Archaeological Institute, Iasi
ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCHES IN ROMANIAN TERRITORY. THE PALEOLITHIC
1. Archaeological researches in Romanian territory
The relief diversity, the hydrographic network, the variety of natural
resources from the carpatho-danubiano-dnistreano-pontic area represented favorable conditions for the life of human prehistoric communities.
The geographical position of this
areal in Europe has also offered multiple cultural influences, with the balkano-anatolian world, Central and Eastearn parts of Europe; this cultural influences are detectable almost all over the
prehistorical evolution in a more deeply or less intense manner.
The interest for the old prehistoric artefacts and evolutions is connected in the Romanian territory with the second half of the
last century, when the first researches were initiated. In the first decades of our century this interest became more sustained and the birth of the National School of Archaeology coincides with
the starting point of sistematic excavations. The activity was oriented especially towards new fields of research, the openening of new directions for research and also the training of new
Some important contribution have to be remembered, such as those of V. Parvan, I. Andriesescu (Andriesescu 1912) and from the new scholars, N. N. Morosan (Morosan 1938), C. S.
Nicolaescu Plopsor for paleolithic, Vl. Dumitrescu, H. Dumitrescu, R. Vulpe, I. Nestor, for Neolithic-Chalcolithic, the last two, with important contributions also in the Bronze Age researches.
Romanian archaeologists understood the necesity of the interdisciplinary researches in this field from the beginning of the XX-th century and this is prooved by their publications. Unfortunatly,
the political and economical vicissitudes from the second part of this century touched also this field of scientific activity. In the last decades, the prehistoric archaeologists from main
centers, such as Iasi, Bucuresti and Cluj have tried to improve the development of this kind of research. But the results are not quite satisfactory or suficient, this affects
the image of Romanian archaeology in the context of the actual scientific standards.
The lack of scientists and laboratories able to make interdisciplinary research is for the moment a
situation which seems impossible to surpass. With a lot of efforts and only few results the archaeologists still try to continue such kind of researches.
Some other problems must be mentioned
here, the first one in connection with the small number of specialists working in this field and some disfunctions such as:
- some geographical areas are not very well
researched and known (Romania has 40 districts and only 9 have special archaeological repertoires);
- some prehistorical cultures, phases, stages of evolution and local
groups are not enough researched and represented in the literature of this field;
- a lot of archaeological material, from rescue, small or systematic excavations
is still unpublished;
- there are only a few number of published synthesis in a foregin language and there for European prehistorians use less information
about Romanian territory.
To be very honest, part of these problems also are reflected by the literature and stage of research from other neighbouring areas (Ukraine, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey).
2.The Paleolithic period
Paleolithic represents the first prehistoric period and is devided in three main stages, lower, middle and upper, with an evolutuion between
1.000.000 - 9.500 BP
During Lower Paleolithic (1.000.000- 120.000 BP) the first choppers and chopping tools were produced. Such kind of artefacts were discovered in the north-west part
of Walachia, between Arges and Olt rivers (Paunescu 1989, 129). Techno-typological analysis and other elements include the artefacts from Lower Paleolithic in the area of some famous
cultures such as Abbevilllian, Acheulean or Clactonian. The discoveries from Bugiulesti, "Valea lui Greceanu", might be even
older, if the archeological context of the discoveries is correct.
In Middle Paleolithic artefacts became more diversified: some of them were used for animal skin cleaning, other for
peeling off the bark of the trees and this was the moment when a lot of befaces were used as arrow heads or spear heads etc. (Petrescu-Dimbovita et al. 1995, 25-26). The main culture
is Mousterian, which has different local variants and a longer evolution in some regions.
Moldavian Mousterian belongs to the East-European area, which includes also the Russian Plain and
the north pontic region, analogies being reflected in the techno-tipological analysis of the artefacts ( Paunescu 1989, 134). The Middle Prut area and the Dniester one are very well
represented. The oldest archaeological levels in Middle Prut valley are represented by the Mitoc and Ripiceni –Izvor sites. There are many inhabiting complexes as workshops for flint industry.
Very common are the ovoidal shelters or those in the form of an arch, made by mamouth bones, covered with branches of pine (palinological analysis) and the lower part consolidated with stones.
This kind of temporary or occasionaly shelters reflect their main occupation for subsistence, the hunting of the great game.
Another local evolution coveres the Carpathian's caves
(Nandru, Pestera Curata and Pestera Spurcata, Baia de Fier, Borosteni, Ohaba Ponor, Rasnov, Baile Herculane etc.). Here the artefacts are made by quartz or other stones related to this raw
material and only few ones are made by flint or opal. After Al. Paunescu the stone industry presents analogies with the site from Erd, Hungary, which belongs to the Charentien of Europe
(Paunescu 1989, 133).
In the main area of Dobroudja (Saligni-Taclia, Pestera, Poarta Alba, Castelu, Cheia-Targsor) and the Black Sea Shore one (Mamaia Sat, Ovidiu-Nazarcea) was
identified the so called "Mousterian with denticulates" (Paunescu 1989, 133). In Bessarabia, this kind of artefacts were also present. I. Borziac, who makes the researches, believes
that this group has its own individuality and is different from those in Romania or other peripherical regions of Europe ( Borziac 1994, 19).
The last local group is in south-east of
Transylvania and contains Levallois characteristics (Boimesti, Remetea-Somos), (Paunescu 1989, 133). In this areal there can also be noticed some bone artefacts, possibly in connection with the
quality of the raw material of the area.
Hunting played a major role in subsistence during this period and is also possible to note a predisposition for some kind of game, in
connection with the micro-climat of that areas: Ursus spaeleus (Pestera Muierilor and Baia de Fier); Horse (Bordu Mare, Ohaba Ponor); Mamouth (Ripiceni).
The first human remains, atributed to
the Neanderthal type are noticed in Bordu Mare site ( Paunescu 1989, 135).
In Upper Paleolithic (35.000/30.000 – 12.500 BP) the number of archaeological sites discovered and researched is
bigger. This part of Paleolithic contains two big cultures, Aurignacian and Gravettian. Aurignacian evolution, especially in Moldavia, is strongly connected with the Mousterian groups.
this period, some progress is noticed in the inventory of the arms and tools: knifes, piercing tools, scrapers, chiesels, arrow heads and spear heads are very common, some pieces reflecting high
skills ( Petrescu-Dimbovita et al. 1995, 26). In Aurignacian, open sites are very well represented, showing intense inhabitation ( Ceahlau area, Prut and Dniester Valley, Tara Barsei,
Cremenea-Sita Buzaului etc.), comparative with those ones from the caves, with thin leyers and poor inventory (Baia de Fier, Borosteni, Ohaba Ponor, Rasnov, Pestera Muierilor, Cioclovina,
Cheia-Targsor, "La Adam" etc.), (Paunescu 1989, 137). It seeems that Mousterian has a longer evolution in the case of the caves, being also contemporary with the beginning of the Aurignacian
culture. Aurignacian itself lasted longer in some areas such as the Romanian Plain (with the exemption of the east zone), being also partly contemporary with a part of Gravettian culture
from Moldavia and Dobroudja.
The second main culture of Upper Paleolithic, Oriental Gravettian is part of the East Central Gravettian of Europe. Hunting play also a major role in the life of
this human communities, as it is reflected by the archaeological discoveries. New improvements are noticed in the house buiding system: small huts, with hearths in the interior, kitchen debris
and also workshops for flint and other raw material. In this respect very intersting are the discoveries from Moldavia and Bessarabia. On the Middle Prut Valley, in Cotu Miculinti site, M. Brudiu
(Brudiu 1980) has discovered a workshop for animal bones and horn. The inventory of this workshop was diverse and contained harpoons, perforated "sceptres" and piercing tools.
The first works
of art and jewelry appear now, during Gravettian culture, in the Romanian territory. The oldest pendant in Europe at this time, decorated with incisions was descovered in Mitoc-Malul Galben (on
Middle Prut Valley). After the radiocarbon estimations for the site, this piece might have an age of 26. 000 BP (Chirica 1983). Jewelry made of shells, bones, animal teeth or ivory was also
discovered in some open sites between Middle Pruth and Middle Dniester Valley: 2 anthropomorhic idols (Molodova V, level 2; Cosauti, level 2), a zoomorphic idol (aurochs, Cosauti, level 2) and
other ornamented pendants (Cosauti, level 2), (Borziac 1994) show strong artistic skills and relate these artefacts with the beginning of the religiouse life.
In Cuciulat cave, on Somes river,
the parietal paintings made with red ochre are considered the oldest in the region of the South-east of Europe (Paunescu 1989, 140; Carciumaru 1987, 79-93). It seems also that some
archaeologiocal complexes are related to the first expressions of magic practises: in Ripiceni-Izvor the complexes with mamouth horns; on Bistrita Valley, in Buda site, a cult place
contains cut legs of beeves and reindeer bones
(Petrescu-Dimbovita et al. 1995, 26).
Techno-tipological analysis of the lithic inventory from Aurignacian and Gravettian
cultures indicate the evolution of some local groups, in connection with other europeans areas:
- north-west part of Transylvania has analogies with
transcarpathian Ukraine and Oriental Slovakia:
- west and south-west part of Romania is connected with Central Europe:
- Moldavia is
connected with the evolution from the East-European space (which includes also the area between Carpathians and Dniester, as well as west Ukraine), (Paunescu 1989, 144-145; Borziac
Human remains were discovered in several archaeological sites. By anthropological point of view, these remains show Cromanoid and Neanderthaloid features (Paunescu 1989, 145).
During the last part of Paleolithic, Epipaleolithic (about 12.500-9.500 BP) important geo-climatic changes took place. The clime became warmer, affecting the spread of animal species. Big
game slowly dissapeared and other smaller species replaced them. This change determined a readjusting of the human communities and new types of artefacts became now important:
microlithisation was a common practice and it is supposed that bow and arrow heads usually were used. Even now special local evolutions are noticed:
- Moldavia and
Dobroudja has a common historical evolution, which will generate after, the so called north-west ponthic Tardenoisian;
- in Ceahlau Mountains area it was a small
group of "Swiderian" hunters, looking for the last big game (this group is connected with the Central Europe, Poland and north-east Germany territories);
Portile de Fier/Iron Gates on Danube has a special evolution, in connection with the european Romanello-Azilian (Paunescu 1989, 150; Boroneant www.cimec.ro/living
Mesolithic is defined as a transition period between Paleolithic and Neolithic and is possible that in Romania it has evolved between 9.500/9.000-7.500/7.000
BC. Typical for this period are two cultures, Tardenoisian and Schela Cladovei, with some chronological differences in between.
The first one, Tardenoisian is common for many Romanian regions
(Siret-Prut area, Dobrudja, north-west Wallachia, south-east and north-west of Transylvania and part of Bessarabia, with the exemption of Iron Gates, Romanian Plain and inner part of
Transylvania). The typical hunting-fishing communities of this culture belong to the great north-west pontic Tardenoisisan cultural complex. By techno-tipological point of view, in this time
characteristic are the microlothic artefacts and geomethrical pieces ( Paunescu 1989, 150).
Schela Cladovei culture still represents a mystery of this period. New researches, results of an
international team, brought new contributions regarding the evolution of the historical-cultural sketch of the Iron Gates area, in the period 14.500-5.600 BC (V. Boroneant, cimec.ro.living
past/nr.1). In this area, even during Mesolithic period there was a different evolution, from other Romanian regions. New changes in the techniques of making artefacts took part and the
small, microlithic assamblages are part of them. They reflect without doubt the changes in the micro-climat of the area and the new adaptation of human communities (warmer area with a very
rich small game). Artefacts made of bones or horns are very common in this period. Some of them have also very beautiful, geometrical decorations, or small cercles. Some analogies are noted with
contemporary discoveries from Italy and France.
The Schela Cladovei culture evolved during a new change of the climat, in a warmer period (Boreal and biginning of the Atlantic period).
New changes are also reflected by the lithic inventory: flint is used only seldom comparative to quartz and other quartzitic stones. The work of bones and hornes becomes a common practice now (
Boroneant, www.cimec.ro.living past/ nr.l). The area of this culture was quite small, including both sides of the Danube in the Iron Gates (9 sites on Romanian territory; Crvena
Stijena cave from Muntenegru also belongs to the same culture). During this period was observed a reduction of the human activity areas. Complexes are represented by ovoid, elipsoidal
or rectangular shape hearths ( Paunescu 1989, 151). Human communities were involved especially in hunting, fishing and shells gathering. By anthropological point of view, human remains
contain a mixture of europoid and paleo-mediterranean features (Paunescu 1989, 151). After a while these communities dissapear.
(see SHORT SKETCH OF ROMANIAN PREHISTORY, by C-M. Mantu with pictures at DAVA INTERNATIONAL N1 at www.iatp.md/dava)