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The Human Face of Radiocarbon

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Zoï Tsirtsoni

Northwest Bulgaria

Chapter 5. An early fourth millennium settlement near the village of Bezhanovo, Lovech Region

Maya Valentinova
Traduction de Tatiana Stefanova

Texte intégral

The site and the excavations2

  • 2 Text translated from Bulgarian by Tatiana Stefanova.
  • 3 The tumulus was registered during a field survey by Mladen Stoyanov, archaeologist at the Museum of (...)

1The prehistoric settlement in the Banunya (Borunya) is situated 2 km south of the present-day village of Bezhanovo on the left bank of the Kamenitsa River, a right tributary of the Vit River. It is located on a second-tier river terrace out of the flood-zone at one of the beautiful meanders in this part of the river valley. The altitude of the settlement is 194 m above sea level. It occupies the highest and flattest part of an area that slants northwards toward the riverbed, whereas the eastern and western slopes run steeply down to the river (fig. 1; 2). Although it is not a typical hill settlement, it is naturally protected; it remains almost hidden from sight but at the same time possesses a good view of the surrounding area. There is a source of fresh water in the immediate vicinity. A tumulus was built on top of the highest part of the area3.

  • 4 The financial support for the archaeological excavations was provided by the Museum of History in L (...)

2A field survey in the spring of 2005 revealed that the burial mound was badly damaged by trenches made by treasure hunters. As a result, rescue archaeological excavations began in the autumn of the same year. The site was excavated in the period 2005‑20084.

  • 5 A grid was laid out on the site dividing the area into 10 x 10 m sectors. The sectors were designat (...)

3During the two first field seasons (2005‑2006), the soil and stones covering the mound were completely removed5. The eroded soil in the trenches made by the treasure hunters was removed, and it became obvious that the burial mound had been built on top of the remains of a settlement dating to the early 4th millennium BC. The diameter of the mound was 18 m and at the beginning of the excavations it was believed to be 2.10 m high. However, the actual height of the mound turned out to be only 1.10 m.

Fig. 1 – Bezhanovo-Banunya, topographical plan (author: P. Zidarov, NBU).

Fig. 2 – The Banunya (Borunya) locality, view from the southwest.

Fig. 3 – Layer of small limestone pieces (northern part), related to the Bronze Age structures.

4The mound cover was made from large and medium-to-large limestone pieces set in brown clayey soil which yielded artifacts from the prehistoric settlement. A circle of large, free-standing stones 10 m in diameter surrounded the stone cover. We were not able to identify any features related to the construction of the mound cover itself during the excavation. The few Early Iron Age potsherds found in the lower levels of the tumulus in square C2 might suggest a date within this period, but it seems more likely that they were brought here (intentionally or not) from the Early Iron Age site situated ca 750 m to the southwest. Since ceramic sherds of gray monochrome ware were found in all sectors, although not related to a particular context, a later date within the span of the Late Iron Age seems more probable. The sherds found on the southwestern periphery of the tumulus dated to the Roman period and to the 5th-6th centuries AD. They prove that certain activities had also been performed during these periods. A secondary burial of a young individual was also excavated on the southern periphery in 2008. At this stage of research, the lack of grave goods and the ill‑defined context make it impossible to relate it to any of the periods mentioned above.

  • 6 The results from the excavations of the Bronze Age layer will be published in another article.

5In 2006, after the removal of the lowest row of stones from the mound cover, a level consisting of small limestone pieces was unearthed below a 10 cm thick layer of light brown clayey soil (fig. 3). These limestone pieces were situated under the central part of the mound cover and formed an arc opening to the east. Its diameters measured ca 17 m (N-S) x 7 m (E-W). This structure was cut 20‑25 cm into the next layer. Fragmented ceramic vessels and four stone axes of the so-called “ore-mining type” were found between and underneath the stones. The artifacts were concentrated mainly in the northern and the southern part of the structure (squares D1‑D3 and B1). The soil was black in colour, with small charcoal inclusions in some spots. The ceramic pots had been fired secondarily and some were deformed by exposure to this high temperature. Traces from fire were also discovered on some of the stones “sealing” the level. The archaeological artifacts date to the first half of the 2nd millennium BC and are related to the early phases of the Tei culture (I‑II)6.

6In the 2007‑2008 seasons, the excavations continued within the area underneath the mound cover and within a new square – E2, located to the south of square C2. The results presented in this article are preliminary, and some of them will probably be revised after the completion of the excavation of the site and the study of the artifacts and the pottery.

Fig. 4 – General plan of the excavated area.

Fig. 5 – Corner of the wall base of a house from building level I.

Fig. 6 – Detail of the floor of house 7 (building level II).

Fig. 7 – Building level II, house 1: the screen wall, the oven and part of the burnt floor after its cleaning and partial removal.

Stratigraphy and architectural features

  • 7 Building level I is the latest one.

7The cultural layer under the tumulus soil has not been excavated completely, but three building horizons have been documented7. In square E2, located outside the boundaries of the tumulus, two building levels were identified which corresponded to the horizons I and II inside the mound.

8Building level (horizon) I was characterized by partially preserved hearths as well as by parts of stone foundations of walls (fig. 4). These were unearthed almost immediately below the mound cover and were at the same depth as the Bronze Age structures. Six hearths were documented within the excavated area. They were constructed identically – a foundation made from small limestone pieces and three or four clay-plastered floors whose thickness varied from 1 to 2 cm. A row of large and medium-to-large limestone pieces, relatively densely arranged and cut into the brown clayey soil, was discovered in square B3 at this level. It was oriented southeast-northwest with its western end turning to the southwest at almost 90°. The preserved length was 3.60 m and the width was 0.60 m. This structure can be interpreted as part of a house wall foundation. A corner of the base of another wall was unearthed in square A4, ca 0.50 m to the east of one of the hearths (O3). It was made from flat limestone pieces cut into the light brown clayey soil (fig. 5). The corner stone was additionally fortified at its base by two smaller stones. The presence of fragments of fired wall-plaster with imprints of posts on them prove that the upper parts of the walls were made out of a wooden construction plastered with clay. Parts of the house-floor were found around two of the better-preserved hearths: it was made from light brown packed earth with limestone inclusions.

9A leveling layer consisting of brown clayey soil and a few large limestone pieces was documented between the debris of building horizon II and the floor of building horizon I. Its thickness at the central part (squares C2, A4, B3 and D3) was 0.20‑0.25 m. But elsewhere it was thinner: in square B4, where a large part of house 1 (horizon II) with the most compact debris was situated, the leveling layer was 0.10‑0.15 m thick; however, a fragment of a hearth foundation (O5, horizon I) was unearthed only 0.08 m above this burnt debris. A similar situation was documented in square E2 and the related trench 1, located in the eastern half of sq. E2. The hearth (O6) related to building horizon I was uncovered in the northern part of the trench at a depth of 0.25 m from the surface, i.e. only 0.08 m above the debris of house 6, which was part of the earlier building level II.

10The thickness of building level (horizon) II varies from 0.25 m to 0.40 m. The excavation of six houses was undertaken (fig. 4). All of them were affected by fire to some extent. As they were situated very close to one another, at a distance of 0.50 to 1 m, it was difficult to separate them before they were excavated completely. The exploration has also been complicated by the treasure hunters’ trenches cutting through the houses, as well as by the fact that the latter were partially destroyed by the construction of the tumulus. Each house is rectangular in plan and the long sides are oriented northeast-southwest. The precise dimensions of the houses will be defined after excavation is completed. According to the preliminary information, the length does not exceed 7 m and the width varies from 4.60 to 5.60 m.

11Three of the buildings (houses 1, 3 and 7) were renovated by replastering the floor. The upper floor in house 7 consists of a layer of nicely packed yellow clay underlying a 2 cm thick layer of limestone plaster (fig. 6). A 10 cm thick layer of ashy soil containing few ceramic sherds separates the two floors. The lower floor also consists of yellow trampled clay leveled by small pebbles. The floors in house 3 are similar. The upper floor in house 1 consists of a nicely fired and smoothed layer of clay, 3 cm thick, that is red-coloured due to the high temperature. It slants slightly from south to north and from west to east following the slope. Although a strong fire destroyed the house, it appears that the floor was intentionally fired before that. The lower floor had also been fired. It is best-preserved in the area around the oven, where its thickness is 5 cm (fig. 7). The lower surface of this part of the floor bears traces of a wooden grid, which would have been placed underneath. So far, houses 2 and 6 have not provided evidence of floor renovation. Their floors were documented at certain spots as nicely trampled levels, with traces of plastering with fine brown clay. None of the excavated houses yielded reliable evidence for postholes related to the wall construction. Part of the eastern wall of house 3 was unearthed; it was a wooden construction plastered with clay, 30 cm thick and cut into the floor down to a depth of 10 cm (fig. 8). The surviving imprints of split or complete wooden posts, sometimes quadrangular in shape, on pieces of the wall-plaster suggest that wooden scaffolding was used for this construction.

Fig. 8 – Building level II, house 3: layer of debris with remains of the eastern wall.

12The interior arrangement of the houses has not been defined completely. At present fire facilities have been found in houses 1, 2 and 6. The building designated as house 1 is the largest and most solidly built. It is situated on the edge of the river terrace. Its intensively burnt debris cover an area of ca 40 m2 (fig. 9) and it is estimated to be 7 x 5.60 m large. Part of a screen wall 12 cm thick and 1.35 m long and preserved at a height of 20 cm was discovered in it (fig. 7). A large rectangular oven measuring 1.40 x 1.20 m was unearthed in the southwestern corner of the house. It was very well preserved except for the southern part, which was destroyed by a treasure hunters’ trench. The oven floor had been replastered several times and its vault at least once. The complete excavation of this facility is forthcoming. Five postholes, 6 cm in diameter, that are related to the construction of the vault were documented along the western side of the oven. A sort of platform with a grinding stone in it, split in several pieces by the strong fire, was found next to the northwestern corner of the oven.

13A small part of the southern half of house 2 (ca 6 m2) was unearthed on the northern periphery of the excavated area. A comparatively well-preserved hearth, 1.20 m in diameter, was discovered there. It had a foundation made from a layer of middle-sized limestone pieces and brown clayey soil. Three hearth floors were documented. The thickness of the floors varied from 1 to 2 cm and they were separated by individual ceramic sherds. Ten weights for a vertical loom, discovered in an east-west oriented line, were present in the house debris immediately south of the hearth. Several fragmented ceramic vessels, all of them table ware, were also found in this relatively small area. Several other artifacts were also discovered near the hearth – a ceramic spindle whorl, a bone awl, a hammer-stone, two stone polishers and several flint artifacts. We presume that the rest of the house area is located further north, outside the excavated area. The eastern and the southern boundaries of the house could not be defined either because the archaeological situation in these sectors was compromised by the tumulus and to a certain extent by the Bronze Age structure to the east.

Fig. 9 – House 1 during excavation.

14A small part of the southern half of house 2 (ca 6 m2) was unearthed on the northern periphery of the excavated area. A comparatively well-preserved hearth, 1.20 m in diameter, was discovered there. It had a foundation made from a layer of middle-sized limestone pieces and brown clayey soil. Three hearth floors were documented. The thickness of the floors varied from 1 to 2 cm and they were separated by individual ceramic sherds. Ten weights for a vertical loom, discovered in an east-west oriented line, were present in the house debris immediately south of the hearth. Several fragmented ceramic vessels, all of them table ware, were also found in this relatively small area. Several other artifacts were also discovered near the hearth – a ceramic spindle whorl, a bone awl, a hammer-stone, two stone polishers and several flint artifacts. We presume that the rest of the house area is located further north, outside the excavated area. The eastern and the southern boundaries of the house could not be defined either because the archaeological situation in these sectors was compromised by the tumulus and to a certain extent by the Bronze Age structure to the east.

15A small section of house 5, located on the southern periphery of the mound, had also survived. The debris covered an area measuring 2.50 m (north-south) x 1.20 m (east-west). The greater part of this house was destroyed by a large treasure hunters’ trench and the activities related to the later burial discovered in this area. The debris yielded two fragmented ceramic vessels and two poorly fired loom-weights. Pieces of well-polished floor plaster were discovered around and above the grave, a fact suggesting that a heating structure related to house 5 could have existed in this area. The relationship between the remains of this house and the house debris unearthed to the south in square E2 and designated as house 6 has not been completely determined. In the northern part of the square, where the debris was most solid and compact, three fragmented vessels were found – two plates and a storage vessel. A hearth measuring 1 m in diameter was uncovered near the presumed southern margin of this structure. It consisted of a foundation made from small limestone pieces and brown trampled clay, and four consecutive floors, each 1‑1.5 cm thick. The complete excavation will reveal whether houses 5 and 6 are two separate structures, or whether they belong to one and the same structure.

16Neither heating nor other facilities were discovered in the preserved part of house 7. The house debris yielded only a few ceramic sherds, a fragment of a bone awl and a loom-weight.

17Building level (horizon) III is well documented in the profiles of all trenches made by the treasure hunters. It is visible as a 0.20‑0.25 m thick layer of gray-black ashy soil or a layer of burned house debris. In some sectors, a 4‑5 cm thick layer of light brown clay, fired in some places, marks the floor level. The excavation of a building (house 4) related to this level was begun. The remains of house 4 appeared immediately below the first floor level of house 3, which belongs to horizon II. The size and the plan of the house are not completely defined at this stage of the research, as it has not been fully excavated yet. The building was destroyed by a strong fire; the debris yielded fragmented coarse ceramic vessels deformed by the high temperature (fig. 10) as well as several loom-weights. A partially preserved oven was found with a grinding stone nearby, highly cracked due to the high temperature; there was also a small quantity of carbonized grain. The house floor was nicely fired (fig. 11).

Fig. 10 – Ceramic vessel deformed by the fire, house 4 (building level III).

Fig. 11 – Part of the burnt floor of house 4.

The pottery and the relative chronology

18The collected pottery provides evidence for a relative dating of the remains related to building level II. It is more complicated, however, to differentiate the materials belonging to building level I, which is badly destroyed. The information about building level III is still insufficient because its excavation has not been completed.

19The pottery does not include a wide variety of technological groups. The vessels are made from clay, which in most cases contains many small-sized and, sometimes, larger-sized mineral inclusions such as sand, pebbles and occasionally limestone pieces. Sometimes the clay contains organic inclusions. The surface is often slipped, but the quality of the slip is poor and it is easily taken off. The majority of the sherds are secondarily fired and the original colour of the surface has been changed. Most often the ware is gray-brown to beige; however, there is also a considerable amount of gray-black or black ware.

20The following main shapes have been defined: conical plates with a thickened internal part of the rim, sometimes with small rounded handles or vertically perforated lugs (fig. 12: 1‑3, 16; 13: 12, 15, 16; 14: 3; 15: 1), biconical bowls with rounded carination (fig. 12: 18; 14: 4); bowls with semi-spherical upper and conical lower parts (fig. 12: 20; 14: 5); spherical or biconical bowls with rounded carination, often decorated with horizontal channeling (fig. 12: 4‑6; 16: 2); spherical bowls probably on a high pedestal base with two small opposite handles located below the maximal diameter of the body and/or decorated with small plastic pellets (fig. 12: 7, 21); S-shaped bowls of various sizes (fig. 12: 8; 16: 8, 9); cylindrical and conical bowls without a handle or with a tall vertical handle (fig. 12: 1, 10; 16: 18); cups with a short cylindrical neck, biconical body with rounded carination, and a tall vertical strip handle protruding above the rim (fig. 12: 15; 14: 2); biconical cups with rounded carination, two vertical strap handles on the maximal diameter of the body and decoration consisting of horizontal channeling (fig. 12: 13); biconical pots with rounded carination and two small rounded handles located above the maximal diameter of the body (fig. 12: 14; 14: 1); S-shaped jars (fig. 12: 9); jars with conical necks and ovoid bodies (fig. 12: 11; 13: 5, 11, 17); jars with short necks and spherical bodies, often with two vertical handles at the maximal diameter of the body (fig. 13: 3, 6, 13, 14); jars with barrel-shaped bodies and two vertical handles at the maximal diameter of the body (fig. 12: 12); storage vessels (fig. 13: 7, 18, 19; 15: 2); double vessels attested so far only by their connecting parts (fig. 16: 10, 11); and conical pots or pot-stands (?) with two opposite wide openings close to the “base” (fig. 12: 17).

Fig. 12 – Pottery from Bezhanovo, building level II.
1‑12: house 7; 13‑24: house 2.

Fig. 13 – Pottery from building level II.
1‑8: house 1; 9‑14: house 3; 15, 16, 18: house 6; 17, 19: house 5.

Fig. 14 – Ceramic vessels from house 2.

21The bases are usually flat and, in few cases, ring-shaped (fig. 12: 20). Most common are the vertical handles with ellipsoid or quadrangular sections (fig. 16: 9, 12, 15), but there are also tall strip-shaped handles protruding above the rim (fig. 12: 15; 16: 18), as well as small horizontally perforated lugs (fig. 16: 13).

  • 8 Gencheva & Stanev 1993, p. 179‑184.

22Most of the vessels are not decorated. Plastic decoration prevails – short plastic bands with finger impressions, small plastic pellets (single, or in groups of two, three or four), narrow plastic ridges on the body of the large vessels and shallow wide horizontal channeling on some bowls or cups (fig. 12: 4‑6, 13, 20, 24; 13: 16, 18, 19; 16: 2, 4). Incised decoration usually consists of incisions on the rim, or very shallow horizontal or random scratches (fig. 13: 7; 16: 14). Some of the incised decoration was made with a comb-shaped instrument, which made tufts consisting of several incised lines in various combinations (fig. 16: 6, 7, 16, 17). There are several sherds with pricked decoration: these are small, shallow, round depressions, arranged in vertical and horizontal lines, sometimes forming rectangular fields (fig. 16: 1, 3). Painted decoration is also represented, but it is not common and is rather badly preserved. In most of the cases, only the spots where the paint was laid on are visible. The painted motifs mainly comprise bands of parallel oblique lines sometimes intersecting at a sharp angle, and as an exception, spirals (fig. 12: 18; 16: 2; 17). Similar decoration is found on some vessels from Shemshevo-Klise Bair and Kachitsa D; microscopic and chemical analyses of sherds from these sites revealed that the paint consists of diluted clay which was rubbed onto the pottery surface prior to firing8. Parallel lines of yellow paint are clearly visible on one of the sherds (fig. 17), whereas there are several sherds bearing traces of red ochre.

Fig. 15 – Ceramic vessels from house 6.

  • 9 Ilcheva 1997, p. 91‑113, pl. VII: 8; VII: 7, 9; VIII: 2‑5; XVIII: 1, 7; VIII: 6; IX: 3‑4; XII: 2‑7; (...)
  • 10 Ibid., pl. XIV: 3.
  • 11 Ibid., p. 98‑99, pl. XV‑XVIII.
  • 12 Ibid., p. 105.
  • 13 Georgieva 1994, fig. 2: 5‑6; fig. 5: 8‑9; fig. 8: 7, 9, 16.
  • 14 Georgieva 2007, p. 329‑338.
  • 15 Draganov 1998, p. 203‑221, fig. 4: 2, 15; Dimitrov 2007, fig. 6B.
  • 16 Draganov 1998, fig. 3; Georgieva 1994, p. 23.
  • 17 Gergov 1996, p. 310, fig. 3‑5, 9, 10.
  • 18 Gergov 1987, fig. 5a-b.
  • 19 Gergov 1987; Gergov 1992, p. 353.
  • 20 Georgieva 1992, p. 341.

23The closest parallels to the Bezhanovo material, both in terms of technology and typology, come from the pottery assemblage at the site Shemshevo-Klise Bair. Most of the pottery shapes found in Bezhanovo are present there – bowls on high pedestal bases, S-shaped bowls, spherical bowls decorated with horizontal channeling (sometimes in combination with painted motifs), conical bowls with the thickened inner part of the rim, jars and bowls with short cylindrical necks and spherical bodies, hole-mouth vessels with narrow conical necks and ovoid bodies, and conical vessels with two opposite openings near the base9. The double vessels were probably also part of the pottery assemblage, judging by a “handle” described as “vertical with a pointed larger part in the middle”, and whose published picture suggests that it is the connecting part of a double vessel10. Despite the limited number of decorative patterns, plenty of similarities are found in them as well11. The comparison between the materials from Shemshevo-Klise Bair and Hotnitsa-Vodopada provides grounds for relating the former to an earlier period, named post-Eneolithic12. Although fewer in number, similarities are found also with the pottery from Rebarkovo-Dzhugera13. Rebarkovo is believed to be contemporary to Sălcuţa III and to mark the second (later) stage of the Final Chalcolithic in Western Bulgaria (Rebarkovo phase), thus demonstrating a relatively smooth transition to the Galatin culture (Sălcuţa IV, Herculane II‑III)14. The pottery assemblage from the settlement excavated underwater in Sozopol harbor, which dates to the very end of the Chalcolithic period (the end of the Varna culture), provides very good parallels to one of the plates and to the small biconical vessel discovered in house 2 (fig. 12: 14, 18), as well as to a sherd from a jar with a ridge at the inner part of the rim, probably designed to receive a lid (fig. 16: 5)15. Graphite-painted decoration is found at both Rebarkovo and Sozopol, although on a limited number of sherds, and yellow and red painted decoration is found more often than at Bezhanovo, where no graphite painted decoration is found at all16. There are a rather large number of similarities to the pottery yielded by Telish, phase IV, where the decoration comprises mainly plastic bands, pellets, channeling and barbotine17. This site produced a completely preserved double vessel with a connecting part identical to the ones from Bezhanovo18. The pottery assemblage from Telish IV is also characterized by the so-called Scheibenhenkel (disc-shaped handles), which are not found in Bezhanovo. Telish IV is believed to be contemporary with Sălcuţa IV, Galatin, Rebarkovo, Herculane II/III, Hunyadihalom, Bubanj Hum Ib, Lažňany, Retz-Gajary and Lasinja19. P. Georgieva believes that Telish IV and Sălcuţa IV (the settlement) fit between Rebarkovo-Sălcuţa III, and Galatin-Chukata-Herculane II/III20.

Fig. 16 – Pottery from Bezhanovo.
1‑5, 8‑17: unstratified; 6‑7: building level II, house 1; 18‑20: building level I.

Fig. 17 – Sherds with painted decoration (vithout stratigraphy)

  • 21 Gergov 2008, p. 108.
  • 22 Gergov 2003, p. 40.
  • 23 Ilcheva 1996, pl. IV:12; V:3; VII:2; XII:7.
  • 24 Berciu 1961, p. 309‑328, fig. 137: 11; 138: 8‑11; 139: 2‑6; 140: 2‑4; 141.
  • 25 Georgieva 1987, fig. 1: 2‑6, 13‑14; fig. 3: 5, 10.

24The recent research on Sadovets-Ezeroto reveals that some of the materials yielded by building level VIII have very close parallels in Băile Herculane-Peştera-Hoţilor, thus relating it to the Southeastern and the Middle European horizon of the Scheibenhenkel21. The observations of the excavator made him believe that Telish IV was an earlier phase compared to that represented at Sadovets22. Part of the pottery assemblage from Bezhanovo, such as the bowls on high pedestal bases, the jars and the storage jars with undulated rims or incisions on them, the S-shaped bowls and jars, the conical-cylindrical cups with one handle and the incised decoration made with a comb-shaped instrument, finds parallels in Hotnitsa-Vodopada23, which is related to the Cernavodă I culture, and in Sălcuţa IV24 and Galatin-Chukata25, which are related to the so-called Scheibenhenkel horizon. However, some elements that are very typical of these cultural assemblages are missing. The disc-shaped handles, the characteristic decoration consisting of triangular, quadrangular or circular fields made by shallow or deep incisions, typical of the western cultural assemblage, as well as the so-called “milk jars” and the round-bottomed cups, have not been found. Also, the large, rounded handles with a flat section typical for Cernavodă I culture are very rare.

25In addition to the numerous potsherds, the excavated area produced a considerable number of flint artifacts including 16 arrow points. Their study has not yet been completed. The small finds also include three copper and four bone awls, a bone pin, hammer stones and stone polishers, as well as 23 loom weights. Most of the weights are oval and flat, but some have irregular conical and slightly flattened shapes.

  • 26 Vajsov 1992, p. 47.
  • 27 Georgieva 1993b, fig. 1: 6‑7; 16‑20; Georgieva 1994, fig. 5: 5‑6, 13, 16.
  • 28 Cf. n. 17, 24 and 25.

26In general, the pottery from Bezhanovo shows an affinity to the eastern cultural circle, if we consider Hotnitsa-Vodopada as the southernmost variant of the Cernavodă I-Pevets culture26, and given the apparent continuity between the stage represented in Shemshevo-Klise Bair and the next one represented in Hotnitsa-Vodopada. The conical bowls with rounded carination, typical for some of the sites located to the west, as well as the plates with a thickened rim, are also missing27. Nevertheless, some close parallels reveal connections in this direction28.

  • 29 Ilcheva 1996, pl. V: 3; XII: 7; XXVIII: 16.

27Several sherds coming definitely from building level I (fig. 16: 18‑20) find their closest parallels at Hotnitsa-Vodopada29. Some of the large rounded handles (fig. 16: 8), as well as some of the connecting parts of the double vessels, are most probably related to this building level as well. The direct parallels with Hotnitsa-Vodopada and Telish IV provide grounds to assume that building level I was contemporary to these sites. This assumption is supported by the documented change in some elements of the architecture, such as the different way of constructing the floors, the use of large limestone pieces to construct the house foundations, and the wattle-and-daub superstructure. The precise determination of its chronological position will be possible after completing the future excavations outside the tumulus cover and the study of the materials.

  • 30 Gergov & Hristov 1999‑2000; Gergov & Valentinova 2004.

28The comparative analysis of the materials from Bezhanovo puts building level II slightly earlier chronologically than Hotnitsa-Vodopada, Telish IV, Sălcuţa IV and Galatin. At this stage of research, it is most realistic to consider building level II contemporary to Shemshevo-Klise Bair, the very end of Sălcuţa III or Sălcuţa III/IV. Telish IV and the post-Chalcolithic levels in the Devetaki Cave can also be viewed as partially contemporary30.

Absolute chronology

  • 31 Boyadzhiev 1998, p. 355, 359, fig. 1.

29The chronological positioning of the Banunya site near the village of Bezhanovo at the very end of the Chalcolithic and the beginning of the next chronological horizon, marked by the cultures of the so-called Scheibenhenkel to the west and the Cernavodă I-Pevets culture to the east, is generally supported by the AMS dates provided by the “Balkans 4000” project (table 1). The analyses were conducted in the Laboratory of Radiocarbon dating of the UMR 5138 – Archaeology and Archaeometry at Lyon, France. The analyzed samples (animal bones) provided six dates, four of which (samples 1 to 4) fall within the first quarter of the 4th millennium BC. All dates come from features related to the building level II (houses 2 and 5). Based on the currently available 14C dates31, this level can be considered contemporary to Kolarovo, Yagodina Cave II, Haramiiska Dupka Cave II, Magura Cave (level 0), Bodrogkerestúr A, Balaton-Lasinja I, Tripolie BII, and the beginning of Cernavodă I.

30The remaining two dates (samples 5 and 6) are considerably later. The one from square D1‑D3 falls into the late 3rd millennium BC and corresponds well to the Bronze Age features documented at this part of the site, which significantly disturbed and destroyed the Chalcolithic layer. The date obtained from the last sample falls within the late 4th-3rd centuries BC. It was taken from a concentration of animal bones and small lumps of burnt wall plaster found in square C2, close to a hearth of building level I (O2), situated to the southwest of a treasure hunters’ trench in this sector. Although it does not confirm the expected result for level I, the date provides a good reference for the accumulation and usage of the tumulus.

Sample
no.

Nature of sample

Provenance

Lab code

BP value

Calibrated date (95.4%)

1

animal bone

Square A2, horizon II, house 2

Lyon-6461/SacA-17881

5065 ± 35

3959‑3776 BC

2

animal bone

Square A2, horizon II, house 2

Lyon-6462/SacA-17882

5065 ± 35

3959‑3776 BC

3

animal bone

Square A2, horizon II, house 2

Lyon-6463/SacA-17883

5125 + 35

3980‑3804 BC

4

animal bone

Square C4, horizon II, house 5

Lyon-765 l/SacA-22612

4980 ± 50

3940‑3652 BC

5

animal bone

Square D1‑D3

Lyon-7759/SacA-23307

3715 ±30

2199‑2063 BC

6

animal bone

Square C2

Lyon-7908/SacA-23500

2270 ± 30

395‑211 BC

Table 1 – Radiocarbon dates from Bezhanovo.

  • 32 Gergov & Valentinova 2004, p. 61.
  • 33 Valentinova 2008, p. 50, fig. 1, pl. II; III: 1‑6; XIII; XIV; XXV: 1‑4; Valentinova 2011, p. 87, fi (...)

31Notwithstanding the small amount of information provided by building levels I and III, the preliminary results from the archaeological excavations at the prehistoric site in the Banunya locality near Bezhanovo currently suggest a close chronological relationship among the three defined building levels. The repeated renovations/reconstructions of the hearths and the ovens, as well as the solid construction of the houses, reveal a long occupation at the site. A similar situation was documented in the Devetaki Cave, where the floors of some of the excavated ovens related to houses dating to the so-called Transitional period between the Chalcolithic and the Bronze Age, had been renovated more than ten times32. The assumption that there was a well-organized settlement network in the early 4th millennium BC is supported by the field survey of the microregion of the Kamenitsa and Middle Vit rivers. It provided information on four more sites dating to the same period, with similar topographic positions. The cluster of settlements and pottery reveal that most probably these sites functioned in close chronological proximity and were elements of a microsystem consisting of interrelated settlements33. The small number of recorded and partially excavated sites dating to the period under discussion not only in this region, but over a larger territory as well, does not yet allow for a reliable internal division. The question still remains whether the specific identified features of the different sites result from regional development or reflect chronological differences. The solution to this issue is a matter for future field surveys, archaeological excavation of new sites, and further studies of pottery assemblages from already excavated sites.

Notes

2 Text translated from Bulgarian by Tatiana Stefanova.

3 The tumulus was registered during a field survey by Mladen Stoyanov, archaeologist at the Museum of History in Lovech.

4 The financial support for the archaeological excavations was provided by the Museum of History in Lovech. The author of the present article was the director of the excavations and R. Gushterakliev the deputy director. Dr G. Nehrizov was the consultant for the excavation of the tumulus, Ass. Prof. S. Chohadzhiev for that of the prehistoric settlement. A dozen young archaeologists and students worked for different periods of time during all campaigns at the site and I would like to express my sincere gratitude for their dedication. I also want to thank Research Fellow V. Gergov for his valuable advice and support.

5 A grid was laid out on the site dividing the area into 10 x 10 m sectors. The sectors were designated by the letters A to D from west to east. Each sector was divided into 5 x 5 m squares numbered 1 to 4 from west to east. Each of the points marking a corner of a square was given a number from 1 to 25 following the same order. Point 6 from the grid was chosen as a bench mark (R).

6 The results from the excavations of the Bronze Age layer will be published in another article.

7 Building level I is the latest one.

8 Gencheva & Stanev 1993, p. 179‑184.

9 Ilcheva 1997, p. 91‑113, pl. VII: 8; VII: 7, 9; VIII: 2‑5; XVIII: 1, 7; VIII: 6; IX: 3‑4; XII: 2‑7; VII: 10.

10 Ibid., pl. XIV: 3.

11 Ibid., p. 98‑99, pl. XV‑XVIII.

12 Ibid., p. 105.

13 Georgieva 1994, fig. 2: 5‑6; fig. 5: 8‑9; fig. 8: 7, 9, 16.

14 Georgieva 2007, p. 329‑338.

15 Draganov 1998, p. 203‑221, fig. 4: 2, 15; Dimitrov 2007, fig. 6B.

16 Draganov 1998, fig. 3; Georgieva 1994, p. 23.

17 Gergov 1996, p. 310, fig. 3‑5, 9, 10.

18 Gergov 1987, fig. 5a-b.

19 Gergov 1987; Gergov 1992, p. 353.

20 Georgieva 1992, p. 341.

21 Gergov 2008, p. 108.

22 Gergov 2003, p. 40.

23 Ilcheva 1996, pl. IV:12; V:3; VII:2; XII:7.

24 Berciu 1961, p. 309‑328, fig. 137: 11; 138: 8‑11; 139: 2‑6; 140: 2‑4; 141.

25 Georgieva 1987, fig. 1: 2‑6, 13‑14; fig. 3: 5, 10.

26 Vajsov 1992, p. 47.

27 Georgieva 1993b, fig. 1: 6‑7; 16‑20; Georgieva 1994, fig. 5: 5‑6, 13, 16.

28 Cf. n. 17, 24 and 25.

29 Ilcheva 1996, pl. V: 3; XII: 7; XXVIII: 16.

30 Gergov & Hristov 1999‑2000; Gergov & Valentinova 2004.

31 Boyadzhiev 1998, p. 355, 359, fig. 1.

32 Gergov & Valentinova 2004, p. 61.

33 Valentinova 2008, p. 50, fig. 1, pl. II; III: 1‑6; XIII; XIV; XXV: 1‑4; Valentinova 2011, p. 87, fig. 1: 3, pl. IV: 3‑7.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 1 – Bezhanovo-Banunya, topographical plan (author: P. Zidarov, NBU).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 160k
Légende Fig. 2 – The Banunya (Borunya) locality, view from the southwest.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 84k
Légende Fig. 3 – Layer of small limestone pieces (northern part), related to the Bronze Age structures.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 104k
Légende Fig. 4 – General plan of the excavated area.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 92k
Légende Fig. 5 – Corner of the wall base of a house from building level I.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 36k
Légende Fig. 6 – Detail of the floor of house 7 (building level II).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 28k
Légende Fig. 7 – Building level II, house 1: the screen wall, the oven and part of the burnt floor after its cleaning and partial removal.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Légende Fig. 8 – Building level II, house 3: layer of debris with remains of the eastern wall.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 40k
Légende Fig. 9 – House 1 during excavation.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 96k
Légende Fig. 10 – Ceramic vessel deformed by the fire, house 4 (building level III).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 76k
Légende Fig. 11 – Part of the burnt floor of house 4.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 96k
Légende Fig. 12 – Pottery from Bezhanovo, building level II.1‑12: house 7; 13‑24: house 2.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 56k
Légende Fig. 13 – Pottery from building level II. 1‑8: house 1; 9‑14: house 3; 15, 16, 18: house 6; 17, 19: house 5.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 56k
Légende Fig. 14 – Ceramic vessels from house 2.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 72k
Légende Fig. 15 – Ceramic vessels from house 6.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 56k
Légende Fig. 16 – Pottery from Bezhanovo. 1‑5, 8‑17: unstratified; 6‑7: building level II, house 1; 18‑20: building level I.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Légende Fig. 17 – Sherds with painted decoration (vithout stratigraphy)
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/509/img-17.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 16k

Auteur

Regional Historical Museum of Lovech.

Tatiana Stefanova (Traducteur)
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