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The forgotten early civilizations of Euro

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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The forgotten early civilizations of Euro
    Posted: 10-Nov-2005 at 11:14

Most people have the idea that there were no civilizations to speak of in Europe before the Minoan and Mycenan civilizations in Greece. Yet, as early as 5000BC and countinuing through to about 3000BC-2500BC, a series of original cultures on the territory of contemporary Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Moldavia have left us some very original art, pottery and even what some consider the earliest writing on the European continent. They were the Hamangia, Gumelnita and Cucuteni cultures, and sometimes they are referred to as the Danubian civilization.

http://www.dr-savescu.com/timeline/Cucuteni/cucuteni.html
http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/harsova/en/dobro3. htm
http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/harsova/en/dobro1. htm
http://www.prehistory.it/ftp/arta_populara01.htm

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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Nov-2005 at 11:15

The Cucuteni culture (after the Romanian Cucuteni village located in Iasi county, also Trypillian culture, or Tripolie culture after the Ukrainian Trypillia (Трипiлля village, or Tripolie culture, Tripolian culture, from the Russian version of the name: Триполье (Tripolye culture), or, as a compromise, Cucuteni-Trypillia) is a late Neolithic archaeological culture that flourished ca. 4500 BC 3000 BC. It is a neolithic culture of Central Europe, in the area of modern-day Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine, in the Dniester-Dnieper region. Mallory reports that culture is attested from well over a thousand sites in the form of everything from small villages to vast settlements comprised of hundreds of dwellings surrounded by multiple ditches. EIEC, "Tripolye Culture". >>

It was centered on the middle to upper Dniester River with an extension in the northeast to as far as the Dnieper.>>

An urban culture is present, perhaps the first in Europe. Agriculture is attested, as well as livestock-raising, cattle mainly, but goats/sheep and swine are also evidenced. Wild game is a regular part of the faunal remains.>>

It has been known since 1884 in Romania, and first excavations were begun in 1909.

The first settlements discovered were in northern Romania, hence the naming of the culture after a Romanian village, but further artifacts discovered later indicate that the geographical center of the culture probably lay further north, perhaps in the Republic of Moldova. Some suggest that the center lay near the Ukrainian villagelace of Trypillia, discovered in 1897, this suggestion being mostly advanced by Ukrainian researchers.

It may be an Indo-European culture. At the very least, it is IE influenced. The pottery is connected to the Linear Pottery culture.

The largest collection of artifacts of Cucuteni culture can be found at the Museum of History & Archaeology in Piatra Neamţ, Romania.

As of 2003, about 2000 sites of Trypillian culture have been identified.

It is suggested to enter the Trypillia Reserve into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.



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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Nov-2005 at 11:15

The Gumelnita Culture
Eponym Site : The Gumelnita (Romanian) tell is located near the left bank of the Danube.
Dates : Beginning of the Chacolithic (also called the Eneolithic) in Romania, toward the beginning of the fifth millennium. Divided into two periods, referred to simply as A and B, and lasting just short of a millennium.
Geographic Setting : A vast expansion from the coast of the Black Sea in the east to central Bulgaria in the west, from the Danube delta in the north to the Greek Thrace in the south.
Habitation : Most often "
Tell" type settlements, sometimes surrounded by defensive walls.
Material Means : A great variety of ceramics decorated with carvings, moldings,
barbotine or paints, most notably graphite. Tools of bone or elk antlers are plentiful.
MNIR n 12156, L. 51 cm, H. 24,2 cm, D. 13 cm
Model of a temple (?) terra cotta
(origin : Cascioarele, district : Calarasi).

Copper, hammered or cast, commonly used as accessories, but sometimes for small tools and, also, for hatchets. The first appearance of gold objects. Highly developed artistic objects, many figures of animals. Above all anthropomorphic statues, predominately female figures, and representations of people with ear piercing.
Funeral Rites : Mostly individual burial; the corpses are most often laid on their side. Social differences are clearing indicated as in the Necropolis at Varna Bulgaria.

MNIR n 13774, MNIR n 102310
Figurative ceramic models probably
Gumelnita dwellings (lower image, origin : Aldeni ; above, origin : Fntnele).


MNIR n 9027
Gold idol, Gumelnita culture
(origin : Vrsti).

The site is found 5 kilometers form Oltenita on the Danube plateau. The Gumelnita culture actually belongs to an important cultural group called "Gumelnita-Karanovo VI-Kodjadermen" which resulted from the first great cultural synthesis, which occurred between the southern Balkans (Dikili Tash, Sitagori...) and the Carpathians. Within this conglomeration of cultures appeared some local particularities. They are often difficult to distinguish and difficult to explain, but are undoubtedly related to the heritage of the preexistent cultures, the Necropolis of Varna (Bulgaria) is the most eloquent example.

The cultural aggregate "Gumelnita-Karanovo VI-Kodjadermen" was born of the evolution of the Boian, Marita and Karanovo V cultures. This phenomenon occurred so rapidly that from its origin it can be referred to as a unique culture with regional attributes. In the A2 period of the Gumelnita culture, the cultural unification becomes even more evident, as the styles and shapes in ceramics and statuary become practically identical.

The principle settlements are tells (Karanovo, Hrsova, Bordusani...) and it is the stratigraphy, which gives us the greatest amount of information on the chronological evolution of both this culture and its relation to the neighboring cultures (Vinca, Cucuteni, Dimini, Salcuta). The Necropolis at Varna is an important site in understanding this culture. The impressive richness of the tombs discovered there made it possible to recognize a powerful hierarchal social organization.

The evolution of the "Gumelnita-Karanovo VI-Kodjadermen" gradually comes to completion with the arrival of the Cernavoda I tribes on the Danube, who are considered by a number of researchers as the first proto-Europeans. Even as the evolution of the Gumelnita culture finishes abruptly with the A2 period, it continues in other zones (Munteny, Thrace, Balkans) for at least a century with Gumelnita phase B.

 



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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Nov-2005 at 11:20
The Hamangia Culture

MNIR n 13783
Ceramic vase of the Hamangia culture
(origin : Hamangia).

Site eponym : Baia-Hamangia settlement discovered in 1953 along Lake Golovita, close to the coast of the black Sea, in the Romanian province of Dobrogea.
Dates : Middle Neolithic; probably the first Neolithic culture of southern origin to settle west of the Black Sea.
Geographic Setting : covering a geographic area from the contemporary province of Dobrogea to the right bank of the Danube in Muntenia and up to the northeast of Bulgaria.
Habitation : modest enough and not fortified, along the coast, at the edge of the lakeside regions, on the lower and middle ledges of the riverbank, sometimes in caves.
Material Means : Ceramics with carved decorations and anthropomorphic statuettes in terra cotta of exceptional artistic expression.
Funeral Rites : Burial of bodies, laid out face up as in contemporary burial.
The Hamangia is a Middle Neolithic culture in the north of the Balkans whose evolution began during the second half of the sixth millennium BC. It developed in Dobrogea, to the southeast of Muntania and to the northeast of Bulgaria. It originated in the northeast of the Mediterranean and apparently has a cultural heritage that includes the Vinca, Dudesti and Karanovo III cultures. The Hamangia culture is characterized by a strong stability, which hinders our perception of its geographic and chronological evolution.
This conservatism is particularly apparent in the continuity, over a long period, in the artifacts found in tombs. The clay statuary found there is of remarkable artist expression. Its relationship to neighboring cultures (
Dudesti, Boian, Marita, Precucuteni, and Linear Ceramic) is rare and less significant. The more important discoveries have been accomplished at the Ceamurlia of Jos, Baia, Medgidia, Trgusor, Durankulak settlements and in the Cernavoda and Durankulak necropolis.
The Hamangia culture disappeared in the fifth millennium BC, when migrations brought new cultures into the region between the Balkans and Carpathians. Thus, the very dynamic Boian communities assimilated the Hamangia communities during their transition towards the Gumelnita culture. That assimilation contributed to the genesis of a transitional variant of the Gumelnita culture between the Black Sea and the Danube.
MNIR n 11661, height. 18 cm.
Anthropomorphic statuette,
female, characteristic of the art of the Hamangia culture
(origin : Cernavoda, district Constantia, Romania) .

 

 



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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Nov-2005 at 11:22
Ioana Crian's research (Reghin-Mure, Romania) contributes to establish the continuity of Tartaria signs and Danube Script in the collective memory. The Danube Script appeared some 7,000 years ago in the Danube valley: in Serbia, Kosovo-Metohija, Southern Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and northern Greece. It flourished for one and a half millennia. Around 5,500 years ago, a social upheaval eclipsed this and other elements of the advanced culture of the Danube Civilization. Some researchers argue that there were devastating invasions of new populations from the steppes while others have hypothesised the imposition of new dominant elites.
Over the last seven thousand years, and continuing today, traditional pieces of folkloric art (from carpets to clothes) are being produced that continue these ancient signs. The lozenge, the X, the E, the b, the D, the M, the circle, the angle, the tree, the spiral, the angle, the cross, the rosette, short parallel lines are highly productive and persistent motives attesting to the Neolithic Script.
Whilst Tartaria signs have not lost their popularity over the millennia as decorative motives, it remains the case that in rural tradition they are not purely ornamental elements but allusive expressions of religious ideas, codes associated with magic powers and basic symbols relating to the divinity and its epiphanies.
Powerful geometric motives continue to be transmitted from mother to daughter, as Ioana Crian witnesses herself as she inherited the beautiful collection by the mother who inherited from her own the mother. She continues working to complete the collection. That Neolithic-Chalcolithic Script also inherits this marked preference for abstraction and schematisation in the decorative design of folkloric art.
Close to Tartaria, a small rural Transylvanian village of 5,000 inhabitants some kilometres from the well-known site of Turda, Nicolae Vlassa (an archaeologist at the Cluj Museum) in 1961, unearthed three clay tablets, covered with strange signs, together with a small cache of offerings, accompanying the charred bones of a mature human, estimated to be 35-40 years old. The accompanying artefacts, suggest this person was a Great Priest or a Shaman and that he was cremated during a sacrificial ritual. The archaeologist, who made the discovery, suggested the (unproven) hypothesis that a cannibalistic ceremony took place in Tartaria.
These three small, inscribed tablets started a debate that is challenging the conventional wisdom of European prehistory, because they have been dated from around 6.500 years ago. Some scholars argue they date even earlier at 7,300 years old. More prudent researchers, date the stones to 6,000-5,800 years ago. In any case, the astonishing question is did the South-eastern Neolithic Europe develop its own script before Sumeria and Egypt?
Given the context of the finding, the tablets from Tartaria are probably amulets or votive tablets. The clay is grey-reddish and crystallised, to the point of looking like tuff. Careful observation and analysis is needed to ascribe to them their potential value as a written document as they contain much more than ascertained from a cursory examination.
Technical analysis of the Transylvanian tablets that the inscriptions are not simple signs or randomly distributed insignia, rather the inscriptions are characters from some type of writing system. There are three reasons for this conclusion.
Firstly, it is easy to find similar signs also on other artefacts of the Danube civilisation, pointing to the fact that the characters of the Danube Script follow precise standard shapes and that scribes made use of an inventory.
Secondly, the characters of this proto-European script, when compared to other archaic writings, are marked by a high degree of stylisation and a rectilinear shape. Thirdly, we may reasonably assume that the information communicated by each character was a specific one with a univocal meaning.
Finally, whilst the inscriptions have varied patterns (in horizontal, vertical or circular rows), this variety has a clear structure, evidenced by the specific sequencing of the signs. In the majority of the cases, the Danube Script had a linear organisation, a feature shared with other pre-classic writings (Minoan Linear A, Cypriot-Minoan and Cypriot Syllabic).
Today, village life and its visual art and folk memory, has the capacity to reveal the heritage from Neolithic times through the importance of Tartaria signs, created thousands of years ago but of continued authenticity. As Crian's article documents, in some Balkan-Carpathian rural areas, the Danube Script characters occasionally revived to enjoy a popularity they originally possessed in the early period of Danube civilisation.

The folkloric art is an attribute to the national nobility and an expression of spirituality. It is a bound with Danube land from the beginning of history.
As many cultural treasures ware created in the village world, so are the three tablets of Tartaria, on the river Mures, in the county of Alba (Romania). They bring into light the writing of the Neolithic-Chalcolithic Danube Civilization.
The Tartaria tablets are not only a proof of the oldest utility of writing in South Eastern Europe, but of the first writing of the entire continent. The splendid material and spiritual creations transmitted to us by the people of Neolithic time have a great significance in revealing its peaceful character passed on to generations across the millennia until our time.
The signs of Tartaria were preserved and exist in a wide range of objects in the folkloric art. In the Romanian region of Reghin-Mures they can be seen in tapestries, kindling items, embroidery, fabrics, sculpture, paintings and ceramics.
The beautiful collection of my mother gathers approximately 300 of such objects. The majority are created by her and I must mention that I have myself a small contribution to their completion.
Through the importance of the message and its intrinsic value, the Romanian folkloric art supports and represents us in the idea of Zalmoxian immortality, which is now more actual than ever. The symbols of the first beliefs and religions remain evermore eternal, due to the spiritual charge which is carried across the centuries. After 7.000 years these symbols come at the surface proving the existence and the continuity of these religious expressions.


Tablet n. 1
The big rectangle contains mixed pictographic symbols, zoomorphic, isomorphic and primal symbols.

On this tablet are presented: the spiral, the lozenge, the animal head and the tree.


(click on the image to enlarge)
op_1('images/tablita1_big.jpg');">
Tablet n. 2
op_2('images/tablita2_big.jpg');"> In the centre there is a cross which divides the carpet in four quadrants which in this article are numbered with letters a, b, c, d, also in the positive sense, from right to left.

Here can be seen primal elements - on the upper side there is the sky and on the lower side there is the underground life.


(click on the image to enlarge)
Tablet n. 3
The tablet contains only zoomorphic and phitomorphic representations.

On the tablet there is the tree, the goat and a third symbol which seems to be the root of a tree.


(click on the image to enlarge)
op_3('images/tablita3_big.jpg');">
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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Nov-2005 at 11:41

More pictures from the Gumelnita Culture.

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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Nov-2005 at 01:19
I had written something when the forum crashed 

Anyhow, I think this is an excellent topic. Hamangia has one of the most beautiful and inspiring art of that age. But Karanovo-Gumelnita is one of my favorite cultures of prehistoric Europe. It was surely the first centralized state (kingdom) of the continent, pre-dating Egypt. Connected and influenced by Troy I, its influence also reached in its lifetime (c. 3500-3000 BCE) the region of Hungary, where other short lived states also appeared at some time.

Furthermore, the influence of this culture and specially the very related one of NW Bulgaria (Gradesnica-Krivodol) may have influenced later cultures of the protohistorical Aegean, specially Minoan. As I've posted elsewhere, the first time that the labrys icon appears in western Eurasia is in the context of this culture.

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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Nov-2005 at 10:02
On a speculative note: do you think that there is a possibility that that Bosnian pyramid recently discovered and these cultures could be somehow related? It may be possible that there was an extensive centralized civilization there, which is relatively unknown nowadays, but future archeological digs might shed more light on it.
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  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Nov-2005 at 17:46
It has me intrigued. But I would rather tend to relate it with Mediterranean megalithism, to which the very Egyptian pyramids belong somehow.

In principle the people of Illyria (taken as geographic province) belonged to the Mediterranean neolithic and were somehow less advanced than their eastern neighbours of the Pannonias and Thrace. But obviously they weren't isolated but recieved many influences, specially from the Pannonias. They are at the origin (together with Greece) of the Mediterranean Neolithic, specially that of Northern Italy, but later they seem just to be there.

The concept of the pyramid (a geometrically modified mound) has no precedent in the Balcans before IE invasions (kurgans). Yet it did exist in side the Megalthic phenomenon and specially in the Mediterranean Megalithism (tholos). Pyramids (all pyramids) could well be just an evolution of the megalithic mound (dolmen with mound) and specifically of the tholos.

But you also have the Sumerian zigurats. They could well have started a pyramidal fashion as well.

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