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V. Boroneant_The Mesolithic Habitation Complexes in the Balkans and Danube Basin

V. Boroneant_The Mesolithic Habitation Complexes in the Balkans and Danube Basin

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The Mesolithic Habitation Complexes in the Balkans and Danube Basin (Vasile Boroneant)
The Mesolithic Habitation Complexes in the Balkans and Danube Basin (Vasile Boroneant)

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Published by: kamikaza12 on Jul 12, 2009
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Issue 1, 1999
The Mesolithic Habitation Complexes in The Balkans and Danube Basin
by Dr. Vasile Boroneant 
Citation:Dr. Vasile Boroneant, The Mesolithic Habitation Complexes in The Balkans and Danube Basin, LivingPast, 1, 1999, URL: http://www.cimec.ro/livingpast/mesolithic.htmTable of contents•Introduction •Geographical Environment •Ways of penetration. Areas of diffusion •Considerations on thegeneral evolution of the Epi-palaeolithic/Mesolithic in the area •The succession of the three complexes inthe Iron Gates region •The final Epi-Gravettian. The Proto-Clisurean •Late Epi-Gravettian. Clisurean(Romanello Azillian) •The Schela Cladovei-Lepenski Vir cultural complex •Chronological list of theexcavated sites Subzone I. Danube Gorge (Bazias-Gura Vaii) •Conclusions for subzone I •Conclusions for Subzone II. Wide open valley landscape •The Art of Epipalaeolithic/Mesolithic in the South-West of Romania •Bibliography
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 morediverse than of the ones in the west-central and northern parts of Europe, and a lot more similar to theones 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 thegeneral problems of the Balkanic Mesolithic complexes and more to the relationships between theRomanian 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 Mesolithicage 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 thecountries 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 bythe 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 thewestern, central and north-eastern Europe. The key for the real understanding of this process is (in whatconcerns Romania and Yugoslavia) the Iron Gates region. This is the region housing the main part of thediscoveries. The Iron Gates had a mild Sub-Mediterranean climate, a rich economic potential, specificflora and fauna, cultural and behavioural traditions, the shelter of a generous landscape, in a word, all thatthe river had to offer.
2. Ways of penetration. Areas of diffusion
The elements of the cultural dynamics had three main areas of spreading, if we consider the historicalevolution:•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 theDanube 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 theCarpathian mountains.They all exploited the economic potentials and cultural traditions adding a particular colouring feature tothe process of development and diffusion of the specific lifestyle during the Mesolithic period. Theinfluence and the communication between the sea stream and the Danubian one took place through anetwork 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 domesticeconomy had as a consequence the sedentation, the birth of a rural agricultural community, while all theother communities that did not fulfil the 'conditions' continued their old ways of living of hunting animalsand 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 thegeneralisation 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 onobservations and experiments, humans stepped from a behaviour specific to a society based on theconsumption of items that nature was offering - both as food and materials for processing the tools andweapons - to a society based on invested labour.The only way of a thoroughly understanding of the process of formation and diffusion of the EuropeanMesolithic, is not considering it separate from the one that took place in the Near and Middle East. Thewarm 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 thehuman 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 culturalaspects. 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 thatthrough specific features encouraged the appearance of 'germs' that pushed the human civilisationupwards on the ascendant line of the historical becoming. The micro-climates influenced one another andthe new developed ideas circulated confronting the realities among them. The existing conditions lead to anew way of thinking, to a new behaviour of the species. This is how we explain the fact that thegeographical 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 specificconditions. It was not the great number of individuals that produced the change, but the circulation of thenew 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 thehuman 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 theconsumption 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 deciduousforests spread to the prejudice of the conifers. The change on the climate had also as a consequence anincrementation on the area of lakes and ponds, therefore an increasing number of fish and birds. Thehumans directed their attention and activities towards them. A new toolkit for hunting and fishing wasrequired then, attracting into the economic circuit other raw materials locally available or resulted fromthe food consumption, as bone, horn, wild boar teeth. New tools, weapons, means of catching the gameand 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 theDanube (the 'Clisura') as fit into the large geographic area where a series of special discoveries weremade. We consider worth mentioning that between the Balkans and the Iron Gates region on one side andthe 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 futurediscoveries to fill the existent gaps. This appeared because of the dynamics of invention, more acceleratein this part of the continent, owing to the favourable climatic conditions (a lot milder here during the lastglaciation) and to the existence of cultural traditions that allowed the humans to start from a moreadvanced level, compared to the one on the rest of the continent. Apart from these, there is another causethat 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. Itwas 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 exposedcomplexes having related features to the ones that benefited by the Peri-Mediterranean climate. Theexistent 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 alsoan opposite sense of penetration; the same ways of advance were used by the cultural syntheses present inthe 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 tohave passed into a new age. The change was also correlated, of course, with other climatic factors andalso with the socio-historical cultural dynamics. Another problem that we would like to bring intodiscussion is the one of the warm water streams of the Canary Islands, coming from the west and thenorth of the continent from tropical regions. They have influenced the existing populations during thehistorical period we are dealing with. In no other way can we explain the presence of Maglemoisian typecomplexes on both sides of the British channel. They developed owing to the thermic balance of the Earthand spread in a tight connection with the level variations of the planetary ocean. This problem mustremain in focus for further research.

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