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Herding, Settlement, and Chronology in the Balkan Neolithic

  • David Orton
Abstract

The Neolithic in the central Balkans saw dramatic changes in settlement forms, architecture, and material culture, with substantial, often long-lived settlements that can reasonably be called villages emerging in the later part of the period. This paper examines the role of herding practices in the development of these large, more-or-less settled communities. Radiocarbon results (including twenty-seven new AMS dates from Gomolava, Opovo, and Petnica) are used to place the available zooarchaeological data into a chronological framework, allowing comparison of inter- and intra-site changes across the region. The data point to the development of large-scale cattle herding in the later Neolithic, the implications of which for mobility and community cohesion are discussed. This trend is seen clearly over time at certain sites but, like the settlement evidence, is neither universal nor synchronous across the region, emphasizing that change occurred, and should be understood, on the level of individual communities.

Le Néolithique dans les Balkans centraux est témoin de changements dramatiques des genres d'implantation, de l'architecture et de la culture matérielle avec l'apparition à la fin de cette période d'implantations importantes et souvent d'une grande longévité, qu'on peut raisonnablement qualifier de villages. Cet article examine le rôle des pratiques de gestion de troupeaux dans le développement de ces grandes communautés plus ou moins sédentaires. À l'aide de résultats de datation radiocarbone (incluant 27 nouvelles datations AMS de Gomolava, Opovo et Petnica), on place les données zooarchéologiques disponibles dans un cadre chronologique, permettant ainsi la comparaison des changements inter- et intra-sites à travers la région. Les données révèlent le développement de grands troupeaux de bétail à la fin du Néolithique, évolution dont on examine les implications quant à la mobilité et la cohésion communautaire. Cette tendance est reconnue clairement au fil du temps sur certains sites, mais, tout comme pour les villages, elle n'est ni universelle ni synchrone à travers la région et souligne le fait que ce changement s'est effectué et devrait être compris au niveau des communautés individuelles. Translation by Isabelle Gerges

Zusammenfassung

Das Neolithikum im Zentralbalkan erlebte dramatische Veränderungen der Siedlungsformen, der Architektur und materiellen Kultur sowie in seinem späteren Abschnitt die Entstehung umfangreicher, oftmals langlebiger Siedlungen, die durchaus als Dörfer bezeichnet werden können. Dieser Aufsatz untersucht die Rolle von Praktiken der Viehzucht in der Entwicklung dieser mehr oder weniger sesshaften Gemeinschaften. Radiokarbondaten, einschließlich 27 neuer AMS-Daten aus Gomolava, Opovo und Petnica, werden genutzt, um die zur Verfügung stehenden archäozoologischen Daten in einen chronologischen Rahmen zu setzen und einen Vergleich von Veränderungen zwischen bzw. innerhalb von Siedlungen im Bearbeitungsgebiet zu ermöglichen. Die Daten weisen darauf hin, dass sich im späten Neolithikum umfangreiche Rinderzucht entwickelte, deren Auswirkungen auf die Mobilität und den Zusammenhalt von Gemeinschaften hier diskutiert werden. Dieser Trend kann bei bestimmten Fundplätzen über eine gewisse Zeit nachvollzogen werden, doch ist er in diesen Gebiet weder generell anwendbar noch verläuft er synchron. Dies verdeutlicht, und so sollte es auch verstanden werden, dass die Veränderung auf der Ebene individueller Gemeinschaften abliefen. Translation by Heiner Schwarzberg

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European Journal of Archaeology
  • ISSN: 1461-9571
  • EISSN: 1741-2722
  • URL: /core/journals/european-journal-of-archaeology
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