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Neolithic settlements on the northern Croatian territory


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Botić, Katarina. (2017). Neolithic settlements on the northern Croatian territory. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Archaeology.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij arheologije) [mentor Težak-Gregl, Tihomila].

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1. INTRODUCTION 1.1. Neolithic on the northern Croatian territory In the area of northern Croatia, the emergence and development of Neolithic cultures can be roughly dated between 6000 and 4000 BC. Starčevo, LBK, Korenovo cultures and Sopot culture with its regional types (Ražište, Brezovljani and Seče) developed in this area in several phases. The greatest contribution to systematic study of Neolithic cultures in northern Croatia was given by S. Dimitrijević (1968; 1969; 1971a; 1979a) with very little subsequent change (Minichreiter 1992b: 54; Marković 1994: 62). The end of the Neolithic in the area of northern Croatia was marked by Sopot and Vinč cultures. New research has shown that in the area south of the Drava River LBK settlements can also be expected. This culture has so far been located only north of the Drava River. Sopot culture appears in several regional variants, and the Vinča culture is present only in the far east of northern Croatia. The absolute dating of Starčevo culture is difficult because radiocarbon dates from only 5 sites in northern Croatia were published. The lower limit of the absolute dating of the Starčevo culture is very low and is overlapping with the dates of the Sopot culture and new dates for sites Donji Miholjac-Vrancari (LBK) and Golinci-Selište and Podgorač-Ražište (both Ražište type). The absolute dating of Vinča culture was summarily published by D. Borić (2009). In this paper the dates are published with a clear context of finds and thus the absolute chronological framework of the Vinča culture becomes clearer. The problem noticed is the high date of the Vinča D phase because such dating does not match dates for late Vinča culture in the wider region. The recent publication of dates from the Vinča-Belo Brdo site (Tasić et al. 2016a; 2016b), dates from individual sites (e.g. Szederkeny-Kukorica-dűlő in South-Eastern Hungary – Jakucs et al. 2016) and the complete dating of all Vinča culture phases in the entire area of its occupation (Whittle et al. 2016) have further determined the chronological framework of this culture. The absolute dating of the Sopot culture published by Obelić et al. (2004) is very problematic. IB phase date is too high because the assumed IA phase has not yet been dated; the division into IIA and IIB phases is questionable, and also the dating of phase III that is too low and neglects the existence of phase IV. Krznarić Škrivanko (2011a) delivers the data of certain layers from the Sopot site, but there is a clearly visible problem of overlapping dates of different phases and only the youngest layer is clearly separated and probably belongs to phase IV. An additional problem is again the fact that radiocarbon dates are available for only 17 sites; so far several hundred Sopot culture sites have been documented, of which several dozen were investigated in systematic and protective excavations. Consideration of the absolute dating of Sopot culture is provided by M. Burić (2015). Starčevo culture in its early phase fits well with the beginning of Neolithic in the wider region, but its end in north Croatia is not sufficiently clear. In the case of Sopot culture, problems of absolute dating arise from its very beginnings to its very end. It is interesting to notice that the newly published date from Sormás-Mátai-dűlő site (Barna, Pásztor 2011: 189, Tab.1), described as part of the Sopot layer at the site, corresponds to the dates of GolinciSelište and Kruševica-Njivice sites. The newly published dates for Szederkény-Kukorica-dűlő site in South-East Transdanubia correspond to the new dates from Podgorač-Ražište site, and both set of dates are very close to the beginning of Vinča A phase. Since the beginning of Sopot culture should be expected somewhat earlier in northern Croatia than in the area north of the Drava River, the question arises as to whether the Sopot culture occurs later in relation to the Vinča culture, and what it is the relation of the Vinča, LBK and Sopot cultures, especially the Ražište type. Another question emerged from new research: can we consider Ražište type as a first phase of Sopot culture or should its connection to LBK exclude it from Sopot culture as its initial phase? Interdisciplinary results were not included in previous research of Neolithic in northern Croatia. The first attempt to reconstruct geological substrate and climate indicators is related to the Sopot site and the surrounding area. Geological sampling was carried out in 2010 (Bakrač et al., 2015). In the Spring of 2016, new sampling was carried out on Slavonski Brod-Galovo, Vinkovci-Sopot and Bršadin-Pašnjak pod selom sites and in the area of Sovsko jezero situated in the hilly region above Slavonski Brod. Work was carried out within the mini-project Geoarchaeological prospection of Slavonia region by the Institute of Archaeology in Zagreb and the Institute of Archaeology, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. The full results of these geological samplings are expected soon. Climate indicators used in this dissertation are either global or from the immediate vicinity (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, etc.). The observation of changes in settlement patterns is also used as one of the possible indicators of climate change during the Neolithic period. Preliminary results from the Aegean Dendrochronology Project (The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona) were also included in this dissertation (Pearson et al. 2014). 1.2. Objectives of dissertation 1. Observing settlements patterns, including the internal structure of settlements, throughout the Neolithic and the beginning of the Eneolithic in the area of northern Croatia, and in the context of current events in the wider area of the Carpathian Basin, the Balkans and the Black Sea region 2. Linking settlements patterns, in the absence of interdisciplinary research, with global climate indicators to determine how they have changed over the observed period and to what extent the climate was the cause of these changes 3. The use of published radiocarbon dates to obtain a more robust, absolute chronological framework comparable to climate changes 1.2.1. Hypotheses 1. Neolithic of northern Croatia can be placed roughly between two unfavorable global climate events (8.2 ka and 6.0 ka BP); climate conditions and geographic position could have had a significant impact on settlements pattern 2. Absolute dating of Neolithic cultures of northern Croatia can partly be linked to climate change 3. Neolithic of Northern Croatia had a specific development that did not follow, in all its phases, events in a wider regional context 1.3. Methodology Dissertation covers the observation of settlement patterns, including the internal structure of settlements, throughout the Neolithic period (Starčevo culture and Sopot culture with its various regional types) and the beginnings of Eneolithic (Lasinja culture, phase IV of Sopot culture, Seče type of Sopot culture) in the area of northern Croatia, and in the context of contemporary events in the wider area of the Carpathian Basin, the Balkans and the Black Sea region. These forms of settlement patterns are linked, due to the lack of interdisciplinary research (geoarcheological, palinological, malacological etc.) with global climate indicators (where possible with regional data) to determine to what degree settlement patterns changed over the observed period and to what extent the climate was the cause of these changes. In order to obtain a more solid absolute chronological frame comparable to climate change, published radiocarbon dates of Neolithic settlements are used. This method is not precise and there are a number of problematic factors in its use (e.g. a large number of dates for only a few sites, while the amount of available dates for other sites is very small, most sites without radiocarbon dates, date published without a clear context of finds etc.) but the current state of public data disclosure is insufficient to enable the use of more methodologically acceptable analysis. Absolute dates are then compared with available dates from the wider region. The site location information used in this paper refers to the published data, and unpublished data from old or recent excavations are very rarely used. In the absence of absolute data for all known Neolithic settlements, the settlement positions of each Neolithic culture of northern Croatia are observed and used as a rough frame comparable to climate indicators because it is assumed that the settlements' positions to a certain extent depend on the level of groundwater. Dissertation also includes the results of own research of several Neolithic sites (Novi Perkovci–Krčavina, Podgorač–Ražište, Bršadin–Pašnjak pod selom) and research carried out by colleagues from the Institute of Archeology (Podgorač–Gaj, Slavonski Brod–Galovo, Donji Miholjac–Vrancari) which are primarily used in the analysis of settlement architecture and later as a chronological axis. Supplementary data consists of tables of radiocarbon dates for Starčevo, Sopot and Lasinja cultures, and tables with description of site positions, architecture and soil types of Starčevo, Sopot (with separate tables for classical Sopot culture, Ražište type, Brezovljani type, Seče type, Sopot IV) and Korenovo/LBK cultures. Site selection criteria were the availability of information about the site itself, especially those on the exact location. The selection sought to include sites known from research, field surveys, accidental finds, etc. 2. GEOGRAPHICAL, GEOLOGICAL, PEDOLOGICAL, HYDROLOGICAL AND CLIMATE DETERMINANTS OF NORTHERN CROATIAN TERRITORY 2.1. Geographic determinants The area of northern Croatia observed in this paper includes the area bordered by the Danube River in the east, the Drava River in the north, the Kupa and Sava Rivers in the south, and the hilly pre-Alpine area in the west, and geographically belongs to the southwestern parts of the Carpathian Basin. 2.2. Geological determinants Geological configuration of northern Croatia is presented with specific regard to surface Pleistocene/Holocene layers such as loess deposits and geological formations that could have been used as sources for lithic production. 2.3. Pedological determinants Description of current soil classification is given. Neolithic and early Eneolithic settlement positions with regard to modern soil distribution are observed. Specific soils sought after during the first phase of Neolithisation were somewhat restricted while latter adaptation to most of the soil types occurred. 2.4. Hydrological determinants Three mayor rivers (Danube, Sava and Drava) and numerous small water courses create specific hydrological conditions in northern Croatia. They also represent the easiest navigable routs connecting northern Croatia with pre-Alpine area, central and northern Balkans, central Carpathian basin and all the way to the Black Sea region. Hydrological conditions were also one of the important factors in determining settlement positions throughout Neolithic and beginning of Enolithic in northern Croatia. 2.5. Modern climate determinants Modern climate is moderately continental with frequent and intensive changes during the year. Only average annual precipitation shows differences between western and eastern parts of northern Croatia: 1000-1100 mm in the west and 800-900 mm in the east. 3. CLIMATE AND CLIMATE INDICATORS In this chapter history of global climate changes, indicators and proxies are explained regarding Pleistocene/Holocene transition and the Holocene. This includes Heinrich events, Bond events, IRD and RCC phases etc. 3.1. Presentation of global climate mechanisms and changes at the beginning of Holocene 3.1.1. Causes Several causes of global climate changes are presented. 3.1.2. Mechanisms Global climate mechanisms, such as Heinrich events, ENSO phases, RCC phases etc. are discussed. 3.1.3. Climate indicators Global climate indicators Detail description of main indicators (sulphates, oxygen isotopes, chlorides, potassium, sapropel, solar activity, speleothem records, glaciers, dendrodata, pollen data, Dead Sea levels etc.) is given. Local paleoclimate indicators – new research Preliminary results from 2016 geoarchaeological survey of several Slavonian sites are presented and discussed. This survey included geomagnetic, georadar, electric resistivity tomography (ERT) and geological sampling. Preliminary results indicate connection between settlement formations (Slavonski Brod-Galovo, Vinkovci-Sopot and Bršadin-Pašnjak pod selom sites) and immediate environmental conditions at specific point in time. Indirect paleoclimate indicators Indirect paleoclimate indicators are discussed such as ground water levels changes and specific soil selection. 3.2. Climate charts for the period from 8.2 ka BP to 6.0 ka BP Several charts are given for global and more local climate conditions including a graph for northern Africa. Duration of Neolithic in northern Croatia, as it is reconstructed from available radiocarbon dates, is marked on all of these illustrations clearly pointing to a period between 8.0 and 6.0 ka BP. 4. SYNTHESIS OF PREVIOUS INVESTIGATIONS OF NORTH CROATIA’S NEOLITHIC SETTLEMENTS Short description of investigations of Neolithic settlements and cultures in northern Croatia is given from their beginning to recent times. 5. TYPES AND ARCHITECTURE OF SETTLEMENTS 5.1. Types of settlements according to their inner and outer architecture and strategic settlement positions Types of settlements according to their inner (pits, houses etc.) and outer (fortification systems, naturally protected positions etc.) architecture for early, middle and late Neolithic, is presented and strategic settlement positions are discussed. This includes new research from Podgorač-Ražište, Donji Miholjac-Vrancari and Bršadin-Pašnjak pod selom sites and revision of results of former excavations from Virovitica-Brekinja site. Examples of aerial images, showing fortification structures around tells and new results of geophysical research carried on in 2016 are given. 5.2. Architecture of settlements of northern Balkans, Carpathian basin, central Europe and Black Sea region Types of settlements according to their inner and outer architecture for early, middle and late Neolithic of northern Balkans, Carpathian basin, central Europe and Black Sea region is presented. 5.3. Problems regarding pit-dwelling way of life and regional distribution of pitdwellings This chapter contains discussion regarding possible use of pit-dwellings instead of or parallel to full house constructions during the Neolithic. 5.4. Settlements as an indirect indicator of climatic conditions Settlement positions as an indicator of ground water levels changes are discussed separately for early, middle and late Neolithic and the beginning of Eneolithic in northern Croatia. Water level changes are linked to possible climate change episodes. Several examples of site positions are given and discussed regarding climate indicators from charts presented in previous chapters. 5.5. Changes in settlement patterns and the structure of settlements as a possible response to change of climatic conditions In this chapter archaeological records and climate indicators are summed up. 6. PROBLEMS OF APSOLUTE DATING OF NEOLITHIC CULTURES 6.1. Relative chronological frame Description of relative chronology for Starčevo, Sopot and Vinča cultures is given. 6.2. Reflections regarding the problem of absolute dating of Neolithic cultures of northern Croatia Problems regarding absolute chronology of Neolithic cultures in northern Croatia are presented and discussed. New data regarding Vinča culture is reflected upon. 6.3. Reflections about firmer absolute chronological frame Data presented and discussed in previous chapter is summed up and presented in a graph form. New radiocarbon dates from sites Podgorač-Ražište and Donji Miholjac-Vrancari sites are modelled with dates form Virovitica-Brekinja, Golinci-Selište and Novi PerkovciKrčavina sites forming thus a sequence for middle Neolithic in northern Croatia not previously recognized by archaeologists. This sequence includes late Starčevo/LBK site Virovitica-Brekinja, Ražište type (or style) sites Podgorač-Ražište, Novi Perkovci-Krčavina and Golinci-Selište sites and LBK Donji Miholjac-Vrancari site (the only recognized and excavated LBK site south of Drava River). Proposal of absolute chronological frame for Neolithic and beginning of Eneolithic in northern Croatia is presented. 6.4. Chronological tables of Neolithic cultures (including the beginning of Eneolithic) for northern Croatian territory and part of Carpathian basin Absolute chronological dates for northern Croatia are compared to Vinča and Ražište style dates from site Szederkény-Kukorica-dűlő in Hungarian southeast Baranya region. Problems regarding transition from late Neolithic to Eneolithic in northern Croatia are discussed as well as newly published data regarding dating of Vinča culture in its core region. Discussion further includes the end of Starčevo culture and beginning of LBK in wider region. At the end, proposal for change of chronological tables is given. 6.5. Climate indicators as a frame for dating of Neolithic cultures of northern Croatian territory 6.5.1. 8.2 ka BP climate event Extensive description of 8.2 ka BP event for Europe, Middle East and North Africa is given. Available dendrodata and some archaeological records from northern Croatia and adjacent southern regions are linked to this specific event. 6.5.2. 6.0. ka BP climate event Extensive description of 6.0 ka BP event for the Balkans, Black Sea, eastern Mediterranean and parts of Carpathian basin is given. Archaeological records from northern Croatia and adjacent southern regions are linked to this specific event. 6.6. Comparison of results with the results of the wider area of the Carpathian Basin, the Balkans and the Black Sea region Climate conditions and their influence on Neolithic populations of wider region is discussed and compared to specific Neolithic cultures in northern Croatia. Common point and some differences are noted. All discussed data is presented in Tab. 13. CONCLUSION Climate change, although not the principal and only cause, had an impact on the social change during the Neolithic and beginning of Eneolithic in southeast and central Europe. Three cold intervals had an impact on the formation, development and final transformation of Neolithic populations in these regions. Comparison of radiocarbon dates with these cold intervals (8.2 ka, 7.1 ka and 6.0 ka cal BP) facilitates, to a certain point, better understanding of specific phases of Neolithic Starčevo and Sopot cultures on northern Croatian territory. The beginning of Starčevo culture can be linked to the end of 8.2 ka cal BP interval while its final phase can be linked to the end of 7.1 ka cal BP interval. The existence of the central European LBK, which probably followed after the Korenovo culture appearance, was documented by new research dated to this event as well as Ražište type and possible mixed Starčevo-LBK presence on one site. The beginning of Sopot culture can be placed somewhat earlier but still during the 7.1 ka cal BP interval. Duration of Sopot culture coincided with the period of tell abandonment in southeast Europe and the Black Sea region and towards its end the decrease of available radiocarbon dates is noted, possibly signifying decrease of life in the region but it is not clear to what extent the life of the known settlements was abandoned. The eponym Sopot site was abandoned around 4200 BC or somewhat later, i.e. coincides with the beginning of 6.0 ka BP interval, and life there was never renewed. It is immediately apparent that the areas of Greece, Bulgaria and Romania have experienced the sudden end of settlements and cultures just at the time when Sopot culture occurs in northern Croatia. It is also noteworthy that, at a time when new cultures emerge, in the northern part of Croatia the Sopot culture is slowly disappearing, and Lasinja and other Eneolithic cultures continue their life. It is possible that the northern Croatian region's microclimatic and geological conditions allowed this extended life almost without significant break noted in the southeast region, but the data available is very scarce to confirm this assumption. The location of Neolithic and Eneolithic settlements in northern Croatia can be linked to the influence of climate/environmental conditions which are reflected in changing groundwater levels as well as in amounts of precipitation, i.e. alluvial and diluvial deposits. The change certainly took place at the end of Starčevo culture, when the settlements likely moved to a somewhat higher ground and at the end of Sopot and the beginning of Lasinja cultures when they are again occupying lower positions. The structure of the settlements is diverse: in the early Neolithic they are single-layered open-type settlements with large empty spaces around pit features, while the middle and late Neolithic already use above ground structures of different types, from those of smaller dimensions with floor (typical for the Vinča and partly Sopot culture) to those of larger dimensions without archaeological traces of flooring (characteristic for LBK, probably Korenovo and partly late Sopot cultures and for Lasinja culture). Settlements are single-layered, mostly open-type, multi-layered and tell settlements surrounded by ditches and palisades. The western part of northern Croatia during the time of the Brezovljan type most probably continued life in long above ground structures without archaeological traces of flooring. Since there are elements of the Lengyel culture among pottery finds from this site, this choice of housing can partly be related to this late Neolithic culture. Stronger influence of climate on settlement patterns couldn't be specifically noted but this could be partly due to the state of general research of Croatian archaeology and partly due to the sample used in this work. It is important to continue work by exactly dating each settlement in order to get clear picture about change of settlement patterns during longer period of time.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: northern Croatia, Carpathian basin, Balkans, Black Sea region, Neolithic, Eneolithic, settlements, architecture, climate proxies, radiocarbon dates
Subjects: Archaeology
Departments: Department of Archaeology
Supervisor: Težak-Gregl, Tihomila
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij arheologije
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2018 07:51
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2018 07:51

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