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AND CULTURAL GROUPS
9.A The Formative stage: Contribution from the different Early Neolithic cultures The Formative stage of the Danube script gathered 10.5% of the signs in total, 10.0% of the inscriptions, and 9.2% of the inscribed objects (including data when the distinct culture of the Neolithic or the Copper Age is not specified). The findings exhibit that, during the start-up period, the inscriptions were longer than the average, and that a significant number of artifacts bore two or more inscriptions. From the viewpoint of the development of Southeastern Europe ars scribendi, one cannot postulate an evolutionary pattern according to increasing in length of texts and multiplication of inscriptions on the same mail-artifact.
9.A.a The development of writing technology started immediately afterwards the 8.2 ka event If the Danube script was eminently a Neolithic affair that occurred from the earliest stages of this period, it did not appear neither in the Aceramic (DCP 01-02-03-04 = 6400-6300 CAL BCE) nor from the very beginning of the pottery-making communities (DCP 1 = 6300-6100 CAL BCE; DCP 2 = 6100-5900 CAL BCE).1 I.e., it was not a component of the social reproduction strategies during the initial passages of the Neolithization process in Southeastern Europe (or it was embedded on perishable materials). Also from the point of view of the Danube script, Aceramic and Preceramic Neolithic are considered Proto-Neolithic. Even if the a priori division into two chronological horizons - monochrome and painted - is not based on sound argumentation, ars scribendi did not occur throughout the monochrome phase. It is also absent in the incipient painted pottery horizon, which is even still inadequately documented (if it actually existed as an independent stage) by sites such as Hoca Çeşme 4-3 (Parzinger and Özdoğan 1996; Nikolova 1998) in European Turkey. In Central and Northern Greece, the level of the early horizon of the painted ceramic without writing technology is indentified by Protosesklo and Nea Nicomedea (DCP 1 = 6300-6000 CAL. BCE). In the Republic of Serbia, the early horizon matches sites such as the first phase at Donja Branjevina II (c. 6200/6100-6000 CAL BCE) (Karmanski 1990; 2005), Donja Branjevina III (Pavúk 1991/1993: 235; Karmanski 1975), Donja Branjevina III G2 (Dimitrijevic 1974: 97; M. Garašanin 1979: XXXV/2; Brukner 1978: 78, n. 14; ibidem 1980: 51; ibidem1997: 243), Grivac (6100 BCE – 6000 BCE) (McPherron et. al. 1988:379-388), Divostin 1 (6000 BCE – 5800 BCE) (Dimitrijevic 1974: 97; McPherron et. al. 1988: 380-381; Bogdanović & Jokić 1987: 9-11), Lepenski Vir IIIa1 (Srejovic 1969: 13-19; Brukner 1978: 78, n. 14; ibidem 1980: 51), Padina B3 (Dimitrijevic 1974: 97; Jovanović 1984: 166; ibidem 1987; Pavúk 1991/1993: 235), Ludoš (M. Garasanin 1979: XXXVIII/5-7), Dobanovć (Dimitrijevic 1974: 97; Brukner 1978: 78, n. 14; ibidem 1980: 51), Lug – Zvečka (Srejović 1973: 259; Dimitrijevic 1974: 97; ibidem 1979: 243, n. 21), and Bač (M. Garašanin 1979: XL/3-4). This early horizon occurred contemporaneously in Gura Baciului Ia and Gura Baciului IB (Monochrome + White Painting + Dots) in Romania, which began its evolution in the phase IA of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex, or possibly throughout the IA/IB transitional period ca. 6200-5900 CAL BCE, according to Lazarovici Gh. (2006: 120. See also Lazarovici Gh., Maxim 1995: 5, 63, 68-69; Luca, Suciu: 2004: 10; Lazarovici Gh., Maxim 2005; Lazarovici Gh. 2006; Lazarovici Gh. and Lazarovici C.-M. 2006). In Bulgaria, this horizon may have been associated with Gălâbnik I, Kovačevo Ia, Vaxevo-Studena Voda 1-2 (Čohadžiev S. 2001) and Cavdar VI (6.200 - 6.100 CAL BCE), Krainitsi 1, Polyanitsa-Platoto, Koprivets 1 (Popov 1996), Dzhulyunitsa-Smurdesh 1 (Elenski 2005; Elenski and Leshtakov 2006). Literacy was neither present in the other earliest white-painted pottery horizon in F.Y.R.O.M. specified by Anzabegovo-Vršnik Ia (Zdrankovski 2006a; ibidem 2006b) (DCP 1= 6100-6000 CAL BCE).2 The time-frame between c. 6300 and 6000 CAL. BCE coincides with the so-called 8.2 ka event with a duration of around 330 years, from c. 8290–7960 cal. BP as pinpointed in literature (von Grafenstein et al. 1999; Farrera et al. 1999; Barber et al. 1999; Nesje and Dahl 2001; McDermott et al. 2001). Some authors connect the Neolithization of the Balkan Peninsula to this short glacial period and its diametrically opposed reverberation on the ecological systems of Anatolia and the Balkans (Todorova 2007: 2). The worst influence
See 8.A.a “Putting in sync chronological and cultural development: DCP (Danube Civilization Phases) and complexes, cultures, and groups”. 2 For the chronological scansion, see Nikolova 2007: 91. 497
of' the 8200 cal. BP event is best recognised in Central Anatolia. For example, the large and long-flourishing settlement at Çatal Hüyük East was abruptly deserted around this period. After the aridity crisis, the site was re-occupied, but with a shift of the urban agglomerate by c. 200 m to a new position (Çatal Hüyük West). This settlement shift marked the beginning of the Pottery Neolithic (sensu strictu) in Central Anatolia. The 8200 cal. BP climatic crisis might have triggered the spread of early farmers out of Anatolia, into Greek Macedonia as well as into the fertile plains of Thessaly, and simultaneously into Bulgaria and the Balkans. The farmers would be forced to migrate from Near East, quasi-immediately and with few alternatives, if they wished to survive yet another year of crop failures and encroaching famine (Weninger et al. 2007: 16-17). Nonetheless, the abrupt interruption in the early Holocene climate (Alley et al. 1997; Johnsen et al. 2001; Sugden 2005) clashed against the sudden population relocation. It delayed the Neolithization process and the spread of agriculture through Southeastern Europe and the Aegean islands and not only in the Near East and Anatolia (Nikolova 2007: 95) due to drastic decreases in temperature and annual precipitation (in particular with a radical reduction of autumn to spring rainfall) as shown by pollen data (Bordon, Peyron, Lézine 2007; Combourieu Nebout, Bordon, Peyron, Kageyama, Cazet 2007). According to archaeological data and multi-disciplinary data, the limited evidence of pottery-using settlements in the Balkans before 6000 CAL. BC and the absence of any site with clear stratigraphic evidence for a continuous occupation extending through the 8200 cal. BP event may be related to the cooling and drying connected to the 8.2 ka event. There was not a drought-triggered Neolithization in Southeastern Europe, because the actual start of flourishing pottery in long-term settlements occurred just after the end of the seventh millennium CAL. BCE; in other words, after the climate forcing due to the 8.2 ka event (Nikolova 2007: 99). The development of writing technology started immediately afterwards. In the Early Neolithic, the backbone of the Danube script was the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex, where the earliest occurrence of literacy was present and most of the signs were congregated. The first occurrences of the Danube script were in Romania, at Ocna Sibiului, belonging to the phase IB/IC of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex (DCP 1-2). Therefore, this system of writing was present since the start-up of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex (DCP 2 = 6000-5900 CAL. BCE), although with absence in its very first phase (DCP 1 = 6100-6000 CAL. BCE), and in a quite underdeveloped semiotic form as we will comment below. Literacy developed almost contemporaneously in the Karanovo I horizon (DCP 24 = 6000-5600 CAL. BCE) in Bulgaria. If the trend of Neolithization spread very strongly in a south-north direction (Luca, Suciu 2008), the data recorded until now in DatDas verify only in part this figure, identifying two “incubator areas”. The Formative stage of the Danube script had a central Balkan start-up in Transylvania (Starčevo-Criş-Körös IB/IC) and contemporaneously or immediately subsequently in the Thracian Plain (Karanovo I) in two different although neighbor assemblages. The not definite cultural and geographical start-up area of the sign system is perhaps due to its absence during the Proto-Neolithic. Literacy spread during the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA horizon in the Republic of Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria. One should also add contributions from the Banat I in Romania. Another well defined cultural unit involved in the development, even at a lesser extent, was the Anzabegovo-Vršnik III group, in F.Y.R.O.M. In was followed for sign production by the Sesklo zone, in Greece, throughout the Sesklo III culture. Limited is the involvement of the Danilo, in Croatia. The input to the formative stage of the Danube script from the Gălăbnik group of Bulgaria, a local evolution of Karanovo I and II horizons in the Upper Struma valley, is narrow. Even narrower is the contribution from the settlements belonging the well defined and delimited groups of white painted pottery that populated the so called Southern Transbalkanic Zone to separate the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) area in the North and the Sesklo area in the South (Pavúk 2007b). The first inscribed artifacts connect the early stage of the Danube script to magic-religious liturgies and identity/affiliation expressions. The sacral root is documented by a Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IB bases of unusial vessels (miniaturize altars) from Donja Branjevina in the Republic of Serbia (Karmanski 2005: 162, Pl. LXXIV/ 1A-1B; 2A-2B), a Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IB/IC miniaturize altar from Ocna Sibiului-Triguri in Romania (Paul on-line; 1990: 28; 1995: 28-68; 2004; Gimbutas 1991: 313, fig. 8-9; Ciută 2001; ibidem 2002; ibidem 2003; Merlini 2004a, ibidem 2005b; Lazarovici Gh. 2006; Lazarovici Gh., Gumã 2006), and a Karanovo I mignon triangular altar for worship from Elešnica in Bulgaria (Todorova, Vajsov 1993: 216, fig. 208/7; Lazarovici C.-M. 2003: 86: fig. 1-7). The identity/affiliation expression is rendered by seals ascertained to the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA in Hungary (Banner 1935: 9, pl. VIII 3-4; ibidem 1942: 24-25, pl. XVI: 3-4; Kutzián 1944-47: 83, pl. XLVI, 3ab; Makkay 1984, 28 object 101) and Karanovo I seals in Bulgaria (Georgiev V.I. 1967: 97, fig. 17; Makkay
1984: 12.13; Kalchev 2005: 57; Lazarovici Gh. 2000b; Lazarovici C.-M., Lazarovici Gh. 2006). 3 Anthropomorphic figurines from Kovačevo in Southwestern Bulgaria can be considered multifunctional. The earliest occurrences of the Danube script on miniaturized altars - cult tables and seals pose the question if they provide indication of a double different function of it, one in rituals in order to bridge the communication with the divine powers and the other in everyday sphere as personal/household identification, social status means or political authority token. However, critical examination of the archaeological context where the inscribed seals have been recovered leads also to advance an alternative hypothesis concerning their function. Leaving the secular daily life, the seals may have been used for functional applications in worship, such as to impress a magic-religious formula on skin, sacred bread or textiles. Ethnographic examples suggest that a single stamping of the food was sufficient to confer it a sacred character via the contact with the stamp (Gheorghiu 2008: 90). I advance this interpretation analyzing a concave seal recovered at Yannitsa (Northern Greece) which is made of black stone and dates back to 5250-5000 BCE.4 However, absence of existing seal impressions, and a limited knowledge of what was being stamped, makes a current arrival at any decisive conclusion unlikely. Comparing sign use regionally during the Formative stage of the script and the total production of sign throughout the two millennia and half of literacy, the geographical distribution is coherent with the historical frame sketched above. Geographical distribution of the signs comparing the Formative stage of the script and the montant global Country Formative stage Absolute value Greece Bulgaria F.Y.R.O.M. Albania Montenegro Republic of Serbia Bosnia Herzegovina Romania Hungary Slovakia Czech Republic Croatia Republic of Moldova Ukraine Austria Germany Kosovo Total 24 95 28 4 152 252 11 6 572 % 4.20% 16.61% 4.90% 0.69% 26.57% 44.06% 1.92% 1.05% Totality of the signs Absolute value 432 1331 93 17 4 1461 11 1572 285 26 31 10 11 65 4 25 43 5421 % 7.97% 24.55% 1.72% 0.31% 0.07% 26.95% 0.20% 29.00% 5.26% 0.48% 0.57% 0.18% 0.20% 1.20% 0.07% 0.46% 0.79%
See 9.A.c “Karanovo I seals and figurines”. See § 9.B.a “Geographical dilatation and more equilibrate utilization of the sign system”. 499
The earliest stage of the script involved only eight regions on the 17 that were implicated in the entire experiment with literacy that lasted about two millennia and half. They all belong to the core Balkan-Danube area. If Romania, Republic of Serbia, and Bulgaria concentrated together 80.6% of the total occurrences of the Danube script, they cumulated 87.2% throughout its Formative stage. This dynamic figure veils an internal asymmetry. Romania seems to have played a pivotal role, whereas the percentage from the Republic of Serbia is a little lower on its average and the percentage from Bulgaria is definitely lower. Significant is the relative contribution to the Formative stage of the script, although low for absolute value, from F.Y.R.O.M. Croatia, and Albania follow. Conversely, the script had a delayed start-up in Greece, Hungary, Ukraine, Kosovo, Czech Republic, Germany, Bosnia Herzegovina, Slovakia, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, and Austria.
Fig. 9.1 - Pattern on the geographical distribution of the Danube script throughout its Formative stage. As evidenced in chapter 8, DatDas substantiates Donja Branjevina (Republic of Serbia), from the StarčevoCriş (Körös) cultural complex, as key site for the start-up of the system of writing for signs production. At general level, it was also a regional site for magnitude. At a lesser level, Donja Branjevina was followed by settlements of regional relevance: Trestiana, Gornea, Ostrovu Golu, and Glăvăneştii Vechi (Romania), Lepenski Vir (Republic of Serbia), and Ocna Sibiului (Romania), all from the from the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex.
They were followed by Nova Zagora – Hlebozavoda that at general level was also a regional site for magnitude, Kovačevo (Bulgaria) from the Karanovo I culture and key site of the so called Southern Transbalkanic Zone that separated the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) area in the North and the Sesklo area in the South (Pavúk 2007b). They were followed by Sesklo (Greece) from Sesklo III Azmashka from Karanovo I and Gorna Beshovitsa (Bulgaria), Anzabegovo and Vršnik (F.Y.R.O.M.) from Anzabegovo-Vršnik III, and Ribnjak-Bečei (Republic of Serbia) from Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVA.
Fig. 9.2 - The five-range hierarchical network of sites with signs throughout the Formative stage of the Danube script.
Less significant were Parţa (Romania), from Banat I, that at general level was also a regional site for magnitude, Elešnica (Bulgaria) Karanovo I, Danilo (Croatia) from Danilo, Gradinile Izlaz and Leţ (Romania) from Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVA, Mostonga (Republic of Serbia) from Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA, Mursalevo - Deve Bargan from Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB and Kazanlak (Bulgaria) from Karanovo I, Cocev Kamen (F.Y.R.O.M.), Kopancs (Hungary) from Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA, Beşenova (Romania) from Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVB, Kolsh (Albania) from Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIA, Nevestino-Moshteni (Bulgaria) from the Gălăbnik group, Szolnok (Hungary) from the from the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex, and Vršac – At (Republic of Serbia), which at general level was also a regional site for magnitude, from Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIA. Marginal was the production of signs throughout the Formative stage of the script at Porodin (F.Y.R.O.M.), Knossos (Greece), Blagotin (Republic of Serbia), Slatina (Bulgaria), and Kotacpart (Hungary). However, the chronologies for Cocev Kamen and Knossos inscribed findings are somewhat unsettled. The author has sketched below the input and inception of the Danube script by the different Early Neolithic cultures in a brief and limited fashion. This framework is in progress, and shall be subject to enrichment and corrections with the ongoing discovery of new finds. Cultural and chronological synchronization will increase through the general research in Southeastern prehistoric Europe. As of now, certainty of the archaeological record in this region is limited by an insufficient accumulation of data and the contested reliability of findings. This has created a number of gaps and divergent interpretations. However, sequencing the Neolithic of Southeastern Europe will always be a rather arbitrary process, even for future research. The different Early Neolithic cultural complexes, cultures and cultural groups have been analyzed below in a sequence according to their contribution to the script. However, this analysis has been conducted while keeping in mind the south-north trend in the spread of Neolithization (Luca 2006a: 25).
9.A.b The origin of the script from the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex During the Early Neolithic, the signs of the Danube script were mainly concentrated in the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex, 5 the earliest manifestation of the Neolithic horizon in the central-western Balkans. The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) complex covered a large area comprised of the region between Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Vojvodina, Northeastern Bulgaria, and the Drina valley in the Southwest. It spanned the western territories of Romania and southern of Hungary to the northern border. It was present throughout the Lower Danube Basin, Southern Pannonia and toward the east in the Dniester River basin where, in the last period, the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVA–IVB overlapped the southern Bug culture (Lazarovici 1994; Luca 2006a: 26; Luca, Suciu 2008). The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) assemblage belongs to the wide circum-Mediterranean or Cardial assemblage, named after the pottery made with impressions made of Cardium shell valves (Luca 2006a: 26; Luca, Suciu 2008). However, the concept of a well defined Starčevo-Criş (Körös) identity is supported by the marked differences between its ceramic and both the coeval Impressed ware of the east Adriatic (that were locally produced and tempered with the most common, local minerals without adding organic materials) and the early Neolithic pottery of the Thessalian Plain (that were never tempered with organic matter) (Spataro 2008: 97).
The multifaceted designation for this culture is due to the places where the first characteristic discoveries were made (Luca 2006a: 26), to historical and political differences, as well as variation in pottery styles. The Starčevo culture is named for the eponymous settlement on a former bank of the Danube near Belgrade (Vojvodina, Republic of Serbia), which has been excavated in 1928 by M. Gribić and extensively in 1932 by Vladimir Fewks, Robert Ehrich and others. The term “Starčevo-Criş culture”, used by the Romanian scientists, comes from the hydrographical basin of the Criş River (Romanian)/Körös (Hungarian) in west Romania and Eastern Hungary by the junction of three headstreams that rise in Transylvania (western Romania): Crişul Repede (Romanian) or Sebes-Körös (Hungarian), Crişul Alb (White Criş) and Crişul Negru (Black Criş). The Criş River Basin is a semi-dry area; however, it is often hit by floods. The northern Starčevo group (in Hungary) is called Körös after the river Körös (Magyar translation of the Romanian term Criş) (Kutzián 1941). Along the banks of the Körös River, a year after the Starčevo excavation (in 1933-1934), J. Banner started to excavate the site of Kotacpart discovering pottery related to the Starčevo style. According to this vision, the Starčevo culture in Serbia, the Starčevo-Criş culture in Romania and the Körös culture in Hungary were branches in somewhat different ecological niches of the same civilization (Gimbutas 1991: 25). D. Berciu and Gh. Lazarovici proposes the term “Starčevo-Criş civilization”, with a new periodization and that covers the area from Greek Macedonia to the South of Central Europe (Transylvania). The term “cultural group” is considered more suited to explain the local dynamic (Lazarovici Gh. 2006: 112). Coping with the general framework of the Danube civilization, I refer to the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex. The term Körös is put between brackets having no firmly established chronology, up to now. 502
The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex centralized 82.4% of the frequencies of signs from the Early Neolithic (disregarding data when the distinct culture is not specified). According to radiocarbon dates and stratigraphical data, the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex developed over a long period between ca. 6300/6200-5400 CAL BCE. In the last phase, it was contemporaneous with the Vinča A1-A3 culture (Lazarovici C.-M., Lazarovici Gh.2006: 41, 69, 83, 118).6 The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) assemblage was characterized by a southern origin with many waves of migration and Neolithization of local communities with Balkan direction and penetration (Luca 2006a: 26). It exhibited a gradual evolution in four major stages, but without major changes for more than a millennium (Gimbutas 1991: 25), and a unitary spread with the main settlements sharing key common elements and developing in synchrony despite the distances that separated them (Lazarovici Gh. 1979: 15; ibidem 2006: 112; Luca, Suciu 2005: 14). The main anthropological type was slim and gracile Mediterranean, confirming the southern origin of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex. However, the more robust proto-Europoid type also appeared in large numbers, which could confirm the involvement of the local Epipalaeolitihic population in the Neolithization process, attracted by the new way of life (Luca 2006a: 28; Luca, Suciu 2008). This assemblage first ended in the Southern regions due to the expansion of the Vinča communities. Later it ceased in the northern regions due to the formation and than penetration of the Linear Pottery carriers from central Europe (Luca 2006a: 28). Donja Branjevina is the most important site for sign production in the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex (23.9%). The head of a figurine from Donja Branjevina has been already presented to contrast script signs with linear decorations arranged in horizontal sequence.7 After Donja Branjevina, main nodes of the network of the Danube script in the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex included sites from Romania (in order of importance for sign production) Trestiana (14.9%), Gornea (14.1%), Ostrovu Golu (13.3%), and Glăvăneştii Vechi (10.9%), They were followed by Ocna Sibiului-Triguri (7.1%). Marginal was the production of signs at Ribnjak-Bečei (2.7%), Kopancs (1.9%), Gradinile Izlaz (1.6%), Leţ (1.6%), Mostonga (1.6%), Mursalevo - Deve Bargan (1.3%), Beşenova (1.3%), Kolsh (1.1%), Szolnok (1.1%), and Vršac - At (1.1%). From Vršac – At, Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIB emphatic action-graffiti have already analyzed to contrast with script signs.8 Residual was the production of signs at Blagotin (0.8%). It is significant to record the distribution of the signs of the Danube script, within this historical framework, according to the main phases of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex. With its several sub-phases and local aspects (Lazarovici Gh. 1977; 1979; 1984; Luca 2006a: 26-27), it is still difficult to fit a few clearly evolutionary differentiated phases. Settlements were spread out, stretching over large areas. Therefore, for the contemporary archaeological researcher the layers are thin, and the overlapping of the levels very rare (Luca 2006a: 26). Since the 1930’s many efforts have been made to establish a reliable chronological sequence and a precise pottery type/style progression for the abundant archaeological gathered material. Data from the segmented spread of the Danube script within the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex contribute to establish and distinguish developmental sub-phases and local aspects, with some sub-phases that, if in relative chronology are one after each other, are actually contemporaneous (Luca, Suciu 2008).
Since 1940s, archaeology attempted to establish the chronological framework of the Starčevo culture (Milojčić 1949; Aranđelović - Garašanin 1954; Dimitrijević 1969 and 1974; Garašanin 1971; Srejović 1971). Nowadays it is acknowledged that the area was settled much earlier than previously thought (e.g. Sherratt 1997, Fig. 11.6). According to Gimbutas, the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) culture started around 6300-6000 BCE (Gimbutas 1991: 25). Schubert maintains a date as early as 6400 to 6200 CAL. BCE (Schubert 1999). Regarding the Romanian area, radiocarbon data are absent for the Early Neolithic communities at Cârcea, Cluj-Gura Baciului, and Ocna Sibiului. Based on archaeological comparison with similar manifestations in Bulgaria (Pavúk 1993: 29; Gorsdorf, Boiadjiev 1996: 122-123), Greece (Liritzis, al. 1991: 308) and Anatolia (Roodenberg 1993: 256, 259; Özdogan 1993: 185-186), Mantu hypothesizes that the Starčevo horizon started around 6000/5900 BCE (Mantu 1998; Mantu 2002). For the Early Körös culture, Hertelendi at al. calculated a range from 5950 to 5400 cal BCE (1995). However, at Morosele-Pana, near the Maros-Tisza confluence, a date associated with Körös II pottery ranges from ca. 6400–6200 cal BCE (Schubert 1999). Late Körös was dated from 5770 to 5230 CAL. BCE. Concerning the life cycle of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) culture, it developed from 6.200 up to 5.250 BCE according to Gimbutas (1989, 1991); from 6300 to 5500 BCE as stated by Whittle (1996). According to Baldia, “The end of Starčevo-Körös-Criş culture was often dated around 5000 CAL. BCE” (Baldia 2003). 7 See § 5.E.c.1 “Inventory of the Danube script vs. corpus of the artistic motifs”. 8 See § 5.D.a.1 “The dynamic, emotional graphic result of cultic actions”. 503
Chronological distribution of the signs of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex Phase Absolute value % Starčevo-Criş (Körös) not specified Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IABC Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIB Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIA Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVA Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVB Total 6 31 14 87 38 26 182 384 1.56% 8.07% 3.65% 0.0% 22.66% 9.89% 6.77% 47.40%
The Danube script was present since the second or third stage of the phase I of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex, associated with the apparition of the post-earliest European pottery. In particular, the stage IB (6100-6000 CAL BCE) was present at Cluj-Gura Baciului PH1b, PH1, Donja Branevina III and II, and Cârcea - Hanuri pit-house 1 inferior. A stage IB Starčevo-Criş (Körös) assemblage has been situated within the hut H10/2003, at the site of Miercurea Sibiului-Petriş (Transylvania). This structure was found at the edge of a long terrace, 4-5 m above the flooded meadow of the Secaş River, and has been attested to be one of the oldest such examples north of the Danube (Luca, Suciu 2004: 15; Luca, Diaconescu, Suciu 2007). Stage IC of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex has date 6000-5900 CAL BC (Lazarovici Gh. 2006; Maxim 1995; Biagi, Spataro 2004; Lazarovici Gh., Lazarovici C.-M. 2007). The oldest Starčevo-Criş (Körös) artifacts bearing script signs of the Danube script are the base fragment of an unusual vessels (miniaturize altars, in one case a possible oil lamp) from Donja Branjevina IIA in the Republic of Serbia, which bears a numerological code (Karmanski 2005: 162, Pl. LXXIV/ 1A-1B), 2A-2B, and a mignon altar discovered at Ocna Sibiului-Triguri (Romania). One of the artifacts from Donja Branjevina IIA might be the most ancient oil lamp even found. It is the base of an unusual vessel from trench I/65, pit 1, layer 1, spit 1/4, which is dated Starčevo-Criş IB according to Gh. Lazarovici’s system on painted ceramic.
Fig. 9.3 – An inscribed unusual vessel from Donja Fig. 9.4 - The inscribed base of the “non phallus” from Branjevina IIA in the Republic of Serbia. Ocna Sibiului-Triguri (Transylvania, Romania). (Graphic elaboration by Merlini after Karmanski (Photo Merlini 2005). 2005: 162, Pl. LXXIV/1B).
The artifact from Ocna Sibiului-Triguri is the inscribed quadrilateral base of a small and high-schematized conic, or phalloid, statuette, belonging to the phase IB, IC9 (Paul on-line; 1990: 28; 1995: 28-68; 2004; Gimbutas 1991: 313, fig. 8-9; Ciută 2001; ibidem 2002; ibidem 2003; Merlini 2004a, ibidem 2005b; Lazarovici Gh. 2006; Lazarovici Gh., Gumã 2006). This inscribed artifact has been already presented, because it is a sort of “Danube Rosetta stone”. It bears three different communicational codes as elements of the same semiotic complex at the same time (i.e. the Danube communication system): Iconic representation, symbolism, and writing message. 10 It is remarkable to note that the earliest appearance of the Danube script, as recorded by DatDas, is a miniaturized altar for worshiping that was possibly designed to imitate the shape of a monumental communitarian altar or shrine (Jovanović 1984; Lazarovici et alii 2001: 268-270, 278; C.-M. Lazarovici, Gh. Lazarovici 2006: 195-197). Within the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex, the most significant cult artifacts were miniature altars with a sub conical container in the central, upper area (Karmanski 2005) and plastic figures (Minichreiter 2002). The inscribed artifact from Ocna Sibiului-Triguri merges these two typologies and gives evidence that sitting figurines were sometimes put on top of the tables (Comşa 1980). The function of mini altars - cult tables has not been entirely determined as of yet. S. Stanković assumed that the main sacrificial rite was conducted collectively on large altars at a cultic location (most likely an open space or religious dwelling) in the settlement. After the rite, each family would get a part of the sacrificial offering, which they then used to put on their small domestic altars, which they moved to their pit-dwellings or a field (Stanković 1986: 12-13; ibidem 1992: 244-24). Other possible functions for these types of objects (burning aromatic substances or liquids, maintaining fire, light or heat) have not been exhibited in the findings from Ocna Sibiului-Triguri. The Transylvanian evidence connects the earliest stage of this archaic system of writing to religious rituals, i.e. to support and convey communication with the divine sphere through concise liturgical formulas possibly indicating name and/or attribute of a divinity and a dedication or exhibiting expressions of protection by superhuman powers. The Danube Civilization is no exception to the obsession of ancient societies for dangers and utilized the potentiality of writing asking protection against unknown malevolent forces, which could affect their life and goods. A number of authors have underlined the Balkan-Anatolian origin of the Early Neolithic in Southeastern Europe: Garašanin, Srejović, Nikolov B., Lazarovici Gh. etc. (See Lazarovici C.M., Lazarovici Gh. 2006: 58-6 and related bibliography). According to them, signs and symbol with religious character (even on seals) have been found in Çatalhöyük with identical markings to those recovered in the Balkans. Up to now, this view of the Danube script has been limited in its level of verification. Expanding upon the subject of the earliest occurrences of the Danube script on miniaturized altars - cult tables aaccording to semiotic indicators, in addition to archaeological evidence, one can fix the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IB/IC instance from Ocna Sibiului-Triguri at a less developed stage of the Danube script than the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA and Karanovo I occurrences. Indeed, the miniaturized altar displays signs with limited levels of shape standardization and only roughly linear sign sequences. The script seems to be "primitive”, half-baked. Nevertheless, it clearly expresses a logically coherent system of signs designed for readability. First, the text is composed of signs that are intentionally marked, i.e. that carry intentionally represented meaning using specific sign forms. Second, signs are easily individually identifiable. Third, signs are highly stylized in form, non-complex in their features and linear in shape such as, V, X, \, I, -, , y, , . Fourth, signs are conventional enough to recall a definite and systematic inventory. A jump in standardization is exhibited by the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA inscriptions. Concerning the seal from Hódmezövásárhely Zsoldos, even Makkay observes that Vs and Xs are formed by longitudinal zigzag lines crossing each other (Makkay 1984: 28). Fifth, the script is made up of abstract and arbitrary (non-representational) signs, rather than figurative or naturalistic motifs. Sixth, the system of writing is clearly based on root-signs, with the potentiality to create derived signs, which have the capacity to be subjected to simple or complex variations. Even in the first stage of the Danube script,
The stratigraphical position of this piece is not very well settled. According to Paul, it was found in house 8, section XI together with white painted pottery, belonging to the phase IB/IC (Paul 1995: 130). According to Ciută, it was discovered in house 9, section XII, level Ib, belonging to the phase IC/IIA (Ciută 2005: 189, tab. XC). 10 See § 5.B “Settling the Danube script within the Danube communication system”. 505
as exemplified by the miniaturized altar from Ocna Sibiului-Triguri, the technique of using root-sign variation was applied through the use of modifying diacritical marks such as, small strokes, crosses, dots, and arches. This trend is further documented by the presence of simple derived sign such as , or , as well as complex derived signs such as . Seventh, a second organizing principle of root-signs was applied even in the miniaturized altar from Ocna Sibiului-Triguri. It makes it likely that such root-signs might have been doubled, or multiplied, creating more complex shapes through their placement according to a “Matrioska-style”. Consequently, one can find signs such as . Eighth, the recurrence of the same signs on artifacts from a wide geographical area, as well as within the same inscription, documents the presence of a common graphic and semiotic model of reference at the origin of the spread of the writing sign system. This observation challenges scholars who deny the existence of a European archaic script. Such contentions have often claimed that a major percentage of the signs occur only once because the elites invented them without thought to larger cultural meanings. They further contend that the signs are marks that were abruptly invented for a temporary necessity, and had only symbolic meaning. They were used briefly at the local level before being dropped (Farmer 2003a). Ninth, the distribution of the signs composing the written text is not random, but logically organized. Tenth, any sign of the inscriptions under analysis has its specific space and position. Eleven, the order of the signs has mainly a linear character, i.e. they are aligned in sequence and along horizontal lines. As in the case of the Ocna Sibiului-Triguri find, sometimes the format of the text seems to be vertical and the linear sequence orientation is approximately respected. Twelve, the inscriptions are not made up of only one or two signs, but are quite long. The miniaturized pedestal altar from Ocna Sibiului bears four inscriptions made of three, nine, five, and ten signs. Five signs are engraved on the seal from Hódmezövásárhely-Zsoldos farm. The drawing of the three-footed altar from Elešnica shows two inscriptions of respectively two and five signs, but also the other side is inscribed. Thirteen, multiple registers for writing and reading are developed on the Ocna Sibiului-Triguri altar. Fourteen, signs cohabit the inscribed space with symbols or emblematic decorations in Romanian and Bulgarian occurrences. Fifteen, on the seal from Hódmezövásárhely-Zsoldoz some signs are divided by dots, which serve as quasigrammatical marks for the written text in order to organize and simplify its readability by separating different concepts or words. In contrast to the developed stage of the Danube script, the earliest occurrences did not employ ligatures by which the writers formed compound signs joining two or more elementary signs. The metope layout (i.e. rectangular cells aimed to isolate and emphasize the sign/signs within them) is not utilized. The widespread dispersal of the Danube script originated from the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA horizon, dated 5950-5850 CAL BCE and recorded by DatDas as DCP 3 = 5900-5800 CAL BCE. The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA phase changed the evolution of the first stages of the Early Neolithic. . This phase is characterized by a complex economy complex economy with dynamic agriculture, cattle and sheep farming, hunting and fishing, settlements made of surface dwellings (not only pit-houses), the development of pottery with complex shapes, such as cups and bucranium idols, and a variety of painting styles and techniques. The flow of literacy was rapid, from the southeast and in a single wave of diffusion as the pattern suggested for the spread of the technology and methods of pottery production (Spataro 2008: 97). The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA horizon is seen to corresponds to the second migration according to Lazarovici’s system (Lazarovici Gh. 1976: 28-30; ibidem 1977: XIX 1, 6, 9, 11; Lazarovici Gh., Maxim 1995: 200; Lazarovici Gh. 1996; ibidem 1998; ibidem 2004; Lazarovici C.-M., Lazarovici Gh. 2007). Typical Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA settlements were Cluj-Gura Baciului II, Cârcea II, Ocna Sibiului-Triguri, Şeuşa, Gornea - Locurile Lungi (PH 4-5), Vultureni, Moruţ, Livada, Grădinile - Izlaz (situated at 25 kilometers south of Caracal, Oltenia), Verbiţa, and Donja Branjevina II according to Karmanski’s system (Karmanski 1968; 1968a; 1969; 1979; 1990; 2005). The script propagated quite quickly during the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA phase. The identity/affiliation expression is rendered by a seal ascertained to the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA in Hungary (Banner 1935: 9, pl. VIII 3-4; ibidem 1942: 24-25, pl. XVI: 3-4; Kutzián 1944-47: 83, pl. XLVI, 3a-b; Makkay 1984, 28 object 101). The seal from the Hódmezövásárhely-Zsoldos farm (Kopancs, Hungary) has no assessed chronology, being found in an unnumbered rubbish pit in Banner’s excavations (Banner 1932: 9, pl. VIII 3-4; ibidem 1942: 24-25, pl. XVI: 3-4; Kutzián 1944: 83, pl. XLVI, 3a-b; Makkay 1984: 28 object 101). However, one can classify it as part of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA horizon based on archaeological associations (Lazarovici personal communication 2007). The seal is made of poor quality clay. It is characterized by
conical body, rectangular curved face with a length of 5.8 cm, and an imperforated handle set at an oblique angle. 11 DatDas also records an Early Neolithic red potshard from Blagotin (a site with a thick cultural layer of 1.7 m next to the village Poljna, 15 km NW of Trstenik, in the Republic of Serbia) with a fragmented inscription where three signs aligned in row are still evident (Nikolić, Zečević 2001: 19, fig. 3). Based on typological and stylistical analysis of pottery, and according to 14 dates12, the archaeologists in charge applied Srejović’s chronological classification (Srejović 1971: 14: 1973: 259-261) to ascertain that this site dated to the Protostarčevo II phase (Nikolić, Zečević 2001). This date is synchronizable with the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IC/IIA in the system utilized by the present author.
Fig. 9.5 - The seal from Hódmezövásárhely- Zsoldos (Kopancs, Hungary). (Graphic elaboration by Merlini after Banner 1932: 9, pl. VIII 3-4).
Fig. 9.6 - The potshard from Blagotin (Republic of Serbia). (Graphic elaboration by Merlini after Nikolić, Zečević 2001: 19, fig. 3).
Expanding upon the subject of the first inscribed seals, stamp, stamp-seals, or pintaderas13 (also see below with the Karanovo I stamps from Azmak),14 they were used for marking perishable items such as textiles or skin with stamped impressions, clearly had the function to declare identities in a new permanent fashion, at least as long as the permanence of the stamp (Bailey 2000: 110). This trend started in the Balkans after 6500 BCE, and continued as a large-scale phenomenon throughout the prehistoric sequence from the Early Neolithic until the Bronze Age. The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) and Karanovo I inscribed seals contributed to the appearance of stamps made of clay and stone. Such stamps had flat faces, upon which emblematic designs were incised, impressed, or depicted in relief. Designs on stamp bases varied and included: Arrangements of parallel lines, multiple zigzag lines in parallel bands, small circles and dots, concentric circles and spirals, concentric rectilinear forms, maze-like patterns composed of interlocking rectilinear lines, and maze-like shapes of interconnecting rectilinear and straight or inward pointing V-shaped lines (Makkay 1984; Todorova, Vajsov 1993: 233-4; Bailey 2000: 109). May the inscribed seals have served as an identification of the personal/household, of social status, and/or of political authority? On the other hand, may they have marked communitarian-household versus individual property and belongings? This potentiality as expression of identity might argue for a past form of documentation used to mark communitarian-household-individual property and belongings, manage and maintain a distinct control over production and organize distribution within an archaic system of exchange. This does not necessary illustrate a defined role of ownership within a larger complex network of redistribution as documented in later periods,
It is kept at the Tornyai János Museum of Hódmezövásárhely. Inv. N. 1926/31. They are OxA-8608, OxA-8609 and OxA-8760 (Whittle, Bartosiewicz, Borić, Pettitt and Richards 2002). 13 One is dealing with tools uniformed by the utilization in stamping/sealing to transfer motifs onto various surfaces. The diversity in terms would indicate different function (official stamps for indexing a distinct person/household/community, pintaderas for adorning the human body or expressing ideas/affiliation through it, stamps for marking bread, and stamps for decorating textiles) and significance of these objects (the networks of meaning in which they are incorporated) (Prijatelj 2007: 252). However, the unclear function and uncertain significance of this tool lead to relate the terminology to the region and period they have been discovered and published (Naumov 2008: 43). For this reason, same scholars utilize only the term stamp (Perlés 2001: 252; Skeates 2007) or seal (Budja 2003; Türkcan 2007). However, one can agree that clay stamps or stamp seals (Makkay 1984) are tools for impressing prints and pintaderas are tools for applying color motifs on human skin or textiles (their discovery attests the practice of tattooing and decorating cloth or woven fabric) (Cornaggia-Castiglione 1956; Luca 2006a: 27). 14 See 9.A.c “Karanovo I seals and figurines”. 507
e.g. in Mycenaean and Minoan palace centers.15 It is enough to recall, for example, the necessity for identifying specific loafs of bread when baking it in communal ovens.16 The seals might also have been used to convey information about features of goods or craftsman. They may have expressed affiliation to a particular group, a lineage, or have been a declaration of status. In conclusion, one may observe by the shapes, and features of the signs, as well as by the structure of the inscriptions and organization of the earliest texts, that the first instances of the Danube script, as recorded by DatDas, represent many of the traits that characterize a developed system of writing. These features parallel other archaic systems of writing, even if the Danube script predates them by one or two millennia. Consequently, one has to expect that the presented inscriptions will not be the earliest to be found in this area. Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA has coeval cultures in Bulgaria: Traces of the script have been found from late Karanovo I (Georgiev 1961; 1967; ibidem 1983) and Pernik 2 (Čohađiev S. 1983). In F.Y.R.O.M., this culture was contemporary with Anzabegovo-Vršnik II, where there are not clues of writing. This also corresponded in Greece with Presesklo, Nea Nikomedea, and Magoulitsa (Lazarovici Gh., Lazarovici C.-M. 2002) and mostly with Sesklo I (5900-5800 CAL. BCE), where there is no evidence of inscriptions of the Danube script. In the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIA (DCP 5 = 5600-5500 CAL. BCE), the development of the script was energetic with a rate of the signs production higher than during the previous phases. This was the period of the Ghirlandoid, Spiraloid A according to Dimitrijević (Dimitrijević 1974) and Tečić (Galović 1963; 1964; 1968). Significant Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIB-IIIA artifacts inscribed with inscriptions of the Danube script have been discovered at Vršac-At (Serbia) and Kolsh I (Northern-eastern of the Northern Albania). The Vršac-At occurrence is located on the bottom of a vessel from section 8. The Kolsh find is a fragment of a cult vessel, probably an incense burner, or a lamp (Korkuti 1995 tav. 20 11; Prehistory Knowledge Project on line).
Fig. 9.7 - An inscribed cult vessel from Kolsh (Albania). (Graphic elaboration by Merlini after Korkuti 1995: tav. 20.11).
Fig. 9.8 - An inscribed bottom from Vršac - At (Republic of Serbia). (Graphic elaboration by Merlini after photo courtesy Lazarovici 2006).
A number of Southeastern cultural groups are synchronized by the Lazarovici’s system with the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIA. The Anzabegovo IC-II, settled in F.Y.R.O.M., (Lazarovici 1979; ibidem 1996; ibidem 2000; Lazarovici Gh., Lazarovici C.-M. 2002: 16), and illustrated no indications of writing. However, signs are present on Anzabegovo III (5800-5600 CAL BCE) that is synchronizable from a chronological viewpoint (DCP 4-6). The Sesklo III (5600-5500 CAL BCE) produced a remarkable inscribed seal dating from the last phase. 17 To the same DCP is ascertainable the Danilo culture in Croatia (5600-5500 CAL BCE) with signs on
“In contrast to the purpose of the later stamps, the earlier ones were meant to identify their owner and to certify the object on which the print had been applied” (Makkay 1984: 97). 16 A well fitting example from written sources is the religious act to decorate Christmas bread by means of stamps in the Orthodox Church. 17 Lazarovici Gh. synchronizes Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIAB with Sesklo I, Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIB with Sesklo II, and Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIA with Sesklo III (personal communication 2007). 508
potshards. In Bulgaria, the Pernik 3 cultural group (Čohađiev S. 1983; Pavúk, Čohađiev S. 1984; Bakamska 1989; Pavúk 1991; Pavúk, 1995) showed no indications of writing. Following the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIA phase began the other key culture for the formative phase of the Danube script: The Vinča A, which for a period ran parallel to the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) assemblage and has been inserted by DatDas in the Developed/Middle Neolithic. The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB was a period of social and economic involution for this cultural complex, reverberating in a relative decline in utilization of the script. The sign production decreased to the 9.9%. According to some authors, the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB was the inception of the first civilization of the socalled Balkan-Anatolian Complex (Vinča and Polychromy), which also changed the features of the StarčevoCriş (Körös) cultural complex in its late phase (Garašanin 1978: 32-33, 35-38; 1980; Lazarovici Gh. 1977b: 67-68; 1977a, 1978, 1979: 111-114, 1987-1988, Lazarovici Gh., Nica 1991; Lazarovici C.-M., Lazarovici Gh. 2006: 66-68; Luca, Suciu 2004: 10; Luca 2006a: 30). The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB phase is contemporary in the north Danubian area with the Early Neolithic early Banat I (DCP 6-7 = 5500-5400 CAL. BCE) and Szatmàr I - SC4A (DCP 6-7 = 5500-5400 CAL. BCE) as well as the start-up of the Developed Neolithic Vinča A1 culture (c. 5500 CAL. BCE). In Greece, it is synchronizable with Dimini Tsangli- Larissa (DCP 6 = 5500-5400 CAL. BCE). In F.Y.R.O.M., it can be paralleled with the last stage of the Anzabegovo-Vršnik III (c. 5600 CAL. BCE). In central Bulgaria, it is synchronizable with the central phase of the Karanovo II (c. 5500 CAL. BCE) (Lazarovici 1977; 1977c, 1979: 125-132; 1979a 1981; 1981; 1984, 1993; 1995; 1996; 2000b; Gofa 1991). The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB sign production is concentrated in two Romanian settlements with three inscribed occurrences each: Trestiana in Moldavia and Gornea in Banat (Lazarovici 1993). All the finds are potshards. Trestiana I is a well-excavated site (Popuşoi 1980b; ibidem 1980c; ibidem 1990-1992; ibidem 1997; ibidem 2005). Dwellings from the central part of the site had pits, stairs, and furniture. At the end of the period, the houses were abandoned and became spaces for trash, as happened at Cluj - Gura Baciului (Lazarovici Gh., Lazarovici C.-M. 2006). From the recovered inscribed potshards, I present a fragment from upper body of crockery made of rough paste painted in polychromy (linear in shape as at Leţ I, Voetin, Krstičeva Humka). This, according to Lazarovici Gh., was produced by a migratory wave (Lazarovici Gh. 1993; C.-M. Lazarovici, Lazarovici Gh. 2006). The inscribed potshard was unearthed from Level I, dwelling C/L.3 (Popuşoi 2005: 271, fig. 74.8), where a pit with sheep skulls, a hearth, and a nearby clay table-altar with two anthropomorphic statuettes were found. In other areas of the dwelling, clay table altars, as well as anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and conic idols were further discovered (Popuşoi 1990-1992: 20; 1997: 114115). The character of these findings evidences the lack of “temples” at the Starčevo-Criş (Körös)18 IIIB Trestiana, and the presence of cult places situated inside the houses, employing a mobile liturgical inventory. Similar situations have been exhibited at Balş and at Săcăreuca. In the first case, an anthropomorphic figurine was found inside a rectangular box made of fired stones (Popuşoi 1980a: 7, fig. 3; Ursulescu 1972: 71; 1988: 14). In Săcăreuca an anthropomorphic figurine was recovered on a clay table-altar located in a niche above the oven (Larina 1994a: 51). From Trestiana archaeological evidence is restricted from Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIA to IVB. On the potshard from Trestiana, the painted signs are arranged according to a block format. They are very ruined and even a direct inspection has difficulties to detect their actual shape. However, still now it is possible to identify, on the left side, a , a V, a /, a , a \, a , a , and a Λ. On the right side of the fragment, a , three V, and a aligned in column become apparent with some guess. From dwelling C/L.2 at Trestiana, a Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB inscription characterized by linear alignment and asymmetric coordination has been already investigated (Popuşoi 2005: 270 fig. 73,3).19 Another Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB inscription was analyzed from dwelling B/L.4.20 Gornea was extensively excavated (Lazarovici Gh. 1971; ibidem 1977; Uzum, Lazarovici Gh., Dragomir 1973: 403-416; Bozu, Gumă, Lazarovici Gh., Săcărin, Uzum 1979: 391-394; Luca, Dragomir 1985: 457-465; Frenţiu, Lazarovici Gh. 1990: 65-86; Lazarovici Gh., Maxim, Ţeicu, Oprinescu 1993: 295-319; Frenţiu, Lazarovici Gh. 1993: 1-12; Ţeicu, Lazarovici Gh. 1996). Positioned in the region of the Iron Gates, on terraces over the Danube, in the proximity of some small rivers that flow into the Danube, Gornea had a
Starčevo-Criş according to the Romanian literature. See § 5.E.c.5 “Preferential linear alignment and asymmetric coordination of the script vs. symmetrical gravitation of the decorations”. 20 See § 5.E.c.7 “In the script, the design is functional; the main purpose of decorations is aesthetic”. 509
fruitful neighborhood primarily for farming and fishing, but also for hunting, snail gathering, and exploiting raw materials such as flint. It was a medium size settlement, composed of few dwellings, which covered an area between 10 and 15 hectares (3 at the start-up). Between houses, there were wide empty spaces for breeding domestic birds (Kessler 1989-1993; Lazarovici Gh., Maxim 1995: 164). Concerning the framework of the Danube script, Gornea is very significant for our understanding of early literacy, and subsequently for the syncretism between the late phase of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) 21 assemblage and the earliest phase of the Vinča one. Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIB potshards from Gornea-Căuniţa de Sus have been already investigated to contrast linear decoration with script signs. Some of these linear decorative incisions on ceramics could have evolved in a short time into a linear writing. 22 Unfortunately, this settlement has a thin archaeological stratum. Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB-IVA and Vinča A1-A3 pottery has been recovered within a ditch that surrounded the settlement, and was in use during Vinča A2-A3 phases (Lazarovici Gh. 1968; ibidem 1969: 18; ibidem 1977: 25, 65-67; ibidem 1979: 25, 29-30; C.-M. Lazarovici, Gh. Lazarovici 2006: 135). At Gornea, linear decorations from Starčevo-Criş (Körös)23 IIIB-IVA have been found that could be antecedents to some signs of the Danube script and that are remarkable examples on how linear decorative incisions on ceramics might have evolved in a short time into a linear writing.24 The below example of literacy (Lazarovici Gh. 1979: fig. VIIF, 35; 36) matches the decorative design from two semiotic points of view: the alike in outlines of the marks; the linear sequence along a row of marks that are linear in shape and have standardized silhouettes.
Fig. 9.9 - A Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB inscribed potsherds from Trestiana (Romania). (After Popuşoi 2005: 271, fig. 74.6).
Fig. 9.10 - An inscribed potsherds from Gornea (Romania). (Graphic elaboration by Merlini after Lazarovici Gh. 1977: XXVI.1).
In the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVA (DCP 7 = 5400-5350 CAL. BCE), the rate of the script even decreased to 6.8%. In general, the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB-IVA represented a period of diminishing in strength for this cultural complex, as clearly seen in many villages such as Cluj - Gura Baciului, Gornea, Ostrovu Golu and others. This decline was generated by the development of the first civilization of the “Balkan-Anatolian Complex”: Vinča and Polychromy (Lazarovici 1977: 67-68; 1977a, 1978, 1979: 111-114, 1987-1988, Lazarovici, Nica 1991; C.-M. Lazarovici, Gh. Lazarovici 2006: 66-68). This decrease corresponded with the reappearance of pit houses. Some significant archaeological indicators of the weakening of Starčevo-Criş include: The involution of ceramic with absence of fine pottery, a restricted and poor inventory of decorations, ordinariness and a limited range in shapes of ornaments, a mixture of clay and small stones, and a poor firing process (Lazarovici Gh., Lazarovici C.-M. 2002 who, analyzing Cluj-Gura Baciului in the phase Starčevo-Criş IIIB-IVA, concluded that “The settlement looses its connection to the Balkan civilizations”). In
Starčevo-Criş according to the Romanian literature. See § 5.E.b.2 “A number of script signs and decorative motifs share the same geometrical roots”. See also § 5.E.e “ A matrix of rules and markers to distinguish between signs of writing and decorations”. 23 Starčevo-Criş, according to the Romanian literature. 24 See the paragraph 5.E.d “Distinguishing between writing and decoration when they cohabit on the same artifact”. 510
Romania, typical Starčevo-Criş (Körös)25 IIIB-IVA settlements existed in Cârcea–Viaduct (5600-5500 Cal BCE C.-M. Lazarovici, Gh. Lazarovici 2006: 83 fig. II/23) Leţ, Trestiana, and Perieni (Petrescu-Dîmboviţa 1957). The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVA phase is contemporary in the north Danubian area with the Early Neolithic late Banat I (5400-5300 CAL. BCE) and Zau I (5300-5200 CAL. BCE) as well as the Developed Neolithic Vinča A1-A3 culture (5500-5200 CAL. BCE), and the earliest LBK I (5400-5300 CAL. BCE). In Greece it is synchronizable with Dimini – Arapi (5400-5350 CAL. BCE), and the earliest stage of Paradimi I (5400-5300 CAL. BCE). In F.Y.R.O.M., it can be paralleled with the first stage of the Anzabegovo-Vršnik IV (c. 5400 CAL. BCE). In central Bulgaria, it is synchronizable with the late Karanovo II (Lazarovici 1977; 1977c, 1979: 125-132; 1979a 1981; 1981; 1984, 1993; 1995; 1996; 2000b; Gofa 1991). Significant Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVA artifacts engraved with inscriptions of the Danube script have come from Romania and the Republic of Serbia. The Romanian examples came from Leţ (Southwestern Transylvania), with two occurrences, and Grădinile–Izlaz. Serbian instances came from Ribnjak-Bečei. All the inscribed finds were vessels or potshards. Concerning Grădinile–Izlaz II, the excavations undertaken by M. Nica in the 1970s-1980s revealed an area intensely inhabited at the beginning of the Neolithic on the Western side of the Olt River, including also the site of Cârcea (Nica 1981: 27-39; 1994; 1995: 11-28). The discoverer of Grădinile–Izlaz II, Verbiţa, labeled it the Cârcea cultural group distinguishing two internal variants: Cârcea, in the lower basin of the Jiu River, and Grădinile in the Basin of the Olt River. Andreescu R.R., Mirea P. 2007; Schubert 2003: 59). The StarčevoCriş (Körös) IVA potshard from Grădinile-Izlaz, included in the databank of the inscriptions of the Danube script, was inscribed over four horizontal registers in an attempt create a rational organization of writing and reading space. The four lines of writing are fragmented. However, detectable signs are X, V, , I, X, . The potshard from Ribnjak-Bečei (Babović 1988) bears two incomplete inscriptions, both aligning five signs. The first text arranges in sequence X, /, I, /, . The second text is possibly numeric, lining up , , I, I, I. A similar potsherd was recovered in Romania, at Sicheviţa (Maxim 1999).
Fig. 9.11 - A potshard from Grădinile - Izlaz (Romania) is inscribed over four horizontal registers. (After Nica 1995: 22, fig. 6-8).
Fig. 9.12 - A potshard from Ribnjak-Bečei (Republic of Serbia) is bearing two inscriptions. (Graphic elaboration by Merlini after Babović 1988).
In the last development phase of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex, the IVB (DCP 8 = 5350-5300 CAL. BCE), the presence of signs reached a peak of 47.4% of the total occurrences in this assemblage. This is over than 39% of the montant global of the Early Neolithic inscribed artifacts. In this period, there was additional contribution from the related Banat I culture. Along the Lower Danube basin, between SerbiaRomania and Macedonia, the texts of the Danube script were incised on pottery of remarkably similar shape and design (Gimbutas 1991: 25). In general, their impasto was comprised of organic (chaff) temper, mica, sand and pebbles (Masson 1995). Pottery was fired in an oxidized environment at low temperatures (500º 25
Starčevo-Criş according to the Romanian literature. 511
600ºC). The exterior was roughly slipped. Pottery of the last period was sometimes painted, probably with iron pigments after burnishing and before firing. Incised and painting decorations and symbols that sometimes cohabit with the inscriptions of the Danube script include dots, spiral-like marks, and curvilinear designs. The presence of Vinča elements is particularly clear in the variety of carinated pottery forms, mainly bowls of different size and shapes, and pedestalled vessels. Significant Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVB artifacts, incised with inscriptions of the Danube script, have primarily been found in Romania26: Ostrovu Golu with 10 objects, Gornea with 9 artifacts, Trestiana with 5 examples, and Beşenova (= Dudeştii Vechi) with 2 finds. The contribution from F.Y.R.O.M. has been marginal, represented by 1 piece from Vršnik. Potshards excluded all the inscribed objects were mignon altars or vessels. Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVA-IVB marks from Gornea (Lazarovici Gh., 1971 fig. 1.34; fig. 1.35; fig. 1.37; fig. 1.41) have been already utilized to elucidate the excluding criterion from DatDas according to which signs that are not enough obviously discernable are not inserted in the databank although they could belong to the system of writing. 27 Ostrovu Golu, in Mehedinţi, had a dynamic development sustained by the diffusion processes from the Southern Banat and Serbian zones (Lazarovici Gh. 2000). Situated on an island in the Danube, it was positioned in a favorable area for fishing and had fertile soil for agriculture. It was small in size, with a limited number of houses (4-10 at any of the four stratigraphic levels). Some houses had several big rooms with floors constructed of small stones, possibly a functional feature for fishing preparation (Roman, Boroneanţ 1971; ibidem 1974; Lazarovici Gh. 1977; ibidem 1979; ibidem 1985, ibidem 1998: C.-M. Lazarovici, Gh. Lazarovici 2006: 104-106, fig. II, 55-56). At Ostrovu Golu, late monochrome ceramic was found. This site is also significant for the syncretism between the late phase of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) assemblage and the earliest phase of the Vinča A2-A3 (Lazarovici 1971; ibidem 1972; ibidem 1975; ibidem 1976; ibidem 1977; ibidem 1979). From Ostrovu Golu, I present a potshard belonging to the body of a vessel (Lazarovici Gh. 1979, fig. VIII, E.24). Upon it are arranged nine signs according to a block format. On a potshard from the tell Beşenova (Romania) (Nestor 1957; Ciubotaru 2002), now called Dudeştii Vechi, two signs were incised before firing according to a diagonal format (Lazarovici Gh. 1979, fig. IX, E.19).
Fig. 9.13 - An iscribed potshard from Ostrovu Golu (Romania). (After Lazarovici Gh. 1979, fig. VIII, E.24).
Fig. 9.14 - A potshard from Beşenova (= Dudeştii Vechi, Romania) aligns two signs according to a diagonal format. (After Lazarovici Gh. 1979, fig. IX, E.19).
The first tablets with sings appeared in the late phase of Starčevo-Criş (Körös)28 IVA in Perieni and Glăvăneştii Vechi (Romania) (Lazarovici 1994). The Glăvăneştii Vechi tablet (Makkay 1990: fig. 18, Ursulescu 1998: 103, fig. 27.1) bears fours inscriptions, composed of 31, 3, 2, and 5 signs.
Starčevo-Criş according to the Romanian literature. See § 6.B.b.3 “Excluding typology C: inscribed shards fragmented along the outlines of the signs making their identification impossible”. 28 Starčevo-Criş according to the Romanian literature. 512
Fig. 9.15 - The inscribed tablet from Glavaneşti Vechi (Romania). (After Ursulescu 1998: 103, fig. 27.1).
Fig. 9.16 - The inscribed tablet from Perieni (Romania) bears possibly the map of a landscape. (After Ursulescu 1998: 103, fig. 27.1).
The Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVB phase is contemporary in the north Danubian area with the Developed Neolithic late Vinča A culture (5500-5200 CAL. BCE), Alföld I (5300-5200 CAL. BCE), late LBK I (53005200 CAL. BCE), late Szatmàr II (5300-5200 CAL. BCE), early Banat II (5300-5200 CAL. BCE), early Zau II (c. 5200 CAL. BCE), Dudeşti I (= Malu Rosu) (c. 5300 CAL. BCE), and Dudeşti I - Vinča (c. 5200 CAL. BCE). In Greece it is synchronizable with Dimini I (= Argissa) (5350-5300 CAL. BCE) and late Paradimi I (5300-5200 CAL. BCE). In F.Y.R.O.M., it can be paralleled with the intermediate stage of the AnzabegovoVršnik IV (5300-5200 CAL. BCE) In central Bulgaria, Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVB phase is paralleled to the early phase of the Karanovo III (c. 5400-5300 CAL. BCE). In Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is synchronizable with the Middle Neolithic early Butmir I (5300-5200 CAL. BCE). When describing the Danube script within Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex in general, one also has to list inscribed finds from Mostonga I (Serbia), Kotacpart (Hungary), and Szolnok (Hungary), which have uncertain chronologies within the assemblage. The Serbian instance is a miniaturized altar. The Hungarian occurrences are not settled into a definite chronological framework are seals. The range of inscribed object types utilized by the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex is extremely restricted. The most frequently inscribed objects are mignon altars - offering tables, followed by potshards. Significant is the contribution from plates-tablets and vessels. Contributions from all the other objects are minimal. The very low rate of human figurines is a relevant issue for consideration. In the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex, there are not inscriptions on spindle-whorls, zoomorphic representations, miniaturize vessels, dwelling models, unusual objects, amulets, weights, and tools. Object type distribution of the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) signs Object type Absolute value % Altar Altar (mignon) Figurine: Human Plate-tablet Seal Potshard Vessel Total 6 157 12 41 15 114 39 384 1.56% 40.89% 3.12% 10.68% 3.91% 29.69% 10.15%
9.A.c Karanovo I altars, seals and figurines Karanovo I (DCP 2-4 = 6000-5600 CAL. BCE) rated 8.4% of the frequencies of the Early Neolithic (including data when the distinct Early Neolithic culture has not specified). This culture developed in the Thracian Plain, and the eponymous settlement became the basis for the multilayer mound that was formed over the course of 3.000 years and reaching up to 15 meters height. For this reason, G. I. Georgiev worked out the "Karanovo chronological system" (G. I. Georgiev 1961; ibidem 1967; ibidem 1983) and for a long time Karanovo I was considered before the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) inception (Brukner 2000: 287). The "Karanovo chronological system" is now obsolete. However, in the 1960s it was the definitive record of the prehistory in the Eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. Today, following new additions and corrections, the relative chronology of Karanovo is considered representative for North Thrace (Todorova 1981; ibidem 2003: 263). Recently, periodizations of Karanovo I culture have been published by Hiller and Nikolov (Hiller 1989; 1990a; 1990b; 1993; Hiller – Nikolov 1997; 2000; Nikolov 2000: 7). It had a long span. According to DatDas, it covered DCP 2-4 = 6000-5600 CAL. BCE. By correlating the discoveries in Bulgaria and Romania, Lazarovici Gh. has found correspondences between Karanovo I and Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IC, IIA phases, and in particular with the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIA (Lazarovici 2000; Lazarovici Gh., Brukner 2006; Lazarovici Gh., Lazarovici C.-M. 2006).29 According to this viewpoint, the first occurrences of the Danube script were in the central Balkans and immediately later in the Thracian Plain. Todorova reached the same chronological conclusions following another path. She incorporated dual observations, that in the monochrome phase was not exhibited in the Nova Zagora region, and that the earlier process of Neolithicization in Northeastern Bulgaria was interrupted after 6000 BCE when temperatures drop to their lowest. She has hypothesized that there was a forced movement of population from Northeastern Bulgaria to the South, which resulted in the Neolithicization of Northern Thrace and concomitant depopulation of Northeastern Bulgaria for several centuries (Todorova 2003: 267). The white pottery settlement of Kovačevo (41.7%) is the reference site for the Karanovo I culture, with beginning of habitation around 5900 CAL. BCE (Boyadziev 2007: 311). Azmashka Mogila (Mound) (33.3%) is another key node. of the network of the Danube script during this culture. They are followed (in order of importance for sign production) by Elešnica (14.6%) and Kazanlak (12.5%). Inscribed Karanovo I30 schematic anthropomorphic figurines were recovered at Kovačevo, Middle Struma area, in Southwestern Bulgaria (Hansen 2007 I: 162; II Tab. 161, fig. 7; ibidem Tab. 161, fig. 3). On Kovachevo 1a/b, viz. Lichardus-Itten et al. 2000; ibidem 2006.
Fig. 9.17 – Inscribed affluent Karanovo I figurine from Kovačevo (Southwestern Bulgaria). (Adapted after Hansen 2007 II Tab. 161, fig. 7).
Fig. 9.18 – Inscribed schematic Karanovo I figurine from Kovačevo (Southwestern Bulgaria). (Adapted after Hansen 2007 II Tab. 161, fig. 3).
The synchronization is made specifically in Oltenia, at Cârcea-Hanuri, excavation level II, gr. 1, 2, 6 (Nica 1976: 451, 9-12, 14/1-3, associated with brown painting) and Grădinile Ia-Ib (Nica 1991: 1/1-4, 5, 7-8). In the recent excavations at Karanovo, potshards were found painted in white and decorated with motifs based on nets and narrow parallel lines, tools, and idols (Hiller, Nikolov 1997: I.2, 28/16, 29/3, 18, 26, 38; 303,16, 20, 28, 42/1, 21-22, 33-34, 37) which are all connectable to the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) SC IC/IIA phase (Hiller, Nikolov 1997: 43/13-14, 20, 32; 44/9, 36-37;457, 18; 46/7-8, 10, 19-20; 49/2-3, 6,12, 23, 30; 50/8, 27-28; 51/8, 29; 63/11; 64-67; and pl. 91; 109-110; Lazarovici 2000b). 30 “The type of ornamentation differs in its motifs from the pottery typical for Upper Struma and shows much more similarities with Karanovo I pottery” (Boyadziev 2007: 311). 514
The Karanovo I hints of writing at Azmashka Mogila (Mound) are significant. This site was the first fully studied Bulgarian tell settlement and represents some of the best preserved Neolithic dwellings in Europe. The script signs are incised on clay handled seals (Georgiev 1967: 97, fig. 17), which bear sequences and combinations of signs considered by Gimbutas to represent “the incipient phase of early writing“, dated c. 5800 BCE. In fact, the script they bear appears to be less developed than that one on the Hódmezövásárhely Zsoldos stamp. Perhaps this is because they are 200-400 years older, when considering their counterparts in the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex, discovered also at Kopancs and Kotacpart (SE Hungary) (Gimbutas 1991: 319). A handled seal from Azmashka Mogila (Makkay 1984: 12.13; Kalchev 2005: 57) has an oval base with a face bearing signs consisting of V, Λ, zigzags, a lozenge shape, and diagonal lines (Stara Zagora Museum n. inv. 6598). The other handled seal (Makkay 1984: 12; Kalchev 2005: 57) has rectangular base and four registers of signs, including V, Λ, and zigzags (Stara Zagora Museum n. inv. 5484).
Fig. 9.19 – Inscribed handled stamp seal with oval Fig. 9.20 – Inscribed handled stamp seal with base from Azmashka Mogila (Bulgaria). rectangular base from Azmashka Mogila (Bulgaria). (Graphic elaboration by Merlini after Gimbutas (Graphic elaboration by Merlini after Gimbutas 1991: 1991: 319, fig. 8-21.3). 319, fig. 8-21.4). The experiment in literacy at Azmashka Mogila is correlated to a precise regional cultural milieu. It has been estimated that in the Nova Zagora region of Azmak river (a tributary of the river Mariţa, near Nova Zagora) there were some twelve early sites in a 30 by 10 km area (Whittle 1996: 47; Bailey 2000: 53). The tells of Karanovo, Azmashka Mogila, Kazanluk, and Banyata are the most famous studied settlements. They show a strikingly similar material culture, remarkably uniformity in settlement plan, and a strong consistency in building methods. They experienced a long duration, as demonstrated by large accumulations of habitation material. This cultural homogeneity characterized the entire prehistoric period (Thissen 2000: 196). Within this regional framework, Azmashka Mogila, and its experience in ars scribendi, could be seen as the focus of a settlement area that was competitive/cooperative with the early Karanovo site. The site was highly suited for cultivation, sustaining occupation that was able to create a tell of 8 meters. Inhabitants built structures with floors made of mud, clay, and plant material packed on to wooden substructures (Georgiev 1962; ibidem 1963; ibidem 1965; ibidem 1966). Some walls had been decorated with curvilinear design (Bailey 2000: 50) expressing a predilection for abstract geometries. From the Karanovo I culture, five layers have been identified in a deposit of over 2 meters in thickness (Nikolov V. 2004: 18). Based on architecture (location, dimension, orientation, arrangement in rows with streets, etc.), domestic fittings and their positions, as well as the movable finds, Azmashka Mogila can be paralleled with early Karanovo. In view of this consonance, and considering the close proximity of Azmashka Mogila and Karanovo, divided by only 25 km, it has been assumed that both sites moved contemporaneously for a large part of their sequences. The Karanovo I radiocarbon dates for when the clues of the script have been found from Azmashka Mogila are: I: l/cluster A 6170-5970 BCE (1.00) 112.8%; 1: I/cluster B 5710-5600 BCE (1.00) 114.1%. Thissen did a tentative grouping of Karanovo I radiocarbon dates at the tell Karanovo, based on the combination of probability distributions: I/cluster A 5905-5890 BCE (0.36) 189.8%; 5975-5945 BCE (0.64); I/ transitional 5940-5720 BCE (1.00) single date (Bln-4338); I/cluster B 5640-5595 BCE (0.97) 101.2%; 5660-5655 BCE (0.03) (Thissen 2000: 198-200). The Austrian-Bulgarian excavations at Karanovo suggest for the traditional Karanovo I = 6000-5750 BCE = Bauhorizont 1, 2 and 3 (V. Nikolov 1997a). According to Gimbutas the horizon should be restricted to Karanovo I = 5900-5800 BCE (Gimbutas 1991: 34). The sacral root in the Karanovo I culture is documented by mignon three-sided altars for worship from Elešnica (Todorova, Vajsov 1993: 216, fig. 208/7; Lazarovici C.-M. 2003: 86: fig. 1-7) and Kazanlak,
with inserted receptacle (Nikolov V. 2007: 181, fig. 25.4). They possibly reproduced shape and inscriptions of monumental communitarian altars or shrines.
Fig. 9.21 - The three-leg Karanovo I miniature altar from Elešnica (Bulgaria). (After C.-M. Lazarovici 2003: 86, fig. 1.7).
Fig. 9.22– The inscribed wall of a Karanovo I mignon altar from Kazanlak. (Graphic elaboration by Merlini after Nikolov V. 2007: 181, fig. 25.4).
At Karanovo I horizon, the experiment in literacy occurred within a milieu characterized by a high degree of abstract motifs and forms in the ornamentation of vessels. Common examples included net-patterns, hanging triangles and dotted bands, spiral-decorations, hanging and inverted triangles filled with a net pattern, crescent, and S-spiral (Gimbutas 1991: 33). Remarkably advanced, hard, well-fired pottery without any organic admixture was found in all the systematically excavated tells. This pottery was far from "primitive,” and was certainly not the earliest to be found in this area. The stylistic features of pottery coeval with the inscribed handled stamp seals, the so-called tulip-shaped bowls, caps standing on hollow rings or cylindrical bases and small triangular or rectangular vessels. Other contextually related artifacts included miniaturize altars – offering tables and statuettes with strongly empathized buttocks. Pottery was red or brown slipped and painted white (Hiller 1989; ibidem 1990; ibidem 1990a; Hiller, Nikolov V., 1985; ibidem 1986; ibidem 1987; ibidem 1988; ibidem 1989; ibidem 1997). A major feature of the first stage of Karanovo I horizon was the white-painted pottery ornamentation, an element of a supra-regional phenomenon (Todorova 2003: 368). During the classical period of Karanovo I, isolated dark-painted vessels also appeared (Nikolov V. 2004: 18). Zoomorphic figurines and zoomorphic vessels were used. The most spectacular founding as of yet, has been a large vessel in the form of a deer from a Karanovo I context at Muldava (Todorova and Vajsov 1993: 214, fig. 146; Bailey 2000: 104). Typical tools included horn sickles and bone spatulas. Among this variety of artifacts, DatDas registers a threefold figure for inscribed objects. Anthropomorphic figurines concentrate 41.7% of sign production. They are followed by seals (33.3%) and miniaturize altars – offering tables (25.0%) The Karanovo I culture penetrated along the river Mesta (as exhibited in the settlements of Elešnica and Dobriniste) as well as in the Rhodopes (as exhibited in the settlements of Rakitovo and Kurdjali). According to Gimbutas, due to the relative isolation of this region created by the Rhodope and Balkan mountains, the Karanovo culture developed a character somewhat different from that of the central Balkan Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex (Gimbutas 1991: 30). Future research, based on the assemblage of many more inscribed pieces, should establish if this different cultural development also includes the script. When DatDas will reach a critical mass of data enough to support a semiotic investigation based on a split in consistent subdatabases, a specific elaboration will be done in order to establish if in the first stages of the Early Neolithic there were at least two gravitations of writing: the Northern Starčevo-Criş (Körös) region and the Southern Karanovo region. 31 The high difference in the range of the inscribed artifact is a clue of the presence of two distinct active centers.
In general terms, Haarmann hypnotizes at least two gravitations of writing: the Vinča region in Serbia and the Karanovo region in Bulgaria (Haarmann 2008a). 516
9.A.d The limited role of the other Early Neolithic cultures Contributions to the Formative stage of the Danube script from other leading Early Neolithic cultures and cultural groups such as, Anzabegovo-Vršnik III (3.5%) in F.Y.R.O.M., Banat I (1.4%) in Romania, Sesklo III (1.0%) in Greece, Danilo (1.0%) in Croatia, and Gălăbnik (0.7%) in Bulgaria, were limited. From the multi-strata site of Anzabegovo, 32 Marija Gimbutas presented potshards that she ascertained to the Anzabegovo-Vršnik II group (Gimbutas 1976; ibidem 1978). According to DatDas, Anzabegovo-Vršnik II belongs to the DCP 3 = c. 6000 CAL. BCE. From this cultural framework came the production of pottery marked by white-painted curvilinear motifs, together with the net-like pattern, or dark painted pottery, and motifs similar to the classical repertory of the Starčevo cultural complex (phase IIB according to M. Garašanin). However, the inscribed fragment, probably from an incense burner or a lamp, has been inserted into the assemblage of the subsequent Anzabegovo-Vršnik III, after stratigraphic control of the excavation. Therefore, DatDas does not record script signs in the Anzabegovo-Vršnik II group. An Anzabegovo-Vršnik II idol from Cerje-Govrlevo, F.Y.R.O.M. (M. Bilbija 1986: 36; Z. Georgiev, M. Bilbija 1984: 41; Sanev V. 1994: 40; Causidis N., Lilkic V., Serafimova A. Aleksiev E. 1995: 33; Bilbija M. 2005; Kolistrkoska Nasteva I. 2005: 62, fig. 46). has been already investigated to contrast ritual marks scratched in parallel lines with script signs.33 An Anzabegovo-Vršnik II stamp seal from Tumba Maxari (F.Y.R.O.M.) has been already analyzed to evidence how illusory perspective and geometrical volume can be created by visual tricks on a decoration (Sdrankovski 2006).34 In the Anzabegovo III cultural group, synchronizable with the Starčevo IIIB-IVB – Vinča A1-A3 (Lazarovici C.-M., Lazarovici Gh. 2006: fig. II8), inscriptions of the Danube script occur on anthropomorphic figurines (70%) and potshards (30%). All the figurines are of female gender and are inscribed on the legs. All the fragments of pottery are from the rim/body area. DatDas registers Anzabegovo-Vršnik III within DCP 4-6 = 5800-5600 CAL. BCE. According to Gh. Lazarovici’s system, in F.Y.R.O.M. the Anzabegovo II-III phase is synchronized with the appearance of the Vinča A assemblage (Lazarovici Gh. personal communication 2007). However, other scholars match the Vinča A phase only with the Anzebegovo–Vršnik IV stratum (Garašanin 1971: 143; 1973; 1978; 1979; 1980), and Tasić N.N. states that, as a final point, both Anzabegovo and Vršnik sites were succeeded by the early phase of Vinča culture (Tasić N.N. 2006: 160). An Anzabegovo-Vršnik III phallus from Mramor Chashka (Veles, F.Y.R.O.M.) has been already investigated to evidence the semiotic rule according to which signs occur isolated and in groups, whereas ornaments preferably co-occur as a whole hiding and homogenizing single elements.35 Evidence of a local system of symbols comes from two already presented AnzabegovoVršnik III and IV figurines discovered in Veles region (F.Y.R.O.M.).36 The Banat culture appeared at the level of Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVB / Vinča A3. It originated from the assimilation of local Starčevo-Criş (Körös) elements by two import cultures: the Vinča A (A1-A2), which settled in the territories of now Southwestern Romania and the neighboring regions of Hungary (Lazarovici Gh. 1990; ibidem 1991: 32-33; Luca 2006a: 32), and the culture of the painted polychromatic ceramics. It developed between ca. 5500-4900 BCE (DCP 6-13 = 5300-4800 CAL. BCE), until the Vinča C1 phase (Luca 2006a: 32), when this culture was overwhelmed by the arrival of Vinča C1 communities. Therefore, the Banat culture occurred at the same time of the Vinča culture and with preponderant Vinča motifs in decoration, but without being Vinča. Based on prevailing influence of the Vinča decorative motifs or the linear ones, several ethno–cultural groups have been established: the Parţa group (synthesis between Vinča decorative motifs and linear ones), the Bucovăţ group (with many linear decorative motifs and few Vinča B ones), and the Matejski Brod group (predominant Vinča technology in ceramics and architecture, but prime linear elements in decorations) (C.-M. Lazarovici, Gh. Lazarovici 2006: 371 ff.). DatDas records script signs only in the Parţa group. The core development area of the Banat culture included the Northern part of Banat, between the rivers Mureş, Tisza, the Banat Hills and the rivers Timiş, and Bega/Beghei. The most important site and excavations were at Parţa, located on the right bank of the Timiş River between the river dikes, and westward between an
The equivalent toponyms are Amzibegovo, Anza, or Barutnica. See § 5.D.a.1 “The dynamic, emotional graphic result of cultic actions”. 34 See § 5.E.c.4 “Signs occur isolated and in groups; ornaments preferably co-occur as a whole hiding and homogenizing single elements”. 35 See § 5.E.c.4 “Signs occur isolated and in groups; ornaments preferably co-occur as a whole hiding and homogenizing single elements”. 36 See § 5.F.b.1 “Inventory of the Danube script signs vs. a repertoire of symbols”. 517
active river bend and a meadow. At the site of Parţa, it is possible to perceive the origin and evolution of the Banat culture (Lazarovici 1990; Lazarovici Gh., Draşovean, Maxim 2001; Lazarovici Gh., Merlini, Lazarovici C.-M. 2006).37 Around Parţa, gravitated other 14 sites and cult complexes, from the Early Neolithic until the Copper Age (from the Tiszapolgár culture until the Baden–Coţofeni cultures). Other key sites of the Banat culture were Bucovăţ (Romania) and Matejski Brod (Novi Bečej, Republic of Serbia), where there are not clues of writing technology. According to DatDas the Banat I culture belongs to DCP 6-7 = 5500-5300 CAL BCE. Its Early Neolithic period of formation had three stages, IA, IB, and IC (Lazarovici Gh. 1979; C.-M. Lazarovici, Gh. Lazarovici 2006: 208-369, and especially 210-213 with the synchronism with the Vinča culture). An inscribed bead, recovered at Parţa, is emblematic of the Banat I culture. Unfortunately, it was found in a fragmentary state (Lazarovici Gh. 1989/ 993: 359, fig. 17.6; Lazarovici Gh., Draşovean, Maxim 2001 vol. 2: fig. 17.1). However, the detectable markings are easily identifiable in their individuality, and exhibit precise positioning according to a spatial arrangement that cannot confuse them with components of a frieze. Concerning their shape, the geometric, abstract, highly schematic, linear and non-complex outlines are representative of a script. The shape is also conventional and standardized according to a standard. Finally, the signs recur on other Neolithic and Copper Age artifacts of Southeastern Europe, i.e. they belong to a systematic inventory. Concerning the rules presiding the building of the inscription, signs are arranged in different groups as to express different packages of information and, within any cluster, they show a spatial asymmetric coordination that is antithetical to a harmonious design but functional to preserve and transmit messages. They do not saturate the entire available space, as often ornaments do.
Fig. 9.23 – An inscribed Anzabegovo-Vršnik II fragment according to the Gimbutas’ chronological framework (Gimbutas 1976; 1978), but actually belonging to the Anzabegovo-Vršnik III group. (After Bulgarelli D. Prehistory Knowledge Project).
Fig. 9.24 – An inscribed Banat I bead from Parţa (Banat, Romania). (After Lazarovici Gh. 1989/ 993: 359, fig. 17.6).
In the Formative stage, the Danube script was present in Greece only during the Sesklo III period, e.g. the apogee of this site, as shown by geometric patterns, which was the hallmark of the Neolithic in Greece (Tsountas 1908). Sesklo III was positioned at the transition to the Developed and Middle Neolithic, and indeed, the Greek chronology ascertains it to this period (Kotsakis 2006: 211). However, the present work has inserted it into the Early Neolithic, because it predated the Vinča A culture. 38 Lazarovici’s system synchronizes Sesklo I with Starčevo-Criş IIAB, Sesklo II with Starčevo-Criş IIB, and Sesklo III with Starčevo-Criş IIIA. 39 According to DatDas, Sesklo III belongs to the DCP 5 = 5600-5500 CAL. BCE.
The site has been investigated in several stages. Joachim Miloja dug about 170 - 200 m2, publishing an inventory and images of the discovered objects (Miloja 1931). M. Moga made rescue excavations in 1943/1945, 1951 and 1960/1963 exploring an area of 40 x 3 m. Lazarovici Gh., Merlini M., and Lazarovici M. reopened the excavations in 2005 and 2006 in the “House of the deer”, after a deer head from a-monumental statue that was hung at one of the inner walls. An area of about 2100 m2 from the Parţa site has been investigated. 38 The databank does not accept the overlapping between Early Neolithic and the more correct Developed Neolithic. 39 Also according to Milojčić, Sesklo III is contemporary to Starčevo-Criş IIIA (Milojčić 1960: 42). 518
From Sesklo III, a significant inscribed stamp was found seal from the eponymous settlement (Tsountas 1908: 339, fig. 272; Matz 1928: Pl. XXVI, 5; Zervos 1962-1963: figs. 296-7; Kenna 1968: 278, fig. 1-1; Theocharis 1973: Pl. XX, fourth row, left; Bucholz, Karageorghis 1973: n. 1361; Gimbutas 1976: 81, fig. 5-1; Makkay 84: 51, object 220). It is characterized by a perforated handle with an ornithomorphic figure as terminal. The base is round, partly broken, and with a diameter of about 4 cm. The face was incised with an inscription divided into quarters of a circle. According to Makkay, the pattern simply resembles a “central cruciform motif with quadrants filled with irregular chevrons” (Makkay 1984: 51). However, it is likely conveying information connected to the concept of the four directions. In the Danilo culture, the script is present on a potshard from the eponymous settlement (Korošec 1964: tav. 54.3). According to DatDas, the Danilo culture belongs to DCP 5 = 5600-5500 CAL. BCE. The Gălăbnik group is generally considered a local evolution of Karanovo I and II horizons in the Upper Struma valley in Western Bulgaria (Pavúk 1991; Pavúk, Bakamska 1989; ibidem 1995; Pavúk, Čohađiev S. 1984). Recently, Pavúk started to examine it as an independent and well defined cultural unit coeval and existing between the Anzabegovo-Vršnik I group on the Vardar and the Karanovo I culture in the Thracian plane (Pavúk 2007b). The eponymous tell covered about 7 ha with a clear planning system (Bakamska 2007) in Southwestern Radomir plain, on the left bank of a former meander of a tributary of the Struma River. Being the only Early Neolithic tell in Western Bulgaria, the ten-layered stratigraphy of the Gălăbnik site is utilized as reference indicator in terms of relative chronology. However, the beginning of village life at this multiple-layered site is not very well defined. It would fall around 6200 BCE, correlated to the earliest Neolithic horizon in Southeastern Europe (Lazarovici Gh. 2006: 131), 6050-6000 CAL. BCE (Boyadziev 2007: 310), 5900-5800 CAL. BCE (Thissen 2000: 196), or 6000-5700 CAL. BC (Görsdorf/Boyadziev 1997). Anyway, the site left a substantial deposit covering several centuries without any serious hiatus (Pavúk, Bakamska 1989), testifying “presumably the longest habitation for the Early Neolithic in the eastern Balkans” (Boyadziev 2007: 310). Gălăbnik II failed between 5605-5575 cal BCE (Thissen 2000: 196). The final cultural layer was burned. According to DatDas, the Gălăbnik group is a long lasting presence within the early large synthesis, belonging to the DCP 2-4 = 6000-5600 CAL. BCE. The Gălăbnik group was characterized by beautiful redslipped white painted pottery (Todorova 2003: 269).
Fig. 9.25- A circular Fig. 9.26 – An inscribed quadripartite inscription potshard from on a Danilo representing the four directions is potshard from the eponymous engraved on a Sesklo III stamp settlement. seal from the eponymous (After Korošec 1964: tav. settlement. 54.3). (Graphic elaboration by Merlini after Tsountas 1908: 339, fig. 272).
Fig. 9.27 – The ritual table from Nevestino-Moshteni (Bulgaria) belonging to the Gălăbnik group. (After Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik 2004: 62, fig 12).
From the Gălăbnik group the databank of the inscriptions of the Danube script records a ritual table from Nevestino-Moshteni (Bulgaria). It is characterized by rectangular form of the body, four short legs and a narrow, high cylindrical hollow neck (Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik 2004: 62). I have already presented it, noting that a incrusted linear inscription made of four signs of the Danube script (Λ, Λ, , ) runs below a succession of four decorative which, in another context, is a sign of this system of writing. 40 Among the oldest agricultural cultures absent from the primeval experiment of literacy in Southeastern Europe, was the significant Anzabegovo-Vršnik II group, in F.Y.R.O.M., which was associated with the end of the Early Neolithic. 41 It appeared after the burning of Anza IB (or IC in Garašanin’s sequence), settling about 6100 BCE according to Whittle (Whittle 2006: 48), however from 6400 to 6100 BCE according to Zdravkovski. The Macedonian archaeologist relates the Anzabegovo-Vršnik cultural group to a migration coming from the south (Thessaly). Zdravkovski considered this translocation to have occurred during the final stage of the Early Neolithic, creating a local variant of the Thessaly and Nea Nicomedia assemblage (Zdravkovski 2006: 99, 102; see also Garašanin 1979: 103). Lazarovici’s system synchronizes AnzabegovoVršnik II group to the Starčevo-Criş IIB-IIIA42 and Vinča A1.
9.A.e Focusing on the script start-up In conclusion, the Danube script sprang up around 6000-5900 CAL. BCE from Starčevo-Criş (Körös) communities, almost at the same time in the Karanovo I assemblage. The inception was quite rapid, and in one century involved a high number of settlements and settlement networks. The vigorous development of the Danube script is synchronic to the speedy diffusion of the Neolithic style of life in Southeastern Europe, although with still not definite directions from DatDas. In a matter of decades, the entire Danube region was inhabited: On the south-west axis, from Yannitsa (Chrysostomou 1993: 135-146; ibidem 2002) to Szarvas (Rackzky 1987); on the east-west axis, from Struma valley (Todorova 1995; ibidem 2002; Čohadžiev S. 2001; ibidem 2004; ibidem 2006) to the Morava valley (Tasić N. N. 1997). Evidence of quick development, and an effective spread of ars scribendi indicates that even in the primeval stage the Danube civilization, it operated as a hierarchical network of nodes linked by common cultural roots, exchange relationships of mutual political advantage, and shared socio-economic interests. The common background possibly included language or compatible languages. The communication of abstract packages of information by means of writing, and the practical skills involved in the knowledge of literacy, required shared linguistic grounding, or linguistic mediation, and not mere exchanges of artifacts and repeated contacts. The script developed through a cultural network in which pivotal settlements coined the innovation. While intermediate villages may have developed regional variants, local sites may have been regular users of the sign system. Subsidiary nodes may simply have been sporadic exploiters of the sign system. The maps elaborated by the databank demonstrate that rapid growth and successful dissemination of the Danube script was consistent with a cultural model where communities did not have an isolated and conservative character, but established many connections (Luca 2006a: 24). The absence of substantial urban defensive systems, and the disperse character of the settlements, proves that intercommunity conflicts were not a main danger during this period (Luca 2006a: 25). The melting pot of coeval cultures within the same region has been well documented for the end of the Early Neolithic in Transylvania. This region sustained, more or less contemporaneously (see Luca, Suciu 2004: 19-20): A) Starčevo-Criş IIIA-IVA communities, such as OrăştieDealul Pemilor, spot X8 (Luca et alii 1998), Hunedoara-Biserica Reformată (Draşovean 1981), and Miercurea Sibiului-Pustia. B) Communities born under the impact of Polychromic technology, with main settlement at Leţ (Zaharia 1962; 1964). C) Early Vinča communities, such as Romos-La Făgădău (Luca 1995-1996), Miercurea Sibiului-Petriş, horizon II and Limba (Berciu and Berciu 1949; Ciugudean 1978:. 50, 52, fig. 8/316; Paul and Ciută 1997; 1998; Luca, Ciugudean, Roman 2000; Luca, Ciugudean, Roman, Dragotă 2000). D) Communities where Starčevo-Criş and Vinča materials are set in distinct and successive layers, such as Limba-Bordane (Ciută 2002) and Miercurea Sibiului-Petriş (horizon Ia-c – Starčevo-Criş and horizon II –
See 5.E.c.5 “Preferential linear alignment and asymmetric coordination of the script vs. symmetrical gravitation of the decorations”. 41 According to the Greek chronology, this occurred in the Middle Neolithic (Zdravkovski 2006b: 106). 42 Other authors such as Radovanović located this group at, or before, 5720-5550 BCE, at the time of the abandonment of Lepenski Vir, and synchronized it to the Starčevo IIB (Radovanović 2006: 74). 520
Vinča). E) Communities with an evolution toward linear ceramic technologies (Luca, Ciugudean, Roman 2000: 22-29; Luca, Ciugudean, Roman, Dragotă 2000: 57-63). Social structure was likely also to have been connected to the presence of secondary or seasonal settlements, deriving from the central and regional communities (the main and midway nodes of the network). These habitation groups may have been associated with semi-sedentary farming and a partially mobile, relative impermanent seasonal occupation. 43 Seasonal agriculture, periodical shifts in settlements, stock management and reliance on hunting (although as a secondary role) (Whittle 2006: 67) offset the problems imposed by the harsh winters and summer rainfall (Halstead 1989: 32). One should also to account for periodical exploitation of raw materials such as salt (Nica 1980: 28; Ursulescu 1977). The formative stage of the Danube script blossomed in correspondence with the late Starčevo-Criş (Körös) communities and the early carriers of the Vinča culture. From the phase IIIB to the IVB, the Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultural complex was contemporary with the Vinča A1-A3 (Lazarovici 1979: 7).44 Therefore, it is most accurate to input them together under the umbrella of the “Developed Neolithic,” which includes civilizations that derive from the CBA (the Balkan-Anatolian Chalcolithic), according to Garašanin (1954), Lazarovici Gh. (1979; 1993; Lazarovici Gh., Nica 1971) and other authors. The evolution of these cultures continued until the Late Eneolithic, Vinča C2-D1 (Lazarovici Gh., Nica 1991; Lazarovici 1993; ibidem 1993b). Adding the contributions to the Danube script from Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IIIB to IVB and Vinča A, one reaches a massive concentration of signs within the Early Neolithic. Although not included into this sum, Karanovo I participated to this process as protagonist. With their large spreading area, long duration, and dynamism, late Starčevo-Criş (Körös) and early Vinča communities influenced the cultural and social evolution of a vast territory and contributed to the appearance of many other cultures, cultural groups, and local variants. It is not for case that the other cultures with a not inconsistent input for the Danube script experienced an extraordinarily long coexistence with them. Banat I culture originated as a local evolution of Starčevo-Criş (Körös) communities upon which Vinča A (A1-A2) communities settled at the level of Vinča A3/Starčevo-Criş (Körös) IVB. Gălăbnik II cultural group has shown clear Starčevo traits based on pottery and figurine analysis. These two cultural groups have also been correlated with the C14 dates from the type-site Starčevo. In addition, stylistic links with Anza II-III have been observed (Pavúk, Bakamska 1989: 224). It is significant to note, during the inception of the script, the absence of Early Neolithic communities that developed in Thessaly and Greek Macedonia such as Nea Nikomedea, Magoulitsa, and Sesklo I-II. To this framework, one has to add the residual contribution from Sesklo III, which occurred in the Middle Neolithic according to Greek chronology. Nevertheless, Thessaly was an area of sustained occupation in the Early Neolithic (roughly down to 6000 BCE), with probably some hundreds of tells (Whittle 2006: 47). The survey by Demoule and Perlès reported 120 Early Neolithic sites in eastern Thessaly alone. No less than 75% of these settlements continued to be occupied in the subsequent Middle Neolithic. The path to the origin of the script is in tune with Lazarovici’s observation, according to which there are no connections in pottery forms between Starčevo-Criş (Körös) Banat and Early Neolithic cultures of Northcentral Greece, although many strong connections associated with cultic objects (Lazarovici 1979: 64). The formative process of the Danube script challenges the perception that Starčevo-Criş (Körös) cultures held traditions closely related to those in Thessaly and Macedonia (Gimbutas 1991: 25). One can conclude that the Danube script originated in the large territory that now comprises the Northeastern region of the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Southeastern Hungary, and central Bulgaria. The absence of a southern influence during the start-up of writing technology indicates that, following the inception of the Neolithization process throughout Europe, along the Danube underwent a rather different path of social and cultural development than in the south (Nandris 1970; ibidem 1977; Zvelebil 1986: 184; Zvelebil/Zvelebil 1988; Thissen 2000: 193).
These are the dispersed and temporary settlements referred to by Halstead as “short-lived drifting occupation” (Halstead 1989: 40). 44 In particular, Starčevo–Criş IIIB-IVA is coeval with Vinča A1-A2. 521
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