Documenta Praehistorica XXXIV

Neolithic Studies 14


Simon Kaner and Takeshi Ishikawa

Reassessing the concept of the ‘Neolithic’ in the Jomon of Western Japan

The concept of the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition is difficult to apply in the Japanese ar- chipelago. The earliest pottery usage occurs in late Palaeolithic contexts. Holocene foragers lived in stable, permanent village settlements and constructed large scale monuments, and the first real ‘agri- culture’ arrived as part of a cultural package which also included metallurgy. This paper will exa- mine the use of the term ‘Neolithic’ in the history of Japanese archaeology, with particular emphasis on what happened in the western part of the archipelago in the latter part of the Jomon period (c. 5000 BC – c. 500 BC). Recent investigations in Kyushu and Western Honshu are leading to a re-asses- sment of the nature of Jomon culture and society in this region, traditionally considered to have ‘lagged behind’ the more developed societies of the eastern part of the archipelago, expressed in part through much lower population densities.

Yaroslav V. Kuzmin and Viktor M. Vetrov

The earliest Neolithic complex in Siberia: the Ust-Karenga 12 site and its significance for the Neolithisation process in Eurasia

The discovery of Neolithic (i.e. pottery-containing) components at the Ust-Karenga 12 site in northern Transbaikal brought to light new data on the appearance of pottery in Siberia. Ex- cavations and geoarchaeological studies identified the pottery complex in layer 7, 14C-dated to c. 12180–10750 BP (charcoal dates) and c. 11070–10600 BP (pottery organics dates). The pottery is thin and plant fibre-tempered; vessels are round-bottomed and with a comb-pattern design. Ust-Karenga 12 thus preserves by far the earliest Neolithic assemblage in Siberia, and is only slightly younger than the Initial Neolithic complexes of the Amur River basin, Russian Far East (c. 13300–12400 BP).

Irina Zhushchikhovskaya

Jomon pottery: cord-imitating decoration

The paper discusses the decoration of pottery of the Neolithic Jomon culture (Japanese Archipelago, 13600–900 BC). The comb-impressed pattern produced by various kinds of cord or rope stamps is considered as the ‘calling card’ of Jomon pottery from the earliest cultural periods to the latest. Another kind of decoration recognized recently uses the cord not as a patterning tool, but as an essential motif of decorative composition. High relief elements imitate cordage forms and struc- tures – knots, loops, hanging cord, net, etc. This kind of decoration corresponds to the pottery of Mid- dle Jomon period (3500–2500 BC) sites located in northern and north-eastern Honshu and southern Hokkaido. It is supposed that the introduction of images of real material object into the field of de- corative art was reasoned by the meaning of cord and cordage as cultural signs during the Middle Jomon period. Interesting parallels to some cordage structures reconstructed on Middle Jomon pot- tery decoration are well known in traditional Japanese culture of VI–XX cc. Analytical interpretation of this resemblance may became the subject of special research.

Alexandru Dinu, Andrei Soficaru and Doru Miritoiu

The Mesolithic at the Danube’s Iron Gates: new radiocarbon dates and old stratigraphies

n this paper we present 31 new AMS radiocarbon dates from the Mesolithic Iron Gates sites. The new dates allowed for a total reconsideration of the chronological sequences, and offer new insights for a reinterpretation of both Upper Paleolithic-Mesolithic and Mesolithic-Neolithic develop- ments in the region.

Dušan Borić and Vesna Dimitrijević

When did the ‘Neolithic package’ reach Lepenski Vir? Radiometric and faunal evidence

A recent dating program on animal bone samples from Lepenski Vir, along with faunal and various archaeometric analyses, allows us to suggest a new stratigraphic and chronological se- quence for the Mesolithic-Neolithic site of Lepenski Vir in the north-central Balkans. In this paper, we particularly focus on the question of the introduction of domesticates to this site. By directly dating bones of domestic animals from the preserved faunal assemblage of Lepenski Vir, we show when the full ‘Neolithic package’ reached the site and interpret the character of this transformation.

Dušan Mihailović

Social aspects of the transition to farming in the Balkans

The Neolithization of the Balkans could be considered as a very complex social phenomenon. In this work we study the causes for the cultural and social integration of hunter-gatherer communities in the Late Glacial and Early Holocene, social networks and contacts in the Iron Gates Mesolithic, and also factors having an impact on the spread of the Neolithic in the Balkans. It has been perceived that the evolution of culture in the Balkans was simultaneously influenced by internal and external factors, and this contributed to the very rapid acceptance of Neolithic values and the Neo- lithic way of life in the period from 6500 to 6200 calBC.

Marek Nowak

Middle and Late Holocene hunter-gatherers in East Central Europe: changing paradigms of the ‘non-Neolithic’ way of life

According to traditional views, the main reason for ‘demesolithisation’ in East Central Europe was the spread of the Neolithic oecumene, particularly from c. 4000 BC. Simultaneously, the disintegrated Late Mesolithic world gradually underwent typological unification, and finally reached the stage that is sometimes described as pre-Neolithic. However, we definitely have to bear in mind that as a matter of fact we deal only with the ‘history’ of archaeological artefacts that are treated as typical attributes of hunter-gatherers. The analyses of chronological, technological, settlement, econo- mic, and social data referring to foragers of East Central Europe demonstrate that the quantitative decrease and changes of their archaeological attributes in the fifth, fourth, and third millennia were not connected with a profound reorientation of their spatial and ideological existence. It was rather a continuation of previous patterns, even though territories settled by farming societies were steadily growing in size. The final disappearance of Central European hunter-gatherers – but only in a strictly typological dimension – took place in the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age.

Bart Vanmontfort

Bridging the gap. The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in a frontier zone

This paper deals with the chronological hiatus in the Neolithic sequence of the southern part of the Low Countries. It can at present only be bridged indirectly, by a detailed analysis of the situation prior to and after the gap. The focus in this paper is on the nature of the Neolithic and its relationship with possible native non-Neolithic populations. The results of this analysis show the tran- sition process to have been more than a simple and unidirectional ‘Neolithisation’.

Valeska Becker

Early and middle Neolithic figurines – the migration of religious belief

In Linear Pottery Culture, two types of anthropomorphic figurines are distinguishable: Type 1 figurines have a columnar body, without legs or hips, while Type 2 figurines show more detail in their body shape. These two types have parallels in the Neolithic of south-east Europe, especially in the Starčevo culture. These parallels become evident not only in the shape of the body, but also in other features such as sexual characteristics, breakage patterns and find circumstances. It is therefore, likely that LPC figurines and Starčevo culture figurines are manifestations of similar sets of religious beliefs.

Eva Lenneis

Mesolithic heritage in early Neolithic burial rituals and personal adornments

Some burial rituals such as cremation or the use of colorants, especially ochre, have old roots in the preceding Mesolithic and even in the Palaeolithic. The evidence for these old rituals is more dense in central or western Europe than in south east Europe, whence most of the new Neo- lithic ideas came. Among the personal adornments a small amount of snail-shell ornaments, stag tusks, tusks of wild boar and pendants made from antler are of special interest. People wearing these very traditional, old adornments are generally equipped with precious ‘new’ things such as spondylus, ceramics, adzes etc, and therefore show them as high status people in early Neolithic society.

Kate Davison, Pavel M. Dolukhanov, Graeme R. Sarson, Anvar Shukurov & Ganna I. Zaitseva

A Pan-European model of the Neolithic

We present a mathematical model, based on a compilation of radiocarbon dates, of the transition to the Neolithic, from about 7000 to 4000 BC in Europe. With the arrival of the Neolithic, hunting and food gathering gave way to agriculture and stock breeding in many parts of Europe; pot- tery-making spread into even broader areas. We use a population dynamics model to suggest the pre- sence of two waves of advance, one from the Near East, and another through Eastern Europe. Thus, we provide a quantitative framework in which a unified interpretation of the Western and Eastern Neolithic can be developed.

Harald Haarmann

Indo-Europeanization – the seven dimensions in the study of a never-ending process

This contribution focuses on the multifaceted process of Indo-Europeanization which started out, in the Pontic-Caspian region, with the formation of a distinct ethno-cultural epicenter, the Proto-Indo-European complex. Since the late Neolithic, the Indo-Europeanization of Europe and parts of Asia produced various scenarios of contact and conflict. Altogether seven dimensions are highlighted as essential for the study of the contacts which unfolded between Indo-Europeans and non-Indo-European populations (i.e. Uralians, Caucasians, ancient populations in southern and central Europe). Selective aspects of cultural and linguistic fusion processes during the Neolithic and subsequent periods are discussed, and the controversial term ‘migration’ is redefined.

Maja Andrič

Why were the Neolithic landscapes of Bela krajina and Ljubljana Marshes regions of Slovenia so dissimilar?

This paper compares the development of Holocene vegetation in Bela krajina and Ljubljana Marshes (Ljubljansko barje) regions of Slovenia. The results of pollen analysis suggest that in Bela krajina the human impact on the environment (forest clearance and burning) was very intensive throughout the Holocene and led to changes in forest composition, increased biodiversity, and the formation of a mosaic landscape. In the Ljubljana Marshes, forest burning and clearance seem less intensive, although changes in forest composition and ‘anthropogenic indicator’ pollen types were detected. These differences between study regions are presumably a consequence of various climates, hydrology, bedrock and land-use in the past.

Mihael Budja

The 8200 calBP ‘climate event’ and the process of neolithisation in south-eastern Europe

Climate anomalies between 8247–8086 calBP are discussed in relation to the process of transition farming and to demographic dynamics and population trajectories in south-eastern Europe.

Jalal Rafifar

Some indications of shamanism in Arasbaran rock carvings

Four seasons (1998–2002) of ethnological and archaeological researches in the northern part of the Iranian Azerbaijan have revealed hundreds of carved and scratched drawings and figures on rocks and in subterranean rock-shelters. An anthropological study reveals remarkable information about the situation and the limits of the cultural domains, the cultural relations and the process of cultural diffusion in the prehistorory at the intersection of Anatolia, Caucasus, Zagros and the central plateau of Iran. The human and animals figures and signs are contextualized and icongraphicaly interpreted. The animal symbolism is discussed in the contexts of ancient Iran and Caucasus art and tradition.

Elettra Ingravallo

The Grotta dei Cervi (Otranto – Lecce)

Warburg (1988) offers an interesting interpretative approach to the images of Grotta dei Cervi by the notion of the concept of ‘survival’. We can read them as the images of memory which acquire other meanings every time they are brought back to the present flow.

Renata Grifoni Cremonesi

Notes on some cultic aspects of Italian Prehistory

Many cultual manifestations are known in the Neolithic and Metal Ages in Italy. They were associated with pits, dug in the floors of caverns, and stone circles where vases or votive objects were deposited. They related to agricultural rituals, but also to funerary practices associated with birth, life and death. Another type of cults relates to water and water circulation: to cold or warm springs in underground cavities or in surface; to stalactites and their white water; to geothermal phenomena that attracted the interest of people in the prehistory. Many vases and bronzes were deposited near lakes, sources, rivers and fumaroles.

Agni Prijatelj

Digging the Neolithic stamp-seals of SE Europe from archaeological deposits, texts and mental constructs

The article presents the archaeological and experimental data on the Neolithic stamp- seals from phenomenological perspective. An alternative view to their production, consumption and symbolic values is proposed by employing concepts of affordances, constraints, icons, indexes and symbols. It is argued that the stamp-seal motifs probably conveyed specific information, while objects were included in various networks of meaning. Similar importance is given to the fact that the stampseals probably evolved a secondary mode of use.

Ali Umut Türkcan

Is it goddess or bear? The role of Catalhöyük animal seals in Neolithic symbolism

Two examples of stamp seals discovered in the 2003 and 2005 seasons, one depicting a leopard, the other, a bear (both unusual with respect to their uncommon amulet forms reminiscent of figurines, and their recurrence in wall reliefs) provide a key role in understanding the symbolism of Çatalhöyük, along with the complex relations between some distinctive animal groups and their ritual role in the settlement. They demonstrate that the depiction of animals seems not to be confined only to the walls at Catalhöyük, but also appear as sacred symbols of the community on seals. The stamp in the form of a bear is another unique form that is also echoed in the large wall reliefs uncovered by Mellaart, which compels us to change some preconceptions about the ritual role of these wall reliefs, which have been interpreted as mother goddess images.

Dimitrij Mlekuž

‘Sheep are your mother’: Rhyta and the interspecies politics in the Neolithic of the eastern Adriatic

This paper explores the relations between humans and animals through material culture, or more specifically, four-footed vessels also called rhyta (sing. rhyton). I want to suggest that rhyta are not merely artistic representations of something or some kind of cult paraphernalia, but that they embody effective social agency. I place them in the context of human-animal or interspecies politics in the Neolithic of the eastern Adriatic.

Bogdan Constantinescu, Roxana Bugoi, Emmanuel Pantos, Dragomir Popovici

Phase and chemical composition analysis of pigments used in Cucuteni Neolithic painted ceramics

Two analytical methods – 241Am-based X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) and Synchrotron Radiation X-ray Diffraction (SR-XRD) – were used to investigate the elemental and mineralogical composition of pigments which decorate some Cucuteni Neolithic ceramic sherds. Local hematite and local calcite were the main components for red and white pigments, respectively. For black pigments, iron oxides (e.g. magnetite) were used. They were often mixed with manganese oxides (e.g. jacobsite), which originated from Iacobeni manganese minerals deposits on the Bistrita River. Taking into account the results of the experiments, several conclusions regarding manufacturing procedures employed, and potential trade routes during the Neolithic were drawn.

Christina Tsoraki

Unravelling ground stone life histories> the spatial organization of stone tools and human activities at LN Makriyalos, Greece

Unlike previous studies of ground stone technology in the Greek Neolithic, this paper follows a more contextualised approach by looking at contexts of deposition of ground stone from Late Neolithic Makriyalos, Northern Greece. The patterns attested in the distribution of ground stone objects between domestic and communal areas will be discussed in terms of the spatial and social contexts of tool use, curation and deposition, contributing to wider discussions about the way acts of production, consumption and discard were structured within different contexts of social practice.

Noémi Pažinová

The Lengyel culture settlement in Bučany (preliminary report on pottery processing)

The paper presents the preliminary results of the numerous ceramic finds from the Lengyel Culture settlement, excavated between 1979 and 1981, with a circular object, probably of cult nature, in Bučany, county Trnava, Slovakia. The analysis focuses on a statistical method of numerical coding that simplifies working with huge data files and helps by exact description and classification of the finds. The starting pointing of this approach is recognition of connections and relations (in typological and decorated respects) of the ceramic material. The most suitable comparisons could be found in material from Neolithic sites of south-west Slovakia, Moravia and Austria.

© Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana 2005