Abstract: This phase aimed at validating the results accumulated through the study of archaeological collections, experimental workshops and the comparison between the micro-marks present on the archaeological and experimental pieces so that, in the end, we can draw conclusions regarding the relevance of the reconstruction proposals of the technological schemes for the transformation of raw materials and of functional hypotheses. For this purpose, activities from previous years were continued, such as the study of new archaeological collections, experimental workshops on the Cladovei Cladovei site, the completion of the database with new analytical files. As a result of the accumulated information, an innovative methodology for the study of the osseous industry using microscopy is proposed. The dissemination of the results is mainly illustrated by the organization of a section dedicated to experimental archaeology, within the National Congress of Romanian Historians and the editing of a volume on experimental archaeology.
Activity 3.1 – Study of archaeological collections. In continuation of the steps from previous years, new archaeological assemblages were analyzed: Rast – Vinča culture; Palazu Mare – Hamangia culture; Căscioarele – Gumelnița culture; Sărata Monteroru – Monteoru culture, using the analytical method proposed in the first phase of the project. The purpose of these studies is twofold: the introduction into the scientific circuit of some assemblages insufficiently exploited until now, following the innovative analysis methodology that we elaborated and detailed in the first phaseof the project, as well as the identification of those categories of artifacts starting from what experimental technological and functional reconstitutions were made.
Activity 3.2 – Complementing the experimental reference collection. During the month of July, we organized experimental workshops at the Schela Cladovei archaeological site. The experimental program aimed at completing the already formed collection with new raw materials, processing techniques and ways of use, starting, obviously, from the artifacts identified in the studied archaeological collections. We processed bones of ovicaprine and cattle, as well as various gastropod shells. We mainly tested different methods of processing by wear (perforation by carotage; bipartition by abrasion, segmentation with abrasive fiber), as well as perforation techniques to obtain ornaments from shells (direct percussion, indirect percussion, pressure, rotation).
A special category of points – those obtained on a flat blank resulting from a method of debitage by quadri-partition in double grooving – was used in a series of domestic activities: woodworking, vegetable, clay, leather perforation, etc. The evolution of usewear was microscopically analyzed for each of these activities. In turn, the ornaments were attached as bracelets, following the evolution of usewear over several months.
Activity 3.3 – Microscopy applied at experimental studies – innovative methods. The proposed study method is innovative at the research level in Romania: starting from a correct description of the technological and wear micro-marks, present on the experimental pieces and, comparing them with those identified on the archaeological pieces, relevant demonstrations can be made regarding the processing and the use of the latter. For each piece, the microscopic investigation of the same elements was followed: the frequency and distribution of luster, modification of the initial volume and micro-topography of the active front, the presence and pattern of functional striations, the presence of microfractures and worn surfaces, and for perforations: the direction of wall deformation of the perforation, the intensity of the usewear striations at the periphery of the perforation, the luster of the deformation zone, etc. Important, in the framework of the approach, is the creation of the collection of images so that we no longer have to repeat the experiments.
Activity 3.4 – Completion and evaluation of the data management base. This activity aims at the final quantification of the data collected on the issues addressed, as well as the formulation, analysis and testing of the final hypotheses based on comparisons between the data recorded following the creation and use of replicas and those recorded through the analysis of archaeological collections. This activity mainly has the attribute of synthesizing all the existing data, in order to structure the final form of the interpretive equation on the prehistoric bone industries. The entire team contributed to the synthesis of the accumulated data. This activity had in mind: I. The processing of data, samples and materials collected through laboratory investigations on the archaeological collections available in different institutions and through experimental results; II. The design and implementation of the final model regarding the management and use of the database information, as well as the introduction into the database of the information obtained as a result of the experimental workshops; III. Creation of a final reference collection and a collection of images taken with the help of the microscope, which will be made available to specialists even after the completion of the project; IV. Creation of an experimental protocol and methodological guidelines for prehistoric bone industries; V. Formulation of a final interpretive equation, both on a practical and a theoretical level.
Activity 3.5 – Presenting and demonstrating the validity and usefulness of the database and worksheets. At this phase, the database was completed with all the data accumulated in the analysis sheets of the experimental collection. The analysis sheets have proven their effectiveness, there is no longer any need to go back to previously conducted experiments. It was enough to make comparisons between the micro-marks identified on archaeological pieces, with those recorded in the base. Moreover, it will be able to be completed permanently, as new experiments are carried out, and it will be open to any specialist. During the dissemination of project results, details related to our database were presented and specialists expressed their interest.
Activity 3.6 – Dissemination activities. We undertook the submission for publication of at least one paper, in journals indexed in international databases, as well as participation in national and international scientific meetings. The editing and publication of a volume that reflects the state of research in the targeted issue is added. All proposed outcomes from this activity have been met and are detailed below:
The dissemination of the results took place primarily through the editing of a collective volume, which reflects the state of experimental archeology in Romania and in the world, respectively: M. Mărgărit, A. Boroneanț (eds.), Recreating artefacts and ancient skills: from experiment to interpretation, 2022. This volume focuses on the role and means of archaeological experimentation in understanding the processes involved in the manufacture and use of past artifacts. When asking for contributions, we suggested the five stages of an experimental approach as main-themes: 1. Selection and acquisition of raw material, identical to those present in the archaeological assemblages. 2. Production of replicas following the technological transformation schemes identified by the direct study of archaeological items. 3. Experimental use as indicated by the publications/ethnographic comparisons or as suggested by the morphology/use-wear evolution of the archaeological items. 4. Microscopical analysis of use-wear patterns. 5. Comparison of experimental data with archaeological data in order to validate the existing hypotheses on the way they were manufactured and used by the human communities. A second aim was that the invited authors to have various archaeological backgrounds and cover a broad spatial and temporal interval. As a result, this volume comprises 17 studies organized in three sections, dictated by the various aspects of experimental archaeology they represent: from the more traditional experimental replication, understanding and interpretation of artefact functionality, and relatively recent (and less trodden) directions in experimental archaeology. It also comes to show that experimental archaeology is as well suited for Palaeolithic studies, as it is for the Neo-Eneolithic and the Bronze Age. Although most papers refer geographically to Europe, interesting contributions take us to Argentina and Australia.
Within this volume, project members intervened with two contributions:
– I. Torcică, Experimental replication of the antler arow points from Vităneşti Măgurice-tell settlement, in: M. Mărgărit, A. Boroneanț (eds.), Recreating artefacts and ancient skills: from experiment to interpretation, 2022, p. 79-102. The present study focuses on the experimental reconstruction of two typologically different red deer arrow points, found at the tell site from Vităneşti Măgurice (Teleorman County). Investigations at the site have been ongoing since 1993. The last level of the B1 phase of the Gumelniţa-Karanovo VI culture has been fully investigated as well as some areas of the lower levels. Specific to this site is the osseous industry, which includes numerous bone and antler points. From a morphological point of view, six distinct point types have been identified at the site. During the experiments we used fragments of deer antlers of various ages, flint tools and sandstone. The research questions aimed at the manufacture duration of each type of arrow point, the complexity of the technical procedures and their efficiency. The last issue, as well tool modification during each stage of antler processing were also considered. We were able to observe that the two arrow points required different workloads. For the first, a larger workload and more complicated operations were needed. Few flint tools were necessary, but this was compensated by an increased volume of knowledge and know-how. The easier replication of the second type may explain the large number of similar artefacts found at Vităneşti Măgurice. Future experiments will show if a shorter time for obtaining the points can be achieved and whether the skills of using flint tools can be improved.
– M. Mărgărit, Shell gastropods as prehistoric adornments at the Lower Danube: archaeological and experimental data, în M. Mărgărit, A. Boroneanț (eds.), Recreating artefacts and ancient skills: from experiment to interpretation, 2022, p. 163-182. Processed gastropods transformed into personal adornments were discovered in several prehistoric settlements at the Lower Danube. These archaeological sites include both local and exotic species most likely procured through inter-community exchange networks. Most were simply perforated and worn in necklaces or bracelets and only a few were sewn on garments as appliqués. In order to identify the costs invested in the manufacturing of this type of items, both in point of time and in point of effort, we have developed an experimental program, allowing us to record all the variables (raw material aquisition, technological stages, time recorded for each operation, tools used, evolution of the wear following the usage etc.). Finally, the items were put together in adornments, tracking the evolution of the surface wear and of the perforation, which would allow us an evaluation of the use of archaeological pieces.
The experimental results of our project were disseminated internationally, by participating in two meetings with the following communications:
– Different tools for the same functionality. Chalcolithic case studies from the Lower Danube (Autor: M. Mărgărit). Tracing social dynamics. Conference AWRANA 2022, Barcelona, 4-7 april 2022. In most Chalcolithic archaeological assemblages (fifth millennium cal BC) at the Lower Danube, three types of artifacts appear constantly: spatulas made from cattle ribs, abrased caprine astragalus and Unio sp. valves with traces of use. These are very different types of items, both as a raw material and degree of its processing. Thus, while spatulas were obtained by radical transformations of ribs, the astragali suffered only moderate changes (thus allowing for the identification of bone type and species) and the valves suffered no technological changes of their natural morphology. The main purpose of our analysis was to initiate a database of the way these tools were obtained technologically and how use-wear develops during their use. For this purpose, an experimental programme has been developed that allows for the recording of all details: means of gathering the raw material, time recorded for each operation, and processed materials. The experimental pieces obtained were used in different situations. The pattern of the use‐wear development, including the frequency and distribution of polish micro-topography, the functional striations and the presence of worn surfaces were systematically analysed. The observations made on the archaeological specimens were compared to those on the experimental replicas. The final conclusion suggests such tools were employed during different stages of pottery manufacturing.
– Bone working and identifying changes in bone-working technological knowledge. The case of ‘manufacture-by-wear’ techniques, 28th EAA Annual Meeting, Budapest, 31 august-3 september 2022. This study proposes to identify the changes that intervened in the processing of osseous raw materials, during the North Danube Neolithic and Chalcolithic, starting from three cases of ‘manufacture-by-wear’ techniques: bipartition by abrasion, segmentation by sawing and perforation by wear. The three techniques appeared suddenly at the beginning of Neolithic and again suddenly disappeared (bipartition by abrasion) or become sporadic (segmentation and perforation) during the Chalcolithic. In our opinion, the disappearance of these procedures is linked to the disappearance of certain artefact types (such as belt elements and rings) and their replacement by other ones allowing a faster production. A first goal of our study targets the raw materials used: were certain bones selected for a certain technique?; were the choices of animal species and consequently their bones maintained as long as these techniques were employed?; were these materials readily available? A second goal looks at the reasons of their appearance and abandonment, and the technological advantages and disadvantages of these procedures when compared to other transformation chains. Based on their experimental reconstructions and by comparing them with other much faster techniques producing similar results, we aimed to see if they represented a real technological innovation. The experiments, indicated that the manufacturing techniques replacing them during the Chalcolithic produced similar results but were apparently simpler with a reduced time-investment. Given the technological data discussed above, the osseous material industry can indeed be regarded as a cultural marker if we can identify clearly the moment certain object types were abandoned thus leading to the abandonment of these techniques, perhaps with the influx of new changing socio-economic imperatives.
Nationally, the results of the project were disseminated by participating in the scientific session: Epoca bronzului în Oltenia. Repere arheologice și geologice din România, ediția a X-a, Muzeul Județean Gorj ”Alexandru Ștefulescu”, Târgu Jiu, 11-14 mai 2022. Our presentation was titled: Typological, chronological and technologically study on some flat cheek-pieces from the Bronze Age in the extracarpathian area (Authors: A-D Popescu, M. Mărgărit, V. Dumitrașcu, R. Sîrbu). So far, eight disk-shaped or trapezium-shaped cheek pieces have been discovered in eastern and southeastern Romania. These were considered in literature as elements of the bridle, proving the use of the horse for traction/riding. The cheek-pieces have analogues in the Don-Volga region and in the southern Trans-Urals, being finds belonging to the Pokrovka-Abashevo and Sintashta-Petrovka cultures. Their age is estimated at around 2100-1800 BC. Investigations made on the three disc-shaped cheek-pieces from Sărata Monteoru showed that antlers with a high density (higher than deer antler) were used. This could be a clue to the use of elk antler to make these pieces. The study of the wear marks present on the disk-shaped pieces from Sărata Monteoru indicates the more likely use of these artifacts for the control of horses tied to carts. According to all the information and similarities mentioned, it is very likely that the three disc-shaped pieces from Sărata Monteoru are objects made in the Don-Volga region or in the southern Trans-Urals and have reached the new area through trade or horse-drawn vehicles.
The director of this research project (M. Mărgărit) was the co-organizer of a section dedicated to experimental archeology within the National Congress of Romanian Historians, Alba Iulia, September 8-10, 2022. It is about the section: Reconstructing the past: the contribution of experimental archeology to historical research (Organizers: M. Gligor, M. Mărgărit) (https://cnir.uab.ro/files/Program%20CNIR%202022-update9.pdf).
Within the section, project members contributed two presentations:
– M. Mărgărit, V. Radu, A. Boroneanț, I. Torcică, A-D. Popescu, Results of the research project: “Recreating osseous artefacts and their uses in the activities of the prehistoric communities at the Lower Danube: experimentation design and its applications in archaeology“, National Congress of Romanian Historians, Alba Iulia, September 8-10, 2022. The presented project is supported by UEFISCDI, being a demonstrative experimental project (UEFISCDIPN-III-P2-2.1-PED-2019-1279), which is carried out through the partnership between the “Valahia” University of Târgoviște and the “Vasile Pârvan” Institute of Archeology of the Romanian Academy. We proposed, as our main objective, starting from the technological and functional concepts empirically exposed in previous archaeological studies, to validate the schemes of technological transformation of raw materials and the functions attributed to various prehistoric artifacts made of osseous materials, through analytical and experimental studies. Bone materials were used by prehistoric communities to make weapons, tools and ornaments. Included in this category are bone, antler, ivory, tooth and shell, each raw material being characterized by its own processing techniques related to its mechanical properties and also to the cultural traditions specific to each community. The project developed in five stages. In the first stage, replicas of various bone artifacts were manufactured, following the technological transformation schemes identified through the direct study of some prehistoric archaeological assemblages on the northern bank of the Lower Danube. A second phase was implemented by using these artifacts in different actions as indicated by the publications or as suggested by the morphology/typology of the pieces. The third stage took place in the laboratory, where the replicas were analyzed microscopically, at different time intervals, in order to be able to record the evolution of the wear at the level of the active end of these tools. In the fourth stage, all recorded observations, accompanied by images, were uploaded to a database. The fifth and final stage consisted in comparing the observations made on the experimental replicas with the archaeological specimens, in order to succeed in completing the major objective of the project.
– I. Torcică, Observations regarding the obtaining and use of some pieces of deer antler typical for the Gumelnița culture, National Congress of Romanian Historians, Alba Iulia, September 8-10, 2022. Since the beginning of the research of the Gumelnița-Karanovo VI culture, numerous large pieces made of deer antler have been discovered, which were initially interpreted as mattocks or axes. Recent usewear studies have provided information on the ways of processing them and their possible uses. The present study sought to complete these new data, using experimental archaeology. In the first stage, starting from the archaeological inventory from the Eneolithic sites in the southwest of Muntenia, several types of pieces were made. Different ways of cutting the antler, drilling and sharpening were pursued. After each activity was documented, handles were attached to them and they were used in several operations, with an emphasis on woodworking and earthwork. The effectiveness of each object, the appearance and development of traces of use was tracked and documented. At the end, usewear observations were made and compared with those made on the archaeological pieces, for the validation or not, of the experiments.