Ciprian T. Astalos

Ground stones in the Neolithic of Western Romania

Ground stone artefacts are considered to form an important component of the Neolithic Package playing a seminal role as technological innovations. Tracing their origins in the Near East, the Neolithic communities appear in the northern part of the Carpathian Basin in the 6th millennium BC where they know a long development for at least two millennia. While for some of neighbouring areas (for instance, Hungary and Serbia) intense studies of ground stone assemblages were done, in Romania this kind of analyses is still lacking. My aim is to fill this gap by studying ground stone collections from settlements belonging to the Neolithic of Western Romania. Ground stone assemblages (composed mainly of axes and querns) may offer answers regarding the new social technologies, craft production and specialization, food preparation, as well as human relationships in both their economic and symbolic dimensions. The study of the provenience and circulation of the raw materials (rocks and minerals) used for making stone artefacts is one of the most promising methods for identifying trade routes, migration paths, and exchange networks. The core of my study will be formed by the macroscopic technological analysis of ground stone artefacts from at least three important excavated sites from the study area (Porț, Halmeu and Tășnad). The richness of these archaeological sites offers the opportunity for a detailed study of the biography of the stone tools from raw material acquisition to finite and then discarded artefacts. Also, the large number of artefacts uncovered is well suited for both quantitative and qualitative analyses. This study will be completed with an analysis of the raw materials utilized for making stone tools. Further, based on petrographic and elemental analyses of samples from sites and natural outcrops, I intend to identify the provenience of the raw materials, to distinguish between local, regional and long-distance raw material acquisition. Archaeological and geological samples will be analysed through various chemical and physical methods (e.g. XRF, ICP-MS, thin-sections). My research will bring color to an almost ”white spot” on the map as regards the ground stone assemblages from the Neolithic of the Balkan Peninsula and the Carpathian Basin. As previous research is very limited for this region, the results of my studies will be of use both for scholars involved in the regional studies on the Neolithic as well as for archaeologists studying early farming communities from Europe in general.




 Educational background

  • MSc, Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 2010
  • BA, History. Ancient History and Archaeology, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania, 1998

T. J. Chmielewski, C. Astaloș 2015. Floating stones down the Tur river. Comparative study of chipped stone assemblages from Călinești-Oaș - Dâmbul Sfintei Mării and Méhtelek Nádas. In: C. Virag (ed.), Neolithic Cultural Phenomena in the Upper Tisa Basin, Satu Mare, p. 29-73.

U. Sommer, C. Astaloș 2015. The village and the house in the early Neolithic. Research into activity areas and rubbish disposal at the late Criș settlement of Tășnad (Satu Mare County, Romania). In: C. Virag (ed.), Neolithic Cultural Phenomena in the Upper Tisa Basin, Satu Mare, p.

C. Astaloş, U. Sommer, C. Virag, 2013. Excavations of an early Neolithic Site at Tășnad, Romania. Archaeology International, 16, London, 47-53.

C. Lazăr, C. Astaloș, 2012. The Index of Funerary Discoveries from Early Neolithic. In: C. Lazăr (ed.) The catalogue of the Neolithic and Eneolithic funerary findings from Romania Târgovişte, Cetatea de Scaun, 2012, 23-48.

C. Astaloş and Z. Kasztovszky, 2009. Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis of Some Prehistoric Stone Tools from North-Western Romania. In 36th International Symposium on Archaeometry, Quebec City 2006, Quebec, 135-141.

A. Feurdean, K. Willis and C. Astaloş, 2009. Legacy of the past land-use changes and management on the ‚natural’ upland forest composition in the Apuseni mountains. The Holocene 19/6, 967-981.

C. Lazăr, R. Andreescu, T. Ignat, M. Florea and C. Astaloș, 2008. The Eneolithic Cemetery from Sultana – Malu Roșu (Călărași county, Romania). Studii de Preistorie (Bucharest), 5, 131-152.

C. Astaloş, 2007. Paleoliticul şi mezoliticul (The Paleolithic and the Mesolithic). In L. Marta, P.L. Szőcs (eds.), Muzeul Judeţean Satu Mare. Catalogul colecţiei de arheologie (Satu Mare County Museum. Catalogue of the Archaeological Collection). Satu Mare: Editura Muzeului Sătmărean, 23-30.

C. Astaloş and C. Virag, 2006-2007. Descoperiri funerare neolitice din judeţul Satu Mare (Neolithic funerary finds from Satu Mare county). Studii şi Comunicări Satu Mare – seria Arheologie, XXII-XXIII, 73-94.

A. Feurdean and C. Astaloş 2005. The impact of human activities in the Gutâiului Mountains, Romania. Studia Universitatis Babeş-Bolyai, Geologia, 50 (1-2), 63-72.

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