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The CECD is an AHRC funded research group dedicated to examining the evolutionary underpinnings of human cultural behaviour, past and present. more>

Page Title - projects
Phase 1: Cultural innovation and transmission: Project 029
Ceramic analysis and cultural process: early Neolithic pottery in the Balkans

SUPERVISOR: - Stephen Shennan, and Paolo Biagi, University of Venice

Michela Spataro (Institute of Archaeology, University College London)


The main aim of this project is to use the ceramic evidence to test a number of hypotheses concerning the processes involved in the spread of farming into SE Europe. The focus is on Neolithic Starcevo and Cris Culture ceramic assemblages through the scientific analysis of the minerals employed in their manufacture . These Cultures , which mark the appearance of the Neolithic in the central Balkan Peninsula (~ end 8th millennium bp, in radiocarbon years) are known from settlements located in central Croatia, Serbia, Romania and the Great Hungarian Plain.

The project will consider the technological production processes of the ordinary and painted wares as well as of the cult ceramic objects. Thanks to the minero-petrographic and XRD analyses of the ceramic and of the soil samples collected from the proximity of the sites, it is possible to define the raw material sources exploited for pottery production, both clay and mineral inclusions. Once the ceramic manufacture centres have been defined with this method, it will be possible to interpret the models of circulation of the ceramic products and the exchange/trade movements of the vessels and/or of other types of objects.

To achieve this aim it is also necessary to define the chronological sequence of the settlements taken into consideration for this research; for this reason the project budget includes funding for a series of conventional and AMS radiocarbon dates.

Spataro has collected the necessary bibliography for the study of the Starcevo-Cris Culture and to write an overview of the pottery typology of this culture. Many archaeologists from the regions have kindly offered to help with the research.

Spataro recently collected sherd and soil samples from the site of Donja Branjevina in Odzacj (Serbia, Yugoslavia). She is photographing the sherds and analysing thin sections of the pottery from two Starcevo-Cris sites, Gura Baciului (Cluj Napoca) and Seusa Leucararea Morii (AlbaIulia).

The soil samples from three sites are currently being analysed by XRD analysis. Sherds from another site are undergoing for thin section analysis. Finally, 10 bone samples from some of the Romanian and Serbian key sites have been sent to Groningen for C14 dating.

Biagi, P. and Spataro, M (in press).
New observations on the radiocarbon chronology of the Starčevo-Criş and Körös Cultures. Reports of Prehistoric Research Projects. Sofia-Karlovo, Salt Lake City. Vol 6:
Spataro, M (in press).
Differences and similarities in the pottery production of the Early Neolithic Starcevo-Cris and Impressed Ware Cultures. Rivista di Scienze Preistoriche, Florence.
Spataro, M (in press).
Early Neolithic pottery production in Romania: the scientific analysis of the ceramics from Gura Baciului and Seusa La-cararea morii (Transylvania). In: Bailey, D.W., Whittle, A., & Cummgs, V. (ed\s) (Un)settling the Neolithic. London: Routledge.
Spataro, M (in press).
Differences and similarities in the pottery production of the Early Neolithic Starčevo-Criş and Impressed Ware Cultures. Rivista di Scienze Preistoriche, Florence.
Spataro, M. and P. Biagi (2007).
A Short Walk through the Balkans: the First Farmers of the Carpathian Basin and Adjacent Regions. Trieste: Societa per la preistoria e protostoria della regione Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Proceedings of the Conference held at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL .
Biagi, P. and Spataro, M (2004).
Il processo di Neolitizzazione nella Penisola Balcanica . In: Zaccaria, A. (ed.) (ed\s) Le Missioni Archeologiche dell’Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia. IV Giornata di Studio. Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia. 15-18.
Spataro, M (2004).
Early Neolithic Pottery production in the Balkans: minero-petrographic analyses of the ceramics from the Starčevo-Criş site of Foeni-Sălaş (Banat, Romania). Atti della Società per la Preistoria e Protostoria della Regione Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Vol XIV:
Spataro, M (2003).
Pottery technology and manufacture at the Korenovo Culture (LBK) site of Malo Korenovo (Bjelovar, Croatia). Opuscola Archaeologica. Vol 27:49-61.