every Old Europe culture and in several contexts: in graves, house shrines and other possibly ?religious spaces.?

One of the best known is the fired clay figure of a seated man, his shoulders bent and hands to his face in apparent contemplation. Called the ?Thinker,? the piece and a comparable female figurine were found in a cemetery of the Hamangia culture, in Romania. Were they thinking, or mourning? Many of the figurines represent women in stylized abstraction, with truncated or elongated bodies and heaping breasts and expansive hips. The explicit sexuality of these figurines invites interpretations relating to earthly and human fertility. An arresting set of 21 small female figurines, seated in a circle, was found at a pre-Cucuteni village site in northeastern Romania. ?It is not difficult to imagine,? said Douglass W. Bailey of San Francisco State University, the Old Europe people ?arranging sets of seated figurines into one or several groups of miniature activities, perhaps with the smaller figurines at the feet or even on the laps of the larger, seated ones.?

Others imagined the figurines as the ?Council of Goddesses.? In her influential books three decades ago, Marija Gimbutas, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, offered these and other so-called Venus figurines as representatives of divinities in cults to a Mother Goddess that reigned in prehistoric Europe. Although the late Dr. Gimbutas still has an ardent following, many scholars hew to more conservative, nondivine explanations. The power of the objects, Dr. Bailey said, was not in any specific reference to the divine, but in ?a shared understanding of group identity.?

As Dr. Bailey wrote in the exhibition catalog, the figurines should perhaps be defined only in terms of their actual appearance: miniature, representational depictions of the human form. He thus ?assumed (as is justified by our knowledge of human evolution) that the ability to make, use and understand symbolic objects such as figurines is an ability that is shared by all modern humans and thus is a capability that connects you, me, Neolithic men, women and children, and the Paleolithic painters in caves.? Or else the ?Thinker,? for instance, is the image of you, me, the archaeologists and historians confronted and perplexed by a ?lost? culture in southeastern Europe that had quite a go with life back before a single word was written or a wheel turned.

 The Museum of Cycladic Art

Before the establishment of the first cities in Mesopotamia ca. 4500 BC, highly sophisticated societies with advanced technology and complex systems of symbolic representation had emerged in the southeastern part of Europe.

The Neolithic people of the Balkans were the first in Europe to adopt of a new type of economy, based on agriculture and animal breeding. This happened in the 7th millennium BC and marked a radical shift in the way humans interacted with their environment. After a million of years of nomadic life ? during which little had changed ? people settled in permanent habitations and started developing new skills and modes of social interaction.

Houses became foci of settled life and people started exploring previously unaddressed material and spiritual needs. They replaced their flimsy basket containers with sturdy vases made of clay. They understood the properties of metals creating new, more effective types of tools. They expressed their beliefs through the manufacture of figurines and the elaboration of funerary rituals. And they developed a complex system of exchanges between different communities.

By the 5th millennium BC, the thriving cultures of the Balkans were among the most advanced in the Old World ? featuring densely populated settlements, a sophisticated system of social hierarchy, highly symbolic cult rituals, complex long-distance exchange networks, and an amazing copper- and gold-working industry.

By the mid-4th millennium, however, this brilliant world came to an abrupt end. The reasons are not clear: Invasions? Climatic changes? Overexploitation of natural resources? 

  International Tour of the exhibit:

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
Oxford University, England
May 20 - August 15, 2010

Museum of Cycladic Art
Goulandris Foundation
Athens, Greece
September 30, 2010 - January 11, 2011
(dates to be confirmed)

Please note, the dates are subject to change without notice. For more information on the venues please click on the link and you will be navigated to the exhibiting museum's website.

In the media:


"Dr. Jennifer Chi," television broadcast: Sunday Arts, WNET, January 27, 2010.

"The Lost World of Old Europe," radio broadcast: The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC, January 14, 2010. mp3 and slideshow of objects from the exhibition.

"Ancient Artifacts," television broadcast: Eye on New York, WCBS, 6 December, 2009.

Andrew Moseman, ?Advanced, Overlooked Ancient European Culture Arrives in America,? 80beats | Discover Magazine, December 1, 2009.

John Noble Wilford, ?A Lost European Culture, Pulled from Obscurity? The New York Times, November 30, 2009.

Michael Balter, ?The Lost World of Old Europe: See It in New York? Origins: A History of Beginnings (, November 25, 2009.

Christine Lin, ?Lost Artifacts of Old Europe Arrive in New York.? Epoch Times, November 13, 2009.


Neolithic Settlement Excavation and Survey

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The roots of Western civilization can be traced to the Neolithic, when people began to domesticate plants and animals and to live in sedentary villages. The first large Neolithic cultural complexes can be found in the Balkans. There, people created a number of innovations, including new architectural styles, expressive figurines and pottery, extensive trade, a diversified subsistence system, and eventually, copper metallurgy. All of these traditions began within the Danube basin, and spread west, into Central Europe, and east, onto the Pontic steppe. The Balkan Neolithic cultural complexes were bounded in the northeast by the Eastern Carpathian Mountains. The only Neolithic complex to bridge these mountains and connect the Balkans to the Pontic steppes was the Cucuteni-Ariusd-Tripolye complex, which stretched from Transylvania in the west to Kiev and the Dnepr River in the east. The Cucuteni-Ariusd-Tripolye sites are famous for their elaborately decorated painted pottery and figurines, recently featured in exhibits in Toronto and New York City.  The people living at these villages made some of the most beautiful pottery seen in prehistoric Europe, and they were also some of the first people in the area to make and exchange metal (copper) artifacts.. 

The Balkans are divided into four major groups:

The east Balkans were dominated by the Gumeli?a culture whose influence spread south into Thrace, and eventually across the Rodopes. This was characterised by graphite painted pottery.

The Cucuteni- Tripolye-Ariu?d cultural group covered Moldavia, southern Ukraine, and east Transylvania. The pottery was decorated in bold multi-coloured geometric designs.

The Lengel culture of Hungary and central Europe was derived from the linear pottery groups and had predominantly mono-chrome painted pottery.

The S?lcu?a-Krivodol-Bubanj group with impressed pottery decoration in the central Balkans.

 Stone Age  Mesolithic Era by Roger Crowley

Carcea Culture
The Carcea Culture is identified by its unique ceramic cups with a white spiral on a red background.

In a paper presented at the 11th Neolithic Seminar (4-7 November 2004) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, titled "Zoo Symbolism and Early Neolithic Portable Art in Romania," Dr. Corneliu Beldiman gave a detailed analysis of a fragment found in 1971 by Dr. Marin Nica. The fragment was uncovered during the excavation of the well-known "Early Neolithic" (which is placed in the Mesolithic here) site from Carcea (southwestern Romania, Dolj County). The site dates to some time around the mid-sixth millennium BC.

The artifact, about 30 mm long, is worked from a red deer antler and is interpreted to be part of a bracelet. It is the earliest zoomorphic representation (stylized herbivore) of chiseled bone found in Romania.

Pre-Cucuteni Culture
The Pre-Cucuteni Culture existed between 7,500 and 3,500 years ago. It is considered by many archaeologists as one of the oldest European cultures. They're descendants of earlier Paleolithic tribes.

Traces of these wanderers can be found in Valea Dirjovului, and in Bugiule?ti, and in the area of the Olt River.

Pronunciation Help
To help American readers, the following pronunciation guide to Romanian words used above is provided. The sounds shown are only approximations, however.

?Bugiule?ti. (Bugiulesti) Boo-jyoo-lesht.
?Carcea. Cahr-cheh-yah.
?Cucuteni. Koo-koo-tayn.
?Dirjovului. Dir-zhoh-voo-lwee.
?Dolj. Dolzh.
?Olt. Ohlt.
?Valea. Vahl-yah.


Compare it with Sumer-Mesopotamia

 Compare it  with Summer-Mesopotamia

Sumer (Sumerian: ������ ki-en-ĝir15 "Land of the Lords of Brightness",[1][2] Akkadian: Šumeru; possibly Biblical Shinar) was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq. It is the earliest known civilization in the world and is known as the Cradle of Civilization. The Sumerian civilization spanned over 3000 years[3] and began with the first settlement of Eridu in the Ubaid period (mid 6th millennium BC) through the Uruk period (4th millennium BC) and the Dynastic periods (3rd millennium BC) until the rise of Babylonia in the early 2nd millennium BC. Sumer was the birthplace of writing, the wheel, agriculture, the arch and irrigation.

The cities of Sumer were the first civilization to practice intensive, year-round agriculture, (from ca. 5300 BC). By perhaps 5000 BC, the Sumerians had developed core agricultural techniques including large-scale intensive cultivation of land, mono-cropping, organized irrigation, and the use of a specialized labor force. The surplus of storable food created by this economy allowed the population to settle in one place instead of migrating after crops and grazing land. It also allowed for a much greater population density, and in turn required an extensive labor force and division of labor. This organization led to the development of writing (ca. 3500 BC). 





Vinca exhibition - part one


Prof. Robert E. Whallon_Vinca AID



Turdas-Lunca-Clay Amulet discovered in 1992  (5/1)

 Picture at:

 Picture at: x



In 1875, archaeological excavations led by the archeologist Sofia Torma (1840 ? 1899) at Turdash, near Or??tie in Transylvania (Romania) unearthed a cache of objects inscribed with previously unknown symbols.Her research made the site become famous and  the barones von Torma was awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa at the University of Cluj. In 1910, Márton Roska made systematic excavations at Turda?. In 1940, the site was studied by Octavian Floca and Vladimir Dumitrescu and for several years and in the 1960's by Iuliu Paul. In the 1970's and 1980's Florin Dra?oveanu, Tiberiu Mari?, Gheorghe Lazarovici, Zoia Kalmar-Maxim (from Romania) and John Nandris (from England) continued the research. Three radiocarbon samples analyzed in the Debrecen laboratory,  give the year 5800 B.P., or 4700?4660 C of B.C. 

Petre?ti culture is situated in the Turda? culture in it?s A?B phase, and the Co?ofeni culture is situated in phase C. At the end of the above volume, which represents the first part of the monography dedicated to the new archaeological research from Turda?, the author tries to realize a comparison between the stratigraphy of the archaeological site of T?rt?ria and of some other sites in the valley of the middle stream of the Mures (Turda??Lunc?, Deva?T?uala?, Or??tie?Dealul Pemilor, point X2 and Mintia?Gerhat).

  A similar cache was found during excavations conducted in 1908 in Vin?a, a suburb of the Serbian city of Belgrade, some 120km from Turdash. Later, more such fragments were found in Banjica, another part of Belgrade. Thus the culture represented is called the Vinca-Turdash culture, and the script often called the Vinca-Turdash script. The Vin?a culture was an early culture of Europe,between the 6th and the 3rd millennium. To date, more than a thousand fragments with similar inscriptions have been found on various archaeological sites throughout south-eastern Europe, notably in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, eastern Hungary, Moldova, southern Ukraine and other locations in the former Yugoslavia.

 Text at: 

   During the period of the Vin?a Culture, houses were erected above ground with complex architectural layouts and several rooms, built of wood that was covered in mud. The houses in the settlement are facing northeast - southwest, with streets between them. Vin?a houses had stoves and special holes specifically for rubbish, and the dead were buried in cemeteries. People slept on woolen mats and fur and made clothes of wool, flax and leather. The figurines found not only represent deities but many show the daily life of the inhabitants while crude pottery finds appear to have been made by children. Women are depicted in short tops and miniskirts wearing jewelery. A thermal well found near the settlement might be evidence of Europe's oldest spa.The preliminary dating of a Plo?nik metal workshop with a furnace and copper tools to 5,500 BC, if correct, indicates the Copper Age could have started in Europe 500 years or more earlier than previously thought. The sophisticated furnace and smelter featured earthen pipe-like air vents with hundreds of tiny holes in them and a chimney to ensure air goes into the furnace to feed the fire and smoke comes out away from the workers. Copper workshops from later periods thought to indicate the beginning of the Copper Age were less advanced, didn't have chimneys and workers blew air on the fire with bellows. The Neolithic settlers of Vin?a ascribed great importance to spiritual life as is reflected by the enormous number of cult objects (figurines, sacrificial dishes, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic dishes). Their artistic and stylistic development was conditioned by the teachings of old settlers, as well as by contacts with neighboring peoples and their beliefs. Anthropomorphic figurines have a characteristic dignified stance and their number (over 1000 examples at Vin?a alone) exceeds the total number of figurines discovered in the Greek Aegean. Shrines were discovered in Par?a Transylvania with complex architectural designs. Some figurines and ceramic dishes discovered in the broad region spanning from Gornja Tuzla to T?rt?ria bear signs which some scholars suppose to be primitive forms of writing (see Old European Script). Indeed, if the inscriptions on the T?rt?ria tablets are pictograms, as Vlassa argued, they would be the earliest known writing in the world. This claim however remains controversial; most experts consider the T?rt?ria finds to be an example of proto-writing rather than a full writing system.

Text and pictures at:

During the middle of the fourth millennium, the entire region of the Vin?a Culture underwent stagnation, followed by deep crises and a decline in cultural and economic development. 

   Text and photos at:  




  Ceramic Pottery,Turdash culture Muzeul Na?ional de Istorie a Transilvaniei - CLUJ-NAPOCA; The Kiss of Rast ,jud. Dolj, cca 5000 BCE, Romanian  Historical National Museum;   Altar from Parta, Vinca Culture, Muzeul Banatului

 Vlassa N. Sur 1'existence des equides domestiques dans la culture de Vinca ? Turdas // Dacia, n. s. XXII.


 Catalhoyuk Conjoint Twins


Ain Ghazal Conjoint twins

Paula Maz?re, University of Alba Iulia, Romania
Limba is one of the largest prehistoric settlements in the Middle Mure? Valley,
intensively inhabited during the Neolithic times by Star?evo-Cri? and particularly by Vin?a communities (ca. 6200-4700 bc). From the excavations which took place a number of textile impression preserved on pottery fragments were brought to light, the majority found in different Vin?a levels.
The study consisted of two complementary stages.

The first one aimed to define the design and construction attributes, to identify the main method of manufacture and the types of patterns from the textile impressions using standard procedures of analysis (positive casts, detailed measurements, visual examination by stereo microscope, photography).

The second one consisted of several experimental tests and aimed to confirm the data recorded at the first stage and to bring to light new evidence regarding manufacturing technology.
Two major construction techniques were identified: weaving and plaiting. We tried
to reproduce the most representative specimens by employing different methods,
tools and raw materials (inspired by previous experimental studies and by
ethnographic data). All experimental textiles were imprinted on slabs of wet clay,
which were afterwards dried and fired so as to compare them with the original
impressions. All data sets were systematically recorded and interpreted.

Mihai Gligor, ?1 Decembrie 1918? University, Alba Iulia, Romania, Viorel Panaitescu, ?Mina Minovici? National Institute of Legal Medicine, Bucuresti,Romania, Mariana Rosu, ?Mina Minovici? National Institute of Legal Medicine, Bucuresti, Romania
Simona Varvara, ?1 Decembrie 1918? University, Alba Iulia, Romania
A special discovery at the settlement of Alba Iulia-Lumea Noua (Romania) is considered to be the ?funeral complex? that is known because of the excavations carried out in 2003 and 2005.
The stratigraphic position allowed the identification in successive sediments of some skull remains out of joint and old bone remains that were not in anatomic connection. Human bone remains (skulls in preponderance) from approximately 100 individuals ? among which adult men, women and children may be found ? have been discovered in the entire area. A rich ceramic material typical for the Foeni group and a metallic ring made of copper was drawn out associated to the human skeleton-like remains.
The preliminary anthropological research set off the existence of more skulls with a circular bottomed fracture and abrasion zone, most probably resulted from a post-mortem skull manipulation during specific rituals that mark completely new funeral practices from the beginning of the Eneolithic on the present-day territory of Romania.
The relatively low extent of amino acid racemization found in some teeth samples is consistent with moderate to good protein preservation in the fossils from the Alba Iulia-Lumea Noua site.
The AMS-C14 data from Alba Iulia-Lumea Noua is placed in the interval 4690-4450 cal BC, corresponding to a fully accomplished phase from the Foeni group evolution.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research for the financial support under the project CEEX no. 36/2006 (subcontract CEX 06-11-25/2006).

Simona Varvara, ?1 Decembrie 1918? University, Alba Iulia, Romania
Mihai Gligor, ?1 Decembrie 1918? University, Alba Iulia, Romania
Vasile Benea?Babes-Bolyai? University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Alida Timar, ?Babes-Bolyai? University, 400084 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Sabrina Gulatieri, CNR, Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics, Faenza, Italy Constantin Cosma,?Babes-Bolyai? University, 1 Mihail Kogalniceanu, 400084 Cluj-Napoca, Romania Bruno Fabbri, CNR, Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics, Faenza, Italy
The paper presents the results of an integrated archaeological and scientific
investigation on the Neolithic pottery discovered at Alba Iulia-Lumea Noua
settlement on the right bank of the Mures River in Transylvania (Romania), aiming at establishing the production technology of the artefacts and their absolute age by thermoluminescence method (TL).
The pottery fragments were mostly found in close complexes of the pit-houses,
pits and dwelling surface type. Most vessels belong to the black and black-topped
ware. The main shapes are biconical bowls and amphorae; the pedestals have cherryred slip. Painted decoration, applied on the vessels before firing, is made with red, on a reddish or orange background.
The chemical, microstructural and petrographic features of the ceramic bodies
were determined by X-ray fluorescence, X-ray diffraction and optical microscopy,
respectively. The preliminary obtained data were used to make inferences
concerning the pottery?s technology in terms of type of raw clays and firing
The results of TL dating on several pottery fragments lead to an average age of
6000 ± 400 yr, which is in agreement with the archaeological expectations and with the AMS-C14 dating on teeth and charcoal samples from the same close complexes.
The absolute dating results allow improving the chronological framework for
Alba Iulia-Lumea Noua settlement.
The Romanian authors gratefully acknowledge the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research for the financial support under the projects CEEX no. 36/2006 (subcontract CEX 06-11-25/2006) and CEEX no. 749/2006.


Tezaurul de la Moigrad, judetul S?laj

Descoperit înainte de 1912, se compune din 4 piese, din care una este cel mai mare obiect neolitic din aur descoperit la noi în ?ar?. Aceast? pies? este realizat? prin cioc?nire ?i decupare din aur nativ. Prima jum?tate a Mileniului al IV-lea î. Chr. Muzeul Na?ional de Istorie Bucure?ti.


DESCOPERIRE FABULOAS?, la Hundeoara! Ce s-a g?sit sub p?mânt te va pune pe gânduri! DESCOPERIRE FABULOAS?, la Hundeoara! Ce s-a g?sit sub p?mânt te va pune pe gânduri! Ora? din România mai vechi decât piramidele Egiptene

Arheologii români au f?cut o descoperire de senza?ie în jude?ul

Hunedoara! Aici a fost descoperit un ora? imens, cel mai vechi din Transilvania, ?i

chiar mai vechi decât piramidele egiptene!

De cele mai multe ori, arheologii români au ocazia de a descoperi istoria României, ascuns? sub straturi de p?mânt, doar când autorit??ile vor s? mai construiasc? una-alta.

Cel mai vechi ora? din Transilvania, ridicat pe la anul 4.200 î.Hr

?înainte s? apar? piramidele din Egipt (2.630 ? 2.611 î.Hr.)Este ?i cazul celui mai

vechi ora? din Transilvania, ridicat pe la anul 4.200 î.Hr, înainte s? apar? piramidel

din Egipt (2.630 ? 2.611 î.Hr.). A?ezarea a fost descoperit? în timp ce muncitorii s?pau pentru amenajarea autostr?zii Sibiu- N?dlac.

Se întinde pe 100 de hectare

Situl aflat în Turda?, Hunedoara, se întinde pe 100 de hectare, are fortifica?ii, cartiere,

iar printre ruine au fost g?site multe vase ?i statuete valoroase. ?Un sistem de ap?rare

din acea vreme, pe o a?a mare suprafa??, nu s-a putut cerceta în Europa: cost? foarte mult. Noi am avut aceast? ?ans? datorit? autostr?zii?, a declarat Sabin Adrian Luca, coordonatorul

cercet?rilor.Sistemul de fortifica?ii descoperit de arheologii sibieni e oglinda celui pe care Nicolae Vlassa îl descoperise incizat pe o t?bli??. Ideea lui Vlassa c? pe aceast? t?bli??, locuitorii vechiului ora? au desenat sistemul de fortifica?ii al a?ez?rii a fost astfel confirmat?. Speciali?tii cred c? acest sistem de fortifica?ii ocrotea un nucleu care avea, probabil, 100 de hectare. Delimit?ri existau ?i în interiorul a?ez?rii, mai ales c? aceasta s-a extins tot extins din interior spre exterior.De interes este ?i arhitectura caselor din acest ora?:  ?case imense?i ca în?l?ime ?i anvergur?,  cu podina suspendat??. Altfel spus, din cauza deselor inunda?ii care afectau perimetrul, oamenii ?i-au construit case suspendate, pe stâlpi imen?i de 6-8 metri. Inunda?iile afectau îns? pivni?ele ?i vetrele care se g?seau la nivelul solului, a?a c? a?ezarea era ref?cut? dup? calamit??i ale naturii. S-au descoperit astfel ?ase orizonturi de arhitectur? suprapuse, dar ?i un num?r foarte mare de complexe arheologice: peste 3.000, în condi?iile în care, în alte locuri, câteva situri abia totalizeaz? împreun? 2.000 de complexe arheologice.Scrieri de 7.000 de ani în aceea?i zon?*

Civiliza?iei Turda? îi apar?ine ?i cea mai veche scriere din lume (aproximativ 7.000 de ani).

Este vorba despre celebrele t?bli?e de lut (foto) descoperite, în anul 1961, la T?rt?ria, localitate situat? între Alba Iulia ?i Or??tie. Acestea sunt inscrip?ionate cu semne asem?n?toare cu cele ale scrierii sumeriene, dar cu cel pu?in o mie de ani mai vechi decât orice alfabet. Scrierea a r?mas, deocamdat?, nedescifrat?.


Mircea Chelaru ? Pietrele au început s? vorbeasc?

?Ora?ul dacilor de la Turdas? Da! Am fost acolo!V? trimit, în premier? absolut?, ceea ce am v?zut la Turdas, pe traseul excava?iilor autostr?zii. Am fost cu prof. Victor Craciun ?i senatorul Avram Cr?ciun, al?turat fotografului Virgil Jireghie de la Arad. Privi?i înscrisurile ?i compara?i-le cu cele de la T?rt?ria ?i O?ele?ti de Ia?i! Sau chiar cele de pe inelul de aur de la Ezerovo. Este numitorul comun al existen?ei noastre inteligente de peste 20 de mii de ani. Constat?rile sunt numeroase. Dar vom dezvolta public subiectul. Am facut acest demers pentru ca exist? deja emis? ipoteza desc?rcarii arheologice, ceea ce ar fi înc? un gest criminal asupra identit??ii noastre ancestrale!Scriu toate acestea pentru a se ?ti ?i spre a se ac?iona! Iat? cum, a?a cum spunea fondatorul constiin?ei na?ionale, unicul Eminescu, pietrele au început s? vorbeasc?. ?i nu numai de azi sau de ieri. Bucura?i-v?! ?Gen.(r) Dr. Mircea Chelaru,Vicepresedinte al Ligii Culturale Romane




De ce e primul ora? din Transilvania?

Ne r?spunde Sabin Adrian Luca, directorul muzeului Brukenthal?De ce spun c? e primul ora? din Transilvania, ca s? nu spun cel pu?in din sud ? estul Europei: pentru c? am descoperit un sistem de fortifica?ie, de împrejmuire, compus din 11 palisade?i ?anturi succesive, pe o profuzime de 200 de metri. Am descoperit dou? por?i de intrare în sistemul de fortifica?ie, cu turnuri, totul din lemn. Acest sistem, de o a?a de mare dimensiune, nu s-a putut cerceta în Europa fiindc? cost? foarte mult. Am surprins aceste palisade, ?anturi, turnuri, care ocroteau un nucleu care, din punctul meu de vedere, în stadiul ini?ial avea cam 100 de hectare împrejmuit. Faptul c? este consacrat dup? toate regulile vedem din faptul c?, la distan?e de aproximativ 200 de metri, în interiorul primei sau celei de-a doua fortifica?ii este pus câte un sacrificat. Am g?sit vreo cinci (schelete ? n.r.). Ceea ce este curios este c? nici unul nu e în aceea?i pozi?ie, deci e clar c? e sacrificiu, nu este o înmormântare. I-au sacrificat în diverse ritualuri. Sunt pu?i fie pe burt? cu mâinile ?i picioarele legate, fie pe spate cu mâinile ?i picioarele legate, fie cu capul t?iat ?i pus pe piept?, a declarat directorul muzeului Brukenthal.Potrivit acestuia, a?ezarea de la Turda? a fost un centru regional de produc?ie ?i distribu?ie a ceramicii, fapt dovedit de descoperirea unui num?r foarte mare de cuptoare ?i obiecte din ceramic?, de la vase, în stilul Turda?ului, ?unic în Europa?, pân? la statuete antropomorfe, zoomorfe, ?i ?statuete pe tron?, care exemplific? regalitatea ?i care au mai fost g?site doar în ?dou? ? trei situri din Europa?.?Trebuie s? ne gândim la un mare centru regional al acelui moment. Am g?sit explica?ia asupra num?rului mare de vase?i statuete de lut descoperite aici. Am g?sit 60 de cuptoare pentru arderea obiectelor de mici dimensiuni ?i singura concluzie care se poate trage este c? aici se f?ceau statuetele, idolii pentru o ?ar?. ?i aceast? mare a?ezare sacr? cu caracter urban livra aceste piese, consacrate deja, spre comunit??i. E singura a?ezare din toate cele cercetate pân? acum din Europa neolitic? care are un num?r a?a mare de cuptoare. (?) Putem argumenta ideea c? suntem în fa?a unei a?ez?ri protourbane aidoma marilor a?ez?ri din Orient, o a?ezare care avea sigur regi, datorit? statuilor pe tron?, a mai explicat Sabin Adrian Luca.?S?p?turile din ultimul an ?i jum?tate au creat un nou muzeu, avem deja mii de piese întregi restaurate, extrem de reprezentative, unicat, de la ceramic? la metal, de la piatr? la os. La cercetarea aceasta se va mai lucra patru-cinci ani pân? când vom tip?ri volumele. (?) Pân? acum s-a cercetat un e?antion ceramic de doi-trei la sut? ?i s-a cercetat cam trei-patru la sut? din oase. La cea mai mare cercetare din Europa nu po?i s? estimezi nimic, decât c? la final vom raporta cel mai mare e?antion ceramic cercetat în Europa, cel mai mare e?antion osteologic cercetat în Europa, cel mai mare, pentru c? asta a fost norocul nostru?, a ad?ugat Sabin Adrian Luca.

Scrieri de 7.000 de ani în aceea?i zon?

Civiliza?iei Turda? îi apar?ine ?i cea mai veche scriere din lume (aproximativ 7.000 de ani). Este vorba despre celebrele t?bli?e de lut descoperite, în anul 1961, la T?rt?ria, localitate situat? între Alba Iulia ?i Or??tie. Acestea sunt inscrip?ionate cu semne asem?n?toare cu cele ale scrierii sumeriene, dar cu cel pu?in o mie de ani mai vechi decât orice alfabet. Scrierea a r?mas, deocamdat?, nedescifrat?.  Publicat de




 VADASTRA archaeological site of Neolithic Culture.
Vadastra is a little village near Danube river, in Dolj, South-West of Romania. Eponymus site of the Vinca culture, represented by the beautiful writings on the figurines. Chronology: 5.500 - 4.800 BC.One of the first painted temples of the World.
(Gimbutas, M., The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, University of California Press, Los Angeles, 1996
Gimbutas, M., The Language of the Goddesses, Harper, SanFrancisco, 1991
Gimbutas, M., The Living Goddesses, University of California Press, Berkley, Los Angeles, London 1999).


 Vadastra figurine (left)  4000 BC and Bactrian figurine from Bactria (right)

Stone seated female figure, late 3rd?early 2nd millennium b.c.
Central Asia (Bactria-Margiana) Chlorite or steatite, and limestone
The Metropolitan Museum of Art,b (October 2006

 In the Encyclopedia of Indo_european Culture,  J. P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams mention the use of plows in the Neolitic "A final source of evidence is to be seen in the splayed phalanges of cattle, which suggests their use in traction.  Such evidence has been recovered from the  Balkans from the period of the Vadastra culture, c. 4,500 BC."


    The Chalcolithic megaron house, 5th millennium B.C. (author: Dr.Dragos Gheorghiu) built in August 2003 (for the construction details see Gheorghiu, D., 2003b, Building a ceramic macro-object: The 2003 Vadastra Project experiments,Dispersion of the culture and principle sites PAVol. 11, No.3, pp. 1-5.) was the first of the buildings intended to form the replica of a prehistoric settlement at Vadastra village, south of Romania. Here in the last five years a series of experiments with prehistoric pyrotechnologies were carried (see Gibson, A., 2002, Prehistoric pottery in Britain and Ireland, Tempus, Charleston; Gheorghiu,D., 2002a, The Vadastra Project: Experiments with traditional technologies, OPA Vol.10, No.1, pp.9-10; Gheorghiu, D., 2002b, Fire and air draught:: Experimenting the Chalcolithic pyroinstruments, in Gheorghiu, D. (ed.), Fire in archaeology, BAR International Series 1089, pp. 83-95; Gheorghiu,D., 2003a, Archaeology and community: News from the Vadastra project, OPA Vol.11, No.2, pp. 1-4.)  

 Text and pictures:  




Gumelnitza Culture


  Southern Romania Archaeological Project (SRAP)

  Participation in the SRAP. The SRAP, under the direction of Douglass Bailey (Cardiff University) and Radian Andreescu (National Historical Museum, Bucharest), is investigating prehistoric land-use and settlement patterns in the Teleorman River Valley in the Lower Danube Plain. Pottery studies form an essential part of the SRAP. So far, the Cri?-Star?evo, Dude?ti, V?dastra and Boian-Gumelni?a pottery has technologically been analysed (in cooperation with Thissen Archaeological Ceramics Bureau). 


 The Lovers Gumelnita Culture,


Settlements in Western Muntenia

by Radian Romus Andreescu, Pavel Mirea, ?tefan Apopei

The Gumelni?a culture settlements in West Muntenia, in the area of the Vedea and Teleorman river basins were little known until a decade ago. A few materials from the settlements of Balaci and Licuriciu were mentioned as early as the inter-war period, while relatively scarce archaeological researches were conducted at Zâmbreasca, Ciolanestii din Deal and Blejesti.
          Recent researches proved that the west area of the Gumelni?a civilization was intensely inhabited, as evidenced by the high number of tell type settlements existing here. In his paper on the county of Teleorman, priest I. Spiru mentions almost 80 such settlements. During the last years an identification and mapping program for these tells was initiated, and until now almost 40 were checked in the field. Those entailed a few preliminary observations on the tell type settlements uncovered in this area.

 Without a doubt, links between cultures were more complex than described above ; nonetheless the current, already formidable, database concerning the lives of these populations, indicate the consistent communication between cultures. Direct contact and commercial trade functioned at various levels and over more or less large distances, and necessarily included the circulation of ideas and techniques. This contributed, by more or less strong mutual influences, to the perpetual mobility of human cultures. The site is found 5 kilometers form Oltenita on the Danube plateau. The Gumelnita culture actually belongs to an important cultural group called "Gumelnita-Karanovo VI-Kodjadermen" which resulted from the first great cultural synthesis, which occurred between the southern Balkans (Dikili Tash, Sitagori...) and the Carpathians. Within this conglomeration of cultures appeared some local particularities. They are often difficult to distinguish and difficult to explain, but are undoubtedly related to the heritage of the preexistent cultures, the Necropolis of Varna (Bulgaria) is the most eloquent example.  (Model of a temple (?) terra cotta
(origin : Cascioarele, district : Calarasi). , Romanian National Historical Museum)

The cultural aggregate "Gumelnita-Karanovo VI-Kodjadermen" was born of the evolution of the Boian, Marita and Karanovo V cultures. This phenomenon occurred so rapidly that from its origin it can be referred to as a unique culture with regional attributes. In the A2 period of the Gumelnita culture, the cultural unification becomes even more evident, as the styles and shapes in ceramics and statuary become practically identical.

The principle settlements are tells (Karanovo, Hârsova, Bordusani...) and it is the stratigraphy, which gives us the greatest amount of information on the chronological evolution of both this culture and its relation to the neighboring cultures (Vinca, Cucuteni, Dimini, Salcuta).

The evolution of the "Gumelnita-Karanovo VI-Kodjadermen" gradually comes to completion with the arrival of the Cernavoda I tribes on the Danube, who are considered by a number of researchers as the first proto-Europeans. Even as the evolution of the Gumelnita culture finishes abruptly with the A2 period, it continues in other zones (Munteny, Thrace, Balkans) for at least a century with Gumelnita phase B.

 Gumelnita site Sultana-Malul Rosu-Exhibit (Romanian only)

Pe data de 14 octombrie 2003, la sediul Muzeului Dun?rii de Jos C?l?ra?i, a fost vernisata expozi?ia A?ezarea gumelni?ean? de la Sultana-Malu Ro?u. Expozi?ia prezint? marelui public si speciali?tilor descoperirile excep?ionale f?cute în anul 2003 pe ?antierul arheologic de la Sultana-Malu Ro?u. Este vorba despre o locuin?a incendiata cu un inventar spectaculos (peste 100 de vase de vase întregi sau reîntregibile, 150 unelte litice, 50 greut??i de plas?, 20 unelte os/corn, unelte de aram?, piese de podoab? ?i un pandantiv de aur). De asemenea, expozi?ia con?ine o parte documentar? dedicat? istoricului cercet?rilor din acest sit arheologic. Expozi?ia A?ezarea gumelni?ean? de la Sultana-Malu Ro?u face parte din expozi?iile permanente ale Muzeului Dun?rii de Jos C?l?ra?i.

Ulterior, dup? 1970 ?i pân? la mijlocul anilor ?80, a?ezarea a fost cercetat? aproape în întregime de c?tre Constantin Is?cescu (ini?ial la Muzeul Jude?ean Giurgiu, iar mai apoi la Muzeului Na?ional de Istorie a României) ?i Cornel H?lcescu (Muzeul de Arheologie Olteni?a). Din p?cate rezultatele acestor cercet?ri au r?mas necunoscute. A r?mas în schimb materialul arheologic care, prin originalitatea ?i spectaculozitatea sa face din Sultana-Malu Ro?u un sit deosebit în cadrul epocii eneolitice. Amintim în primul rând tezaurul din obiecte de aur, cel mai mare descoperit la nord de Dun?re, format din trei figurine antropomorfe, saltaleoni ?i un l?n?i?or format din ?apte verigi în greutate total? de 36,170 gr. Dintre piesele ceramice se deta?eaz? ?Vasul cu Îndr?gosti?i? de la Sultana, f?r? îndoial? una dintre capodoperele artei preistorice, cu nimic mai prejos de celebrul ?Gânditor? de la Cernavod?. Pe fundul unei str?chini decorat? cu romburi albe ?i ro?ii în re?ea, este modelat un cuplu ?ezând pe un fel de b?ncu??. B?rbatul ?ine pe dup? umeri femeia care are bra?ele a?ezate pe pântec.



Simbolistica acestei piese ne trimite spre o adev?rat? tem? mitic? a societ??ii gumelni?ene care d? numele vasului respectiv: ?Vasul cu Îndr?gosti?i?. Se remarc? ?i alte piese deosebite: dou? vase antropomorfe modelate în forma corpului uman, splendid decorate cu motive geometrice pictate cu alb ?i ro?u. Mai amintim dou? capace cu protome de cornute pe margini, ce aveau modelate pe ele figurine umane ?i reprezentau teme cultice complexe legate probabil de anumite evenimente agrare. Un vas zoomorf, pictat cu alb ?i ro?u are modelat un realist cap de pas?re.




Au fost cercetate cel pu?in unsprezece locuin?e de suprafa??, de dimensiuni relativ mici, rar dep??ind 4 m lungime ?i 3 m l??ime (una singur? avea 7 x 4 m), orientate nord-sud. Unele aveau podele din lut amenajate pe un pat din bârne, iar vetrele, nelipsite din case, erau plasate de obicei în col?ul de nord-vest. Pere?ii aveau stâlpi de lemn cu împletitur? de crengi pomostite cu lut, iar acoperi?ul era probabil din stuf. A?ezarea a avut ?i un ?an? de ap?rare, adânc de circa 6 m, care era dublat spre interior de un val de p?mânt cu o în?l?ime de aproximativ un metru ?i o l??ime de 3?4 m l??ime.

Acestea sunt doar câteva dintre numeroasele descoperiri remarcabile identificate la Sultana-Malu Ro?u.

Sultana-Malu Rosu este zona in care se gasesc: vestigii de 6.000 de ani, cel mai vechi cimitir preistoric din sud-estul Europei

The Eneolithic Cemetery from Sultana-Malu Ro?u (C?l?ra?i county, Romania) at:


Prehistoric Art Exhibition -Stara Zagora, Bulgaria -Cat 


Hamangia Culture


 The two clay statuettes were found in 1956 in Cernavoda, Romania, in a tomb near the Danube. They come from the Hamangia culture, an early farming society emerging in the sixth millenium B.C. They were found among other similar, but headless figurines. There seems to be no agreement on the age of the artifacts, sources dating them anywhere from 2500 B.C.  to 6000 B.C.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

File:2006 0814 Histria Museum Neolithic Menhirs 20060301.jpg

Hamangia-Baia Menhir exhibited at Histria Museum

Hamangia was a Middle Neolithic culture in Dobruja (Romania and Bulgaria) to the right bank of the Danube in Muntenia and in the south. It is named after the site of Baia-Hamangia.


The Hamangia culture is connected to the Neolithisation of the Danube-Delta and the Dobruja. It includes Vinca, Dude?ti and Karanovo III elements, but may be based on autochthonous hunter-gatherers. The Hamangia culture developed into the succeeding Gumelnitsa, Boian and Varna cultures of the late Eneolithic without noticeable break.


P. Hasotti has divided the Hamangia-culture into three phases. The culture begins in the middle of the 6th Millennium. (6000 B.C.)


Painted vessels with complex geometrical patterns based on spiral-motifs are typical. The shapes include pots and wide bowls.


Pottery figurines are normally extremely stylized and show standing naked faceless women with emphasized breasts and buttocks. Two figurines known as ?The Thinker? and ?The Sitting woman? (see photos) are considered masterpieces of Neolithic art.


Settlements consist of rectangular houses with one or two rooms, built of wattle and daub, sometimes with stone foundations (Durankulak). They are normally arranged on a rectangular grid and may form small tells. Settlements are located along the coast, at the coast of lakes, on the lower and middle river-terraces, sometimes in caves.


Crouched or extended inhumation in cemeteries. Grave-gifts tend to be without pottery in Hamangia I. Grave-gifts include flint, worked shells, bone tools and shell-ornaments.

Important sites

  • Cernavod?, the necropolis where the famous statues ?The Thinker? and ?The Sitting Woman? were discovered
  • the eponymous site of Baia-Hamangia, discovered in 1953 along Lake Golovi?a, close to the Black Sea coast, in the Romanian province of Dobrogea.
  • Dumitru Berciu, Cultura Hamangia. Bucure?ti: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România, 1966.

See also

 At Hârsova, the Boian and Hamangia cultures shared the common border of their respective territories. From fragments of the Cucuteni culture found at the tell, we see that the Gumelnita had contacts with the Cucuteni who lived a hundred kilometers to the north. Lastly, the Cernavoda I people, coming from the east, in contact with the Gumelnita culture (which they replaced in Dobrogea), were also subject to south-anatolian influences, while still sustaining relations with the Cucuteni world.



Oldest Gold Treasure in the World-Varna Necropolis

According to M. Gimbutas (1991), "The discontinuity of the Varna, Karanovo, Turdash- Vinča, Lengyel cultures in their main territories and the large scale population shifts to the north and northwest are indirect evidence of a catastrophe of such proportions that cannot be explained by possible climatic change, land exhaustion, or epidemics (for which there is no evidence in the second half of the 5th millennium B.C.). Direct evidence of the incursion of horse-riding warriors is found, not only in single burials of males under barrows, but in the emergence of a whole complex of Kurgan cultural traits." and

According to J. Chapman (2005), "Once upon a time, not so very long ago, it was widely accepted that steppe nomads from the North Pontic zone invaded the Balkans, putting an end to the Climax Copper Age society that produced the apogee of tell living, autonomous copper metallurgy and, as the grandest climax, the Varna cemetery with its stunning early goldwork. Now the boot is very much on the other foot and it is the Varna complex and its associated communities that are held responsible for stimulating the onset of prestige goods-dominated steppe mortuary practice following the expansion of farming."

 5,000-year-old skeleton was once an important ruler in the ancient Pelasgian Balkans

 In 1972 after a tractor accidentally unearthed a stunning Chalcolithic cemetery near Bulgaria’s port city Varna, archaeologists discovered the oldest gold treasure in the world c. 4,500-4,000 BC. If the size of his burial trove and the scepter in his right hand are anything to judge by, this 6,000-year-old skeleton was once an important ruler in the ancient Pelasgian Balkans. His grave site was excavated along with about 300 other burials, stocked with over 3,000 gold artifacts: bracelets, beads, pectorals and appliques - the oldest hoard of gold ever found in the world. The Necropolis at Varna is an important site in understanding this culture. The impressive richness of the tombs discovered there made it possible to recognize a powerful hierarchal social organization.

Varna Necropolis


Discovery and excavation

The site was accidentally discovered in October 1972 by excavator operator Raycho Marinov. Research excavation was under the direction of Mihail Lazarov (1972–1976) and Ivan Ivanov (1972–1991). About 30% of estimated necropolis area is still not excavated.

294 graves have been found in the necropolis, many containing sophisticated examples of metallurgy (gold and copper), pottery (about 600 pieces, including gold-painted ones), high-quality flint and obsidian blades, beads, and shells.


The graves have been dated to 4600-4200 BC (radiocarbon dating, 2004) and belong to the Eneolithic Varna culture, which is the local variant of the KGKVI.

 Burial rites

A burial at Varna, with some of the world's oldest gold jewelry.

There are crouched and extended inhumations. Some graves do not contain a skeleton, but grave gifts (cenotaphs). Interestingly, the symbolic (empty) graves are the richest in gold artifacts. 3000 gold artifacts were found, with a weight of approximately 6 kilograms. Grave 43 contained more gold than has been found in the entire rest of the world for that epoch. Three symbolic graves contained masks of unfired clay (photo).

The findings showed that the Varna culture had trade relations with distant lands (possibly including the lower Volga and the Cyclades), perhaps exporting metal goods and salt from the Provadiya rock salt mine [1]. The copper ore used in the artifacts originated from a Sredna Gora mine near Stara Zagora, and Mediterranean Spondylus shells found in the graves may have served as primitive currency.

The culture had sophisticated religious beliefs about afterlife and developed hierarchal status differences: it offers the oldest known burial evidence of an elite male (the end of the fifth millennium BC is the time that Marija Gimbutas claims the transition to male dominance began in Europe). The high status male buried with the most remarkable amount of gold held a war adze or mace and wore a gold penis sheath. The bull-shaped gold platelets (photo) perhaps also venerated virility, instinctional force, and warfare. Gimbutas holds that the artifacts were made largely by local craftspeople.

Historical impact

According to M. Gimbutas (1991), "The discontinuity of the Varna, Karanovo, VinčaLengyel cultures in their main territories and the large scale population shifts to the north and northwest are indirect evidence of a catastrophe of such proportions that cannot be explained by possible climatic change, land exhaustion, or epidemics (for which there is no evidence in the second half of the 5th millennium B.C.). Direct evidence of the incursion of horse-riding warriors is found, not only in single burials of males under barrows, but in the emergence of a whole complex of Kurgan cultural traits." and

According to J. Chapman (2005), "Once upon a time, not so very long ago, it was widely accepted that steppe nomads from the North Pontic zone invaded the Balkans, putting an end to the Climax Copper Age society that produced the apogee of tell living, autonomous copper metallurgy and, as the grandest climax, the Varna cemetery with its stunning early goldwork. Now the boot is very much on the other foot and it is the Varna complex and its associated communities that are held responsible for stimulating the onset of prestige goods-dominated steppe mortuary practice following the expansion of farming."

Among the metallic (gold and copper) and non-metallic (minerals, rocks, pottery, pigments, bioobjects) artefacts in the graves from the Varna Chalcolithic site are numerous beads of a chalcedony (carnelian) and agate composition. Three main morphological types of beads are described: type 1 – elongated barrel-shaped; type 2 – elongated with trapezohedral facets; type 3 – short cylindrical (Kostov, 2007; Kostov, Pelevina, 2008). The carnelian and related beads of type 2 have a “constant” number of 32 facets – 16+16 on both sides on the elongation of the bead, which is considered probably the earliest in Chalcolithic times complex type of faceting on such a hard mineral (hardness of chalcedony is 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale). In the hole of a single carnelian bead was found a gold mini-cylinder (~2x2 mm). The gold artefacts from the Varna Chalcolithic necropolis are assumed to be the “oldest gold of mankind” according to their total volume and quantity. Analysis of the measured weight of the different types of gold artеfacts (beads, appliqués, rings, bracelets, pectorals and diadems) revealed a weight system with at least two minimal weight units of ~0.14 and ~0.40 g among both mineral and gold beads (Kostov, 2004; 2007). The second one (=2 carats) was suggested as a basic “Chalcolithic unit” with the name van (from the first letters of Varna necropolis).

Museum exhibitions

File:Or de Varna - Bijoux.jpg
Golden objects found in the necropolis.

The artifacts can be seen at the Varna Archaeological Museum and at the National Historical Museum in Sofia. In 2006, some gold objects were included in a major and broadly advertised national exhibition of antique gold treasures in both Sofia and Varna.

The gold of Varna started touring the world in 1973; it was included in "The Gold of the Thracian Horseman" national exhibition, shown at many of the world's leading museums and exhibition venues in the 1970s. In 1982, it was exhibited for 7 months in Japan as "The Oldest Gold in the World - The First European Civilization" with massive publicity, including two full length TV documentaries. In the 1980s and 1990s it was also shown in Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Israel, among others, and featured in a cover story by the National Geographic Magazine.

Varna necropolis artifacts were shown for the first time in the United States in 1998 and 1999 as part of a major Bulgarian archaeological exhibition, Thracians' Riches: Treasures from Bulgaria. From November 11, 2009, through April 25, 2010, several artifacts will be shown at the New York University Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in a joint Romanian-Bulgarian-Moldovan exhibition entitled The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC.[1][2] [3]

External links


  • Anthony, D. W., J. Y. Chi (Eds.) 2010. The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC. Princeton, U.P.
  • Avramova, M. 2000. Myth, ritual and gold of a “civilization that did not take place”. – In: Varna Necropolis. Varna, Agató, 15-24.
  • Bahn, P. G. (ed.). 1995. 100 Great Archaeological Discoveries. New York, Barnes & Noble, No. 34.
  • Bailey, D. W. 2004. Varna. – In: Bogucki, P., P. J. Crabtree (Eds.). Ancient Europe 8000 B.C. – A.D. 1000. Vol. 1. The Mesolithic to Copper Age (c. 8000-2000 B.C.). New York, Scribner’s, 341-344.
  • Chapman, J. 1990. Social inequality on Bulgarian tells and the Varna problem. - In: R. Samson (ed.). The Social Archaeology of Houses, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 49-98.
  • Chapman, J. 1991. The creation of social arenas in Varna. - In: P. Garwood (Ed.). Sacred and Profane. Oxford University Committee for Archaeology, Monograph 32, 152-171.
  • Chapman, J., T. Higham, B. Gaydarska, V. Slavchev, N. Honch. 2006. The social context of the emergence, development and abandonment of the Varna Cemetery, Bulgaria. - European Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 9, No. 2-3, 159-183.
  • Chapman, J., B. Gaydarska, V. Slavchev. 2008. The life histories of Spondylus shell rings from the Varna I Eneolithic cemetery (Northeast Bulgaria): transformation, revelation, fragmentation and deposition. – Acta Musei Varnaensis, 6, 139-162.
  • Éluére, Ch., D. Raub. 1991. Investigations on the gold coating technology of the great dish from Varna. – In: J.-P. Mohen (Ed.). Découverte du métal. Picard, Paris, 13-30.
  • Fol, A., J. Lichardus (eds.). 1988. Macht, Herrschaft und Gold: das Graberfeld von Varna (Bulgarien) und die Anfänge einer neuen europäischen Zivilisation. Saarbrücken, Moderne Galerie des Saarland-Museums.
  • Gimbutas, M. 1977. Varna: a sensationally rich cemetery at the Karanovo civilization: about 4500 B.C. – Expedition, Summer, 39-47.
  • Hayden, B. 1998. An archaeological evaluation of the Gimbutas paradigm. - In: The Virtual Pomegranate, 6.
  • Higham, T., J. Chapman, V. Slavchev, B. Gaydarska, N. Honch, Y. Yordanov, B. Dimitrova. 2007. New perspectives on the Varna cemetery (Bulgaria) – AMS dates and social implications. – Antiquity, 81, 313, 640-651.
  • Ivanov, I. 1977. La nécropole chalcolithique de Varna. – Obzor, 38, 87–96.
  • Ivanov, I. 1978. Les fouilles archéologiques de la nécropole chalcolithique а Varna (1972-1976). – Studia Praehistorica, 1-2, 13-26.
  • Ivanov, I. 1982. The Varna Chalcolithic necropolis. – In: The First Civilization in Europe and the Oldest Gold in the World – Varna, Bulgaria. Nippon Television Network Cultural Society, 21-24.
  • Ivanov, I. 1986. Der kupferzeitlishe Friedhof in Varna. – In: G. Biegel (Hrsg.). Das erste Gold der Menschheit. Die älteste Zivilisation in Europa. Freiburg, 30-42.
  • Ivanov, I. 1988. Die Ausgrabungen des Gräberfeldes von Varna. – In: Fol, A., J. Lichardus (Hrsg.). Macht, Herrschaft und Gold. Moderne-Galerie des Saarlands-Museum, Saarbrüken, Krüger, 49-66, 67-78.
  • Ivanov, I. 1991. Les objets metalliques de la necropole chalcolithique de Varna. – In: Découverte du metal. Paris, 9-12.
  • Ivanov, I. S., M. Avramova. 1997. Varna i razhdaneto na evropeiskata tsivilizatsiia. Sofia (in Bulgarian).
  • Ivanov, I., M. Avramova. 2000. Varna Necropolis. The Dawn of European Civilization. Sofia, Agató, 55 p.
  • Kănchev, K. 1978. Microwear studies of the weapons and tools from the chalcolithic necropolis at the city of Varna. – Studia Praehistorica, 1-2, 46-49.
  • Kostov, R. I. 2004. Prehistoric weight system among the gold objects of the Varna Chalcolithic necropolis. – Geology and Mineral Resources, 11, 3, 25-28 (in Bulgarian with an English abstract).
  • Kostov, R. I. 2007. Archaeomineralogy of Neolithic and Chalcolithic Artefacts from Bulgaria and their Significance to Gemmology. Sofia, Publishing House “St. Ivan Rilski”, 126 p., I-VIII (in Bulgarian with an English summary).
  • Kostov, R. I., O. Pelevina. 2008. Complex faceted and other carnelian beads from the Varna Chalcolithic necropolis: gemmological analysis. – In: Proceedings of the International Conference “Geology and Archaeomineralogy”. Sofia, 29-30 October 2008. Sofia, Publishing House “St. Ivan Rilski”, 67-72.
  • Kostov, R. I., T. Dimov, O. Pelevina. 2004. Gemmological characteristics of carnelian and agate beads from the Chalcolithic necropolis at Durankulak and Varna. – Geology and Mineral Resources, 11, 10, 15-24 (in Bulgarian with an English abstract).
  • Kuleff, I. 2009. Archeometric investigation of gold in the Chalcolithic necropolis of Varna (5th millennium BC) – Advances in Bulgarian Science, 2, 16-22.
  • Manolakakis, L. 2008. Le mobilier en silex taille des tombes de Varna I. – Acta Musei Varnaensis, 6, 115-138.
  • Marazov, I. 1997. The blacksmith as 'King' in the necropolis of Varna. - In: J. Marler (Ed.). From the Realm.
  • Marler, J. 1999. A response to Brian Hayden's article "An archaeological evaluation of the Gimbutas paradigm". - In: The Virtual Pomegranate, 10.
  • Nikolov, V. 1994. Der soziale und religios-mythologische Kontext des Goldes in der Nekropole bei Varna. – Ann. Department of Archaeology, New Bulgarian University, I, 4-7.
  • Renfrew, C. 1978. Varna and the social context of early metallurgy. - Antiquity, 52, 206, 197-203.
  • Renfrew, C. 1986. Varna and the emergence of wealth in prehistoric Europe. – In: The Social Life of Things: Comodities in Cultural Perspective (A. Appadurai, Ed.). Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 141-168.
  • Renfrew, C., P. Bahn. 1996. Archaeology: theories, methods, and practice. New York, Thames and Hudson.
  • Slavchev, V. 2004. Fragmentation research and the Varna Eneolithic cemetery Spondylus rings. - Proceedings of the Varna Round Table.
  • Todorova, H. 1982. Kupferzeitliche Siedlungen in Nordostbulgarien. München, Beck, Materialien zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Archäologie, Band 13.
  • Todorova, H. 1978. The Eneolithic Period in Bulgaria in the Fifth Millennium B.C. Oxford, British Archaeological Reports, BAR supplementary series 49.

See also


Coordinates: 43°12′47″N 27°51′52″E / 43.21306°N 27.86444°E / 43.21306; 27.86444

 Varna - Spondylus, Dentalium, Studia Praehistorica, Treasures of the Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis - Gold, Graves, Bulgaria, Copper, Grave, and Cemetery

by John Chapman


The Varna cemetery is located on the outskirts of the Black Sea resort of Varna, Bulgaria. In 1972, drainage operations cut through a grave in the richest area of the cemetery. Since then, excavations by Dr. Ivan Ivanov have uncovered 281 graves. The significance of Varna is that it constitutes the earliest floruit of gold metallurgy in the world, dating to the middle phase of the Balkan Copper Age (early fourth millennium b.c.).

The cemetery comprises flat graves with individuals buried in shallow pits. There are two classes of burial rite: graves with and without skeletons. The former are the commonest, mostly extended inhumations on the back, with goldwork rare: included here are ten poorly furnished contracted inhumations. The second category, graves without skeletons, are of two types: cenotaph graves, where grave goods are laid out as if the body were present, and mask graves, where a life-size clay mask represents the body. Most cenotaph graves are poor, though some have gold- and copper-work, whereas three cenotaphs and three mask graves are extremely rich. Adult females and males are buried with rich or poor artifacts, while children younger than twelve years are not represented

The grave goods represent the accumulation of more prestige goods than on any other coeval site in eastern Europe. Tombs 4 and 43 each contained over 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg) of gold, Tomb 1 had over 2.2 pounds (1 kg), and Tomb 36 almost 1.7 pounds (0.8 kg) and 853 objects. These sumptuous artifacts indicate a mastery of the techniques of beaten sheet-metal-working, wire production, and gold vessel painting. The majority of gold finds has no parallels anywhere else in Eurasia: the diadem from Tomb 3, appliqués often in the form of a bull, gold-plated axe-shafts, the solid gold astragalus, and the penis sheath from Tomb 43. The copper finds include shaft-hole axes, awls, chisels, and beads. Beads are also made of Spondylus and Dentalium shells, as well as bone, marble, carnelian, and limestone. Marble rhyta, dishes, axes, and stylized figurines are found, the latter with metal earrings. Obsidian and flint blades up to 16 inches (40 cm) in length were made using pressure-flaking techniques. The ceramics are typically decorated with geometric designs outlined in graphite.

Whereas part of the high status of these grave goods derives from their workmanship and aesthetic qualities, the distance over which they were exchanged provided additional value. Much of the gold derived from southeastern Bulgaria, like the marble and carnelian. Some gold came from Transylvania. The obsidian was from northeastern Hungary. Most of the copper and graphite came from central Bulgarian mines. Spondylus and Dentalium were from the Aegean, the honey-colored flint from northeastern Bulgaria. The richest graves contained symbols characteristic of different regional communities: the gold astragalus characteristic of northwestern Bulgaria, the gold-painted vase of central Bulgaria and a marble figurine of southern Bulgaria. Products and symbols came from up to 1,543 miles (700 km) away, underlining Varna's integration into wide-ranging exchange and ritual networks covering much of eastern Europe.

The central question raised by Varna is why such an accumulation of finery was concentrated in one cemetery. When Varna was first discovered, there was an overwhelming contrast between the wealth of its finds and the apparently egalitarian nature of contemporary tell settlements. More recently, the excavation of Bulgarian sites such as Ovvcarovo and Poljanica indicates architectural and social differentiation on tells, with the accumulation of household or lineage wealth. Varna takes this process one stage further, for it symbolizes burial not only of local elites but of the leaders of an interregional alliance. The deposition of such wealth in relatively few graves at Varna indicates competitive grave-good deposition by regional lineages to secure the role of alliance leader—a sign of widespread and successful social integration at a time when accumulation of wealth first became possible.[See also Europe: The European Copper Age; Metallurgy: Metallurgy In the Old World.]

Bibliography and More Information about Varna
•Studia Praehistorica (Sofia) vols. 1–2 (collection of articles about Varna) (1975).
•Ivan Ivanov, Treasures of the Varna Chalcolithic Necropolis (1977).
•Alexander Fol & Jan Lichardus, eds., Power, Society and Gold: The Varna Cemetery (Bulgaria) and the Start of a New European Civilisation (1988).
•National Museums Group Paris, The First Gold in the World in Bulgaria, 5th Millennium BC (1989).
•John Chapman, The Creation of Social Arenas in the Neolithic and Copper Age of S.E. Europe: The Case of Varna, in Sacred and Profane, eds. Paul Garwood, David Jennings, Robin Skeates, and Judith Toms (1991), pp. 152–170.
John Chapman

 More info and photos of ceramics and gold at Varna Museum of Archeology:


Thracians population settled around Odessos since Late Bronze Age (13-12 c. BC). Their origin is similar to the Trojan and it is not accidental that they are listed among Trojan allies in Homer’s Illiad. Thracians settle on the Balkan Peninsula on several human waves, the latest and the most important in population being during the Early Iron Age, dated in Thrace from the end of 12th c. to beginning of 7th c BC, i.e. immediately before the beginning of Greek colonization of the Black sea coast. During 9th - 7th c. BC local Thracians had active commercial and cultural contacts with Anatolian population (Asia Minor), Thessaly, Caucasus and the Mediterranean, which is reflected to some local productions. This is especially true for bronze fibula of the age, where imported forms co-exist with local production. There is no doubt that interactions occurred mstly by sea and the aquatory of Odessos is one of the places where the exchanges took place. Some schlars consider that during the Ist millennium BC, the region, together with the Thracians, was settled by the half-mythical Cymerians. As example of their, probably accidental, presence, is advanced the tumulus tomb with stone stele dated 8th - 7th and found near Belogradets, region of Varna.

May ancient authors mention that long before the coming of Greeks on the west seashore of Black Sea, the region around present day Varna was densely populated with Thracians. One such author, known as Pseudo-Skimnos explicitly states: “...Around the city (Odessos) lives the Thracian tribe named Crobises.” These facts are proven by many and various ceramic utensils, made by hand or on pottery wheel, many bronze ornaments for horse ammunitions and iron weaponry, all found in Thracian necropolises dated 6th – 4th c. BC in the region of Varna – near the villages of Dobrina, Kipra, Brestak and other. The Thracians in the region were ruled by kings, who entered in different periods in unions with the greater Thracian states existing between 5th and 1st c. BC – Odresses, Ghetes or Sapeyas. Between 336-280 BC these Thracian states were conquered by Alexander the Great, ruler of this part of the Balkan Peninsula. Archeological findings during the past years indicate that the population of North-East Thrace during the period was very diverse, including the vicinity of Odessos. It is found that during 6th – 4th c. BC the region was populated with Scetes, who normally inhabit the steppe region in South Russia and Ukraine and partly the area south of river Istros (Danube). Characteristic for their culture weaponry and bronze objects are found all over the region. Scytian horse ornaments are produced in stylish manner, so-called “animal style,” which is very close to the Thracian, probably a reason of frequent mixture of both populaces in North-eastern Thrace. Many bronze findings give testimony for such process – applications and front plates for horse heads, as well as moulds for such products in nearby and more distanced settlements. Since 4th c. BC the region is populated by more Ghetes – Thracian tribe populating both shores around the Danubian delta.

During their invasion of the Balkan Peninsula, after 280 BC, the region was populated by Celts. All over North-East Bulgaria and even near Odessos are found significant in numbers bronze objects with characteristic Celt ornaments and typical weapons, all quickly adopted by Thracians. One of the Celtic – Arkovna, located about 80 km from Odessos was probably the permanent, or at least temporarily, the capital of their last king Kavar (270/260-216/210 BC). Probably after the downfall of his kingdom, Celts mingled with the enormous mass of Thracians in the country. In a later period between 2nd and 1st c. BC, between Dyonissopolis (Balchik) and Odessos, in present day Dobrudja were created many small Scytian states. Their “kings” mint their coins in mint-houses located in the cities on the West Black Sea coast, including Odessos. The Thracian population in North-East Thrace seems to be backward as compared to their counterparts in South Thrace, including invaders in the territory. Thracians in the region lived in two types of settlements: non-fortified, located in fertile lands near water sources and stone built fortresses in hard to reach mountain environment, where most frequently were located the kings’ residences. Thracians were busy with agriculture, husbandry, forestry and hunting and fishing. Among their art crafts one should mention metallurgy – especially weaponry, excelling processing of bronze, making of bracelets, rings, Thracian type of fibulas, horse ornaments, top of arrows. Local goldsmiths produced from silver and gold characteristic for Thracian clothing chest plates, ceremonial ornaments for horses of kings and aristocracy, as well as used for special feasts fialas and ritons for drinking.

Despite ethnic diversity, numerous internal and external conflicts, and cultural differences, it may be noted that the populations of North-Eastern Bulgaria and the cities along the seashore have demonstrated stable tolerance for each group. However the progress of Thracians outside the seashore area was very slow. Conservatism is easily seen in ceramics production and mainly in religion. The most frequent deity of all is the so-called Thracian god-rider, who has different names in various places and different, or additional functions. Well venerated were different water-related deities – so called Three nymphs and Zalmoxis with the Getaes. After all the citizen of coastal cities completed their civilizing mission. One should note that there is always two-way communication and Thracians influenced citizen as well, especially in religious approach. During the centuries, especially by the end of Hellenistic age (2nd – 1st c. BC), Thracians adopted more and more the elaborated Hellenistic traditions, thus acting as intermediate for the continental Thracians.

Research fellow Alexander Minchev

Exponats per page  1   2   3   4   <5>   6   7   
Page    <1>    2    3    4    5    6        
Stone anchorThraciansCult ItemStone anchor
Bronze fibulaThraciansJewelryBronze fibula
Clay-made riton.ThraciansCeramicsClay-made riton.
Bronze ornamentThraciansCult ItemBronze ornament
Bronze applicationThraciansCult ItemBronze application


Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture


 Photo of Neolithic bone mask at: ttp://

Neolithic settlement excavation and survey
Location: Soimeni, Miercurea Ciuc (Transylvania) Romania

Period: Ariusd-Cucuteni - Neolithic Site:Village  Dates: July 11 - August 8, 2010 Archaeological Techniques and Research Center - Centre de recherches et techniques archaeologiques ArchaeoTek - CanadaContact us: [email protected]


La Brad s-a descoperit în 1982 un important tezaur de obiecte din os, cupru, dar şi 2 mici discuri din aur. Discurile sînt cele mai vechi obiecte din aur, au fost făurite cu 7.000 de ani în urmă şi apartin Culturii Cucuteni A. Muzeul din Roman. 

Cucuteni- Trypolie (Trypillian) Culture,

The Last Great Chalcolithic Urban Civilisation of Europe 
 Cucuteni-Tripolye Museum, Piatra Neamt, Romania-Moldova


Hora of Frumusica


 Cornelia-Magda Mantu, Senica Turcanu, Archaeological Institute, Iassi, Romania,  SCÂNTEIA, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE at:


    Binocular shaped vase. Ghelaiesti. Settlement, Cucuteni Culture. Pottery         






The Thinker 


The thinker of Tirpesti. Precucuteni culture.


The Last Great Chalcolithic Civilization of Europe

Exhibition Project
 The Cucuteni culture is, chronologically speaking, the last great chalcolithic civilisation in southeastern Europe and, at the same time, parts of the great Neolithic spiritual edifice in this region. The area of the first European Neolithic, which included the Balkan Peninsula, today's territory of Romania, Bessarabia, Western Ukraine and Southern Hungary, was called by Marija Gimbutas, in an inspiring phrase, "Old Europe". Starting with the beginning of the chalcolithic, a series of profoundly original cultures appeared in this area, which involved the whole region in a spectacular process of development that brought it to the verge of civilisation. Fortified settlements, considerable architectural achievements, sanctuaries and temples, fabulous necropolis containing thousands of golden objects, a diversified agriculture with plenty of crops, a trade network, all this are the great achievements of the "Chalcolithization" of south-east Europe.
However, beyond any material achievement, the most important accomplishment is the great Chalcolithic spiritual structure of Old Europe, based on the life - death - afterlife cycle. This structure was hard to be explained because of the opacity of mysteries with the latest archaeological discoveries. They supplied immemorial religious and mythological structures. Our region is not only a source of future archaeological discoveries but also an ethnographic reserve, which can contribute through its agrarian tradition to the deciphering of the Chalcolithic spirit. The Cucuteni culture is, chronologically speaking, the last great chalcolithic civilisation in southeastern Europe and, at the same time, parts of the great Neolithic spiritual edifice in this region. Revealing its "mysteries" can contribute to the investigation of an essential moment in our history, a moment which generated our present way of living.

Gheorghe Dumitroaia and Cornelia Magda Mantu



 Vestiges of Neolithic cultures (Boian-Gumelnita in the Romanian Plain and the Dobrudja, Cucuteni-Ariusd in Moldavia and Eastern Transylvania, and Turdas-Petresti in Transylvania, Banat and Oltenia) have one element in common, namely, a polychrome pottery of exquisite beauty and remarkable technical achievement.

Amphora, Eneolithic Cucuteni, 7,000-3,500 BCE, Cucuteni, Romania National History Museum (below left)


       The Cucuteani-Trypillian culture, also known as Cucuteni culture (Romania), Trypillian culture (Ukraine)  is a late Neolithic archaeological culture that flourished between ca. 5500 BC and 2750 BC in the region of modern-day Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The Cucuteni culture, better known in the countries of the former Soviet Union as Trypillian culture or Tripolie culture, is a late Neolithic archaeological culture that flourished between ca. 4500 BC and 3000 BC in the Dniester-Dnieper region of modern-day Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The culture was named after Cucuteni, Iaşi county, Romania, where first objects associated with this culture were discovered in 1884 and excavations started in 1909. In 1897, similar objects were excavated in Trypillia (Трипiлля; Russian: Trepolye), Kiev Governorate, Ukraine. As a result, the culture has been known in Soviet, Russian, and Ukrainian publications as Tripolie culture or Tripolian culture. A compromise name is Cucuteni-Trypillia

 Cucuteni is a village near Iasi, in Moldova, NE Romania. Eponymus site of the Cucuteni-Tripoly civilization, represented by the beauteful figurines and vases in Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. Preceded by the Precucuteni, Gumelnita and Hamangia cultures.Over 3000 settlements were discovered in the region where Cucuteni pottery was used, and there are still plenty of areas which have not been closely examined. The Hamangia culture is connected to the Neolithisation of the Danube-Delta and the Dobruja.The culture begins in the middle of the 6th Millennium. (6000 B.C.)

Marija Gimbutas  excavations and interpretations show, at the dawn of civilization, a society stretching across Europe from the Danube to the North Sea in which women had high status and power along with men. Egalitarian and peaceful, "Old Europe" existed for thousands of years without war. Hundreds of female figurines were found. Paintings, sculptures of birth-giving goddesses, pottery figures of bird headed deities and sacred serpents all honored the regenerative powers of nature. "The Goddess in all her manifestations was a symbol of the unity of all life in Nature. Her power was in water and stone, in tomb and cave, in animals and birds, snakes and fish, hill, trees, and flowers." -- Marija Gimbutas

Old Europe is a term coined by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas to describe what she perceives as a relatively homogeneous and widespread pre-Indo-European Neolithic culture in Europe, particularly in Malta and the Balkans. In her major work, The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: 6500–3500 B.C. (1982), she refers to these Neolithic cultures as Old Europe. Archaeologists and ethnographers working within her framework believe that the evidence points to migrations of the peoples who spoke Indo-European languages at the beginning of the Bronze age (the Kurgan hypothesis). For this reason, Gimbutas and her associates regard the terms Neolithic Europe, Old Europe, and Pre-Indo-European as synonymous.

 Suggesting the Cucuteni-Tripolye as the source of PIE. Something I did wonder once after seeing a pretty old wheeled toy from that area. They were the most advanced civilisation (not too strong a word, they had small cities) of Neolithic Europe, and were one of the first cultures to use metal.

Cucuteni-Trypillian cow-on-wheels, 3950-3650 B.C


The World Oldest Wooden Wheel Found in Slovenia and Cucuteni Cow-on Weels Toy


 Tripolye as the source of PIE. Something I did wonder once after seeing a pretty old wheeled toy from that area. They were the most advanced civilisation (not too strong a word, they had small cities) of Neolithic Europe, and were one of the first cultures to use metal.

Cucuteni-Trypillian cow-on-wheels, 3950-3650 B.C

One of the more interesting points from it was that word for wheel you find in other languages seems to have a root in the PIE word to turn/rotate. As far as I know, the worlds oldest wheel is 5,300 BP, dragged up from a Slovenian Marsh.

Jim Mallory (1989: 163), on the other hand, goes a long way towards the here proposed solutionwith the following observations:

“Tomas Gamkrelidze and Vyach[e]slav Ivanov… have noted that … Proto-Indo-European *kwekwlo- bears striking similarity to the words for vehicles in Sumerian gigir, Semitic *galgal-, and Kartvelian *grgar. With the putative origin of wheeled vehicles set variously to Pontic-Caspian, Transcasucasia or to Sumer, we may be witnessing the original word for a wheeled vehicle in four different language families. Furthermore, as the Proto-Indo-European form is built on an Indo-European verbal root *kwel- ‘to turn, to twist’, it is unlikely that the Indo-Europeans borrowed their word from one of the other languages. This need not, of course, indicate that the Indo-Europeans invented wheeled vehicles, but it might suggest that they were in some form of contact relation with these Near Eastern languages in the fourth millennium BC.”

Since the Trypillians weren’t that far at all from the steppes area, I can see this might have some validity. The Dniester site is just in my ‘had wheels’ at the right time zone, and the timing isn’t massively far off. This might allow a compromise between the 9,000 BP ’first farmers’ and 5,500 BP ‘Kurgan’ theory, as they probably did speak the languge of the expanding farmers.

 The worlds oldest wooden wheel found in Slovenia, about 5,200 years old. Seen on the right. The wheel was found in April 2002, together with a squared oak axle, in the remains of a pile-dwelling settlement  

 The Andronovo culture ,strongly associated with the Indo-Iranians is often credited with the invention of the spoke-wheeled chariot around 2000 BCE.[3]

Sintashta is a site on the upper Ural River. It is famed for its grave-offerings, particularly chariot burials. These inhumations were in kurgans and included all or parts of animals (horse and dog) deposited into the barrow. Sintashta is often pointed to as the premier proto-Indo-Iranian site, and that the language spoken was still in the Proto-Indo-Iranian stage.[4] There are similar sites "in the Volga-Ural steppe".[5]


Asemanari dintre cultura Cucuteni si cultura chineza Yangshao

Asemănări dintre cultura CUCUTENI și cultura chineză YANGSHAO
 Cine pe cine a influențat acum 6-7.000 de ani?

Cucuteni-yangshao 2
O altă mare enigmă a istoriei este născută de bulversanta asemănare dintre cultura Cucuteni, cea mai importantă cultură europeană a acelor vremuri, și cultura chineză Yangshao. Cele două culturi au fost contemporane (Cucuteni a evoluat între anii 5.000-3.500 î. Chr., în aceeași perioadă în care a ființat și Yangshao: 5.000-3.000 î. Chr.), iar dovezile istorice ne fac să credem că reprezentanții lor nu erau străini unii de alții, ba, mai mult, că aveau chiar relații comerciale și culturale.
Un lucru remarcabil de la prima vedere îl reprezintă faptul că ceramica celor două culturi se aseamănă uimitor de mult – simboluri, forme, culori atât de apropiate încât un nespecialist le-ar putea confunda cu ușurință. Să fie doar o misterioasă coincidență sau vorbim despre influențe concrete în ambele sensuri, ori măcar dintr-o direcție spre cealaltă?
Cucuteni-yangshao 1
Desigur, uriașa distanță dintre teritoriile ocupate de cele două civilizații ar putea să ne facă să credem că acest lucru nu era posibil acum 5-6-7.000 de ani. Să nu uităm însă că în urmă cu 2.000 de ani avem dovezi ale existenței Drumului Mătăsii, un drum comercial care lega China de Europa. Acest drum este considerat de unii cercetători, printre care și specialistul în preistorie André Leroi-Gourhan, un spațiu de schimburi între oameni încă din paleolitic, adică chiar dintr-o perioadă mai veche.
Drumul matasii
Ca o confirmare a acestei posibilități, în anul 2014, o descoperire de excepție făcută în România – scoaterea la lumină a unei locuințe pre-cucuteni, cu o vechime de aproximativ 7.200 de ani – a adus dovezi ale schimburilor comerciale dintre locuitorii de pe teritoriul României și cei din China…
Datorită excepționalei descoperiri de la Baia, în județul Suceava, o echipă de cercetători de la Universitatea din Cambridge a venit încă de anul trecut pentru a sprijini munca arheologilor români. Alături de arheologul Emil Ursu, directorul Muzeului Bucovinei, echipa de la Cambridge urmărește să stabilească modul în care acum 6-7.000 de ani se făceau schimburi de cereale între Europa și Asia, dar în special între Europa și China. Martin Kenneth Jones, specialist în arheologia biomoleculară a cerealelor și-a început cercetările în China, unde a găsit cereale aduse în acele vremuri din Europa, în timp ce în Europa a identificat cereale aduse din China.
Jones, vorbind despre descoperirea de la Baia: „Credem care are legatură cu culturile agricole din China. Am fost interesați de zece ani de această dezvoltare și am început munca în China pentru a înțelege mai bine ce este cu aceste produse agricole, cereale. În acea perioadă, pe vremea migrațiilor, transportul nu era atât de simplu, iar cum s-a făcut acesta este interesant”. (Mediafax)
Cucuteni-yangshao 3
Iată că, din perspectiva specialiștilor, o relație între cele două culturi este posibă. Dincolo de dovezile arheologice care pun în evidență schimburi de cereale între cele două continente, asemănarea ceramicii celor două culturi este frapantă și ne vorbește despre legături deosebit de interesante.
Cucuteni-yangshao 5
În munca de comparare a ceramicii celor două culturi, am găsit o serie de evidente asemănări, o parte dintre acestea fiind expuse în acest articol. Ceea ce este deosebit de interesant este și faptul că anumite obiecte de cult cucuteniene seamănă izbitor cu Pagodele Chinezești care, la rândul lor, sunt construcții destinate vieții religioase…
Nu în ultimul rând, trebuie să remarcăm că două dintre cele mai importante simboluri ale spațiului Asiatic (și implicit ale Chinei) – Yin Yang și Svastica – au fost descoperite pe ceramică cucuteniană mai veche de 6.000 de ani. Chiar mai mult, pe teritoriul României, simbolul svasticii apare și în cultura Turdaș Vinca, cu o vechime de 7.500 de ani.
În acest context, ne putem întreba dacă nu cumva culturile neolitice dezvoltate într-un spațiu care înglobează și România de azi, au creat influențe până departe în Asia, acest spațiu carpato-danubiano-pontic fiind nu numai Vatra Vechii Europe, după cum spun unii cercetători străini, ci și un loc de unde au pornit spre Asia populații care stau și la baza unor culturi de pe acest continent…
Pentru că, să nu uităm câteva lucruri remarcabile despre cultura Cucuteni:
– A fost vârful cultural, economic și social al Europei timp de 1.500 de ani, între 5.000-3.500 î. Chr.;
– Cucutenienii aveau case cu etaj și case pe piloni;
– Locuințele lor, unele de până la 200 de mp, erau compartimentate, fiecare cameră având o utilitate specifică;
– S-au descoperit așezări de aproape 20.000 de case, aranjate planimetric, ceea ce arată o organizare socială foarte bine pusă la punct, sugerând existența unor proto-orașe;
– Pasta ceramică cucuteniană ca și pigmenții folosiți sunt de o calitate excepțională, foarte greu de atins și cu tehnologia de astăzi. Practic, pasta ceramică și culorile sunt foarte bine păstrate, chiar și după ce au stat în pământ 7.000 de ani;
– Cucutenienii foloseau cuptoare de ardere cu reverberație, o minune tehnică pentru acea perioadă;
– Cultivau aproape toate cerealele și diverși pomi fructiferi…
Cucuteni-yangshao 4
În concluzie, avem aproape de noi o comoară culturală pe care statul român ar trebui să o valorifice la adevărata ei valoare. Peste toate, dovezile ne vorbesc despre legături și influențe uimitoare, la distanțe uriașe pentru acele vremuri. Cu timpul, poate că toți românii vor cunoaște istoria acestor locuri și o vor aprecia la adevărata valoare. Pentru că merită! Pentru că este și a noastră!

Religion and Ritual of the Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture

Religion and ritual of the Cucuteni?Trypillian culture


Cucuteni Shrine

The study of religion and ritual of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture has provided important insights into the early history of Europe. The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, which existed in the present-day southeastern European nations of Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine during the Neolithic Age and Copper Age, from approximately 5500 BC to 2750 B.C., left behind thousands of settlement ruins containing a wealth of archaeological artifacts attesting to their cultural and technological characteristics.[1] Refer to the main article for a general description of this culture; this article deals with its religious and ritualistic aspects.

Some Cucuteni-Trypillian communities have been found that contain a special building located in the center of the settlement, which archaeologists have identified as sacred sanctuaries. Artifacts have been found inside these sanctuaries, some of them having been intentionally buried in the ground within the structure, that are clearly of a religious nature, and have provided insights into some of the beliefs, and perhaps some of the rituals and structure, of the members of this society. Additionally, artifacts of an apparent religious nature have also been found within many domestic Cucuteni-Trypillian homes.

Many of these artifacts are clay figurines or statues. Archaeologists have identified many of these as fetishes or totems, which are believed to be imbued with powers that can help and protect the people who look after them. These Cucuteni-Trypillian figurines have become known popularly as Goddesses, however, this is actually a misnomer from a scientific point of view. There have been so many of these so-called clay Goddesses discovered in Cucuteni-Trypillian sites that many museums in eastern Europe have a sizeable collection of them, and as a result, they have come to represent one of the more readily-identifiable visual markers of this culture to many people.

Archaeological artifacts

As mentioned above, beginning in the Precucuteni III period (circa 4800-4600 BC), special communal sanctuary buildings began to appear in Cucuteni-Trypillian settlements. They continued to exist during the Cucuteni A and Cucuteni A/B (corresponding to Trypillian B) periods (circa 4600-3800 BC), but then for some reason these sanctuaries began to disappear, until in the Cucuteni B (Trypillian C) period (circa 3800-3500 BC) only a few examples have been discovered from archaeological exploration. These sanctuaries were constructed in a monumental style architecture, and included stelae, statues, shrines, and numerous other ceremonial and religious artifacts, sometimes packed in straw inside pottery.[2]


Some of these artifacts originally seemed to represent themes that are Chthonic (of the Underworld), and Celestial/Heavenly, or of the sky. During an excavation in 1973 at the Cucuteni-Trypillian site at Ghel?ie?ti, near the city of Neam?, Romania, archaeologist ?tefan Cuco? discovered a house in the center of the settlement that was the community sanctuary. The following account written by Croatian archeologist Marina Hoti describes the findings within this sanctuary:

In the southeast corner of the house a vase surrounded by six vases was found under the floor. The central vase was turned upside down, covering another vessel with a lid, in which four anthropomorphic figurines were found, arranged in a cross and looking to the four sides of the world. Two figurines were decorated with lines and had completely black heads and legs; the other two were not colored but they had traces of ocher red.[3]

Ritual vessel discovered at Ghel?e?ti? containing four clay figurines
Cutaway diagram of the vessel

Refer to the two accompanying images for a visual depiction of the four figurines within the upturned pot buried in the sanctuary at the Ghel?ie?ti site. Subsequent analysis of this discovery has led to a number of interpretations by various scholars over the years. ?tefan Cuco?, who discovered the artifact, included other symbols discovered at Ghel?ie?ti, including snake-like depictions, the cross-shape of altars, and swastika designs, concluded that it was associated with a ritual of fertility dedicated to the Goddess, associating the black-painted figurines with chthonic themes, and the red ocher-painted figurines with celestial, or heavenly themes.[4] Hungarian archaeologist János Makkay also supported a fertility ritual interpretation. Marija Gimbutas, Lithuanian archaeologist and author of "The Civilization of the Goddess", interpeted this discovery as a dualistic interpretation of summer and winter, representing the cycle of life and death in nature.

However, later analysis of this discovery incorporated the entire setting in which these painted figurines were found: specifically, that they were buried under an upturned ceramic vessel. Comparing this find with other similar discoveries from contemporary cultures in Isaiia and Poduri[5], scholars developed a theory that the tableau taken in its setting, being buried beneath the floor of the sanctuary, and with the four figurines facing outward to the four cardinal directions, represented a means to protect the sanctuary and settlement from evil. The black heads of the figurines were associated with death, and the red ocher was painted on the figurines on the precise body parts that the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture painted on the body parts of their dead before burial. These figurines, therefore, most likely represented departed souls, or beings from the underworld (land of the dead). By enclosing them in an overturned vessel, and burying this entire arrangement under the floor of the sanctuary, they were protecting the settlement from the evil influences these figurines represented by creating a magical sigil of protection.[3]

Mother Goddess figurines

As evidence from archaeology, thousands of artifacts from Neolithic Europe have been discovered, mostly in the form of female figurines. As a result a goddess theory has occurred. The leading historian was Marija Gimbutas, still this interpretation is a subject of great controversy in archaeology due to her many inferences about the symbols on artifacts.[6]

Goddess design on ceramic pot
Goddess design earrings
Rhombus design used as a symbol for fertility[7]

Some researchers consider that the symbols used for representing the feminity are the rhombus for fertility and the triangle as a symbol for fecundity.[7] The cross, symbolizing nature's power of fertility and renewal, was sometimes used to represent masculinity, as well as the phases of the moon.[8]

"Circle of Goddesses" figurines

This ritual assemblies lay in a vase that had a very anomalous shape to the Precucuteni style and were full of soil and straw. The cultic objects were put on display and worshiped during magic-religious ceremonies. The repeated use of them is proven by the presence of some chipping from wear. When not in motion, they were probably stored in this special container. The presence of soil under some statuettes kept in the vase, and the evidence of cariossids on the surface of two figurines and four stools, led some researchers to hypothesize that the pieces had been deposited in soil and straw for magical purposes: they had been left to bud. all the statues were distinct. Some of them bear geometrical decorations. There were observed mature statuettes (that have already given birth), young statuettes (that have not yet given birth), and a babies . Only the mature figurines may sit by right on clay stools.

Goddess with the double triangle (hourglass) design and "bird hands".[9]
Bird Goddesses

Bird goddess figurines

According to some researchers as Gimbutas, Lazarocici, for the Precucuteni communities, mythic birds possibly embodied a solar principle and the revival of the life, serving as a symbol of prosperity and protection.

Funerary rites

One of the unanswered questions regarding the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture is the small number of artifacts associated with funerary rites. Although very large settlements have been explored by archaeologists, the evidence for mortuary activity is almost invisible. Making a distinction between the eastern Tripolye and the western Cucuteni regions of the Cucuteni-Trypillian geographical area, American archaeologist Douglass W. Bailey writes:

There are no Cucuteni cemeteries and the Tripolye ones that have been discovered are very late.

[10](p115) The discovery of skulls is more frequent then other parts of the body, however because there has not yet been a comprehensive statistical survey done of all of the skeletal remains discovered at Cucuteni-Trypillian sites, precise post excavation analysis of these discoveries cannot be accurately determined at this time.

Some historians have contrasted the funerary practices of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture with the neighboring Linear Pottery culture, which existed from 5500-4500 BC in the region of present-day Hungary and extending westward into central Europe, making it coincide with the Precucuteni to Cucuteni A Phases. Archaeological evidence from the Linear Pottery sites have shown that they practiced cremation, as well as inhumation (or burial). However, there appears to have been a distinction made in the Linear-Pottery culture on where the bodies were interred, based on gender and social dominance. Women and children were found to be buried beneath the floor of the house, while men were missing, indicating some other practice was associated with how they dealt with the dead bodies of males. One of the conclusions drawn from this evidence was espoused by Marija Gimbutas, author of The Civilization of the Goddess: The world of Old Europe, in which she theorizes that women and children were associated with hearth and home, and so they would be buried beneath it as an act of connecting their bodies to the home.[11]

Collectively taking these characteristics of the neighboring Linear Pottery culture into consideration, scholars have theorized that additional Cucuteni-Tryilian sites may be found, including locations that may be detached from the main settlements, where there may be evidence of the practice of cremation. Archaeologists have discussed broadening the search areas around known Cucuteni-Trypillian settlements to cover a much wider area, and to employ modern techniques to help try to find evidence of outlying sites where evidence of funerary activities could be found.[12]

In addition to cremation and burial, other possible methods of disposing of the bodies of the dead have been suggested. Romanian archaeologists Silvia Marinescu-Bîlcu and Alexandra Bolomey suggest a common practice of abandoning the body to the mercy of Mother Nature,[13](p157) a practice that may be somewhat similar to the Zoroastrian tradition of placing the bodies of the dead on top of a Tower of Silence (or Dakhma), which are then fed upon by carrion birds.

Russian archaeologist Tamara Grigorevna Movsha proposed a theory in 1960 to explain the absence of some bones were considered to have magic powers and were scattered on purpose across the settlement.[14]

Others have suggested the practices of cannibalism (known also as anthrophagy), or excarnation, which is the practice of removing the flesh and organs of the dead, leaving only the bones. Romanian archaeologist Sergiu Haimovici writes about such a discovery:

...Alexandra Bolomey...made a review[15]) of a series of...human remains, (and) least partly, (that) they have a cultic character and maybe antropophagy [sic] of (a) cultic type.[16]

This would indicate that perhaps some ritualistic cannibalism was practiced among the Cucuteni-Trypillian tribes.

The only conclusion which can be draw from archeological evidence is that in the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture that in the vast majority of cases the bodies were not formally deposited within the settlement area.[10](p116)


Various researchers have some hypotheses about Cucuteni rituals:

  1. Incineration Ritual of Cucuteni-Trypillya houses, most probable associated with interment and immolation.
  2. a ritual, who consider sacrifice buried under houses or on settlement, animals, their heads or parts, possibly associated with immolation ceremony.[17]
  3. a ritual, who consist in burying (by interment) under dwellings or on settlement of human skulls, bone, sometimes burnt, the deceased with stock, possibly is also associated with immolation.
  4. Rituals, associated with use of fire, when into pit, exclusive of ashes get the various things, possibly immolation oddments. Also some researchers argue, that in some rituals Cucuteni culture has use anthropomorphous, zoomorphous clay figurines, binocular vessels.[18]

 See also


  1. ^ Mallory, James P (1989). In search of the Indo-Europeans: language, archaeology and myth. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 050005052X. OCLC 246601873. 
  2. ^ Lazarovici, Cornelia-Magda (2005). "Anthropomorphic statuettes from Cucuteni-Trypillian site: some signs and symbols" (in English with introductory matter and summaries also in Slovenian). Documenta Praehistorica. Neolitske ?tudije (Ljubljana: Univerza v Ljubljani, Filozofska fakulteta, Oddelek za arheologijo) 32: 145?154. ISSN 1408-967X. OCLC 41553667. 
  3. ^ a b Hoti, Marina (December 1993). "[Vu?edol-Streim vineyard: the magical ritual and the twin grave of the Vu?edol-Culture]" (in Croatian (Hrvatski), with English translation appended). Vu?edol-Streimov vinograd: magijski ritual i dvojni grob vu?edolske kulture. Opvscvla Archaeologica Radovi Arheolo?kog zavoda (Opvscvla Archaeologica Papers of the Department of Archaeology). 17. Zagreb: Arheoloski institut Sveucilista. pp. 183 to 205. ISSN 0473-0992. OCLC 166882629. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  4. ^ Cuco?, ?tefan (1973). "Un complexe ritual cucutenien découvert a Ghel?ie?ti, dép. Neam? [A complex Cucutenian ritual discovered at Ghel?ie?ti, Neam? County)]" (in Romanian). Studii ?i cercet?ri de istorie veche (SCIV) (Bucharest: Academia Republici Socialiste Romania. Institutul de arheologie) 24 (2): 207?215. ISSN 0039-4009. OCLC 320530095. 
  5. ^ Marinescu-Bîlcu, Silvia (1974). ""Dansul ritual" în reprezent?rile plastice neo eneolitice din Moldova [Neo-plastic representations of Neolithic "Dance ritual" of Moldova]" (in Romanian). Studii ?i cercet?ri de istorie veche ?i arheologie (SCIVA) (Bucharest: Academia Român?, Institutul de Arheologie Vasile Pârvan) 25 (2): 167. ISSN 0039-4009. OCLC 183328819. 
  6. ^ Collins, Gloria "Will the "Great Goddess" resurface?: Reflections in Neolithic Europe" Austen, Texas: University of Texas at Austen Retrieved 1 December 2009This site was a student brief done for a class assignment. 
  7. ^ a b Chirica, Vasile (2004). "Teme ale reprezent?rii "Marii Zei?e" în arta paleolitic? ?i neolitic? [The "Marii Zei?e" theme represented in paleolithic and neolithic art]" (in Romanian). Memoria antiquitatis (Piatra Neam?: Muzeului de Istorie Piatra Neam?) 23: 103?127. ISSN 1222-7528. OCLC 183318963. 
  8. ^ Gimbutas, Marija Alseikait? (1974), The gods and goddesses of old Europe, 7000 to 3500 BC: myths, legends and cult images, London: Thames & Hudson, pp. 303, ISBN 0500050147, OCLC 979750, 
  9. ^ Gimbutas, Marija Alseikaite; Dexter, Miriam Robbins (1999), The Living Goddesses, Berkeley: University of Calififornia Press, pp. 286, ISBN 0520213939, OCLC 237345793, 
  10. ^ a b Bailey, Douglass W. (2005). Prehistoric figurines: representation and corporeality in the Neolithic. London; New York: Routledge. OCLC 56686499. 
  11. ^ Gimbutas, Marija Alseikait? (1991), The civilization of the Goddess: the world of Old Europe, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, ISBN 0-06-250368-5, OCLC 123210574, 
  12. ^ Boghian, Dumitru D. (2004) (in Romanian, with translations in English (translated by Sergiu Rupta? and Alexandru Dan Boghian) and French (translated by Otilia Ign?tescu)), Comunit??ile cucuteniene din bazinul Bahluiului (rezumat), Suceava, Romania: Editura Bucovina Istoric? ?i Editura Universit??ii, Universitatea "?tefan cel Mare" Suceava (Bukovina Publishing House and University Publishing House, The "?tefan cel Mare" University of Suceava),, retrieved 11 December 2009 (07 April 2008)This is a summary written by the author of a monograph with the same title, and posted to his online blog Eneoliticul est-carpatic (Eneolithic Eastern Carpathian) 
  13. ^ Marinescu-Bîlcu, Silvia; Bolomey, Alexandra; Cârciumaru, Marin (2000), Dr?gu?eni: a Cucutenian community, Archaeologia Romanica, 2, Bucharest: Editura Enciclopedic?, pp. 198, ISBN 9734503294, OCLC 48400843 
  14. ^ Movsha, Tamara Grigorevna (1960), ? ??????? ? ??????????? ??????????? ? ??????? ??????????????, Chi?in?u: USSR Academy of Sciences, pp. 59?76 
  15. ^ Bolomey, Alexandra (1983). "Noi descoperiri de oase umane într-o a?ezare Cucutenian? [New discovery of human bones in a Cucuteni site]" (in Romanian). Cercet?ri arheologice. Colec?ia Istorie ?i civiliza?ie (History and Civilization Collection) (Bucharest: Bucuresti Glasul Bucovinei) 6: 159?173. OCLC 224531079. 
  16. ^ Haimovici, Sergiu (2003). "The human bone with possible marks of human teeth found at Liveni site (Cucuteni culture)" (in English, translated from the Romanian by Monica Popa). Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica (Ia?i, Romania: Ia?i University) 9: 97?100. OCLC 224741260. Retrieved 9 December 2009. 
  17. ^ Piatra Neamt permanent exposition
  18. ^ The Sacral World and the Magic Space of Trypillya Civilization (5400 - 2750 BC) © Natalija Burdo 2001

External links

  • Archaeological Park Cucuteni The website for the multi-institutional and international project entitled "Archaeological Park Cucuteni", which seeks to reconstruct the museum at Cucuteni, Romania, and to more effectively preserve this valuable heritage site (in English and Romanian).
  • Cucuteni Culture The French Government's Ministry of Culture's page on Cucuteni Culture (in English).
  • Cucuteni Culture The Romanian Dacian Museum page on Cucuteni Culture (in English).
  • The Trypillia-USA-Project The Trypillian Civilization Society homepage (in English).
  • ??????????? ???????? ? ??????? ? ???????? «??????» Ukrainian language page about the Ukrainian Platar Collection of Trypillian Culture.
  • Trypillian Culture from Ukraine A page from the UK-based group "Arattagar" about Trypillian Culture, which has many great photographs of the group's trip to the Trypillian Museum in Trypillia, Ukraine (in English).
  • The Institute of Archaeomythology The homepage for The Institute of Archaeomythology, an international organization of scholars dedicated to fostering an interdisciplinary approach to cultural research with particular emphasis on the beliefs, rituals, social structure and symbolism of ancient societies. Much of their focus covers topics that relate to the Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture (in English).
  • The V?dastra Village Project A living history museum in Romania, supported by many international institutions.



Trypillian Culture


The ancient Sumerians used to answer the question "When was the World created ?" in the following way - "When people began to eat bread and melt metall in the houses of our country...". Of course, they meant their own Country.  But what was happening  in Europe and  Ukraine  when "everything was just beginning in Sumer?" Was it really true that people there were living in caves and kurens, as they did  in the Stone Age?

In reality, archaeologists have discovered  in Europe many bright civilizations  dating back to the period  between 6000-3000 BC. for the last hundred years. Among them you can find the following: Vinca, Gumelnica, Cucuteni - Trypillia. Scientists have explored many old settlements, some of them have got fortifications. Scientists have found  some traces of very old metallurgy, which flourished between 5000-4500 BC on the Balkans, graves with golden treasures, and clay tables with inscriptions. These investigations have given an opportunity to make the reconstruction of  "Civilization of Old Europe". The borders of this civilization  ranged from Eastern Italy to the Dnipro river, from the Carpathians to the Aegean and Black Seas.

In the autumn of 1996, Vikenty Khvoika, an archaeologist from Kiev, discovered some traces of this forgotten civilization: hundreds of burnt houses with strange pottery and clay figurines on the hills near the small town of Trypillia and nearby villages: Veremia, Scherbanivka, Khalepia  Staiky and others.

After one hundred years of intensive investigations we know about thousands of Trypillia culture villages, from the Chernivtsi  domain (region) in the  West to the Kiev domain (region) in the East. More than 80 books and thousands of articles have been written and published about "Trypillia archaeological culture"/ Five generations of archaeologists  (about 250 scientists from 12 countries!) have explored Trypillia antiquities for more than 130 years.  Many opinions and theories have been changed for this period of time.For example, according to V.Khvoika Trypillians lived in  earth-houses and kurens .

Now archaeologists have proved, that ancient people built comfortable houses (among them - two-storied), monumental temples and fortifications.  Among Trypillia culture settlements scientists have discovered ... cities! .

Historical memory, impressed in Indo-European languages, gives  trustworthy evidences of the fact that the ancestors of Europeans had a notion about cities between 4000-3000 BC  It had been  long before  the palaces on Crete and Golden Mycenaes were built. But where are they,  the ruins of the first European cities? If they have not been discovered for  hundred years of archaeological investigations, may be it is only an old myth of Europe?

a military topographer Konstantyn Shyshkinon discovered some traces of large ancient settlements on the pictures made with the help of aerial photography. They have an area from one to four square km. The first reaction of archaeologists was somewhat sceptical, sometimes negative: "it can not be so, because it is simply impossible".

But the first field investigations confirmed this discovery. Carbon dates of these settlements were between 4200 - 2750 DC. So, more than one millennium of European  urban civilization history was opened.

Archaeological and archaeometry investigations step by step half-opened this page of Prehistory. It was a large problem  to make the  plans of  such  large settlements, buried under the ground. It was impossible to dig them on such large territory. Doing it demanded more than one hundred years of excavations of only  one settlement!

This problem was solved by Valerii Dudkin. In 1971-1974 he carried out magnetic  survey at Maydanetske, on the area about 180 hectares. It took him four seasons to make the plan on which there were 1575 anomalies from burnt houses. All buildings were detected to within 1 m. He continued this work in other places More than 40 plans of Trypillian villages in Ukraine and Moldova, dated before 5000-2750 BC. have been made for 20 years of investigations. Among them there were seven proto-cities, by the way,  Talianki, which had an area of about 450 ha, was the largest in Europe (dated near 3700 - 3500BC). To receive such information by digging, archaeologists would require about a  millennium... Using these plans, Ukrainian archaeologists explored more than 200 different objects  and collected much information about the Trypillia civilization and Trypillians.

The houses of Trypillia proto-cities were built closely one to another, like terraced houses, making up at least two lines of fortification. The first line occupied the center, and the second one was at the distance equivalent to the flight of an arrow from the first line. The scale is extremely impressive : the elliptical form of the citadel of Maydanetz was 1 km long and that of Tallyanki- 3,5 km long! (We will see the same architectural layout at Arkaim but on a much smaller scale WMB)

People, who created this ancient civilization, mastered the leading technologies of the  Copper Age : farming, cattle-breeding, metallurgy. They had a great amount of good soils, which gave them the possibility to change places of settling every 50-80 years. They had good knowledge of agriculture and adapted it to the local conditions. It is interesting, that  some of this husbandry models outlasted Trypillians, were used in the Bronze and Early Iron Ages , and survived till the  Middle Ages in Ukraine.

Trypillian achievements at crafts really impress and surprise,  especially in metallurgy and  pottery producing. The level of  skills in copper casting and  forging in most parameters are equal to the contemporary knowledge. Trypillians used potters wheel and two-tiered  furnaces. Their painted pottery have fresh colours after 6000 years staying underground.

The beauty of Trypillia culture lies in its pottery and clay sculpture perfection of  which cannot but impress you. The pottery used to be fired in two-tiered furnaces, then the things were painted, carved and encrusted. The whole world outlook of the prehistoric farmers was expressed in the ornament : the Land and Underground World, the Sky, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, the Plants, Animals and People. The ancient paintings speak to us from the depth of the centuries in the  forgotten language many  of their creators once adressed  gods, now forgotten. Only they, old gods of Europeans  understood this language of symbols and signs. Observant people can see complete "texts" composed in ornaments: it is raining, the grain is falling on the ground, it is sprouting...

  The Trypillian people built their houses mostly from the wood. They had to cut thousands trees with stone or copper axes for this purpose. Their first settlements were not large - from 7 to 14 houses, but later a real cities with thousands of buildings emerged. The houses they built had a frame-columnar constriction. The walls were made from the wood or the reeds and coated with a clay and painted over with a charcoal mixed with water. This kind of buildings, which appeared in the Trypillian time, still exists in the forest-steppes of Ukraine.

Archeologists found models of the Trypillian houses and temples made from clay. Most of them had a two-story construction, which shows that Trypillians had a multistory buildings. The floors were made from the wood and coated with a clay similar to the wall's construction. The second story usually was utilized as a living floor, and the first was used for the household needs, like a storage and for keeping domesticated animals. The floors and the walls were painted in red and white colors and decorated with a geometrical ornamental pattern, which probably had a spiritual meaning and protected the inhabitants from  bad luck.

The living rooms were heated with an open fire or a primitive stove. Usually, there was a long clay bench along one of the inside walls to store products, tools and personal belongings. Often there was clay or stone mortar near the bench for grinding harvested grains into flour.  The sole rounded window was located in a wall opposite to the entrance. Under the the window there was rounded or cruciform clay altar. The altar was painted in red color and decorated with a dug-like spiral ornamental pattern (see our "ornaments and symbols" section of the museum). The total useful area of a Trypillia house was from 60 up to 300 sq. meters. It is known that Trypillians had also a special structures, which were used as public buildings and temples.   At the earlier stages of the Trypillia culture, settlements were comparatively small, made up of no more than a dozen houses, but gradually some of the settlements reached the size of a town with hundreds or even thousands of houses in it. In the 1960s, in the Land of Umanshchyna, Cherkasy Oblast, thanks to aerial photography huge Trypillia settlements, spread over areas of many hectares, were discovered ? Sushkivka, 27 hectares; Chycherkozivka, 50 hectares; Pyanizhkove, 60 hectares; Kosenivka, 70 hectares; Vilkhovets, 110 hectares; Dobrovody, 250 hectares; Maydanetske, 270 hectares; Nebelivka, 300 hectares; Talyanka, 450 hectares (there are two and a half acres in a hectare).

The new methods and sophisticated technology used in determining historical dates enable us to get a more clear picture of the position of the Trypillia culture among other contemporaneous European cultures and cultures in other parts of the world.

The discovery of Trypillia settlements of enormous sizes which may, in fact, be called towns and which date to the fourth millennium BCE, make them unique for their time. No settlements of such sizes have been discovered so far neither in Mesopotamia nor in Egypt, the seats of the world?s most ancient civilizations. The major cities of the Indus Valley, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa arose about a thousand years later, in the mid-third millennium.    After 3,500?3,300 BCE a decline of the Trypillia culture began. The reasons for the decline are not clear, but it coincided with the considerable changes in climate which brought the average temperatures down. The Trypillia people must have begun moving to other areas, losing most of their cultural and technological achievements in the process. But some of them were nevertheless preserved for posterity.





Archaeological excavations of dr.Mykola Shmaglij and dr.Mykhailo Videiko,1971-1991, Institute of Archaeology NAS of Ukraine. Maydanets, Ukraine is a 4th millennium BC site of the Trypillian culture with up to 10,000 citizens total , the total areas is approximately 250 ha, settlement was in an oval plan 1,5 km long and 1,1 km wide there were 1575 houses.



Trypilian culture (Trypil'ska kultura) is the Ukrainian name given to a Neolithic population whose culture once flourished on the ethnically Ukrainian territories of present-day Ukraine, Moldova, and the northeast area of Romania. The parallel Romanian name is "Cucuteni" culture. Both these names derive from the villages where artifacts of this culture were first discovered in Ukraine and in Romania, respectively. The Trypilia site is near Kyiv (Kiev), the capitol of Ukraine, and the Cucuteni site is near Iasi in Romania, near the Moldovian border.

In her book (ref *1), Marija Gimbutas stated: "Tripolya (sic) is one of the best explored and richest cultures of Old Europe, a true civilization in the best meaning of the word."
The Trypilian population's primordial deity was female, and their culture developed rich and complex artistic symbols rooted in their religious beliefs based on the Great Goddess and her various aspects as Giver-of-Life, Wielder of Death, and Regeneratrix. This symbolic system reflects the natural, yet "represents cyclical, non-linear, mythical time."

 Location in Europe

The earliest evidences of Trypilian culture (view refs. *2a & *3) are found on both sides of the middle Dniester and Boh rivers as well as the upper and middle Prut and Siret rivers in western Ukraine, and in Moldova (formerly Romania). Ultimately, the Trypilia culture extended from the lands east of the Dnipro river (Dnieper) near present-day Kyiv thru the southwest steppe areas of Ukraine, and to an area just southwest the Siret river (in present-day Romania).

The Trypilia site, 35 km south of Kyiv, was excavated ca.1898 by V. Khvoika (ref *2b). The Cucuteni site on the Prut River near Iasi was discovered in 1884 and excavated in 1901-10 by Hubert Schmidt, then again in 1961-65 by M. Petrescu-Dimbovita. There are many other sites in and near Ukraine that have been found and excavated.

 Social Structure

Trypilian culture had a matriarchal clan order. Women did agricultural work, headed households, manufactured pottery, textiles and clothing and had a leading role in society. Men hunted, kept domestic animals, and prepared tools of flint, stone and bone.


Artifacts of this culture consist most notably of terra cotta pottery, bichrome & trichrome painted using predominately black, red, and white mineral-based paints. "The quality of the Trypilian ceramic production surpassed all contemporary creations of Old Europe."(ref *1)


 Trypilian artifacts shown: various pottery, bone and flint knives.
The large, standing pot is appox. 26cm high)
(Photo by Tania Diakiw O'Neill) (ref *4)

Trypilian artifacts shown: various pottery, bone and flint knives.
The large, standing pot is appox. 26cm high)
(Photo by Tania Diakiw O'Neill) (ref *4)

A terra cotta scale-model of a two-storied building was found at the Trypilia site in Ukraine. Excavation at Cucuteni showed this unique Trypilian model was a representation of actual two-story structures of this culture.(ref*1)

Female forms and figurines (many painted or incised, some with fertile-field symbols), as well as various animals and zoomorphous vessels, sleighs, all scale-modeled in terra cotta or clay, have also been found.
The finer, more elaboate forms (figurines, pots, jars, bowls, amphorae, and two-bowled joined vessels) were ornamented with painted or incised lines, spirals and egg-shaped motifs, and other shapes and/or line elements such as parallel or cross-hatched lines in enclosed fields, and zig-zags with or without hooks. There were also articles of everyday use such as spindle whorls and loom weights, and everyday gray pottery made of undecorated clay mixed with sand and small broken shells.

Interestingly, impressions of plain evenweave cloth (ref*3) and pattern-woven textiles (ref*5) have been found on the bottoms of some Trypilian pottery, showing they had been set to air-dry on that woven cloth before being fired. These lands are known to grow flax (linen) and hemp since time immemorial. This workaday use of evenweave fabric, the clay spindle whorls and loom weights all indicate that this population was agrarian, with well-developed textile crafts of spinning, weaving, and very likely needlework, which was used to join cloth and make clothing. No actual cloth has survived from that culture to our time. However, the symbols that are found on the artifacts of Trypilia and those associated with the Great Goddess have persisted into the present in most Ukrainian folk arts, especially those of pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs) and textile arts, including Ukrainian folk embroidery. (Future links being constructed; stay tuned.)  

Kyiv Mohyla Academy

Trypillian Civilization Program

By Dr. M. Videiko

Among the agricultural proto-civilizations of ancient Europe, the Trypillian proto-civilization existed from the 6th until the end of 4th millennium BC. This was  contemporary to proto-civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Hindus valley, and China. During this period these proto-civilizations were at approximately the same level of development. During the 5th millennium BC, when agricultural proto-civilizations in the Balkans and Central Europe were gradually disappearing, the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture (in Ukraine, on the boundaries of the European "civilized world" of that time) continued to flourish for another millennium. Proto-cities, monumental architecture, first foundations, handicrafts (metallurgies, weaving, ceramics), denotation systems as written language, all continued to develop and are reasons to consider Trypillia as one of the most interesting and developed proto-civilizations.

Remains of  burnt dwellings. Maydanets?ke, Cherkassy domain. Excavated by M.Shmaglij and M.Videiko, 1988.

Trypilian culture (Trypil'ska kultura) is the Ukrainian name given to a Neolithic population whose culture once flourished on the ethnically Ukrainian territories of present-day Ukraine, Moldova, and the northeast area of Romania. The parallel Romanian name is "Cucuteni" culture. Both these names derive from the villages where artifacts of this culture were first discovered in Ukraine and in Romania, respectively. The Trypilia site is near Kyiv (Kiev), the capitol of Ukraine, and the Cucuteni site is near Iasi in Romania, near the Moldovian border.



Reconstruction of Trypillya-culture proto-city near Maydanets'ke
 Picture at:
  Talianki (Tallianki, Tal'anky), Umanskyi Raion, Ukraine is a 4th millennium BC site of the Trypillian culture. The two most prominent features of the Trypillian civilization are the colorful ornamental pottery and the sizable proto-cities. The latter were discovered only 30 years ago with the help of aerial photography. Carbon dating places some of these cities at 4,200 - 2,750 BCE.

Talianki is the largest known Tripyllian settlement. It covered an area of about 450 ha and stretched over 3.5 km in diameter 3.5km x 1.1km and had 15.000 citizens in 2700 houses. The largest buildings were truly immense, 300-600 meters long with many rooms, with the walls and ceilings decorated with black and red patterns.

Situated between the villages of Legedzine and Tallianki, along the road Uman, the site was excavated from 1981 under V. Kruts. By the 3rd millennium BC, the site kurgans of the Yamna culture appear at the site (see Kurganization).

Collections from excavations in Talianki are exhibited in Cherkasy regional museum, Museum of Agriculture in Talne and Institute of Archaeology NAS of Ukraine in Kiev. 

 Vase with polychrome paint decoration from the Cucuteni culture (phase A3). Can fragments of similar vases have been imported ? Having been found on the tell of Hârsova, one supposes (commercial ?) contacts between the Gumelnita and Cucuteni people (origin : Frumusica, district : Neamt).

Decline and end of the Cucuteni?Trypillian culture

The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture existed in southeastern Europe, in the present nations of Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine, during the Neolithic Age, from approximately 5500 BC to 2750 B.C. The members of this culture left behind thousands of settlement ruins containing a wealth of archaeological finds attesting to their cultural and technological characteristics. Refer to the main article for a general description of this culture; this article deals with the aspects regarding this culture's decline and end. Due partly to the fact that this took place before the written record of this region began, there have been a number of theories presented over the years to fill the gap of knowledge about how and why the end of this culture happened. These theories include invasions from various groups of people, a gradual cultural shift as more advanced societies settled in their region, and environmental collapse.

End of the Copper Age

In the larger perspective, the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture marked the boundary between the Copper Age and the Bronze Age. The Copper Age, also known as the Eneolithic and Chalcolithic periods, lasted in Europe from roughly 3500 to 1700 B.C., however, it ended for this culture between 3000-2750 B.C. There is no firm point in time when this happened, since it was done over a period of many years, as first one area and then another would become integrated into the new Bronze Age civilization. Because the Cucuteni-Trypillian society was almost entirely egalitarian (with no ruling elite), there was no dramatic change of government for the whole region, as is the case when modern nations go to war and are defeated. The Cucuteni-Trypillian settlements existed independently from each other, so each experienced its own separate fate as the end of their culture swept over them, making the transition to the Bronze Age a complex and gradual process, rather than as a result of a single event.

Although there were many other Neolithic and Eneolithic cultures in eastern Europe during this time, the Cucuteni-Trypillian was probably the most advanced and influential, due to its robust settlements, highly-refined ceramic art, and location.[1] This culture was situated astride the natural "highway" between Central Asia and Europe, which may have directly contributed to its demise as other cultures from the east moved into this region following the route across the grassy plains that lie to the north and northwest of the Black Sea. Because the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture was so robust, it continued to spread into new regions as new settlements were built to accommodate the increasing population. This was especially the case in the latter period of its existence, when Cucuteni-Trypillian settlements began to pop up across the unsettled region of what is today western Ukraine.

The Old European culture and the Kurgan hypothesis

In the 1950s, as a result of the cultural renaissance that was part of the Khrushchev Thaw that took place after Joseph Stalin's death in 1953, a massive program of archaeological excavations was sponsored by the Soviet Union, which included Cucuteni-Trypillian sites that are located in the now-independent nations of Ukraine and Moldova. As Soviet scholars began publishing their findings and analyses from these excavations, a new model began to emerge among some members of the international academic community that revised the way that scholars had perceived how the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture ended, among other things.[1] This new model inspired the creation of two theories that came to be known as the Old European culture and the Kurgan hypothesis.[2] Some of the more notable people who helped to formulate and support these theories included:

To illustrate these two theories, the table below juxtaposes the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, which Gimbutas included as one of the Old European culture societies, against the Yamna culture (also known as the Pit grave culture), which was the society that Gimbutas suggested was the most likely candidate for being the Proto-Indo-European group that was active in the first wave of the Kurgan conquests of Old European cultures.[3] Here, then, are the basic details about these two cultures, according to Gimbutas:


Linear Pottery Culture

The Linear Pottery culture or (German) Linearbandkeramik (abbr. LBK), Bandkeramik, Linear Band Pottery culture, Linear (Band) Ware culture, Linear Ceramics culture, Danubian I culture of V. Gordon Childe, Early Danubian culture or Incised Ware Group is a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic (stone age), flourishing ca. 5500—4500 BC. The heaviest concentrations are on the middle Danube, the upper and middle Elbe, and the upper and middle Rhine. The LBK represents the advent of agriculture into this part of the world. The LBK at maximum extent ranged from about the line of the Seine—Oise (Paris Basin) eastward to the line of the Vistula and upper Dniester, and southward to the line of the upper Danube down to the big bend. An extension ran through the Western Bug river valley, leaped to the valley of the Dniester, and swerved southward from the middle Dniester to the lower Danube in eastern Romania, east of the Carpathians.
Coming from the north and northeast, the tribes of the linear ceramic cultures established themselves in the east occupying a part of the earlier territory of the Starcevo-Cris culture, then expanded their territory to the southeast of Transylvania and to the northeast of Valachia.Vases from Glavanesti Noi represent this culture.



Cernavoda Culture

 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  Cernavod? culture, ca. 4000?3200 BC, a late copper age archaeological culture of the lower Eastern Bug River and Danube located along the coast of the Black Sea and somewhat inland. It is named after the Romanian town of Cernavod?.

It is a successor to and occupies much the same area of the earlier neolithic Gumelni?a culture, for which a destruction horizon seems to be evident.

It is characterized by defensive hilltop settlements. The pottery shares characteristics with that found further east on the South-Russian Steppes. Burials similarly bear a resemblance to those further east.

It is considered part of the "Balkan-Danubian complex" that stretches up the entire length of the river, and into northern Germany via the Elbe and the Baden culture. Its northeastern portion is said to be ancestral the Usatovo culture.

In later times, the region is linguistically Dacian and Thracian.



The Cernavoda I Culture


MNIR n° 11651, long. 17 cm
Part of a limestone "scepter" with representation of horse head with harness Cernavoda I culture. This object, probably a symbol of power, brings direct proof of the use of horses by the people of the Pontic steppes (origin : Casimcea, district : Constanta).

Site eponym : Cernavoda "Dealul Sofia" on the right bank of the Danube in Dobrogea.
Dates : End of the ancient Chacolithic, middle of the fourth millennium, BC.
Geographical Setting : Probably a progressive migratory movement coming from the Pontic steppes. A territory essentially covering Dobrogea, the east of Muntenia and the northeast of Bulgaria.
Habitation : situated on the mountainsides or in the highlands, re-occupying the Gumelnita culture settlements sometimes and often surrounded by ditches.

Material Means : Almost a complete rupture from the previous culture's development. Use of shell chips and clay with rope or cord-style are very characteristic of the pottery and ceramics. Stone scepters. Limited use of copper.
Funeral Rites : Burial and graves under funeral mounds or flattened pits, both isolated and grouped in to a Necropolis.

Through its Eneolithic elements, the Cernavoda I culture completes a major stage of cultural evolution and marks the transition between the Neolithic era and the Bronze Age with its new social and cultural structure. Through an uninterrupted cultural evolution, from new historical transformations, beginning with Cernavoda I and continuing with Cernavoda II and Cernavoda III, we arrive at the foundation of Indo-European culture.
The Cernavoda I culture is diffused throughout an area covering Dobrogea, east of Munténie and North-East of Bulgaria. Its relationships to the other cultures are, however, much more intense notably its contacts with Cucuteni A4 and AB, Usatovo, Foltesti, Maiaki, Salcuta, Bodrogkesrestur, Suplevce, Troia I, Ezero...

MNIR n° 291556, 291557, 291558
Group of ceramics
from the Cernavoda culture (origin : Hârsova). 

The Cernavoda culture belongs to a great, relatively homogeneous, group of cultures characterized by ceramics with twisted decoration, the use of ochre, scepters in zoomorphic forms, and burial under grave mounds.
From a chronological point of view 3450 BC - 3000 BC, The Cernavoda I culture is one consistent Neolithic culture yet the tools and technology are indicative of the Eneolithic, if only for what it inherited from the Gumelnita culture.The infiltration of the Cernavoda I culture seems to have been quite rapid, even violent.
The lower Danube region (where Cernavoda and Hârsova are located) is in the center of a vast zone of cultural mixtures and ethnic migrations. The more one moves away from the lower Danube, the more diffused the Cernavoda I elements become, and the more quickly the Cernavoda I tribes were assimilated. The Cernavoda culture follows a evolution parallel to a series of other Eneolithic cultures. It brought "cultural advances" between Troy and the Carpathians and loaned elements of the Gumelnita culture to the territory on which it settled in the lower Danube.

 Text and pictures at:


Starcevo-Koros-Cris Culture


 Starčevo culture


Map showing Old Balcanic cultures (derived from Sesklo) in Neolithic Europe, cca. 4500 BC

The Starčevo culture, also called Starčevo-Kőrös-Criş culture was a widespread early Neolithic archaeological culture from Eastern Europe and the Balkans. It dates to between the seventh and fifth millennia BC (7-9 kya).

Starčevo is a site located on the north bank of the Danube in Vojvodina; opposite Belgrade in Serbia. It represents the earliest settled farming society in the area, although hunting and gathering still provided a significant portion of the inhabitants' diet. Vinkovci (Slavonia) was the centre and largest city of the Starčevo culture, where first houses above the ground were built (in Europe).[1]

The pottery is usually coarse but finer fluted and painted vessels later emerged. A type of bone spatula, perhaps for scooping flour, is a distinctive artifact. The Kőrös is a similar culture in Hungary named after the River Kőrös with a closely related culture which also used footed vessels but fewer painted ones. Both have given their names to the wider culture of the region in that period.

Parallel and closely related cultures also include the Karanovo culture in Bulgaria, Criş in Romania and the pre-Sesklo in Greece.

The westernmost locality of this culture can be found in Croatia, in the vicinity of Ždralovi, a part of the town of Bjelovar. This was the final stage of the culture.[2][3][4] Findings from Ždralovi belong to a regional subtype of the final variant in the long process of development of that Neolithic culture. It is designated as Ždralovi facies of the Starčevo culture or the Starčevo - Final stages.

In 1990, Starčevo was added to the Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance list, protected by Republic of Serbia.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Kusin, Vesna; Šulc, Branka (Eds.) Slavonija, Baranja i Srijem : vrela europske civilizacije, 2 vols, Ministarstvo kulture Republike Hrvatske & Galerija Klovićevi dvori, Zagreb, 2009., ISBN 978-953-271-027-4
  2. ^ Jakovljević, G. Arheološka topografija Bilogore, Bjelovarski zbornik ‘89, Bjelovar, 1989, pp 108-119
  3. ^ Dimitrijević, S. Das Neolithikum in Syrmien, Slawonien und Nordwestkroatien - Einführung in den Stander Forschung, Archeologica Iugoslavica X, Belgrade, 1969, p 39-76 (45, 47)
  4. ^ Dimitrijević, S. Sjeverna zona - Neolitik u centralnom i zapadnom dijelu sjeverne Jugoslavije, Praistorija jugoslavenskih zemalja II, Sarajevo, 1979, pp 229-360 (252-253)





Mega-structura templu Cucuteni descoperita pe malul Prutului ln apropiere de Ripiceni.

Cucuteni and Gumelnita Culture site at Cotatcu, Valea Morilor, Buzau, 6,000 BC


O noua descoperire neasteptata la Valea Morilor




Pe o ridicatura din localitatea ramniceana Cotatcu, un punct numit de sateni Cetatuia, au aparut, in urma ploilor abundente din aceasta primavara, ce au favorizat alunecari de teren, urme de locuinte vechi de peste 8.000 de ani, informeaza NewsIn. Arheologii au putut scoate astfel la lumina fragmente ceramice, dar si obiecte de cult specifice neoliticului.

“Oamenii si-au ridicat aici locuintele unele peste altele. Acestea sunt vechi de 8.000 de ani”, a declarat Radian Andreescu, arheolog al Muzeului National de Istorie. Munca asidua, in arsita, le-a fost rasplatita pasionatilor de istorie de doua obiecte: o tipsie si un ulcior apartinand a doua culturi diferite Cucuteni si Gumelnita, specifice zonelor de nord-est si sud ale Romaniei. Prezenta lor in acelasi nivel de locuire si mai ales una langa alta denota ca membrii unei familii proveneau din regiuni diferite de pe teritoriul tarii. “E zona de confluenta a celor doua culturi, denumită Stoicani-Aldeni”, a explicat Radian Andreescu.

Arheologii au cautat si obiectele de cult, specifice neoliticului, si au fost norocosi: “Am gasit o bucata dintr-o statueta antropomorfa, reprezentari feminine legate de cultul feminitatii si fecunditatii. Credeau in mai multe zeitati, erau politeisti”, a mentionat Laurentiu Grigoras, arheolog al Muzeului Judetean Buzău.

Cercetarile arheologice din zona Buzaului fac parte din proiectul national “Civilizatia Eneoliticului Tarziu”. In anii ’80, in aceeasi zona s-au descoperit figurine din os si lut printre care si celebra “Venus din Cotatcu”, precizeaza Realitatea TV.





Chronological Development of Y-DNA Haplogroups

Y-DNA Haplogroups 

Chronological development of Y-DNA haplogroups


Approximative timeline of the origins of haplogroups found in Europe
  • K => 40,000 years ago (probably arose in northern Iran)
  • T => 30,000 years ago (around the Red Sea or around the Persian Gulf)
  • J => 30,000 years ago (in the Middle East)
  • R => 28,000 years ago (in the Central Asia)
  • E1b1b => 26,000 years ago (in Northeast Africa)
  • I => 25,000 years ago (in the Balkans)
  • R1a => 21,000 years ago (in southern Russia)
  • R1b => 20,000 years ago (around the Caspian Sea or Central Asia)
  • J1 => 20,000 years ago (in the Taurus/Zagros mountains)
  • J2 => 19,000 years ago (in northern Mesopotamia)
  • E-M78 => 18,000 years ago (in north-eastern Africa)
  • G => 17,000 years ago (in the Middle East)
  • I2 => 17,000 years ago (in the Balkans)
  • E-V13 => 14,000 years ago (in the southern Levant or North Africa)
  • I2b => 13,000 years ago (in Central Europe)
  • N1c1 => 12,000 years ago (in Siberia)
  • I2a => 11,000 years ago (in the Balkans)
  • G2a => 11,000 years ago (in the Levant or Anatolia)
  • R1b1b2 => 10,000 years ago (north or south of the Caucasus)
  • E-M81 => 9,500 years ago (in Northwest Africa)
  • I2b1 => 9,000 years ago (in Germany)
  • I2a1 => 8,000 years ago (in Southwest Europe)
  • I2a2 => 7,500 years ago (in Southeast Europe)
  • I1 => 5,000 years ago (in Scandinavia)
  • R1b-L21 => 4,000 years ago (in Central or Eastern Europe)
  • R1b-S28 => 3,500 years ago (around the Alps)
  • R1b-S21 => 3,000 years ago (in Frisia or Central Europe)
  • I2b1a => less than 3,000 years ago (in Britain)

Map of early Bronze Age cultures in Europe around 4,500 to 5,000 years ago



=> More maps of the Neolithic and Bronze Age expansion


European haplogroups

Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA)

Main article : Haplogroup R1b

Distribution of haplogroup R1b in Europe

Distribution of haplogroup R1b in Europe

R1b is the most common haplogroup in Western Europe, reaching over 80% of the population in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, western Wales, the Atlantic fringe of France and the Basque country. It is also common in Anatolia and around the Caucasus, in parts of Russia and in Central and South Asia. Besides the Atlantic and North Sea coast of Europe, hotspots include the Po valley in north-central Italy (over 70%), the Ossetians of the North Caucasus (over 40%) and nearby Armenia (35%), the Bashkirs of the Urals region of Russia (50%), Turkmenistan (over 35%), the Hazara people of Afghanistan (35%), the Uyghurs of North-West China (20%) and the Newars of Nepal (11%). R1b-V88, a subclade specific to sub-Saharan Africa, is found in 60 to 95% of men in northern Cameroon.

Anatolian or Caucasian origins ?

The origins of R1b are not entirely clear to this day. Some of the oldest forms of R1b are found in the Near East and around the Caucasus. Haplogroup R1* and R2* might have originated in southern Central Asia (between the Caspian and the Hindu Kush). A branch of R1 would have developed into R1b* then R1b1* in the northern part of the Middle East during the Ice Age. It presumptively moved to northern Anatolia and across the Caucasus during the early Neolithic, where it became R1b1b. The Near Eastern leftovers evolved into R1b1a (M18), now found at low frequencies among the Lebanese and the Druze.The Phoenicians (who came from modern day Lebanon) spread this R1b1a and R1b1* to their colonies, notably Sardinia and the Maghreb.

The subclades R1b1b1 and R1b1b2 (the most common form in Europe) are closely associated with the spread of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times, from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the Indian subcontinent, including almost all Europe (except Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina), Anatolia, Armenia, Europan Russia, southern Siberia, many pockets around Central Asia (notably Xinjiang, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan), without forgetting Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal. The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others. Whereas R1b1 is found is such places as the Levant or Cameroon, R1b1b mostly likely originated in north-eastern Anatolia.

The North Caucasus and the Pontic-Caspian steppe : the Indo-European link

Modern linguists have placed the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the Pontic-Caspian steppe, a distinct geographic and archeological region extending from the Danube estuary to the Ural mountains to the east and North Caucasus to the south. The Neolithic, Eneolithic and early Bronze Age cultures in Pontic-Caspian steppe has been called the Kurgan culture (7000-2200 BCE) by Marija Gimbutas, due to the lasting practice of burying the deads under mounds ("kurgan") among the succession of cultures in that region. Horses were first domesticated around 4000 BCE in the steppe, perhaps somewhere around the Don or the lower Volga, and soon became a defining element of steppe culture. During the Bronze-age period, known as the Yamna horizon (3300-2500 BCE), the cattle and sheep herders adopted wagons to transport their food and tents, which allowed them to move deeper into the steppe, giving rise to a new mobile lifestyle that would eventually lead to the great Indo-European migrations.

The Pontic-Caspian steppe cultures can be divided in a western group, ranging from the Don River to the Dniester (and later Danube), and an eastern one, in the Volga-Ural region. The Pontic steppe was probably inhabited by men of mixed R1a and R1b lineages, with higher densities of R1b just north of the Caucasus, and more R1a in the the northern steppes and the forest-steppes.

R1b almost certainly crossed over from northern Anatolia to the Pontic-Caspian steppe. It is not clear whether this happened before, during or after the Neolithic. A regular flow of R1b across the Caucasus cannot be excluded either. The genetic diversity of R1b being greater around the Caucasus, it is hard to deny that R1b settled and evolved there before entering the steppe world. Does that mean that Indo-European languages originated in the steppes with R1a people, and that R1b immigrants blended into the established culture ? Or that Proro-Indo-European language appear in northern Anatolia or in the Caucasus, then spread to the steppes with R1b ? Or else did Proro-Indo-European first appear in the steppe as a hybrid language of Caucasian/Anatolian R1b and steppe R1a ? This question has no obvious answer, but based on the antiquity and archaic character of the Anatolian branch (Hittite, Palaic, Luwian, Lydian, and so on) an northern Anatolian origin of Proto-Indo-European is credible. Furthermore, there is documented evidence of loan words from Caucasian languages in Indo-European languages. This is much more likely to have happened if Proto-Indo-European developed near the Caucasus than in the distant steppes. R1b would consequently have been the spreading factor of PIE to the steppes, and from there to Europe, Central Asia and South Asia.

The Maykop culture, the R1b link to the steppe ?

The Maykop culture (3700-2500 BCE), in the North Caucasus, was culturally speaking a sort of southern extension of the Yamna horizon. Although not generally considered part of the Pontic-Caspian steppe culture due to its geography, the North Caucasus had close links with the steppe, as attested by numerous ceramics, gold, copper and bronze weapons and jewelry in the contemporaneous cultures of Mikhaylovka, Sredny Stog and Kemi Oba. The link between the North Pontic and North Caucasus is older than the Maykop period. Its predecessor, the Svobodnoe culture (4400-3700 BCE), already had links to the Suvorovo-Novodanilovka and early Sredny Stog cultures, and the even older Nalchik settlement (5000-4500 BCE) displayed a similar culture as Khvalynsk on the Volga. This may be the period when R1b started interracting and blending with the R1a population





  • K => 40,000 years ago (probably arose in northern Iran)
  • T => 30,000 years ago (around the Red Sea or around the Persian Gulf)
  • J => 30,000 years ago (in the Middle East)
  • R => 28,000 years ago (in the Central Asia)
  • E1b1b => 26,000 years ago (in Northeast Africa)
  • I => 25,000 years ago (in the Balkans)
  • R1a => 21,000 years ago (in southern Russia)
  • R1b => 20,000 years ago (around the Caspian Sea or Central Asia)
  • J1 => 20,000 years ago (in the Taurus/Zagros mountains)
  • J2 => 19,000 years ago (in northern Mesopotamia)
  • E-M78 => 18,000 years ago (in north-eastern Africa)
  • G => 17,000 years ago (in the Middle East)
  • I2 => 17,000 years ago (in the Balkans)
  • E-V13 => 14,000 years ago (in the southern Levant or North Africa)
  • I2b => 13,000 years ago (in Central Europe)
  • N1c1 => 12,000 years ago (in Siberia)
  • I2a => 11,000 years ago (in the Balkans)
  • G2a => 11,000 years ago (in the Levant or Anatolia)
  • R1b1b2 => 10,000 years ago (north or south of the Caucasus)
  • E-M81 => 9,500 years ago (in Northwest Africa)
  • I2b1 => 9,000 years ago (in Germany)
  • I2a1 => 8,000 years ago (in Southwest Europe)
  • I2a2 => 7,500 years ago (in Southeast Europe)
  • I1 => 5,000 years ago (in Scandinavia)
  • R1b-L21 => 4,000 years ago (in Central or Eastern Europe)
  • R1b-S28 => 3,500 years ago (around the Alps)
  • R1b-S21 => 3,000 years ago (in Frisia or Central Europe)
  • I2b1a => less than 3,000 years ago (in Britain)






Mezolithic at Schela Cladovei, Mehedinti, Lepenski Vir, 7,100-5,000 BC

 7 July 2009 | Human traces dating from the Early Mesolithic Period were recently discovered at the Schela Cladovei archaeological site in south-western Romania by experts from the University of Edinburgh and of the ?Vasile Parvan? Bucharest Institute of Archaeology.

 The unearthed finds indicate the beginning of human sedentary life, the transition from the food-gathering, fishing and hunting stage to a primitive civilization dating from 7100 to 5500 BC, Professor Adina Boronean?, the archaeological team?s coordinator recently told the Romanian press agency Agerpres.



?It is the first time when, for a period specific to the Romanian Neolithic, we come upon one of a kind traces. These are the ruins of an artisan centre producing malachite beads. We found such pieces in both unprocessed and processed stage. And what is more interesting, we even found the silex tools used to manufacture these ornaments,? Boronean? explained.
The findings from this year?s excavations, which will continue through the beginning of August, included fired ceramic pottery, oven vessels, arrow peaks and several fragments of a worship altar, the publication noted.

The traces have led the archaeologists to believe that the existence of the Schela Cladovei site, located on the left bank of the Danube, between the river and the railway and road from Timisoara to Bucharest, spans over 4,000 years.

?Taking into account that, however, there is a 300-year hiatus in the human existence on the banks of the Danube, we can assert that people withdrew deeper inside the territory, where they were better protected against flooding. So, somewhere nearby there must be a still undiscovered settlement,? Boronean? said.
The Schela Cladovei archaeological site was first excavated in the 1960s by Professor Vasile Boronean?. Between 1992 and 1996, Professor Clive Bonsall from the University of Edinburg conducted excavations at the site in partnership with Boronean?. According to information published on the website of the university?s School of History, Classics and Archaeology, by ?employing strict sampling and recovery techniques, the excavations have provided better information on the economies of the two periods of occupation, and added substantially to our knowledge of architecture, burial practices and technology.?
?This part of Romania is highly important for understanding the crucial transition from the formation of human groups, and from hunting to farming, that occurred 8,000 years ago,? Bonsall told the publication. 


The Mesolithic Habitation Complexes in
the Balkans and the Danube Basin

by Dr. Vasile Boronean? 


The social and historical conditions that occurred immediately after the second world war in this part of the continent caused a weak support and interest towards the research in the archaeological field of Mesolithic complexes, in what concerned both the scientific and museum exploitation of the discoveries and their integration into the European circuit. This was also due to their character, more special and more diverse than of the ones in the west-central and northern parts of Europe and a lot more similar to the ones in Anatolia and the Near East. This is why we consider extremely appropriate the organisers' proposal of discussing this matter at the Meetings of the XIII Congress of the International Union For Prehistorical and Protohistorical Sciences (UISPP) at Forli, Italy. Therefore, we shall refer less to the general problems of the Balkanic Mesolithic complexes and more to the relationships between the Romanian and Balkanic areas, of course, only at the extent that the length of this paper will allow us.

1. Geographical Environment

The analysis of the geographical environment where the human society developed during the Mesolithic age shows us that there were three main regions where the process took place:

  • The Peri-Mediterranean area - covering the insular part and the coast of Greece, of Albania and of the countries of former Yugoslavia.
  • The Balkanic area, consisting of the mountainous peninsular region of Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. This second area was separated from the third area, the area of Carpathians by the Danube Gorge in the region of Iron Gates.
  • The eastern part of the Danube basin.

The entire Mesolithic evolution is closely connected to the extension of a warmer climate towards the western, central and north-eastern Europe. The key for the real understanding of this process is (in what concerns Romania and Yugoslavia) the Iron Gates region. This is the region housing the main part of the discoveries. The Iron Gates had a mild Sub-Mediterranean climate, a rich economic potential, specific flora and fauna, cultural and behavioural traditions, the shelter of a generous landscape, in a word, all that the river had to offer.

2. Pathways of penetration. Areas of diffusion

The elements of the cultural dynamics had three main areas of spreading, if we consider the historical evolution:

  • The sea coast - advancing through the western regions of the continent;
  • The corridor of the Danube basin - the direction of diffusion pointing towards central and northern Europe;
  • The eastern part of the Danube basin, having as direction of diffusion the central and eastern Europe. In this last case, the phenomenon took place through the Prut, Siret and Dniester, all three being rivers tributary to the Danube.
The last two areas were connected through the genetic structure of the relief, having in between the Carpathian mountains.

They all exploited the economic potentials and cultural traditions adding a particular colouring feature to the process of development and diffusion of the specific lifestyle during the Mesolithic period. The influence and the communication between the sea stream and the Danubian one took place through a network of rivers flowing on the coast regions but also through the rivers tributary to the Danube, most of them collected by Drava, Sava and Morava on the right side of the Danube, Tisa and Olt on the left one.

A short glance upon these directions of spreading shows that each of them had its own dynamics of invention. This means that where favourable climate conditions, economic and human potentials existed, the human communities changed from the state of hunter and gatherer to the one of harvester and then of farmer, and from hunting animals to domesticating and breeding them. The change to a domestic economy had as a consequence the sedentation, the birth of a rural agricultural community, while all the other communities that did not fulfil the 'conditions' continued their old ways of living of hunting animals and gathering food. The appearance and diffusion of these first 'germs' encouraged the generalisation of the new way of production. Owing to the climate conditions of the Atlantic period it was imposed the generalisation of an agricultural way of production - called the Neolithic age. Under these circumstances, the Mesolithic (or Epi-Palaeolithic as called by other specialists) appears to be a time when based on observations and experiments, humans stepped from a behaviour specific to a society based on the consumption of items that nature was offering - both as food and materials for processing the tools and weapons - to a society based on invested labour.

The only way of a thoroughly understanding of the process of formation and diffusion of the European Mesolithic, is not considering it separate from the one that took place in the Near and Middle East. The warm postglaciar climate, the potential of flora and fauna in the Near and Middle East, Anatolia and the basin of the Aegean sea presented common features, encouraging thus the adaptation process of the human race. We do not insist now upon this fact, well known from various other studies. The new factor is that recent archaeological and environmental research revealed a genetic link between these cultural aspects. The historical dynamics is closely connected to the optimum conditions for the development of the human spirit. For the territory we are discussing about was proved the existence of micro-climates that through specific features encouraged the appearance of 'germs' that pushed the human civilisation upwards on the ascendant line of the historical becoming. The micro-climates influenced one another and the new developed ideas circulated confronting the realities among them. The existing conditions lead to a new way of thinking, to a new behaviour of the species. This is how we explain the fact that the geographical regions that expanded the last, had the human experience started on the process of transformation later, and borrowed from the first ones the new discoveries, adapting them to their specific conditions. It was not the great number of individuals that produced the change, but the circulation of the new ideas. And then appeared the required factor of progress, the emulation.

Compared to the Palaeolithic, the existence of micro-climates generated a restriction of the area where the human activities were taking place. The phenomenon, noticed by several specialists, was named 'segregation' or 'regional specialisation'. The phenomenon became stronger as the climate got warmer. During the same period of time, the food diet changed, the consumption of meat decreased while the consumption of vegetal food increased. This is closely connected to the extinction of certain species of animals, like the mammoth, the cave bear and reindeer. The species specific to the new climate extended, with the domination of Capra ibex, Rupicapra rupicapra, Cervus elaphus, Sus scrofa. The deciduous forests spread to the prejudice of the conifers. The change on the climate had also as a consequence an incrementation on the area of lakes and ponds, therefore an increasing number of fish and birds. The humans directed their attention and activities towards them. A new toolkit for hunting and fishing was required then, attracting into the economic circuit other raw materials locally available or resulted from the food consumption, as bone, horn, wild boar teeth. New tools, weapons, means of catching the game and fish were invented. The activities of gathering and harvesting improved. But new problems appeared: the storage of food, the introduction of new kinds of meat in the food diet. Clothes made of vegetal fibres, looser and more adequate to a warmer climate replaced the clothing made of furs.

3. Considerations on the general evolution of the Epi-Palaeolithic/Mesolithic in the area

We must say from the very beginning, that we consider the Balkans and the Iron Gates region of the Danube (the 'Clisura') as fit into the large geographic area where a series of special discoveries were made. We consider worth mentioning that between the Balkans and the Iron Gates region on one side and the rest of Romania, on the other side, in what concerned the three ways of diffusion of the Mesolithic, there was a time delay, materialised in the inventory of artefacts discovered so far. We expect future discoveries to fill the existent gaps. This appeared because of the dynamics of invention, more accelerate in this part of the continent, owing to the favourable climatic conditions (a lot milder here during the last glaciation) and to the existence of cultural traditions that allowed the humans to start from a more advanced level, compared to the one on the rest of the continent. Apart from these, there is another cause that apparently was overlooked or neglected by the specialists and we would like to discuss now.

The Black Sea, because of its warm water streams, also favoured the development of a milder climate. It was present on the coast (the Bosphorus, the Dobrudja, the south of Caucasian mountains, south of Moldavia and Ukraine). As the most recent discoveries proved, in all these regions were exposed complexes having related features to the ones that benefited by the Peri-Mediterranean climate. The existent flora and fauna support the idea. And this is also our argument for the third way of diffusion of the Epi-Palaeolithic/Mesolithic on the European area. We presume that the process of diffusion had also an opposite sense of penetration; the same ways of advance were used by the cultural syntheses present in the cultural complexes in the west, centre and east part of the continent to advance towards the south-eastern regions. This continued during the Neolithic age, too.

During the same period of time as the Sub-Atlantic climatic period, the Euro-Asian civilisation seemed to have passed into a new age. The change was also correlated, of course, with other climatic factors and also with the socio-historical cultural dynamics. Another problem that we would like to bring into discussion is the one of the warm water streams of the Canary Islands, coming from the west and the north of the continent from tropical regions. They have influenced the existing populations during the historical period we are dealing with. In no other way can we explain the presence of Maglemoisian type complexes on both sides of the British channel. They developed owing to the thermic balance of the Earth and spread in a tight connection with the level variations of the planetary ocean. This problem must remain in focus for further research.

The Peri-Mediterranean area was dominated during the end of the Upper Palaeolithic by Epi-Gravettian features and it was perfectly normal to continue that tradition during the Epi-Palaeolithic. Within the Balkanic region the situation appeared to be similar. It is not clear yet what happened within the Carpathian area, as because of the relief and the thermic climate this has always functioned like a 'revolving plate' between the two areas mentioned above and other two: the alpine central European region and the eastern one, areas much different, due to the presence of the Black and the Baltic seas.

From the research completed so far, in the Iron Gates region we can distinguish two different stages. The first one is the one that continues the Epi-Gravettian cultural tradition. The change towards the "segregation/ regionalization" took place gradually. The blade technique was little by little abandoned and flaking technique is adopted. The flint and other rocks, locally available, were used as raw materials, but bone and horn were also in an intense usage. The second stage corresponds to the moment of reduction in size of the area within which the humans were activating and also to the moment of a rare use of flint in the bladelet technique and the usage mainly of quartz and quartzitic rocks in making the tools. The processing of bone, horn and wild boar tusk became more common. The same for flaking the quartzite rocks and flint. Culturally we were able to tell three categories of complexes, linked together in a genetic and causative chain.

  • Final Epi-Gravettian - or Proto-Clisurean (Proto-Romanellian) as we call it;
  • Late Epi-Gravettian - Clisurean (Romanellian) as called by us. (Al. Paunescu names it Romanello-Azillian). It comprises at his turn four stages of development:
    • Climente Cave II
    • Cuina Turcului I
    • Cuina Turcului II
    • Ostrovul Banului I-III a
  • The cultural complex Schela-Cladovei-Lepenski Vir, also with four stages: an early one, two middle ones and a late one. In order to establish this periodization we have taken into account quantitative studies (the quantity of rocks used: flint, quartz, quartzitic rocks), qualitative e being the one of the Danube Gorge in Clisura region, between Bazias and Gura Vaii and the second being the open space following the Danube's exit from the Gorge, between Gura Vaii and Ostrovul Mare. Between the two zones there are differences in terms of quantity and quality of the toolkit, in the typology of stone, horn and bone artefacts, in the frequency of appearance of various animal species.

4. The succession of the three complexes in the Iron Gates region

From the climatic point of view the three complexes developed between Lascaux Interstadial Age (the early arid pine phase by Em. Pop & collab., the climatic Romanian oscillation by M. Carciumaru) and the beginning of the Atlantic (mid-'spruce mixed with hazelnut and oak' phase after Em. Pop and the end of 'spruce & oak' s phase, after M. Carciumaru). Chronologically, it took place between 14,500 BC and 5,600 BC. We must pay a great attention to this chronological framing, as we agree with E. Pop, N. Boscaiu and M. Carciumaru that the 'classic' Pre-Boreal might have appeared a lot earlier than in the central Europe, that is about 2000 years before. Alexandra Bolomey, who studied the local fauna also noticed this fact, as well as E. Kessler, who studied the avifauna.

5. The final Epi-Gravettian. The Proto-Clisurean

This stage was identified in 1965 and 1968 in just one site, at Pestera Climente I, situated in Cazanele Mari region, Dubova village, Mehedinti county. The layer occurred at a depth of 140 to 190 cm. It was rich in 'cryoclasts', containing fireplaces and faunal remains ( forest and euritherm species): Sorex araneus, Pippistrellus pippistrellus, Spalax leucodon, Cricetus cricetus, Microtus arvalis, Ocotona pusilla, Ursus spelaeus, Crocuta spelaea, Mustela nivalis, Rupicapra rupicapra, Capra ibex etc. Among the 157 pieces of the lithic inventory were identified scrapers made of the end of blades, points and micro-points with a flat side, roundly retouched points, micro-gravettes, 'a cran' pieces, 'encoche' blades, backed blades, Dufour blades, segments of circles, a few burins, etc. To complete the list we would also like to mention a bone spear made of a 'penial' bone of Ursus spelaeus and a piercer. Similar finds were found at La Gravette, Willendorf, Moravany, Asprochaliko.

6. Late Epi-Gravettian. Clisurean (Romanello-Azillian)

It is a local aspect of the Romanellian, being also related to the Valourguian and Azillian. Stage I - Climente I cave, Cazanele Mari region, Dubova village, Mehedinti county. It was identified and studied in 1968,1969. The layer was between 65-90 cm. It presented 'cryoclasts' and fireplaces. The fauna consisted of Ursus spelaeus, Sus scrofa, Cervus elaphus, etc. The lithic inventory contained: circular, subcircular and ogival scrapers made of flakes, microburins, roundly retouched points (Romanellian), Gravettian pieces with a flat side (Climente I type), triangular points,'a cran' pieces, 'a esquillee', segments of circles, backed blades, truncated backed blades presenting dentils, Dufour bladelets, etc. The inventory comprised 752 pieces, all published. We also found artefacts made on bone, deer antler, a fragmented harpoon, awls, borers, throwing points. A few of the bone pieces were ornamented with incised geometric patterns or small circular hallows executed presumably with a well sharpened burin. Some of the teeth had been used as pendants. The river boulders, occasionally painted with red ochre, were used for grinding bones and seeds or in the case of the ones presenting hallows - to transform the ochre in powder. In the same layer was also found a human skeleton, lying on one side, spread with red ochre, hands under the head. The skull was fragmentary and only the lower jaw was present.

Stages II and III were found in two neighbouring sites in Cazanele Mari region, Dubova village, Mehedinti county. Stage II in the first layer at Cuina Turcului and Veterani Cave. Both were sites excavated in 1964 by C.S. Nicolaescu-Plopsor, M. Davidescu, P. Roman and V. Boroneant. Between 1965-1969 at Cuina Turcului the excavations were resumed by Al. Paunescu and at Veterani cave by Dinu Rosetti and V. Boroneant between 1966-1968. The fauna of both sites consisted predominantly of Sus scrofa, Capra ibex, Rupicapra rupicapra, Bos primigenius, Cervus elaphus, Alces alces, Equus cabalus, Canis lupus, Vulpes vulpes, Ursus aorctus, Putorius putorius, Castor fiber and various species of birds. Flint industry was extremely well represented: we had 1518 processed finds for the first layer and 2345 for the second one. End-scrapers made of flakes were dominant, like in Climente II cave, but all the other types specific to the Clisurean/Romanellian were also to be noticed: circular segmented points, micro-gravettes, backed bladelets, burins, 'a cran' pieces, truncated bladelets, Dufour bladelets. Compared to Climente II cave the new elements were represented by trapeze shaped pieces and also triangular ones. Overall, the variation in the types of tools and the variation of their percentage was hardly noticeable between the layers.

A third site belonging to the Clisurean was found outside the Iron Gates region, in the karst of Cerna Valley, at Baile Herculane, in a cave named Pestera Hotilor ('the Thieves' Cave'). But its inventory was considerably poorer. Cuina Turcului offered a rich bone inventory, consisting of awls, piercers, throwing points, all shaped differently from the ones in Climente I cave. Some of them presented abstract geometric patterns, resembling to the ones belonging to the Romanellian (V. Boroneant, paper at the VIII section, XV colloquium). Personal ornamentation objects made of bone, horn, teeth and snail shells were also to be found. River boulders painted with red ochre were still present. Stage IV was discovered on an island, Ostrovul Banului-Gura Vaii, Mehedinti county, situated at the exit of the Danube from the Gorge.

Three layers of habitation were identified. The fauna included mainly Sus scrofa and Cervus elaphus but also a large variety of fish, among which the best represented were Acipense ruthenus, Huso huso, Leucicus chephalus, Abramis brama, Ciprinus carpio, Selurus glanis, Styzostedion lucioperca, all species that had been previously identified in the other sites. The end-scrapers dominated the flint industry. The toolkit also included typical Clisurean points, micro-points, La Gravette and triangular points, segments of circles, atypical 'a cran' pieces, truncated, backed and Dufour blades, finely retouched flakes and blades. For the first level we had 101 pieces, 81 for the second level and 127 for the III a level. Not ornamented bone tools were found, but was still to be noticed the presence of river boulders painted with ochre. As a general observation we would like to underline the increasing rate of microlithization, the high percentage of bladelets, the fast decline in number of the segments of circles and the presence of the backed blades down to the lowest level. It is also worth mentioning the increasing number of the 'ecaillee' pieces, especially of the end-scrapers, and the lessening in number of the abruptly and semi-abruptly retouched end-scrapers.

Each stage of the Clisurean brought a strengthening of the microlithization. The prismatic and pyramidal cores are also to be found more and more seldom. Yet, the bipolar ones are somewhat more frequent. Samples for C14 dating were taken for each stage, but only the results obtained for Cuina Turcului were relevant. They read 10650?120 and 10100?120 BC for the first layer and 8175?200 and 8175?200 for the second one. The tests were made by the Berlin Laboratory. The results are given in non-calibrated years. On the Yugoslav bank, similar discoveries appeared only at Padina and Vlasac. Chronologically they are contemporary to stages II and III a from Ostrovul Mare and presented the closest resemblance with ours, in what concerned the entire evolution of the process, starting with the Proto-Clisurean (final Epi-Gravettian) up to the end of this evolution. The similarities concerned the typology of the flint toolkit, the processing technique of bone and horn, the artistic aspect of the ornamental objects.

It is only the percentages and the slight variations in the tool types that distinguish the complexes in the Danube valley from the ones at Grotta Romanelli, Grotta delle Mura, Grotta del Cavallo, Grotta di Uluzzo, Grotta Azzura di Samotorza, etc. This in what concerns the classic Romanellian and the following stages to the Epi-Romanellian. Close analogies can also be made to the Valourguian in the south of France (named at the beginning Romanello-Azillian). Yet, direct links with these cultural complexes could not have existed. Between the Iron Gates region, eastern Yugoslavia and the Adriatic sea there are the Dinaric mountains. Yet, the excavations at Crvena Stijena, Odmut and Medena Stijena seem to indicate a certain road of advance of the cultural relations. The process was born in the Danube Valley and then spread along the Sava river and its tributary, Drina, and then, over the Adriatic (that had a very low level during that age) within the Italian peninsula. Another branch of the cultural trend followed the Sava river to the springs, through Slovenia (Ovca Jama, Babija Jama) maybe over the heights of the Alps, pointing westwards. The complexes on the sea coast (Franchthi IV-VI, Asprochaliko 1-5) (the Slovanian group, as considered by White-Kozlowski) present common features, yet slightly different to the ones in the Iron Gates and southern and western Italy. The penetration through the Iron Gates Gorge happened during the early stage of Cuina Turcului II. We believe that from a historical behaviour point of view the Clisurean marked the presedentation period.

7. The Schela Cladovei-Lepenski Vir cultural complex

This last stage had a sudden development, though in steps. It occurred when changing from the Clisurean complexes, based mainly on flint exploitation from the local resources, to a lessening of this activity and a change to an intensive processing of the river boulders and other types of rocks. Predilection was shown to locally exploited quartz ( seldom obtain from natural deposits, more often from the rocks available on the beach). Climatically, the process corresponds to the Boreal and beginning of Atlantic period, after the end of the Pinus phase. During this stage the landscape suffered a great change. It involved the warming of the climate, the stabilisation of the Danube course( first at a lower level than the present one, then reaching the one existent nowadays). Man gradually descended from the caves situated on the upper levels of the karst (Climente II cave (178m) to Climente I cave (62m) and the shelter under the rock at Cuina Turcului (60m)). During the period of time when Schela Cladovei-Lepenski Vir culture flourished, the Danube had the lowest level. It only happened twice ever since, between III-I centuries BC and IX-XIII centuries AD. In terms of archaeological sites, this period frames between the habitation at Ostrovul Banului (end of IX millennium) and Alibeg, Icoana (mid-VI millennium). During the first stage at Veterani Terasa the flint toolkit still preserved Clisurean flint tools that later on will be quite rare or absent.

8. Chronological list of the excavated sites in subzone I: Danube Gorge (from Bazia? to Gura V?ii)

Veterani Terasa (Cazanele Mari, Mehedinti county) Characteristics. Flint industry in decline (only 37.77% of the processed raw material). It is the beginning of the quartz industry (13.16%) and of the quartzitic rock usage (49.07%). The toolkit still comprised the abruptly retouched points, specific to the Clisurean, but also micro-gravettes, segments of circles, backed blades, Dufour blades, burins, circular and semicircular end-scrapers, 'ecaillee' end-scrapers. The tool processing was usually made on flakes. Bone and deer antler tools appeared. Also the debut of the ornamented pieces; sunken hut-type dwellings had simple fireplaces, the stone-border was not present yet.

Ostrovul Banului (downstream the cataracts, Gura Vaii, Mehedinti county).
Flint industry also in decline (13.69%), quartz industry in full development (43.56%). The same for the industry of quartzite and other rocks (42.75%). Debut of horn, bone, wild boar tusk industry. The dwellings were of the sunken hut type with simple hearths. The flint toolkit included retouched points, micro-gravettes, backed blades, micro-end-scrapers made on flakes. The number of pieces belonging to these categories of tools appeared to diminish. In exchange, there was an increasing number of pieces retouched 'a esquillee'. We also exposed deer antler and bone tools, river boulders painted with red ochre. The excavations took place in 1965.

Icoana (Cazanele Mici, Ogradena-Ieselnita village, Mehedinti county)
Flint industry reached very low percentages (1.58%), quartz had 66.01% and quartzitic rocks 32.51%. The toolkit was dominated by end-scrapers made on flakes but roughly processed. Still to be found were roundly retouched points, micro-gravettes, backed blades. In great number were found the finely retouched micro-flakes. Among the quartz tools remarkable were the side-scrapers and the 'a ecaillee' pieces. The processing of bone, deer antler and tusk reached most elaborated forms (ard tips with high foot and several holes for fastening into the handle). The ornamentation makes a start for the abstract geometric patterns which will become a main feature of this kind of complexes. The second layer of habitation contained the hut-type dwellings with simple hearths but co-existing with burials. The river boulders were painted with red ochre or partly polished on one side. It was excavated in 1967-1968.

Razvrata (Cazanele Mici, Ogradena-Ieselnita village, Mehedinti county)
The lowest percentage for the flint industry (0.57%) with the same types of tools as at Icoana. The processing of quartzitic tools was in regress (25.50%) but quartz registered very high percentages (70%). The excavations revealed dwellings of the sunken hut type in the second level of habitation, with circular fireplaces made of river stones. The bone, horn and tusk industries were similar to Icoana. The site was exposed in 1967-1968.

Cuina Turcului
We identified here proofs of habitation belonging to the Schela Cladovei culture that had not been stratigraphically noticeable during the excavations (see the section dedicated to the Clisurean).

Alibeg (Pescari-Alibeg straits, Pescari village, Caras-Severin county)
A come-back of the flint industry in what concerns the blade-technique (5.15%). The quartzitic rocks lost ground (10.74%), quartz reached the highest percentages ever (84.11%). There appeared to be a decline in the bone, tusk and horn industries. The ornamental objects and the flint tools announced the Neolithic. The dwellings were half-sunken, with a border well consolidated with well burnt limestone. The excavations took place in 1969, 1970.

9. Conclusions for subzone I

The location of the sites is an important feature, as the habitation places were situated on the very bank of the river, in a flooding area. Some of the layers were excavated only when the waters were at the lowest level. The fauna was more diversified. Quartz, horn and bone industries were richer in number of tools than in the second subzone.

10. Conclusions for subzone II: wide open valley landscape

It is situated upstream Turnu-Severin and Ostrovul Mare island. The highest terraces of the Danube get far off the river and most of the sites were situated on islands and lower terraces. Among the excavated sites we can list:

Schela Cladovei - the site that gave the name to the culture is situated on the Romanian bank of the Danube, being the south-eastern district of the Drobeta Turnu Severin municipium. The above mentioned site might have contained all the stages of evolution of the culture but most of the area had been covered by the Danube little before the excavations commenced. As a whole, the flint industry had small percentage (4.18%), the quartzitic rocks 25.72%. The quartz industry was on the highest evolution point (70.10%). The inventory of flint and quartzitic tools consisted of roundly retouched blades, abruptly retouched blades and flakes, circular and semicircular end-scrapers. The trapeze shaped end-scrapers made their debut. There was also a difference in what concerned the technique of chopping the stone. The number of random detached flakes is smaller. The processing of deer antler kept at the same level while tusk processing was poorly represented. The decoration of bone and horn was made by hardly perceptible incisions. During the earliest stages the fireplaces were simple, and then, made of river boulders, disposed in a circular shape. Later they were bordered with rectangular or triangular stoneslabs. The burials occurred around the dwellings. The presence of individuals killed by arrow tips or having healed wounds suggested the existence of a steady community. The river boulders had red ochre marks. They seem to have been used for grinding grains, seeds and even ochre. Some of them presented a deep hallow on one side, resembling to the Lepenski Vir ones. The excavations were undertaken in 1965,1967-1968, 1982-1995.

Ostrovul Corbului - Cliuci (island on the Danube, Ostrovul Corbului, Hinova, Mehedinti county) The same features as in the middle stages of Schela Cladovei culture were present in what concerned flint, quartz, quartzitic rocks, bone and tusk. There was no quantitative analysis. Fl. Mogoseanu, the archaeology no stratigraphical recordings. They comprise of deer antler tools which may typologically belong to stages II-III of the culture.

Ostrovul Mare - river km 873 (island on the Danube, Gogosu village, Mehedinti county)
On the island was built the hidro-electric station of Iron Gates II. The inventory of flint tools differed slightly from what we found on the other sites in subzone I. Still there were resemblance to the tools at Schela Cladovei. We found end-scrapers made on flakes. The roundly retouched points and the micro-gravettes were absent. Level III contained trapeze points and a crescent one. Except from Alibeg (which was situated to the western end of the Gorge), the quality of flint was different compared to the one of the flint tools in the sites upstream. Dominated the quartzitic industry, represented by the same types of tools as at Schela Cladovei site. Along with the old types made of deer antler, we found a new kind of hoe with a direct way of fastening into the handle. The arrow tips appeared more seldom, making place to narrow blade daggers. The ornaments were of the same abstract geometric kind, being also noticed on the polished stone. Levels II and III sheltered half-sunken dwellings; the first layer had 'surface' ones. The fireplaces of the first level were circular, made on river stones. In the upper levels they were rectangular or trapeze shaped. A human mandible was found under one of the hearths.

Ostrovul Mare - Km 875, upstream
The toolkit of flint and quartzitic rocks was almost identical to the one at km 873. They were dominated by the 'a ecaillee' pieces, made of cores, the great majority bipolar ones. The dwellings were similar to the ones at km 873, with a step forward in what concerns the 'dynamics of invention': the burnt clay platform, like in the dwellings at Lepenski Vir. The fireplace presented a rectangular border made also of burnt clay. Level III, together with Alibeg and Schela Cladovei, are the latest cultural complexes of Schela Cladovei type (see the synoptic table).
Except for Schela Cladovei archaeological site, all the others that presented Schela Cladovei-Lepenski Vir features are presently covered by the waters of the two artificially created lakes, Iron Gates I and II. They are contemporary, totally or in stages, as the case may be, with the sites on the Serbian bank from Padina, Vlasac, Lepenski Vir, Hajducka Vodenica (for the first zone) and Mala Vrbica-Ajmena, Velesnica, Kula-Mihalovac (also covered by the waters) for the second zone. One thing was clear to the communities on both banks: they were aware of their common ethnic and linguistic origin. Otherwise, communication between them would have been impossible. A historical behaviour was developed, so there was a need for a religious, spiritual and administrative centre. We are talking about Lepenski Vir, the first centre of this kind in Europe. Future research might give the proof to link these sites to other ones in the Balkans, and we particularly have in mind Crvena Stijena in Montenegro, which in our opinion presented the same creative features, specific to the area of the central basin of the Danube. This area is different from all that the Mesolithic of the Near East and Europe has known till now. The beginning of the sedentation created the premises of the Neolithic society. It is the area where the pig was domesticated.

The eastern part of the Danube Valley
It was specific to the communities of hunters-fishermen-gatherers. The rate of the dynamics of invention is lower, owing to the traditions formed within the geographic area of the Pontic central Carpathian basin. Inside it are to be remarked contradictory evolutions, springing from a late Epi-Gravettian (as proved by M. Brudiu through his excavations in the Subcarpathians and in the Moldavian field, and by Al. Paunescu in the Carpathians). This late Epi-Gravettian developed towards what we call Tardenoisian complexes in the area but are in fact just a local evolution specific to the age. Another evolution, started due to a southern impulse, materialised into the discoveries at Soroca-Trifauti on the Prut river. It might have been influenced by the new changes taking place in the southern parts and in the Iron Gates area. The deer antler and bone industries must be correlated to the Epi-Gravettian tradition at Cotu lui Niculint. They fit into the local lithic industry. In the eastern range of the Carpathians, to the north, around the Ceahlau mountains, we noticed the existence of a late Swiderian characterised by peduncular points, that might have penetrated from the northern regions. We do not insist upon these kind of complexes, being a special subject for some other time.




Schela Cladovei

 Schela Cladovei is a site discovered by Dr Vasile Boronean?, and excavated since by a team of fine archeologists led by Dr Boronean? and by another distinguished scholar and field worker, Dr Clive Bonsall. Designing how the dig will proceed, and organising and managing a team of workers for an extended period is a very difficult and highly skilled undertaking, which has been managed with great professional integrity. We are indeed fortunate that the excavations have been completed, recorded and analysed so thoroughly and professionally.

The Schela Cladovei site, essentially part of the town of Drobeta Turnu-Severin in Romania, is on the left bank of the Danube, between the river and the railway and road from Timisoara to Bucharest. The site is sometimes referred to in the Romanian language as Cladovo or as Kladovo in the Serbian language, after the Serbian town of Kladovo just across the river Danube from the site.

Dr Adrian Gheorghe, a Romanian physician with a keen interest and great knowledge of Romanian prehistory, recently (2007) visited the site, and reports that although many of the people in the area remember the English archaeologists who had digs there, there will be no more digs in the foreseeable future. The whole site is covered with concrete to protect the railway line and the houses nearby from the erosion of the Danube, erosion which has been accelerated by the construction and subsequent outflow of the Iron Gates Dam. A chapter has been closed.

Stone Age sites in the Iron Gates region.

Photo: Climate, floods and river gods: environmental change and the Meso?Neolithic transition in southeast Europe by Clive Bonsall, Mark G Macklin, Robert W Payton, Adina Boronean?.
 Since 1989 Clive Bonsall has co-ordinated a major interdisciplinary research project in the Iron Gates, in collaboration with specialists from Great Britain, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and the USA. The research has focused on the period from 7000 to 5000 BC during which farming was introduced to the region. Dietary tracing of human remains from Lepenski Vir and Vlasac (sites that are now submerged and no longer available for excavation) has provided a new perspective on subsistence practices and their changes through time. A more reliable chronological framework for the stone age settlement of the Danube gorges is being created by direct AMS 14C dating of bone artefacts and human remains from these and other sites in the region.

Between 1992 and 1996 Clive Bonsall conducted excavations at Schela Cladovei in partnership with the Romanian archaeologist, Vasile Boronean?. This late Mesolithic and early Neolithic site is situated on the Romanian bank of the Danube, about 65km down river from Lepenski Vir. By employing strict sampling and recovery techniques, the excavations have provided better information on the economies of the two periods of occupation, and added substantially to our knowledge of architecture, burial practices and technology.

Text and Photo from:

The Schela Cladovei Culture. Tools made by bone and stag horn,



Set in one of the most remarkable archaeological landscapes in southeastern Europe, the Iron Gates, the site of Schela Cladovei, which was occupied in turn by the last hunter-gatherers and first farmers of the region, is arguably the most important Mesolithic?Neolithic settlement to survive flooding of the Danube Valley following the construction of two massive hydroelectric dams.

Schela Cladovei is a Stone Age settlement on the left (Romanian) bank of the River Danube, a few kilometres downstream from the point where the river exits the Iron Gates gorge. Excavations have taken place there on various occasions since 1965, and most recently as a joint project between the Institute of Archaeology in Bucharest and the University of Edinburgh. The current excavations, led by Adina Boronean? and Clive Bonsall, have shown the site was occupied by Late Mesolithic hunter-gatherers between 7000 and 6300 BC, then after a gap of about 300 years, re-occupied by Early Neolithic farmers belonging to the Star?evo-Cri? culture. The excavations have revealed a rich array of cultural material, comprising bone, ceramic and stone artefacts, in association with burials and dwelling structures, together with valuable evidence of the economic activities of the Stone Age inhabitants 

Earlier Digs at Schela Cladovei

Text and photos below from :

The Schela Cladovei-Lepenski Vir cultural complex

This last stage had a sudden development, though in steps. It occurred when changing from the Clisurean complexes, based mainly on flint exploitation from the local resources, to a lessening of this activity and a change to an intensive processing of the river boulders and other types of rocks. Predilection was shown to locally exploited quartz ( seldom obtain from natural deposits, more often from the rocks available on the beach). Climatically, the process corresponds to the Boreal and beginning of Atlantic period, after the end of the Pinus phase. During this stage the landscape suffered a great change. It involved the warming of the climate, the stabilisation of the Danube course( first at a lower level than the present one, then reaching the one existent nowadays). Man gradually descended from the caves situated on the upper levels of the karst (Climente II cave (178m) to Climente I cave (62m) and the shelter under the rock at Cuina Turcului (60m)). During the period of time when Schela Cladovei-Lepenski Vir culture flourished, the Danube had the lowest level. It has only happened twice since, between III-I centuries BC and IX-XIII centuries AD.

  "The Mesolithic Habitation Complexes in The Balkans and Danube"
Back to Schela Cladovei Site

The Schela Cladovei site. The research field plan for the 1994 campaign,
the British - Romanian Project. Ceramic.

Descoperiri senzationale in situl arheologic de la Schela Cladovei

Descoperiri senzationale in situl arheologic de la Schela Cladovei
04 iulie 2009
Specialisti in istorie de la Universitatea Edinburgh si de Institutul de Arheologie "Vasile Parvan" din Bucuresti au descoperit, in situl arheologic de la Schela Cladovei, judetul Mehedinti, urme umane din perioada mezoliticului timpuriu, transmite Agerpres.

Coordonatoarea echipei de arheologi, prof. univ. Adina Boroneant, a declarat, pentru Agerpres, ca inventarul arheologic scos la iveala indica inceputul vietii sedentare a omului, al trecerii acestuia de la stadiul de culegator, pescar si vanator la o civilizatie primitiva, datand din anul 7100 i.Ch. si mergand pana in anul 5500.

"Pentru prima oara pentru perioada specifica neoliticului din Romania am dat peste vestigii unicat. Este vorba de ruinele unui atelier de produs margele din malachit. Am depistat piese de acest tip in stare bruta si prelucrate. Si ce este mai interesat - am gasit si uneltele din silex utilizate la fabricarea acestor podoabe", a precizat Boroneant.

In campania de sapaturi din acest an, care se va incheia in prima decada a lunii august, au mai fost scoase la lumina vase de ceramica arsa, vase cuptor, varfuri de sageti si mai multe fragmente dintr-un altar de cult.

"In urma studierii acestor urme putem trage concluzia ca situl de la Schela Cladovei ocupa 4000 de ani de istorie. Luand in consideratie faptul ca, totusi, exista o pauza de 300 de ani in ceea ce priveste existenta omului pe malurile Dunarii, putem sustine ca oamenii s-au retras mai in interiorul teritoriului unde erau protejati impotriva inundatiilor. Deci, undeva, in apropiere, exista o asezare inca nedescoperita", a afirmat Boroneant.

Primele sapaturi pe santierul arheologic de la Schela Cladovei au fost efectuate de cunoscutul profesor Vasile Boroneant incepand cu anul 1960. Au fost descoperite, de-a lungul timpului, peste 65 de morminte datand din perioada 7300 - 6300 i.Ch. O descoperire senzationala a fost cea a unui Homo Sapiens in varsta de 8000 de ani.

Potrivit sursei citate, vestigiile arheologice de aici sunt o adevarata comoara pentru patrimoniul istoric national si pentru cel international. Datarea cu carbon radioactiv a uneia dintre cele mai vechi asezari de pe continentul european, confirma varsta de circa 8750 de ani. Aparitia ei a fost favorizata de climatul sud-mediteranean instalat dupa perioada glaciara in Defileul Dunarii.

"Dezvoltarea vietii in aceasta zona numita, in literatura de specialitate, clisureana pentru paleoliticul superior si Cultura Schela Cladovei - Lepenski Vir pentru epipaleolitic, a fost influentata de existenta elementelor de flora si fauna care au permis comunitatilor omenesti sa se perpetueze si dezvolte", a aratat prof. Adina Boroneant.

Situl arheologic Schela Cladovei a intrat in atentia intregii lumi stiintifice odata cu lucrarile la Hidrocentrala Portile de Fier I. Descoperirile facute aici au capatat o recunoastere internationala, figurand in tratatele preistorice si in cursurile universitare din intreaga lume. Campaniile de cercetare care au dus la identificarea unei civilizatii inca necunoscuta, comparabila cu cele ale lumii preistorice din Valea Nilului, a Tibrului si Eufratului, sunt sustinute printr-un proiect roman-englez, gratie profesorului de la Universitatea Edinburgh, Clive Bonsall. Acesta a spus ca "aceasta parte a Romaniei este foarte importanta pentru intelegerea tranzitiei cruciale de la formarea de grupuri si vanatoare la agricultura, lucruri care se intamplau acum 8000 de ani".
Schela cadovei]
Conditiile favorabile (clima, sol, vegetatie, hrana) au facut din orasul nostru leaganul celei mat vechi asezari omenesti stabile cunoscute in Europa. In cartierul vestic al orasului, Schela Cladovei, pe malul Dunarii, de 40 de ani este cercetata de arheologi aceasta asezare ce dateaza de mai bine de 9.000 de ani. Aici au fost construite primele case din Europa, au fost facute primele imormantari, au fost cultivate primele plante si au fost facute primele interventii chirurgicale. Au fost realizate primele opere de arta.

Omul de la Schela Cladovei

Tot aici cunoastem si urmarile primelor manifestari razboinice. Este prima asezare omeneasca distrusa prin conflict armat. Cultura Schela Cladovei, asa cum au numit-o istoricii, este datata in jurul anului 7.200 i.e.n.



The Hungarian Point of View

The Middle Neolithic pattern of population in Transylvania remained dominant until the end of the Copper Age. First to leave their Transylvanian home were a majority of the best-known, Vin?a-Tordos people. When people from the central regions of the Balkans chose to settle around the Érc Mountains, they must have been drawn by the region's mineral riches; early copper tools were unearthed at Balomir and Radnót, and one of the oldest gold mines is in nearby Zalatna. They grew wheat and kept many animals, mainly cattle; domesticated animals provided some 70% of the meat consumed. Their raised, clay-floored dwellings were constructed of logs or wattle and daub. Their vessels include graceful cups, mostly with a red coating; spaces between the meandering incised lines have been indented with small sticks. Their culture is exceptionally rich in anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptures; these small clay figures may well have played a part in a fertility cult.

Of particular interest are small pictographic tablets, found at T?rt?ria (Alsó-Tatárlaka) in 1961, which bear a remarkable resemblance to Protoelamite and Protosumerian objects. Given the distance {1-23.} in space as well as time ? at least a millennium ? between such finds in Transylvania and in Mesopotamia, it is questionable whether any contact might have existed between the two regions; early linear-geometric scripts bore common features even when they were developed in isolation. However, the inscribed tablets of T?rt?ria reinforce the supposition that some of the signs on the clay products of the Vin?a-Tordos culture were a form of writing. Thus, significantly, attempts at writing occurred in the Maros valley around 4000 B.C.; this implies the existence in the region of a quasi-state, focused on some simple shrine, and with a division of labour among the communities. Such a development would be scarcely conceivable if certain groups had not begun to use local metal ores and come to depend on others for grain and meat.

The attempt in Transylvania to construct a productive society marked by the central distribution of goods ultimately failed. New migrations interrupted this process. In the southeast, where the line-decorated ceramic culture had predominated, with people who practised primitive agriculture and animal husbandry (hunted animals accounted for at least 50 per cent of their consumption), the newcomers were people of the sheep- and goat-breeding, Boian culture in Moldavia and eastern Wallachia. Coming from the Olt valley, some smaller groups got as far as the middle reaches of the Maros, where their large pots and plates, decorated with excised triangular patterns and bunched lines, have been found in settlements of the Vin?a-Tordos culture.

However, the major break came with the migration of painted-ceramics groups from the Szamos region in northern Transylvania, southward along the Maros valley. Their white or orange vessels, bearing red, and at times black, painted decoration, make an early appearance in the top layer of the Vin?a-Tordos settlements, indicating a mingling of the two populations. Since finds of a later date show little evidence of this integration, it is likely that the majority of the Vin?a-Tordos people fled or simply migrated along the Maros.

{1-24.} Thus, for a brief period at the beginning of the Late Neolithic age, most of Transylvania was inhabited by a uniform population, while the people of the Boian culture lived on in the southeastern highlands. Communities of the Petre?ti culture, which had emerged from the painted pottery groups, occupied southern and some of central Transylvania for a long period. Their dwellings, constructed on a wood foundation in wattle and daub, were situated on river terraces and hills; some were built on stilts on dry land (Nagylak, Hermány). Their access to metal ore led them to forge contacts with distant peoples, in Wallachia, Dobrudja, and perhaps even farther south. Their pots, baked to produce a metallic ring, were painted with curved and spiral designs in black, red, and brown colours. Dishes, shouldered mugs, and cylindrical underplates indicate a capacity to melt metals, and copper finds support this. Originals and copies of laminated gold jewellery, found as far as Bulgaria, Greece, and, in the north, the Kassa basin, suggest exploitation of the local gold deposits. The smaller number of finds relating to agriculture and animal husbandry may be explained by the spread of metallurgy.

The Petre?ti culture continued to evolve until the end of the Copper Age, but only in the territories formerly inhabited by the Vin?a-Tordos people. Sweeping across the eastern Carpathians from the Pontic steppes, mounted Protoeuropids, who were cattle-breeders, occupied the settlements of the painted pottery people in the Szamos region (Magyarpalatka). Departing from earlier Neolithic custom, they buried their dead in large cemeteries at some distance from their dwellings (Marosdécse, Melegföldvár), laying the bodies supine, with knees slightly bent; the graves also hold large Pontic stone knives, bulbous-headed stone maces (Vizakna, Gredistye), and simple cups. In keeping with eastern custom, they put red and ochre paint alongside the corpse.

At about the same time, people of the Cucuteni-Tripolje (Er?sd) culture arrived to settle in area of the Boian culture, in {1-25.} southeastern Transylvania. Migrations in led to recurrent alteration in the character of the populations in the eastern half of the Carpathian Basin; the newcomers mixed with the earlier inhabitants, changing lifestyles and material culture.

This latest incursion gave rise to the Tiszapolgár culture, which became established in the Tisza region, northern Transylvania, and the Banat; some of its bearers reached southeastern Transylvania (Bögöz), others spread out from the Banat to the middle reaches of the Maros River (Szászsebes, Maroskarna, Déva). The primitive hut settlements (Kalota) of these cattle-herding, agricultural peoples consisting of simple huts and the villages of the Cucuteni-Tripolje culture ringed the region inhabited by people of the Petre?ti culture; if the latter survived peacefully in this turbulent era, it was probably thanks to the surrounding peoples' dependence on their metal craftsmen.

The Petre?ti people passed on skills in painting vessels to their new neighbours of the Cucuteni-Tripolje culture. One of the most important finds of these vessels, which were decorated in two or three colours (black, white, and red) prior to firing, was at a mountain settlement at Er?sd-Tyiszk, in a layer over four meters deep. The dwellings were constructed of posts and wattle and daub and had rimmed open fireplaces made of clay. The inhabitants of Er?sd were partially dependent on agriculture for their sustenance; their main crop was wheat, sown in single rows. Although they raised livestock, mainly cattle, much of their meat came from hunting. Most of their tools, such as axes and hoes, were made of stone and bone; copper was used only for awls and jewels. Small clay figurines and clay seals used for body-painting evoke their rites and clan structure.

The Cucuteni-Tripolje culture extended to the upper reaches of the Maros, where it came into contact with the Tiszapolgár culture. The latter's settlement area was subsequently occupied by the Bodrogkeresztúr culture, whose bearers sometimes settled in their {1-26.} predecessors' villages (Déva, Marosgezse). Since conditions for intensive agriculture and animal husbandry were more favourable in the Banat and on the Hungarian Great Plain, the extension of the Bodrogkeresztúr culture to Transylvania can only be explained by the lure of the region's mineral deposits. It is significant that the incidence of copper tools grows rapidly as one moves from Transylvania towards the central area of the Bodrogkeresztúr culture. Long and short axes as well as 'double-edged' pickaxes from the copper-mining districts made their way to the Great Plain, and small pieces of gold jewellery are commonly found in the b