May 30, 2024 The sun rises from Anatolia

A 7000-year-old Neolithic settlement discovered in Serbia

The ROOTS team discovered a previously unknown Late Neolithic settlement near the Tamiš River in Northeast Serbia.

The discovery provides important new insights into the Late Neolithic period in Southeast Europe.

The ROOTS team was formed in collaboration with the Museum of Vojvodina in Novi Sad (Serbia), the National Museum Zrenjanin and the National Museum Pančevo.

“This discovery is of exceptional importance as almost no large Late Neolithic sites are known in the Serbian Banat region,” says team leader Professor Dr. Martin Furholt from the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at Kiel University.

Results of the geophysical survey of the previously unknown site of Jarkovac (Serbia). The settlement, whose surface material points to both the Vinča culture and the Banat culture (5400-4400 BCE), has a surface area of up to 13 ha and is surrounded by four to six ditches. The deep black angular anomalies indicate a large number of burnt houses. Photo: Kiel University

The newly discovered settlement is located near the modern village of Jarkovac in the province of Vojvodina.

The settlement, mapped with the help of geophysical methods, covers an area of 11 to 13 hectares and is surrounded by four to six ditches.

“A settlement of this size is spectacular. The geophysical data gives us a clear idea of the structure of the site 7000 years ago,” says Fynn Wilkes, ROOTS PhD student and joint team leader.

In parallel with the geophysical surveys, the German-Serbian research team also systematically surveyed the surfaces of the surrounding area for artifacts. This surface material indicates that the site represents an occupation site of the Vinča culture, dating between 5400 and 4400 BC.

A wheel model from the site of Szilvás (Hungary), which can be assigned to the Vučedol culture (3000/2900-2500/2400 BCE). © Fynn Wilkes

However, there are also strong influences of the regional Banat culture. “This is also remarkable because only a few sites containing material from the Banat culture are currently known in Serbia,” explains Fynn Wilkes.

During the same two-week research campaign, the team from the Cluster of Excellence, together with partners from the Janus Pannonius Museum in Pécs, also investigated several Late Neolithic circular features in Hungary. These so-called “washers” are attributed to the Lengyel culture (5000/4900-4500/4400 BC). The researchers also used both geophysical technologies and systematic walking surveys of the surrounding area.

Thanks to the combination of both methods, the researchers were able to distinguish the periods represented at individual sites more clearly than before. “This allowed us to re-evaluate some already known sites in Hungary. For example, sites previously classified as Late Neolithic circular ditches turned out to be much younger structures,” explains co-team leader Kata Furholt from the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at Kiel University.

Map of the sites that were surveyed as part of the 2024 spring campaign. © Fynn Wilkes, base map DGM: © European Union, 1995–2024

Highlights of the short but intensive fieldwork in Hungary included the re-evaluation of a Late Neolithic site previously dated to the Late Copper Age and Early Bronze Age Vučedol culture (3000/2900-2500/2400 BC) and the complete documentation of a Late Neolithic circular ditch in the village of Vokány.

“Southeastern Europe is a crucial region for answering the question of how knowledge and technologies spread in early human history and how this relates to social inequalities. This is where new technologies and knowledge, such as metalworking, first appeared in Europe. With newly discovered and reclassified sites, we are collecting important data for a better understanding of social inequality and knowledge transfer,” summarizes Professor Martin Furholt.

The results are being incorporated into the interdisciplinary project “Wealth and Knowledge Inequality” of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, which focuses on these issues. Analyses are still ongoing.

Kiel University

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