Scientific report 

regarding the project implementation in the period October – December 2015

 

 

The first objective – Organizing the activities and drafting the project development plan for the entire team due to its exclusively organizational character, will not have quantifiable results in the near future, but they will reflect, in exchange, during the entire period of the project implementation. Thus, in the weekly reunions, with the entire team of the project, we identified the action strategies and we made a planning of the working program, for each of the team members. An important activity of this objective had in view the launching of the project website (the optimum structure, in order to be useful for other specialists, not implicated in the project, from our country and overboard; design; means of raising the visibility and impact). It is operational during November 2015 ((http://www.eneolithicbonetools.ro/). This first objective aimed also the making of the preliminary instruments and data base, which will present the gathered information. For this purpose it was elaborated a standard analyze chart – both for the fauna remains, and for the artifacts made of hard animal materials. Each chart will be inserted in a data base which we hope will become a useful instrument not only for the team members, but also for other specialists of the period considered in the project.

Returning to the actions concerning the project implementation, the main issue of the debates, within the framework of the working reunions of the project members, concerning the covering of the other actions, aimed at the research directions that ought to be approached for the integration of the data resulted from the study of the industries of hard animal materials with those specific for the osteological vestiges (archaeozoology) and those of strictly archaeological nature (stratigraphical context). The correlation of the data offered by these three fields (otherwise represented by specialists integrated as members of this project) is the only modality to outline a complete image of the exploitation of the animal environment at the last hunter-gatherers and the first farmers north of the Danube. A second problem, after the inventorying of the archaeological collection that we wish to be studied, aimed at the modality of correlating the data offered by each of the archaeological sites, because, alas, we cannot speak about an unitary method of archaeological excavations at the level of the archaeology in Romania, the result being that the recovery of the artefacts was not made with the same accuracy.

Within the second objective – The evaluation of the actual stage of research, in the light of the bibliographic resources, by means of some documentation sessions regarding the theme of the project and the analysis of unpublished materials, belonging to this category – was initiated the inventory of all bibliographic data, for the north Danubian area and for the studied period, in order to finally be able to correlate all these data and to identify the actual level of the Romanian research. Moreover, it was also begun the practical stage, of direct study of materials. We refer to the collection of fauna remains and artifacts of hard animal materials, discovered in the Mesolithic settlement from Icoana (Mehedinți County). This study will be finalized until the end of the year, the results being already disseminated in the following year.

Dissemination of the information was made by the participation at the three international sessions:

– In the period 6-8 of October 2015, part of the team participated at PONTICA 2015 – The International Session of the Museum of National History and Archaeology Constanţa, presenting the communication: Humans and Animals during the Mesolithic: bone, antler and tusk tools at Icoana (Authors: M. Mărgărit, A. Boroneanț, C. Bonsall, A. Bălășescu), subscribed to the theme approached in our project. The purpose of this presentation was to reevaluate a very interesting archeological ensemble, deriving from the archeological researches made by Vasile Boroneanț, in the period 1967-1969. The radiocarbon data, included between 8.605±250 B.P. and 7.660±110BP (6750–6247 cal BC), demonstrate that the inhabiting evolved isochronous to early and late Mesolithic. In order to obtain the artifacts, belonging to the industry on hard animal materials, were used three types of raw materials: long bones diaphysis, antlers of Cervus elaphus and canines of Sus scrofa. Out of bones were especially made points and several bevelled objects, out of antler of Cervidae, bevelled objects, and scrapers out of canines. Inside the ensemble we identified two radically opposed exploitation schemes: while the antler was exploited in transversal sense, all the blanks preserving the anatomic volume, the bone was exploited in longitudinal sense, prevailing flat blanks. The tooth seems to occupy an intermediary position, being identified both types of supports, even if in an unequal report. The used methodology aimed not only the identification of the operatory schemes used for the production of the different typological categories, but also of the manner in which these objects are reintegrated within the cycle, this time as means for the environmental exploitation. The analyzed lot is representative and it can contribute decisively to the outlining of a model of technological exploitation of animal material, for the specified period.

– At the International Symposium on Funerary Anthropology  “Homines, Funera, Astra” – Fifth edition, Alba Iulia, 18-21 October 2015, it was presented the oral presentation with the title: Man’s best friend(s)? Animals in the Iron Gates Mesolithic/Early Neolithic transition (Authors: Adina Boroneanț, Clive Bonsall, Monica Mărgărit). The Iron Gates section of the Lower Danube Valley, both on the Serbian and Romanian riverbanks, contains one of the densest concentrations of Mesolithic and Early Neolithic sites in Europe. Over 60 sites were recorded and most of them contained important assemblages of faunal remains, in both funerary and non-funerary contexts, the latter constituting a small but significant percentage. Our paper re-examines this evidence focusing mainly on the more significant occurrences of three categories of faunal remains: dog, pig and fish, and the impact these animals had on the everyday life of these prehistoric communities.

– At the 8th INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE STATE AND SOCIETY IN EUROPE, Craiova, 25 October – 5  November 2015, it was presented the oral presentation with the title: Personal adornments made of hard animal materials from the necropolis of Cernica (Author: Monica Mărgărit). The study of the personal adornments category proves to be vital for the understanding of individual and of the means of treating the body, at Prehistory level. The purpose of our analysis is to reevaluate adornments made of hard animal materials, present in the Neolithic necropolis of Cernica. This was researched along a period of 13 years (1961-1974), benefiting also of an exhaustive monograph, which offered a general picture regarding the disposal of the graves and of the funerary inventory from the necropolis, associated to each skeleton. In a first stage our study aimed to identify the raw materials from which were made the personal adornments. In a second stage, in the created groups, were established the typological categories. For each of these was followed the reconstruction of the operational scheme and afterwards the identification of the possible usage marks, by a macro and microscopic analysis, which would indicate the use of the artifacts previously to the deposing of the funeral inventory. The fact that most of the pieces from the Cernica necropolis present usage traces, may mean that they have been worn also during the life of the individuals and consequently they do not constitute a funerary fitting stricto-senso. Thus we may assume that they were not created exclusively to be deposed as funerary inventory. Moreover, the fact that they present different usage degrees, in the composite adornments, especially when imitations intervene, prove that the broken and irretrievable pieces have been replaced during the “life time” of the adornment.

Two articles were subscribed, in order to be published, elaborated by the members of this project. The first one, accepted to be published, bears the title: New information from old collections. Reevaluation of personal adornments made of hard animal materials from the necropolis of Cernica (Authors: Monica Mărgărit, Camelia-Mirela Vintilă), that is to appear in the journal Studii de Preistorie, no. 12/2015 (CEEOL indexed). The purpose of this article is to reevaluate adornments made of hard animal materials, present in the Neolithic necropolis of Cernica. This was researched along a period of 13 years (1961-1974), benefiting also of an exhaustive monograph, which offered a general picture regarding the disposal of the tombs and of the funerary inventory from the necropolis, associated to each skeleton. In a first stage our study aimed to identify the raw materials from which were made the personal adornments from the necropolis of Cernica. In a second stage, in the created groups, were established the typological categories. For each of these was followed the reconstruction of the operational scheme and afterwards the identification of the possible usage marks, by a macro and microscopic analysis, which would indicate the use of the artifacts previously to the deposing of the funeral inventory. The fact that most of the pieces from the Cernica necropolis present usage traces, may mean that they have been worn also during the life of the individuals and consequently they do not constitute a funerary fitting stricto-senso. Thus we may assume that they were not created exclusively to be deposed as funerary inventory. Moreover, the fact that they present different usage degrees, in the composite adornments, especially when imitations intervene, prove that the broken and irretrievable pieces have been replaced during the “life time” of the adornment.

Also, it is in the process of evaluation the paper: Can the way bones are worked help reconfigure cultural identities? Three cases of ‘manufacture-by-wear’ technique (Authors: Monica Mărgărit, Pavel Mirea, Adrian Bălășescu). It was sent to the journal: International Journal of Osteoarchaeology (ISI indexed). This paper proposes to identify the changes appeared in the processing of osseous materials, especially at the level of the southeastern European Neolithic, starting from three cases of exploitation by wear technique (bipartition by abrasion, segmentation with fiber abrasives and perforation). The processing of osseous materials is strongly conditioned by their anatomic form which is why we would have expected a restrained array of the transformation variables, with minimum mutations along time. Still, the three cases of processing does not accompany human technology during the entire Prehistory. They appear suddenly, at the beginning of Neolithic, and disappear just as sudden (bipartition by abrasion, perforation) or become sporadic (segmentation with abrasive fiver), during the Chalcolithic. Basing on experimental reconstitutions of the three processing modalities and comparing them with the archaeological assemblage, the study intends to identify the reasons for appearance and afterwards for abandon, the advantages and disadvantages comparing to other transformation schemes and if they represented a real progress in the processing of osseous materials. In this way it can be proved that, more than we would have expected, the industry of hard animal materials can represent a window through which we can foresee important aspects concerning the cultural options of the studied Prehistoric communities.