Early Neolithic Settlement Archaeology in Northwest Romania

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Surveys of Tășnad and hinterlands

Up to now, about ten early Neolithic sites are known from the territory of Satu Mare county, to which we can add a few sites known from the nearby counties of northwestern Romania: Salaj and Maramureș.

In the last decade or so, intensive rescue excavations took place at Tășnad and at Porṭ/Suplac. Most of the other sites are known only through surface investigations or small-scale rescue-excavations. The sites are located in different parts of the county: Cehal Valley (Tășnad),Tur Valley (Călinești-Oaș), Homorod Valley (Homoroade), Barcau Valley (Porṭ/Suplac), Carei area (Berea, Ciumești, Pișcolt, Urziceni, Vășad), Someș Valley (Seini –MM) and the Simleu Depression (Sălaj county).

At Călinești-Oaș, small excavations took place in 1999-2001, directed by C. Astaloș. The main feature investigated was a large pit containing over 1000 chipped lithic artefacts, made of limnic quartzites, jaspers, obsidian, flint and other raw materials. Worth noting are a few blades of yellow Balkan flint, confirming long distance relations between the North-Carpathian area and the Balkan Peninsula, in this case, northeastern Bulgaria. The lithic assemblage was analysed by T. Chmielewski (unpublished) and the pottery by C. Virag (2008).

Along the Homorod Valley, at least four early Neolithic sites are known from Homorodu de Sus and Homorodu de Mijloc (Homoroade commune). Two of them were investigated through small excavations in 1960s by T. Bader but the results are still unpublished, except for the anthropomorphic figurines  (Bader 1968). In 2003 and 2012, C. Astaloș conducted small rescue excavations on two of these sites, uncovering a few pits and post holes. The material uncovered consits of pottery, while lithics are almoust entirely absent. At the site of Seini (Maramureș county, at the border of Satu Mare county) in the Somes valley, a pit was investigated, the lithic material was published by T. Chmielewski (2009).

All the sites mentioned above are situated in the hilly areas of northern, eastern and south-eastern parts of the Satu Mare county, along bigger or smaller rivers. Some are quite extensive (Homoroade), others small and probably geared towards the collection and processing of lithic raw materials (Călinești-Oaș).

The sites from the Carei area are known exclusively through surface research or small test-pits aimed at the investigation of  sites from earlier periods (Hago 2008). All of them are situated on grids or 'islands', areas of land slightly higher that the surrounding marshy areas, even with half a metre or a metre being enough to make a difference between to be flooded or not, or on sand dunes, landscapes specific for the eastern part of the Great Hungarian Plain.

It is planned to conduct small research excavations in different ecotopes and in different site-types in order to obtain material for dating and economic data. This will enable us to trace how life changed for early farming communities "between the mountains and the flood".

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