View from the trenches: Romania
9 July 2013
Institute staff and students are currently continuing their excavations at Tăşnad, Satu Mare country, in Northwestern Romania.
Dig Diary 2013
In 2012, Ulrike Sommer and Ciprian Astalos began excavations of an early Neolithic Körös-settlement in Tăşnad, Romania. The site belongs to a large settlement area discovered during rescue excavations since the 1990. A number of houses and numerous settlement pits were discovered. The erosion of the Cehal-banks necessitated further rescue excavations, which were conducted in cooperation between the Satu Mare Museum and the Institute of Archaeology, UCL.
The settlement dates to around 5000 BC and belongs to the earliest agriculturalists in the area. They reached the site either from the East, from Central Transsylvania, where Gura Bacului represents one of the early Criş-sites in the area, or up the Tisa river from the south. Tăşnad is located at the very boundary of the hills of Transsylvania to the great Hungarian plain, which at the time was an environment dominated by lakes, marshes and numerous streams, with woodland on the river margins and open steppe between the rivers.
The excavation aims to reconstruct the activity areas around early Neolithic houses. A thick occupational layer that covers the remains of the houses and of the pits offers the opportunity to clarify the depositional history of Neolithic finds. Hence the occupation layer is dug in 1m squares and 5 cm spits. All finds >1cm are recorded three-dimensionally and planned. It has already become clear that often remains of single pots were found in close proximity, hinting at discrete dumping episodes. Despite systematic sieving, few seeds have been found yet, but charcoal is abundant.
The majority of the finds consist of pottery, daub, hearth remains, quern fragments, axes and chipped stone were also uncovered. Both local raw materials like jasper and limnic quartzite and imported siliceous rocks were used. These consist of Hungarian obsidian, blond Balkanic flint from Northeastern Bulgaria and Prut-Flint from Moldavia or the Ukraine and indicate the far flung trade-connections of these early farmers.
The recent severe thunderstorms made for a slow start, as the local heavy clay turns to deep mud with rain, but now the excavation is well under way, uncovering the occupation layer with sometimes over a hundred finds per square meter. The rains have left another trace, however, as a frog has decided to settle in the puddle in the deepest part of the trench. He was promptly christened Gordon by the students!