The times they are a-changin’: revisiting the chronological framework of the Late Neolithic settlement complex at Polgár–Csőszhalom

Pál Raczky – Alexandra Anders
A total of 89 14C dates known for Polgár-Csőszhalom originates from different periods and represents work by radiocarbon laboratories. Several summaries published to date have discussed the internal structures and external relations between various spatial units as well as the artifactual materials from this settlement. In these works numerous attempts were made to outline the relevant relative and absolute chronological frameworks of this site of key importance. To date, this trend has had an adverse effect, as relevant 14C data are not readily available to the public, thereby hampering re-evaluation and eventual scholarly discussions concerning Polgár-Csőszhalom. The multitude of preliminary reports and case studies tend to contain only the end results of calibration. In hindsight, however, several contradictions and inconsistencies became apparent in some of these evaluations. It was time therefore that we published the complete, itemized list of radiocarbon dates from the site complex of Polgár-Csőszhalom. This review will also offer an opportunity for briefly touching upon some of the methodological problems that have surfaced during the last couple of years.

Keywords: Polgár-Csőszhalom, Late Neolithic tell, 14C chronology, absolute dating, calibration

D

uring his broad-based professional career, Juraj Pavúk has always paid special attention to the Late Neolithic of Slovakia and its cultural and chronological connections. Recently, he has evaluated excavation results of the East Slovakian Plain and Lesser Poland in relation to new field information, among others from Polgár–Csőszhalom in Hungary (Pavúk 2007). It is therefore appropriate to join the Festschrift celebrating Juraj Pavúk’s birthday along the same intellectual lines. For the first time, radicarbon dates obtained for the settlement complex excavated at Polgár–Csőszhalom will be reviewed, along with the publication of detailed primary data.

Introduction Systematic excavations at the Late Neolithic site of Polgár-Csőszhalom were first carried out in 1957 (Bognár-Kutzián 1958; Bánffy – Bognár-Kutzián 2007). Since 1989, recent archaeological research in the area has clarified that this settlement was composed of two major structural units (Fig. 1). One of these was the tell settlement, measuring ca. 4 hectares, surrounded by a system of ditches and palisades (For summaries see: Raczky et al. 1994; 2002a). The other unit was an adjacent, single layer horizontal settlement covering approximately 24 hectares (For summaries see: Raczky et al. 1997; 2002a). Large scale excavations that preceded motorway construction in the area in 1995 offered a 400 m long north to south transect of the latter settlement. This could be complemented by a 1030 m long system of test trenches opened in 2006. Consequently, the entire east-west section of the site could be revealed for study. On the basis of these developments, increasingly precise details emerged concerning the topographic position of the site (Raczky et al. 2002b). The area of the horizontal settlement was estimated to have covered 35.2 hectares, while the tell forming a distinct unit surrounded by an enclosure system occupied 2.8 hectares (Raczky – Anders – Bartosiewicz, in press). Several summaries published to date have discussed the internal structures and external relations between various spatial units as well as the artifactual materials from this settlement. In these works numerous attempts were made to outline the relevant relative and absolute chronological frameworks of this site of key importance (Most recent summaries: Raczky et al. 2007; Anders – Nagy 2007; Sebők 2007; Raczky – Anders 2008). To date, this trend has had an adverse effect, as relevant 14C data are not readily available to the public, thereby hampering re-evaluation and eventual scholarly discussions concerning Polgár-Csőszhalom.

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Pál Raczky – Alexandra Anders

The multitude of preliminary reports and case studies tend to contain only the end results of calibration. In hindsight, however, several contradictions and inconsistencies became apparent in some of these evaluations (See among others: Hertelendi et al. 1995; 1998; Raczky et al. 2002; Raczky – Domboróczki – Hajdú 2007). It was time therefore that we published the complete, itemized list of radiocarbon dates from the site complex of Polgár-Csőszhalom. This review will also offer an opportunity for briefly touching upon some of the methodological problems that have surfaced during the last couple of years.

Research history of absolute dating at Polgár-Csőszhalom 1. Samples for the first radicarbon measurements originate from the 1957 excavations directed by Ida Bognár-Kutzián. Their precise stratigraphic position, however, is impossible to verify. Of these, 4 dates from Berlin (Bln) and an additional from Groningen (Grn) have recently been published (Bánffy – BognárKutzián 2007, 211–212). An additional measurement was made from one of these samples in the British Museum (BM; Ambers – Matthews – Bowman 1987, 188). That is, this early research period is represented by six radiocarbon dates (Tab. 1). 2. Subsequent chronological investigations concentrated on the stylistic relations between ceramics discovered predominantly within the area of the tell. Stylistic evaluation was also carried out with regard to the ceramic material recovered from the stratigraphy of yet another tell-site, Berettyóújfalu-Herpály. The latter site had yielded a considerable series of radiocarbon dates by the late 1980s thanks to the help offered by Hans Quitta and the Berlin Radiocarbon Laboratory. It was these absolute chronological fix points that we tried to apply in estimating the life span of the Csőszhalom tell (Kalicz – Raczky 1987, 26–29 and Chronological chart on page 30). 3. In early 1989, radiocarbon measurements have also been carried out at the Institute of Nuclear Research of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Debrecen (Deb). This work was based on overwhelmingly charcoal samples taken during the renewed excavations at Csőszhalom. However, these data have never been published in detail, although the results were synthetised within the re-evaluation of the Neolithic in Eastern Hungary, built around the chronological study of the Late Neolithic Tisza-Herpály-Csőszhalom complex. In the body of 134 14C dates compiled in 1995 for the Tisza-Herpály-Csőszhalom period (considered a unit), Ede Hertelendi and his co-workers incorporated the earliest dates from Csőszhalom as well. That is, the first measurements made at the site formed part of the resulting 4970–4380 cal BC time interval estimated for the settlement. However, the series of raw data was not published, therefore the numerical results could not be verified by the reader (Hertelendi et al. 1995, 242, Fig. 1. and Table 1). Archaeologists cooperating in the project at the time had little in-depth understanding of the work carried out by nuclear physicists. Interdisciplinary cooperation thus remained relatively unilateral, as archaeologists felt ill-equipped to oversee laboratory work by their physicist colleagues in Hungary. Consequently the results were accepted without critical discussion. 4. Following these antecedents, four Late Neolithic tell settlements from eastern Hungary were included in the analysis of their life spans in 1998 (Öcsöd-Kováshalom, Hódmezővásárhely-Gorzsa, Polgár-Csőszhalom, Berettyóújfalu-Herpály). Polgár-Csőszhalom was included in this study providing 76 radiocarbon dates. Unfortunately, the documentation of these dates was not provided in that publication either. In hindsight it may only be said that the data base of the Institute of Nuclear Research in Debrecen contained 67 of their own dates (Deb) in addition to the previously known 4 Bln, 1 BM and 1 Grn dates. The total number of radiocarbon dates was thus 73. By now it is impossible to reconstruct which were the three additional samples (evidently not from Csőszhalom) that were included in the calculations. The system of assigning samples to phases (translated as “levels” in that article) remains similarly unknown (Hertelendi et al. 1998, Table 1, Fig. 3–4). It is certain, however, the six radiocarbon dates from the excavations by Ida Bognár-Kutzián (mentioned in item 1 at the beginning of this paper) should not have been used in the calculation. The study published in the journal Radiocarbon summarized the radiocarbon dates from PolgárCsőszhalom as representing Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. The corresponding sum data were 4795–4530 cal BC (54 dates), 4843–4692 cal BC (6 dates) and 4905–4646 cal BC (16 dates). These units, however, did not represent real, excavation levels. They actually stood for four construction phases in the creation of the tell. The time intervals were calculated to provide a solid background to this phasing. Synthesizing information

The positive aspect of this summary is that it was based on the 67 samples collected and analyzed by the Debrecen laboratory itself during the later excavations of the 1990s. Reconstruction is based on magnetometer and field surveys and excavations between 1989 and 2004. There is some discrepancy. from the 76 14C dates available at the time. The Polgár-Csőszhalom settlement-complex. She also came up with a life span of 4830–4600 cal BC for the horizontal settlement calculated on the basis of 67 and 17 dates respectively (Raczky et al. 17 14 C dates were synthesized in the evaluation of the external. 1. horizontal settlement. Simplified stratigraphy of the tell settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom (Levels 1–11 and Phases I–IV) with the locations of the radiocarbon samples from the 1989–2002 research interval. 10). In 2002. 5.Revisiting the chronological framework of the Late Neolithic settlement complex at Polgár–Csőszhalom 359 Fig. the life span of the tell was estimated to between 4840–4560 cal BC resulting in a 280 years interval. 2002a. The topography of the tell enclosed by a ditch-palisade system and the horizontal settlement. 2. it was again the 67 Debrecen dates representing recent (post 1989) excavations that should have been used following the exclusion of unreliable outliers. Fig. In fact. On the other hand. as only 6 Debrecen dates could be available for study . Éva Svingor estimated the life span of the tell as 4820–4530 cal BC without going into details. Fig.

these measurements were made on samples of human and animal bone. Kalicz – Raczky 1987. where the 17 14C dates used in the sum calibration originated from. 246. already excluded from comparisons). horizontal settlement. Bánffy – Bognár-Kutzián 2007. 413) as well as GRN-1934 (Bognár-Kutzián 1971. 211–212. BC 1σ 4520–4335 Sample material charcoal Provenance House I/A.3 m 5.1 Ambers – Matthews – Bowman 1987. Consequently. this date has been quoted erroneously in several publications: it appeared as GRN-1943 (Kohl – Quitta 1970. Kalicz – Raczky 1987. an effort was indeed made to complement radiocarbon measurements by the Debrecen Laboratory with new samples. making comparisons between the two functional/territorial units of the site difficult: the habitation mound of Polgár-Csőszhalom is characterized by classical measurements from the Debrecen Laboratory (and the very first measurements made abroad. 246. BLN-509 Date BP 5575 ± 100 Cal. 136. 136. Breunig 1987. BLN-510 5875 ± 100 4881–4608 charcoal 1.05 m deep 4. It is therefore uncertain. Bánffy – Bognár-Kutzián 2007. 2. 136.1 m deep Tab. however. GRN-1993 5895 ± 60 4841–4706 charcoal Lower levels 6. Breunig 1987. 136.8–1. 211–212. BLN-513 5940 ± 100 4952–4707 charcoal Lowermost level. Bánffy – Bognár-Kutzián 2007. .3–0. 184. In contrast to previous practice. operated by the University of Vienna) have begun only since 2004. gathered during excavations that preceded the construction of a motorway there. Breunig 1987. however. 211–212. while in one case when the label was correct. six of which could be used in comparisons. No. As mentioned. Quitta – Kohl 1969. 1. BLN-512 5775 ± 100 4725–4499 charcoal House floor. 246. 29). Breunig 1987.4 m deep References Quitta – Kohl 1969. 1 Unfortunately. 31. 246. accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS).85 m deep 3. from Polgár-Csőszhalom at this point. 211–212. 136.1–3. Subsequently. could be carried out exclusively on material originating from the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. Radiocarbon dates of the excavation on the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom in 1957. 188. Additional measurements carried out by the Vienna Environmental Research Accelerator (VERA. 3. BM-2321 6020 ± 170 5207–4723 charcoal 0. 58 and footnote 3). Ten such radiocarbon dates became available. considerable asymmetry became apparent between the structure of 14C dates available from the tell and the external. 1. 0. Vogel – Waterbolk 1963. 6. Dating was executes at the VERA Laboratory in Vienna also using a different technology. comparative measurements at the horizontal settlement were also made by the Debrecen Laboratory. 211–212. Quitta – Kohl 1969. Kalicz – Raczky 1987. 31. 31. Bánffy – Bognár-Kutzián 2007. 31. Quitta – Kohl 1969. Breunig 1987. Using the sum calibration of all 16 data the chronological boundaries of the horizontal settlement at Polgár-Csőszhalom have recently been estimated 4940–4720 cal BC (Raczky – Domboróczki – Hajdú 2007. Kalicz – Raczky 1987. This work.360 Pál Raczky – Alexandra Anders Lab. the year of measurement was misprinted (Kalicz – Raczky 1987. Bánffy – Bognár-Kutzián 2007. 3. 676).

60. 394. 52. 856. 8. fill. 640. 35. house I. 409. 397. cleaning of external working surface Str. 30. 24. 484. 1σ 6060 ± 40 5950 ± 40 5940 ± 40 5910 ± 70 5860 ± 40 5848 ± 66 5800 ± 40 5700 ± 40 5680 ± 40 5636 ± 55 5610 ± 40 6100 ± 40 5920 ± 40 5845 ± 40 5810 ± 40 5800 ± 40 5790 ± 40 5700 ± 40 5700 ± 40 5960 ± 40 5860 ± 40 5855 ± 73 5840 ± 40 5830 ± 40 5790 ± 40 5780 ± 71 5735 ± 40 5698 ± 71 5905 ± 40 5872 ± 58 5850 ± 40 5842 ± 58 5825 ± 40 5805 ± 40 5800 ± 40 5790 ± 40 5780 ± 40 5765 ± 40 5760 ± 40 5752 ± 58 5740 ± 40 5795 ± 40 5745 ± 63 5740 ± 40 5703 ± 69 5701 ± 62 5699 ± 66 5684 ± 70 5654 ± 65 5945 ± 40 5930 ± 40 5900 ± 40 5870 ± 40 5855 ± 57 6024 ± 70 5984 ± 72 5929 ± 63 5928 ± 65 5981 ± 37 5906 ± 58 5520 ± 70 5770 ± 40 5750 ± 40 5450 ± 40 6300 ± 40 6170 ± 40 5621 ± 62 5024-4859 4900-4780 4882-4747 4896-4707 4783-4694 4793-4616 4712-4605 4584-4465 4545-4461 4533-4373 4487-4369 5195-4948 4837-4728 4782-4685 4719-4611 4712-4605 4707-4598 4584-4465 4584-4468 4906-4788 4783-4694 4825-4614 4781-4621 4767-4617 4707-4598 4711-4546 4669-4526 4652-4457 4826-4724 4830-4686 4785-4687 4787–4618 4727-4613 4716-4608 4712-4605 4707-4598 4690-4562 4683-4555 4681-4551 4686-4542 4680-4536 4710-4600 4686-4532 4680-4536 4651-4459 4612-4459 4561-4457 4650-4450 4550-4372 4897-4777 4845-4728 4826-4721 4790-4706 4795-4619 5005-4806 4962-4788 4896-4722 4897-4722 4932–4804 4842–4715 4451–4329 4686–4557 4681–4545 4346–4362 5316–5225 5208-5062 4501–4367 Sample material charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal animal bone animal bone charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal charcoal animal bone charcoal charcoal charcoal Level Phase Provenance A A A A A A A A A A A B B B B B B B B C C C C C C C C C D D D D D D D D D D D D D E E E E E E E E F F F F F G G G G H H III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III III II II II II II I I I I I I Str. 4. 725. 396. 693. 100–120. 23. 459. 15. 46. 484. house I. floor Str. pit 63–64–65 Str. 225. 223. 17. 54. 223. house I. pit 138/A Str. 670.m. fill Str. 43. pit 158 Str. 665. 19. 29. 49. pit 25 Str. cleaning of external working surface Str. 13. 64. floor Str. house I. 18. 644. 2. pit 167 profile II. floor clearing Str. 120–140 cm profile I. pit 139 Str. floor Str. 66. fill under house I Str.. 51. 61. ditch 2 Str. 57. 62. 1. fill Str. 44. 50. fill under house I Str. 682. 223. floor Str. 2. 413. 812. 409. 42. 25. 47. fireplace 20 Str. pit 13 Str. pit 67 Str. 16. 397. 449. 10. house I. pit 13 Str. fill Str. pit 13 Str. 21. 480–481–482. 689. fill Str. pit 68 Str. pit 67 Str. . 395. 413. 388. 36. 279. fill Tab. 56. 491. pit 137 Str. 27. pit 147 Str. 31. 11.Revisiting the chronological framework of the Late Neolithic settlement complex at Polgár–Csőszhalom 361 Lab. 669. profile II. 38. 278. 644. house IX. 518. fill Str. 34. 242. 463. 6. 32. 681. Deb-1942 Deb-1965 Deb-1941 Deb-3351 Deb-1904 Deb-3237 Deb-1773 Deb-1763 Deb-1756 Deb-3205 Deb-1758 Deb-1900 Deb-1957 Deb-2497 Deb-2520 Deb-1907 Deb-1762 Deb-1932 Deb-1966 Deb-2506 Deb-2505 Deb-3261 Deb-2541 Deb-2523 Deb-1902 Deb-3311 Deb-2552 Deb-3268 Deb-2504 Deb-3306 Deb-2496 Deb-3229 Deb-2528 Deb-2501 Deb-2512 Deb-2533 Deb-2514 Deb-2538 Deb-2534 Deb-3309 Deb-2513 Deb-2536 Deb-3234 Deb-2521 Deb-3321 Deb-3228 Deb-3293 Deb-3316 Deb-3269 Deb-2540 Deb-2554 Deb-2421 Deb-2498 Deb-3226 Deb-3292 Deb-3236 Deb-3308 Deb-3266 Deb-3333 Deb-3277 Deb-1711 Deb-1713 Deb-1714 Deb-1936 Deb-1772 Deb-2522 Deb-3232 Date BP Cal. 278.-95-2 R. 41. 724. 20. house IX. 428. 279. 395. house I/A Str. 412. 396. 427. fill under house I Str. 694. 53. 223. fill under house I Str. 39. 697. fill Str. floor Str. 499. 48. 59. ditch 2. fill Str. 40. fill Str. 741. fill Str. fill Str. 12. fill Str. pit 25 Str. 14. 7. pit 137 Str. house I. fill Str. under house I Str. pit 13 Str. No. pit 13 Str. 846. 200–220 cm Str. hose I. 278. 394. fill under house II Str. 26. 33. 65.222. fill. floor Str. fill Str. under the working surface Str. 742. 812. Radiocarbon dates of the excavations on the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom from the 1989–2002 research interval. fill Str. 22. 278. fill Str. 265. 67. 45. 9. 28. pit 13 Str. 688. 55. floor Str. pit 25 Str. 5. fill Str. fill Str. 264. BC. angle of fencing 1 Str. fill Str. 236. 3. 58.264. fill under house I Str. pit 44 Str. 63. pit 147 Str. 37. 802. floor Str.

essentially during the 1990s.1. as the 60 valid 14C dates available from the tell today — along with the 16 samples representing the horizontal settlement — form the largest series of radiocarbon dates from any Neolithic tell settlement in Southeastern Europe. 186–192). 61–64). On the other hand. All these were provided by the Debrecen Laboratory. relevant standard deviations varied between 40–70 years. 2. it would seem more appropriate to treat these 8 measurements separately as representing a distinct archaeological feature. Another 6 dates used in characterizing Phase II of the tell resulted in the 4880–4680 cal BC time boundaries. 2). In addition. Recently. 6). The radiocarbon dates available for study were first calibrated using the OxCal v4. it is now time to publish all individual 14C dates from Polgár-Csőszhalom along with appropriate references to their archaeological affiliations. Recent radiocarbon dates from the 1989–2002 research interval (Tab. 4 of the known 55 dates have been excluded from the calculations as of potentially problematic origins (Raczky – Domboróczki – Hajdú 2007. In this chapter. program. 3.1. All 14C data are quoted with 1σ – 68. in accordance with up-to-date sampling requirements at the time. Consequently. using 6 measurements. Radiocarbon dates from the 1957 excavations carried out by Ida Bognár-Kutzián have recently been reviewed by Eszter Bánffy. On the basis of the tell’s research history. another BM date is also known (Tab. while the horizontal settlement is represented by a smaller admixture of classical and AMS dates obtained using various sources of 14C isotopes (charcoal. In this latter case. the earliest settlement Phase I of the tell was dated to between 4940–4720 cal BC. Fig. followed by the results of sequence calibration (seq and span) in the order of settlement phases. This became all the more necessary. independent of the tell’s central stratigraphy. who mentioned five dates on the basis of samples collected from the tell (Bánffy – Bognár-Kutzián 2007. 211–212 and Fig. the 51 dates from Phase III included 8 14C samples from the double fortification ditch that had originally been assigned to Phase II on the basis of graphic interpretation (Raczky – Domboróczki – Hajdú 2007. Following the difficulties of previous archaeological approaches outlined here. evidently limiting the precision of chronological conclusions regarding the internal development of the tell settlement. first sum calibration data (sum) will be presented. Radiocarbon dates from the Polgár-Csőszhalom tell settlement in archaeological context 1.362 Pál Raczky – Alexandra Anders Fig. the overwhelming majority of . Our form of presentation will closely follow the method and theoretical approach put forward recently in a study by Agathe Reingruber and Laurens Thissen (Reingruber – Thissen 2009). As may be seen from the summary table. a total of 67 14C dates are available from contexts excavated after 1989. The sum calibration of 60 radiocarbon dates from the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom. 3. human and animal bone) by two different laboratories. 1).2 % confidence limits. The 51 samples taken from Phase III delineated the 4710–4440 cal BC time interval. In the sequenece calibrations we used some data even with “poor agreement”. Within this phase of research.

The sequence calibration of 60 radiocarbon dates from the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom.Revisiting the chronological framework of the Late Neolithic settlement complex at Polgár–Csőszhalom 363 Fig. Fig. 5. . 4. Phase span calculation of 60 radiocarbon dates from the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom.

7. Sequence calibration of 6 radiocarbon dates from Phase I of the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom. Sum calibration of 6 radiocarbon dates from Phase I of the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom. . 188–189). In addition. Deb-2522 and Deb-3232) either do not belong to the tell’s internal stratigraphy (3 dates). It may be stated therefore. Deb 1936. Deb-1772. it could also be observed that as part of major construction works. it has also become clear that — similarly to the case of the Vinča tell — a great degree of redeposition must have taken place at Polgár-Csőszhalom resulting from various prehistoric building activities including leveling and the construction of earthworks (Schier 2000. Fig. Seven of the 67 dates obtained (Deb 1711. That is. Charcoal samples taken from such contexts may thus be loaded by cumulative bias in the form of “stratigraphic contamination”. Deb 1713. measurements were made on charcoal. Fig. timberwork from earlier fortifications was re-used subsequent structures at Polgár-Csőszhalom. Deb 1714. Moreover. the micro-stratigraphies within the tell are far from being as clear cut as previously believed when the samples were gathered. 8.364 Pál Raczky – Alexandra Anders Fig. 6. the „old wood effect” introduced an uncontrollable form of bias in these calculations. Phase span calculation of 6 radiocarbon dates from Phase I of the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom.

Sequence calibration of 5 radiocarbon dates from Phase II of the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom. 10. Phase span calculation of 5 radiocarbon dates from Phase II of the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom. 6). The latest Phase IV is represented only by sporadic and strongly mixed find material that may be associated with the beginnings of the Proto-Tiszapolgár period on the top of the tell. For the time being. 9. 61–64 and Fig. Sum calibration of 5 radiocarbon dates from Phase II of the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom. and only 60 items of the original data set have been used in this study. the aforementioned seven dates were excluded from additional calculations. Fig.Revisiting the chronological framework of the Late Neolithic settlement complex at Polgár–Csőszhalom 365 Fig. Given these uncertainties. the precise stratigraphic position could not be reconfirmed. In one case. 11. The sum calibration of the total of 60 dates resulted in the 4828– . Reliable samples therefore reflect developments in the earlier phases. 2. the stratigraphic sequence in the tell settlement’s main square and its complementary enclosure system may be reconstructed within the context of four phases I–IV (Fig. 61–67). Raczky – Domboróczki – Hajdú 2007. or strongly deviate from the expected range (3 dates) (Tab. 2. 4. This top layer yielded no samples in a clear stratigraphic position. Fig.

. Sequence calibration of 41 radiocarbon dates from Phase III of the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom. Fig. 13.366 Pál Raczky – Alexandra Anders Fig. 12. Sum calibration of 41 radiocarbon dates from Phase III of the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom.

Sum calibration of 8 radiocarbon dates from the double ditch system around the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom. Sequence calibration of 8 radiocarbon dates from the double ditch system around the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom. Fig. Fig. 17. 15. Life span calculation of 8 radiocarbon dates from the double ditch system around the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom. 16. Fig.Revisiting the chronological framework of the Late Neolithic settlement complex at Polgár–Csőszhalom 367 Fig. . 14. Phase span calculation of 41 radiocarbon dates from Phase III of the tell of Polgár-Csőszhalom.

unpublished unpublished unpublished unpublished Tab. 11. s. The time span was between 0 and 62 (Fig. 12. 10. 2. pit 808. 13. The resulting time interval was 4837– 4716 cal BC (Fig. 3. Radiocarbon dates of the excavations on the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom from the 1995–2004 research interval. pit 486. 87. 51. 5. including bits and pieces of charred wood. pit 44. Charcoal samples from such mixed strata may have resulted in the observed chronological anomalies. pit 966. 14) with a mean of 373 years. (The beginning of the phase must have been earlier in reality. a 244 years life span is obtained. This looks like a far more realistic estimate than the 373 years first suggested. The following rough calculation is worth considering: in Phase I of the tell a single house horizon could be identified and Phase II is likewise defined on the basis of a single horizon. 13). 4. well 836. (The phase span calculation was carried out following proposals by Peter Stadler and his colleagues (Stadler et al. 2006. may have been brought up to the Phase III surface from deeper levels during that time period. pit 886. it should not be a surprise that the time span estimated for this phase was between 325 and 396 years (Fig. sum calibration results in a 4934–4730 cal BC interval (Fig. On this ground the estimated life span results an interval between 0 and 93 years (Fig. 9). 12). 129–130). When Phases I–III of the tell are seen as a unit. palisade reconstructions and other forms of building activity. If the final dates of the previous phase. 3). 16. 5. The life span of the tell may thus be estimated as 287 years. 265 grave References unpublished unpublished unpublished unpublished unpublished unpublished unpublished unpublished unpublished unpublished unpublished Anders – Nagy 2007. grave 272. 8. 6. 15. their dates add up to 95+58+244=397 years. In this case it is clear that the infinum of the interval would be a date too late that would correspond to the beginning of the earliest Phase I. 8. No. Deb-9808 VERA-3064 VERA-3069 VERA-3065 VERA-3068 VERA-3062 VERA-4768 VERA-3061 Deb-10219 VERA-3067 Deb-10198 VERA-3060 Deb-10197 Deb-10107 Deb-10196 VERA-4197 Date BP 6060±60 6025±40 6015±35 6005±45 5930±35 5915±40 5910±40 5895±40 5865±80 5855±30 5835±50 5830±35 5825±40 5810±50 5750±50 5930±40 Cal BC 1σ 5048–4851 4983–4849 4947–4846 4952-4836 4844–4729 4831–4727 4827–4726 4823–4718 4836–4617 4777–4692 4778–4618 4766–4617 4727–4613 4724–4592 4684–4543 4845–4728 Sample material Animal bone Animal bone Animal bone Animal bone Animal bone Human bone Animal bone Human bone Animal bone Animal bone Human bone Human bone Human bone Animal bone Animal bone Human bone Provenance 966. pit 966. grave 226. 7). 10). 7. It is suggested here. 3. three consecutive . Sequence calibrations of the same data yielded initial dates as 4890–4853 cal BC and final dates as 4525–4476 cal BC (Fig. pit 44. 8) with a 95 years mean for Phase I. Sequencing meanwhile resulted in the 4891–4852 and 4525–4472 cal BC values (Fig. Considering this. 6). 14.368 Pál Raczky – Alexandra Anders Lab. The subsequent Phase II was dated on the basis of 5 14C dates. 7. When the 6 14C dates attributed to Phase I are considered. Stadler – Ruttkay 2007. Meanwhile. 6. grave 808. grave 612. 11) years with the mean of 58 years as previously calculated. 5) with 371 years as the mean value. characterized by multiple house fires. are accepted as the beginning of Phase III. Using sequence calibration the estimated boundaries fell between 4845–4755 and 4780–4704 cal BC (Fig. 9. as levels of the earliest settlement were found only in traces over a limited surface in the square opened at the site). Sequence calibration places the estimated boundaries between 4940–4826 and 4845–4731 cal BC respectively (Fig. 4) resulting in a 329–393 years time interval (Fig. 1. 4541 cal BC time interval (Fig. 4780–4704 cal BC. pit 966. pit Sondage. that quantities of organic material. grave 966. The 41 14C data assigned to Phase III of the tell originally delineated a 4789–4543 cal BC interval with 246 years for the life span (Fig.

Simplified plan of the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom with the locations of the radiocarbon samples from the 1995–2004 research interval. 19. 18. .Revisiting the chronological framework of the Late Neolithic settlement complex at Polgár–Csőszhalom 369 Fig. Sum calibration of 15 radiocarbon dates from the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. Fig.

Life span calculation of 15 radiocarbon dates from the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. . 22. Sequence calibration of 15 radiocarbon dates from the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. Fig. 20. Fig. Group calibration of 6 Debrecen radiocarbon dates from the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. 21.370 Pál Raczky – Alexandra Anders Fig.

oriented NE-SW and with an average width of 80 m was opened some 400 m east of the tell site of Polgár-Csőszhalom. 161. The 371 years obtained for Polgár-Csőszhalom using sequence calibration and the 396 years estimated separately seem congruent with each other. Rück 2007. Fig. 15). 6). recent calculations have yielded a 75–100 years life span (Schmidt – Gruhle – Rück – Freckmann 2005. 79 houses and numerous other settlement features (auxiliary buildings. Fig. marking a time interval of approximately 14–16 human generations. 17). Life span calculation of 6 Debrecen radiocarbon dates from the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. This would mean that the time span indicated by the five generations of houses corresponds to a 95 – 58 – 3 × 81 years time interval.Revisiting the chronological framework of the Late Neolithic settlement complex at Polgár–Csőszhalom 371 Fig. Sequence calibration of 6 Debrecen radiocarbon dates from the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. A long surface of 33. generations of houses could be reconstructed in Phase III overlaying each other (Raczky – Domboróczki – Hajdú 2007. In addition. pits and wells) have been identified here. Eight radiocarbon dates are available from this trench of V-shaped cross-section. 123 graves could be excavated .340 m2. To date. 144). The result of the sum date range from these samples was 4681–4489 cal BC (Fig. 6). The assemblage recovered from the double ditch system associated with Level 7 of the tell had previously been classified with Phase II (Raczky – Domboróczki – Hajdú 2007. This is rather consistent with the average life span of 79 years (58–95) estimated for each generation of houses. 24. Following sequencing the same dates yielded the 4652–4554 and 4572–4476 cal BC time intervals (Fig. 16). 23. 9. 167. This result is especially interesting when compared to data obtained for Central European LBK houses are taken into consideration: for those. Fig. Today it is seen as an independent cultural unit whose chronological affiliations will have to be fine-tuned by considering various lines of evidence. The life span thus estimated is between 0 and 102 years with the mean of 79 years (Fig. Radiocarbon dates from the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom and archaeological implications 1.

372 Pál Raczky – Alexandra Anders Fig. Sum calibration of 9 VERA radiocarbon dates from the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. 25. Fig. Sequence calibration of 9 VERA radiocarbon dates from the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. 26. 27. Fig. Life span calculation of 9 VERA radiocarbon dates from the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. .

it was not included among the 16 dates used in characterizing that site. It is clear. 3. the results of radiocarbon measurements cannot be pooled. According to the dates cited in points 3 and 4 above. however. Thus the life spans of 287 and 371 years. Meanwhile the common occurrence of red-and-white painted ceramics in the uppermost strata of the Csőszhalom tell (hardly known from the external settlement) cannot simply be explained by chronological differences. Logically. that chronological comparisons can be based only on dates that are homogeneous in terms of origins. 19). Since this latter burial was brought to light some 600 m west of the excavated section of the horizontal settlement. There were a total of 16 14C samples available for study from this context (Tab.Revisiting the chronological framework of the Late Neolithic settlement complex at Polgár–Csőszhalom 373 Fig. it seems that the later phase of the Csőszhalom tell is missing from the archaeological context of the horizontal settlement so far investigated. i. This is evidently a dramatic drop in the length of the previously estimated life span of the known segment of the horizontal settlement. 21) with a 239 years mean value. the narrow 4901–4706 cal BC boundaries define a 195 years long life span for the horizontal settlement (Fig. 25). as dates for the habitation mound are exclusively available from the Debrecen Laboratory. resulting in a 161–277 years estimate (Fig. 20) time boundaries. 22) time interval. In this particular case this means that comparisons between the ages of the tell and those of the horizontal settlement can be made only using the results of one of the laboratories. while the 9 latter originated from other mammals. e. Fig. The time of settlement use thus calculated falls between 94–213 years (Fig. A sequence calibration of the same dates indicated the 4942–4858 and 4701–4621 cal BC (Fig. An additional grave was discovered during 2006 in the E-W test trench opened west of the tell that yielded yet another single VERA date (Tab. 28. therefore. 27). 24). as well as the 396 years obtained for the tell are longer than the 224 and 259 years estimated for the horizontal settlement. 54. Six were measured in the Debrecen laboratory (Deb) and 9 dated in Vienna (VERA). a 4906–4619 cal BC interval was obtained (Fig. providing a 287 years long estimated life span. Based on the 9 VERA dates. 3. with a mean value of 259 years. 16). averaging 184 years with great probability. Our examples clearly show that 14C dates provided by different laboratories for both time boundaries and life spans vary strongly. This difference. 23). 26). The sum calibration of the 6 Debrecen dates alone resulted in a 4778–4554 cal BC (Fig. horizontal settlement. It looks also more likely that the use of this type of decorative ceramics was defined in space. may also be an artifact of the situation that no 14C dates have been available from the southernmost. The first 6 samples were taken from human bone. they can only be compared with Debrecen dates from the external. 18). indicative of a 224 years life span. Anders – Nagy 2007. 4. corresponding to 116–338 years of settlement use (Fig. 83). 5. The sequence calibration of the same data resulted in 4951–4851 and 4758–4677 cal BC as chronological limits (Fig. 2. 3. 150 m long section of the single layer horizontal settlement. The sequence calibration of the same set of six dates yielded the 4983–4738 and 4682–4522 cal BC time boundaries (Fig. Sum calibration of 2 VERA radiocarbon dates from feature 44 of the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. as well (For summaries see: Raczky – Domboróczki – Hajdú 2007. Using the sum calibration of 15 14C dates. .

28). while the latter three samples from a well and pit complex point to a 4897–4706 cal BC interval (Fig. when only dates for burials are taken into consideration. i. e. a life span of 161 years may be estimated. concentrated on the tell in relation to special activities limited to within the causeway system (Raczky – Anders 2008. However. Sum calibration of 2 Debrecen radiocarbon dates from the feature 966 of the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. 30. continuity and change in the future. 6. This could be interpreted as a sign of the settlement features (houses and others) spreading southward from the waterfront. This datum is consonant with previous calculations based on the 9 VERA dates suggesting life spans of 195 and 180 years. . Feature 44 in the North section of the horizontal settlement (near the waterfront) is represented by 2 VERA dates. this N–S expansion looks more ambiguous. Sum calibration of 3 VERA radiocarbon dates from the feature 966 of the horizontal settlement of Polgár-Csőszhalom. taken in a systematic manner from north to south in the horizontal settlement will be required for solving these subtle research problems. however. The chronological difference between these two features is thus 101 as a mean year. 29). a series of new radiocarbon samples. Feature 966 some 250 m to the South yielded an additional 3 VERA dates. A comparison between these two sets of measurements resulted in an interesting hypothesis. 43). Naturally this difference would make it necessary to rethink chronological aspects of the questions concerning space use. However. Meanwhile. demographics. this numerical result also radically decreases the time of occupation first estimated for the horizontal settlement.374 Pál Raczky – Alexandra Anders Fig. If this speed of expansion is extrapolated to the 400 m long known section of the horizontal settlement. The two 14C dates from the first location are indicative of a 4961–4844 cal BC age (Fig. Fig. 29.

From the period after 1989. thereby also evaluating inter-laboratory bias in radiocarbon dating. wooden posts of large diameters. Using purely archaeological phasing. a combination of a large pit and a well. some localized parts also went through long and continuous internal development. 30). 4. respectively for the tell. 60 dates could be used as a starting point for in-depth analyses. It must be mentioned. the samples available for study were also heterogeneous from a quantitative point of view. This would mean that in addition to the N–S expansion.Revisiting the chronological framework of the Late Neolithic settlement complex at Polgár–Csőszhalom 375 7. obtained for samples taken from the aforementioned Feature 966 (located in the central portion of the horizontal settlement) are indicative of a site use of 191 years (Fig. The simple. 3. Of these. 2). 8. whether certain parts of the external. The life of the habitation mound was characterized by consecutive dramatic events. Three VERA dates. therefore. It is evident that this complex type of “noise” is extremely difficult to analyze. It may be presumed that old timber was re-used in the tell settlement during the renovation of houses and especially of the palisade system raising additional questions concerning the reliability of these samples. In addition to the aforementioned secondary mixing and re-deposition of finds. including leveling. 2 Debrecen measurements were also available from here. that would correspond to 57–74 years for each house generation. Six “old” 14C dates are known from the earliest. they cannot be used in up-to-date absolute chronological analyses. on the other hand. Our approach thus corresponds to drafting a trend of dual development for the external settlement at Polgár-Csőszhalom. horizontal settlement were used for as long as the entire known section of the site (195 or 184 years). must have been in use for a longer time than the average settlement features of the site. Sequence calibration. suggested intervals between 4890–4853 and 4525–4476 cal BC with most likely boundaries defined as 4872 and 4501 cal BC. 2. Feature 966 discussed here could also be used as a platform for comparing traditional and more recent AMS dates. this heterogeneity is further compounded by inter-laboratory differences between the 15 samples from the horizontal settlement available for comparison between the Debrecen and VERA measurements (Fig. a 371 years life span for the entire existence of the tell settlement. Therefore the resulting dates have possibly been biased by the “old wood effect”. 1957 excavations (Bánffy – Bognár-Kutzián 2007. 211–212). resulting in a life span of 481 years. 29). the 1+1+3=5 house generations in the central portion of the tell were sub-divided into Phases I. Meanwhile. mixed stratigraphies in the area enclosed within the enclosure system. When compared to the 4897–4706 cal BC dates obtained from the 3 VERA samples that delineate a 191 years time span. While 41 dates were available from Phase III. When these house horizons are estimated to have lasted 75–100 years each. The sum calibration of these latter yielded a time interval between 5043–4561 cal BC (Fig. Conclusions A total of 89 14C dates known for Polgár-Csőszhalom originate from different periods and represents work by radiocarbon laboratories. Due to their uncertain provenances. sum calibration of the 60 14C dates showed a life span between 4828–4541 cal BC corresponding to 287 years. It cannot be said. radiocarbon dates outlined life spans of 287 or 371 years. On the other hand. However. 19–21). Editing and interpreting these data revealed a variety of problems that may be summed up as follows: 1. laboratory bias may also be appraised beyond standard errors. Phases I and II were represented only by 6 and 5 samples. it varies from laboratory to laboratory and makes the historical interpretation of 14C dates of different origins extremely difficult. the entire stratigraphy of the tell would represent 375–500 years of settlement history. that Feature 966. however. Additional problems surfaced during the study of the internal phases of the habitation mound. 67 14C dates originate from measurements by the Debrecen Laboratory (Deb). Unfortunately. VERA dates are also of help in establishing important chronological trends in the use of major refuse pits and wells. All this activity created complicated. respectively. On this basis one may also speculate. II and III. that this feature represented only a brief active period within the settlement’s entire life span. that is. however. In addition the aforementioned 3 VERA dates. when life spans for each of the three phases . house renovations as well as a continuous horizontal expansion. Fifty eight of these were measured on charcoal samples originating from construction elements. The same holds true for the double ditch system of V-shaped cross-sections that surrounded the tell: it was characterized only by 8 dates (Fig.

I. Hungary. Difficulties listed in this paper have more to do with research history and method than with the archaeological problem itself. südost. two superposed. This study is an attempt to join this welcome trend in absolute chronological research by the publication of individual radiocarbon measurements from Polgár-Csőszhalom.376 Pál Raczky – Alexandra Anders are estimated separately a 396 years value is obtained. –Raczky. Radiocarbaon dates from Polgár-Csőszhalom clearly illustrate the difference in time resolution between traditional (Deb) and AMS (VERA) dates. The 1957 Excavation. Anders. 753–754). J. When heterogeneous data sets are pooled in calibration. at Çatalhöyük: Cessford 2005). Bognár-Kutzián 1971. a step long overdue.g. therefore they were not directly available for broad-based academic discussion. subsequent dates produced in the 1990s have not appeared in print as raw data. 676). especially at the tell section of the settlement that has not yet been dated using the more advanced AMS method. 1971: Zoology and Chronology in Prehistory. This shows that the history of the tell should be outlined in the future using the latest. – Bognár-Kutzián. American Anthropologist 73. new measurements will be necessary. high-precision 14C measurements. 83–96. i. In spite of the fact that the settlement complex at Polgár-Csőszhalom has provided one of the largest series of 14C dates in SE Europe. Kalicz – Raczky 1987). 2007: The Late Neolithic tell Settlement at Polgár-Csőszhalom. Archaeolingua Central European Series 4. Bognár-Kutzián. K. 184. they have also been incorporated into various review articles (Breunig 1987. 5. A. E. 1987: British Museum natural radiocarbon measurements XX. e.g. Oxford. Breunig. In: Kozłowski. BAR-IS 1730. archaeologically different buildings at Csőszhalom would seem to belong to the same “house horizon” due to the low resolution of traditional 14C dates established in the Debrecen Laboratory. – Matthews. since those range between 120–160 years on average. I. 136. P. (eds. This corresponds to a 79 years useful life per house generation. Consequently. Bibliography Ambers. – Nagy. According to this. as is normal in scientific inquiry. Polgár and related cultures in the Middle/ Late Neolithic in Central Europe. K. S. P. There has been an increasing demand for the publication and integrated interpretation of old and new dates (e. repeated new radiocarbon measurements of increasing precision would be desirable from the sites that would mount to a never ending process. Kraków. 2007: Late Neolithic burial rites at the site of PolgárCsőszhalom-dűlő. the standard errors of older 14C dates may uncontrollably bias end results. as well as the re-utilization of old dates with the help of new calibration packages and sophisticated statistical methods (e. In other words. E. Such 57–74–79 years life spans cannot be reliably evaluated using the 1σ confidence intervals implemented by the Debrecen Laboratory. Quitta – Kohl 1969. Radiocarbon 29. – Bowman. Meanwhile sampling methodologies improved and various calibration programs have been published in the form of share ware enhancing the capability of archaeologists to carry out their own calculations. Five of the 6 dates originating from the 1957 excavations by Ida Bognár-Kutzián were published relatively quickly (Vogel – Waterbolk 1963. 201. With some delay. Argissa-Magoula: Reingruber – Thissen 2009. the scale of historical change was finer than the chronological resolution of the radiocarbon method used. J. 177–196. 246. 1987: 14 C-Chronologie des vorderasiatischen. From a methodological point of view only samples gathered and processed the same way could be compared.): The Lengyel. Acknowledgements Grateful thanks are due to Éva Svingor of the Institute of Nuclear Research of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Debrecen who supplied us with the original 14C dates from Polgár-Csőszhalom and Zsuzsanna Siklósi who offered valuable advice during the writing of this manuscript. 675–679. Gy. Bognár-Kutzián. I. 1958: Polgár-Csőszhalom. Moreover the definition of archaeological contexts has become increasingly precise and more recent AMS measurements were carried out on human and animal bone rather than charcoal.und . Bánffy. Archaeologiai Értesítő 85. Unfortunately.

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