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The Human Face of Radiocarbon

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Zoï Tsirtsoni

Bulgarian Thrace

Chapter 7. Tell karanovo: the hiatus between the Late Copper and the Early Bronze Age

Vassil Nikolov et Viktoria Petrova
Traduction de Boyan Alexiev

Texte intégral

  • 2 Hiller & Nikolov 2002; Hiller & Nikolov 2005.

1The joint Bulgarian-Austrian archaeological excavations of the Central Area at Tell Karanovo were carried out in 2000‑2005 under the direction of Vassil Nikolov (Sofia) and Stefan Hiller (Salzburg)2. They focused on the Early Bronze Age layer but the uppermost levels of the Late Copper Age layer were uncovered as well (fig. 1). This situation offered an opportunity to date the “dark” period between the end of the Late Copper Age and the beginning of the Early Bronze Age.

  • 3 All the dates are given calibrated at 2 sigmas (probability ca 95.4%).
  • 4 This sample has been measured twice, for control purposes. The first measurement (SacA-21368, not f (...)

2For this purpose, AMS 14C analysis of six animal bone samples from the respective levels in the Central Area was conducted at the Centre de datation par le radiocarbone of the University Claude Bernard-Lyon 1 in 2010, in the framework of the “Balkans 4000” project. Three of those samples came from the layer corresponding to the so-called hiatus (levels 24 to 28). According to the results obtained (table 1), one date (Lyon-7552: 4454‑4345 cal BC3) would belong to the Late Copper Age, whereas the other two (Lyon-7481: 3332‑3020 cal BC; Lyon-7480: 2907‑2671 cal BC4) refer to the first phase of the Early Bronze Age (Ezero A). The results of the other three samples originating from the layer of the Early Bronze Age (levels 19 to 21) were even more puzzling: two of the dates (Lyon-7551: 4458‑4351 cal BC; Lyon-7448: 4446‑4251 cal BC) corresponded to the Late Copper Age and only one date (Lyon-7479: 3310‑2926 cal BC) referred to the beginning of the Bronze Age.

3The discrepancy between some of the radiocarbon dates obtained on animal bone samples and the relative chronology of their context is easy to explain. It poses a methodological problem of dating animal bones from stratified sites, including tells. Whereas taking samples from charred organic material (wood or grain) and dating them takes place when it is known for certain that the material comes from an undisturbed context (e.g., timber from a burnt building or charred grain from a storage bin on the floor of a burnt house), the radiocarbon dating of animal bone, also found in an undisturbed context, does not mean that it will necessarily give the age of that context. As the examples from Tell Karanovo have shown, the bone could have been discovered in situ (e.g., on the building floor) but may had been unearthed from a lower layer and for some reason turned out in a later context. Alternatively, it may have sunk into a lower level of the cultural layer because of some activity that occurred in the past, which remained unnoticed during the archaeological excavation, such as falling into a small pit, contamination during the digging into the layer around the house, sinking into the hole of a wooden post that had decayed over years, etc. While the relative chronology of the charred organic matter, from which a sample is taken for radiocarbon dating, can be identified by associated finds, usually pottery vessels, one cannot expect to get reliable information based on the chronological correspondence between the animal bone and its context, even if that information results from the most precise archaeological fieldwork.

Sector / level

Lab no.

Measuring Lab no.

Date BP

Calibrated BC date (2s)

Central, sq. L15/II, level 24

Lyon-7480

SacA-24566

4215 ± 40

2907‑2671

Central, sq. K15/IV, level 20

Lyon-7479

SacA-21367

4425 ± 30

3310‑2926

Central, sq. K15/II, level 27

Lyon-7481

SacA-21369

4455 ± 30

3332‑3020

Central, sq. K16/III, alt. 217.70‑217.60 m

Lyon-8851

SacA-27819

4490 ± 40

3351‑3027

Central, sq. K16/III, alt. 217.70‑217.60 m

Lyon-8852

SacA-27820

4555 ± 35

3488‑3103

Central, sq. K16/III, alt. 217.35‑217.25 m

Lyon-8846

SacA-27814

4570 ± 35

3496‑3104

Central, sq. K16/III, alt. 217.80‑217.75 m

Lyon-8854

SacA-27822

4570 ± 35

3496‑3104

Central, sq. K16/III, alt. 217.75‑217.70 m

Lyon-8853

SacA-27821

4585 ± 35

3500‑3111

Central, sq. K15/IV, level 19

Lyon-7478

SacA-24565

5480 ± 40

4446‑4251

Central, sq. K16/III, alt. 217.25‑217.20 m

Lyon-8845

SacA-27813

5500 ± 35

4449‑4265

Central, sq. K16/III,alt. 217.40‑217.35 m

Lyon-8847

SacA-27815

5510 ± 35

4450‑4270

Central, sq. K16/III, alt. 217.45‑217.40 m

Lyon-8849

SacA-27817

5520 ± 35

4447‑4331

Central, level 28

Lyon-7552

SacA-22059

5560 ± 30

4454‑4345

Central, sq. K16/III, alt. 217.45‑217.40 m

Lyon-8850

SacA-27818

5560 ± 35

4456‑4342

Central, sq. K15/IV, level 21

Lyon-7551

SacA-22058

5580 ± 30

4458‑4351

Central, sq. K16/III, alt. 217.40‑217.35 m

Lyon-8848

SacA-27816

6245 ± 35

5306‑5077

Table 1 – Tell Karanovo, Central Area. List of the radiocarbon dates from the Late Copper Age and Early Bronze Age layers.

4The obvious discrepancy between some of the radiocarbon dates obtained and the context of the samples made it necessary to open a new trench at Tell Karanovo: its main purpose was to provide samples with maximum reliable stratigraphic information, through which it would be possible to date the end of the Late Copper Age layer (Karanovo VI culture), the so-called hiatus, as well as the layer from the beginning of the Early Bronze Age.

  • 5 Nikolov & Petrova 2011.
  • 6 Nikolov 2011.

5The trench was excavated in 2011 under the direction of Vassil Nikolov5. It is located in the eastern section of the Central Area and occupies the western part of square K16/III (fig. 1; 2). It measures 1 x 4 m and its long axis is oriented north-south. The excavation began from the level reached in 2001, after the investigation of the big building from horizon 3 (St. Kirilovo phase of the Early Bronze Age)6. In view of the aforesaid problem with the first series of radiocarbon dates related to the project, the excavations were carried out very carefully in thin spits (5 cm thickness); animal bones from problematic features or possibly contaminated contexts were ignored.

Fig. 1 – Tell Karanovo. Plan of the excavated areas.

Fig. 2 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Photo of the eastern profile in square K16/III.

Fig. 2 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Photo of the eastern profile in square K16/III.

  • 7 The 2011 excavation campaign as well as the analysis of the second series of samples have been carr (...)

6Three levels were identified in the stratigraphic sequence of the excavated trench (fig. 2; 3): these were assigned (from the bottom upwards), to the Late Copper Age, to the so-called hiatus (or “gap”), and to the Early Bronze Age. Because of the exceptional relevance of the results of this investigation to Southeast European prehistory with respect to determining the duration of the period between the end of the Late Copper Age and the beginning of the Early Bronze Age at Tell Karanovo, ten more animal bone samples were taken and sent to the Centre de datation par le radiocarbone7. Two of the samples came from the Late Copper Age level, whereas the levels of the so-called hiatus and the Early Bronze Age (Ezero A phase) are represented by four samples each.

The Late Copper Age layer

  • 8 According to the evidence from the Northeastern Area its thickness exceeds 3 m.

7Its upper level was recorded at an altitude of 217.37 m above sea level. It was excavated down to an altitude of 216.20 m without being exhausted8. It represents a homogeneous yellow, very loose layer with charcoal inclusions. No archaeological features have been uncovered. Two animal bone samples were taken for radiocarbon dating that yielded the following dates: 4449‑4265 cal BC (Lyon-8845) and 3496‑3104 cal BC (Lyon-8846); see table 1. The second date refers of course to the beginning of the Early Bronze Age and was obtained from a bone, which had probably sunk into the lower layer during some activity at that time.

8Ceramic assemblage. It is represented by large and medium-sized sherds. Two of the ceramic sherds were secondarily burnt.

Wares

9The criteria used for determining the wares were the treatment and color of the outer surfaces. The following wares were distinguished:

  1. Grayish-black burnished surface. The inner surface is black burnished (or smoothed). The clay paste is purified, with rare mineral inclusions, or with large / medium-sized mineral inclusions. The paste color is uniformly black or brown (from the core to the surface), or has a gray core flanked by brown surfaces. Shapes include bowls and a pot; a non-diagnostic wall sherd and a handle were also found. Decoration is graphite-painted or incised.

  2. Brown burnished surface. The inner surface is also brown burnished. The clay paste is purified, with very rare tiny mineral inclusions. The paste color is brown, from the core to the surface. Only wall sherds were recovered. Decoration is graphite-painted, or consists of rough and burnished fields.

  3. Brown burnished (or smoothed) upper and rusticated lower outer surface. The inner surface is dark brown, well smoothed. The clay paste is purified, with very rare mineral inclusions. The paste color is brown, from the core to the surface. This group includes only a graphite-painted carinated bowl.

  4. Grayish-black burnished (smoothed) upper and rusticated lower outer surface. The inner surface is black or brown burnished. The clay paste is purified, with very rare grains of sand, or with a medium amount of mineral inclusions. Black color extends from the core to the surface. Only convex bowls were uncovered. Decoration is graphite-painted or stabbed.

  5. Brown burnished (smoothed) outer rim and rusticated lower outer surface. The inner surface is brown, smoothed. The clay paste contains rare tiny mineral inclusions, or a medium amount of mineral inclusions. The paste color is uniformly black. This group includes convex bowls and deep bowls decorated with stabs.

  6. Brown rough outer surface. The inner surface is dark brown, rough. The clay paste contains little organic and mineral inclusions, or rare mineral inclusions. The shapes include a deep bowl and a handled pot, but non-diagnostic wall sherds were recovered as well. Decoration consists of stabs or shell impressions.

  7. Grayish-black rough outer surface. The inner surface is dark brown and rough. The clay paste is purified, with tiny and rare mineral inclusions. Sherds have a gray core flanked by brown surfaces. This group includes a handled pot decorated with a combination of stabs and incisions.

10These wares can be further arranged into two categories, fine and coarse.

11Fine ware. This category includes potsherds and complete vessels with a burnished (smoothed) outer surface, as well as sherds or vessels having a burnished (smoothed) upper part and a rusticated lower one. The following shapes are represented:

  • Shallow bowl with a conical upper part and an inverted conical lower part, and a straight mouth rim. Its outer and inner surfaces are decorated with a positive graphite-painted pattern (fig. 4: 1);

  • Medium deep bowls with an incurving mouth rim; decorated with rusticated fields and stabs (fig. 4: 3, 11, 17). Two of these have rusticated lower parts;

  • Medium deep bowls with a conical upper and inverted conical lower part. The inner surface and the upper part of the outer surface are decorated with a positive graphite-painted pattern (fig. 4: 6);

  • Medium deep carinated bowl with a straight mouth rim. The upper part of its outer surface is decorated with a positive graphite-painted pattern (fig. 4: 15);

  • Pot with a conical upper part, decorated with a graphite-painted pattern (fig. 4: 14);

  • Handle with an oval cross section, probably from a medium deep bowl (fig. 4: 2).

12The decoration includes graphite-painted, incised, or stabbed patterns as well as a combination of rusticated and burnished bands. The graphite-painted decoration is positive and consists mainly of straight lines (horizontal, vertical or oblique lines, solid inverted triangles, or rarely ovals: fig. 4: 1, 6‑8, 10, 12, 14, 18). In one case, there could be a combined positive and negative decoration, but the preserved part of the pattern makes the reconstruction impossible (fig. 4: 14). Graphite painting appears on the upper part of the outer surface of the closed vessels or on both surfaces of the bowls.

13The incised decoration is insufficiently represented; it was identified on one sherd and consists of parallel oblique lines (fig. 4: 9). The stabbed decoration is represented by alternating oval or round stabs located between the smoothed and rough parts of the vessels (fig. 4: 11, 17). The combination of rusticated and burnished bands divided by incised lines is located on the outer surface of bowls (fig. 4: 3, 13).

14Coarse ware. This category includes sherds with a rough surface, or those with a smoother mouth and rough lower surface:

  • Medium deep bowl with incurving mouth rim (fig. 4: 4). Plain surface;

  • Deep bowl with a conical mouth and rounded lower part, and a straight mouth rim (fig. 5: 2). Plain surface;

  • Pot with a conical mouth and rounded lower part (fig. 4: 5). Stabbed decoration;

  • Handled pots; they probably had conical upper, rounded middle and inverted conical lower parts (fig. 5: 1, 4, 5). They are decorated with stabs, shell impressions or short incised lines.

15The decoration of these potsherds consists of quadrangular stabs (fig. 4: 5, 16) or shell impressions (fig. 5: 3, 4), located on the upper parts of the vessels. In one case, the stabs are combined with a plastic knob (fig. 5: 3). Decoration of triangular and round stabs (fig. 5: 1) as well as short incised lines (fig. 5: 5) appears as well.

16Small finds. The Late Copper age layer yielded the foot of an anthropomorphic figurine and an antler tool. The figurine foot is hollow and anatomical details are depicted on it; its upper part is decorated with incised lines (fig. 5: 7). The antler tool has a handle shaft and two working ends: one is oval in cross section whereas the other one is rectangular (fig. 5: 6).

  • 9 Georgieva 2005, fig. 4: 7.
  • 10 Detev 1954, pl. 47‑48.
  • 11 Petrova 2004, pl. 4: 8.
  • 12 Todorova & Matsanova 2000, fig. 26.3: 3, 26.4: 1, 26.5, 26.6: 1.
  • 13 Matsanova 1999, pl. 1: 4‑5, 5: 6.

17Relative chronology. The characteristics presented above explicitly indicate the cultural and chronological affiliation of the ceramic assemblage discussed for the end of the Karanovo VI culture. Among the most typical elements are the handled pots decorated with various stabbed patterns, as well as the handled bowl, which appears rarely in the eastern parts of Upper Thrace. The combination between burnished and rough surfaces, the use of primarily positive graphite decoration consisting of straight line patterns, the presence of shell impressions on the profiled middle parts of the vessels as well as an antler tool and the foot of an anthropomorphic figurine, are typical of the end of the Copper Age. Similar features appear at the tell sites of Starozagorski Mineralni Bani9, Bikovo10, Gyundiyska11, Yunatsite12, and Kapitan Dimitrievo13.

Fig. 4 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Ceramic sherds from the Late Copper Age layer. Karanovo VI culture, IIIc phase.

Fig. 5 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Ceramic sherds, an antler hoe, and a leg of a ceramic figurine from the Late Copper Age layer. Karanovo culture VI, IIIc phase.

18Based on these characteristics and parallels, the assemblage of the Late Copper Age layer of Tell Karanovo can be referred to the IIIc phase of the Karanovo VI culture. It is noteworthy that in the ceramic assemblages of the above sites, which probably developed simultaneously with the last undestroyed Late Copper Age horizon at Karanovo, elements appeared that have not been identified in the Karanovo ceramic assemblage.

The so-called hiatus layer

19Its upper level was recorded at an altitude of 217.55 m, and its lower level at 217.35 m. Its thickness is about 20 cm, in certain areas up to 30 cm. It consists of a highly homogeneous loose gray soil of granular texture. No archaeological features were recovered in that layer. Four bone samples were taken for radiocarbon dating, which gave the following dates (table 1): 4450‑4270 cal BC (Lyon-8847); 4447‑4331 cal BC (Lyon-8849); 4456‑4342 cal BC (Lyon-8850); 5306‑5077 cal BC (Lyon-8848). The latter date shows that the bone from which the sample was taken comes from the Late Neolithic Karanovo III/IV layer, and apparently was brought into the Late Copper Age layer together with earth dug out of the site’s periphery and used as a building material; this guess was supported by the multiple small sherds from the same period found in the hiatus layer.

20Ceramic assemblage. Mostly small sherds were unearthed. The same criteria were adopted for identifying the wares, i.e. treatment and color of the outer surfaces of vessels:

  1. Grayish-black burnished outer surface. The inner surface is black burnished. The clay paste contains a medium amount of tiny inclusions. The core is dark-colored extending to the surface. This group includes a graphite-painted carinated bowl and a wall sherd with stabbed and plastic decoration.

  2. Brown burnished outer surface. The inner surface is brown burnished or smoothed. The clay paste contains a large amount of small, medium-sized and large mineral inclusions, or a small quantity of tiny inclusions. Sherds have a uniform brown color from the core to the surface, or a brown core flanked by two brown surfaces. This ware includes a bowl with an incurving mouth rim and a pot, both featuring graphite-painted decoration.

  3. Grayish-black rough outer surface. The inner surface is dark brown and rough. The clay paste has tiny and medium-sized mineral inclusions. The color of the core is dark extending to the surface. This ware includes a handled pot, which probably had a burnished mouth. It is decorated with a combination of stabs and a graphite-painted pattern.

21Fine ware. It includes the following shapes:

  • Shallow convex bowl with an incurving mouth rim and a positive graphite-painted pattern on the inner surface (fig. 6: 3);

  • Medium deep carinated bowl decorated with a positive graphite-painted pattern (fig. 6: 2);

  • Sherd from a bowl decorated with a combination of stabbed and plastic decoration (fig. 6: 5);

  • Pot with an almost cylindrical upper part and positive graphite decoration (fig. 6: 1).

22Coarse ware. The shapes in this category include:

  • Sherd of a rounded bowl with incised and plastic decoration (fig. 6: 6);

  • Handled pot with a combination of graphite-painted and plastic decoration (fig. 6: 4).

23The decoration of this ware consists of combinations of positive graphite-painted short parallel lines on the handle and tiny oval or round stabs on the upper part of the vessel (fig. 6: 4). There also appears a decoration of oval stabs upon which a round plastic button is applied (fig. 6: 5), as well as a combination of finger impressions and oblique scratches (fig. 6: 6).

24Relative chronology. The characteristics of this ceramic assemblage do not differ from those of the lower layer. Diagnostic elements such as the bowls with incurving mouth rims and the handled pot, as well as the positive graphite-painted and stabbed patterns common in the end of the Copper Age, refer that layer to the IIIc phase of the Karanovo VI culture.

Fig. 6 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Late Copper Age ceramic sherds from the so-called “gap” layer. Karanovo culture VI, IIIc phase.

25The stratigraphic position of the so-called hiatus layer, sandwiched between a Late Copper Age layer and an Early Bronze layer, as well as the character of its material culture, provide evidence that the layer is in fact a result of the destruction of the last Late Copper Age building horizon of Tell Karanovo.

The Early Bronze Age layer

26Its thickness is 1.80 m, not including the already excavated part of ca 60 cm which dates to the third phase of the Thracian Early Bronze Age (St. Kirilovo phase).

Phase One (Ezero A)

27The thickness of this layer is 80 cm; its lower level was recorded at a hypsometer of 217.55 m, and its upper level at 218.35 m. It consists of a brownish-gray soil admixed with tiny daub pieces and charcoal. Five building horizons can be distinguished within it (horizons 11‑7) separated by whitish, yellow, burnt or ashy interlayers. Four samples for radiocarbon dating were taken from the lower levels of that layer, which gave the following dates (table 1): 3351‑3027 cal BC (Lyon-8851); 3488‑3103 cal BC (Lyon-8852); 3500‑3111 cal BC (Lyon-8853); 3496‑3104 cal BC (Lyon-8854).

28A north-south oriented row of five vertical narrow holes was uncovered in the uppermost part of the Ezero A phase layer, at a distance of 1.60‑1.80 m from the western boundary of square K16/III; their diameters are 4‑5 cm and their depths vary between 20 and 30 cm. A transverse row oriented east-west probably exists as well, one hole of which was recorded in the southern profile of the trench. These postholes are most likely the remains of a substructure on which a building of the St. Kirilovo phase was constructed.

29Ceramic assemblage. Large and medium sherds were mostly analyzed. The following wares have been distinguished:

  1. Light to dark brown smoothed or well-smoothed outer surface. The inner surface is brown smoothed. The clay paste is purified, with large mineral inclusions. The group includes a convex bowl, a deep bowl, pots, a wall sherd and handles. Incisions appear with or without white encrustation, stabbed patterns, and a combination of plastic and stabbed decoration.

  2. Grayish-black smoothed or well-smoothed outer surface. The inner surface is black or dark-brown, roughly smoothed. The clay paste contains sand and medium mineral inclusions. This group includes a handled bowl (?), a pot, and wall sherds. Decoration is incised, or a combination of plastic and stabbed decoration.

  3. Light to dark-brown rough outer surface. The inner surface is brown and roughly smoothed. The clay paste contains very coarse mineral inclusions. This group includes a “beehive pot” decorated with a stabbed plastic band.

30Fine ware. This group includes ceramic sherds featuring dark brown or grey-black smoothed or well-smoothed outer surface. The inner surface is dark brown and smoothed or roughly smoothed. The clay paste is purified, with coarse or fine mineral inclusions. It includes the following shapes:

  • Hemispherical deep bowls (fig. 7: 6, 13);

  • Conical pot with a straight mouth rim (fig. 7: 1);

  • Cylindrical pot with a straight or everted mouth rim (fig. 7: 10);

  • Beehive pot” (fig. 7: 17);

  • Handles with an oval cross section (fig. 7: 5, 7, 15).

31The following decoration techniques appear in this group:

  • Incised decoration: Straight or arched vertical lines (fig. 7: 4, 16);

  • Impressed decoration: horizontal or vertical line of short white-encrusted impressions (fig. 7: 6); finger-tip impressions below the mouth rim (fig. 7: 10); bird-bone impressions on a handle (fig. 7: 7);

  • Plastic decoration: plastic bands with oval impressions (fig. 7: 1, 17); plastic button with a vertical plastic band (fig. 7: 14).

32Coarse ware. The pots of that category have brown, roughly smoothed outer surfaces. The inner surface is brown, roughly smoothed, or black smoothed. The clay paste contains a medium amount of quartzite and sand grains. The shapes include:

  • Spout of a ceramic pot (fig. 7: 3);

  • Inverted conical deep bowl with an incurving mouth rim (fig. 7: 9);

  • Conical pots with an everted mouth rim (fig. 7: 2, 8);

  • Necked pot with a handle (broken) [fig. 7: 12].

33This group features mostly impressed and plastic decoration. Impressed decoration includes round bone impressions on the shoulders (fig. 7:12) or nail impressions below the mouth rim (fig. 7: 8). Plastic decoration is represented by a horizontal plastic band below the mouth rim, further decorated with oval impressions (fig. 7: 2).

34This group features mostly impressed and plastic decoration. Impressed decoration includes round bone impressions on the shoulders (fig. 7: 12) or nail impressions below the mouth rim (fig. 7: 8). Plastic decoration is represented by a horizontal plastic band below the mouth rim, further decorated with oval impressions (fig. 7: 2).

35A biconical spindle-whorl was also unearthed from this layer (fig. 7: 11).

  • 14 Georgiev et al. 1979, pl. 134‑148.

36Relative chronology. The ceramic assemblage of this layer finds good parallels at Tell Ezero, horizon XIII‑IX14.

37Remains of the third (St. Kirilovo) phase of the Early Bronze Age overlie the layer of this first phase without a noticeable stratigraphic gap, although there is a definite chronological one. The St. Kirilovo layer is not related to the topic of this paper and will therefore not be discussed here.

Fig. 7 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Ceramic sherds. Early Bronze Age, Ezero A phase.

Duration of the gap between the Late Copper Age and the Early Bronze Age at Tell Karanovo

38The two series of radiocarbon dates, sixteen altogether (table 1), from the end of the Copper Age and the beginning of the Early Bronze Age occupation of the western part of Tell Karanovo, can be used to draw reliable conclusions about the topic of this project. The chronological sequence of these sixteen dates allows their grouping according to the calibration interval.

  • 15 That sample is from a bone which apparently sank very deep down to the boundary of the Copper Age l (...)
  • 16 As mentioned above, the bone from which the sample was taken was apparently “dug up” during constru (...)

39The latest date of the sequence (Lyon-7480: 2907‑2671 cal BC) probably refers to the end of the first (Ezero A) phase of the Early Bronze Age and therefore will be excluded from further analysis15. The earliest date obtained (Lyon-8848: 5306‑5077 cal BC), if judging by the large amount of Late Neolithic potsherds found in the Late Copper Age layer, definitely marks a later stage of the Karanovo III/IV period16.

40The other fourteen dates fall into two intervals, which refer to the last phases of the Late Copper Age and the initial phases of the Early Bronze Age.

  • 17 Taking into account the life of a house, they might be two building phases.

41Seven dates refer to the end of the Late Copper Age layer, including the so-called hiatus layer as an inseparable part of it. They all practically have the same lower boundary. Four of those dates (Lyon-7751, Lyon-8850, Lyon-7752, and Lyon-8849, respectively: 4458‑4351, 4456‑4342, 4454‑4345, and 4447‑4331 cal BC) have very close values at the upper boundary as well, and overlap in the interval 4447‑4351 cal BC (about 100 years). The other three dates from that layer (Lyon-8847, Lyon-8845, Lyon-7478, respectively: 4450‑4270, 4449‑4265 and 4446‑4251 cal BC) are also very close according to the values of the upper boundary, but overlap in the interval 4446‑4270 cal BC (about 180 years). The two intervals (4447‑4351 cal BC and 4446‑4270 cal BC) overlap in the period 4446‑4351 cal BC (i.e. less than 100 years), which, in terms of the results obtained, appears as the most probable time for the last building phases in the western part of Tell Karanovo17. Based on the results obtained we can assume that life during the Copper Age at Tell Karanovo (or at least its western part) ended at ca 4350 cal BC.

  • 18 See also the discussion about the “plateau” of the late 4th millennium BC, supra, chapter 1, p. 48, (...)

42Seven dates refer to the beginning of the Early Bronze Age layer. The earlier four of them (Lyon-8853, Lyon-8854, Lyon-8846, and Lyon-8852: 3500‑3111, 3496‑3104, 3496‑3104, and 3488‑3103 cal BC) overlap almost completely; two of them are identical. The large probability interval of these dates can be narrowed by the other three available dates (Lyon-8851, Lyon-7481, and Lyon-7479: 3351‑3027, 3332‑3020, and 3310‑2926 cal BC) and accordingly defined between 3310 and 3111 cal BC (i.e. about 200 years). A future radiocarbon dating of that layer could enable a specification of the interval during which Tell Karanovo was reoccupied at the beginning of the classic Early Bronze Age; for the time being this seems to be impossible18. In any case, the earliest possible date for the appearance of the Early Bronze settlement at Tell Karanovo is about 3310 cal BC; hence the interruption of life between the Late Copper Age and the Early Bronze Age in the western part of Tell Karanovo was at least 1040 years.

Notes

2 Hiller & Nikolov 2002; Hiller & Nikolov 2005.

3 All the dates are given calibrated at 2 sigmas (probability ca 95.4%).

4 This sample has been measured twice, for control purposes. The first measurement (SacA-21368, not figuring in table 1) had given a date at 2885‑2638 cal BC. A similar control procedure was undertaken also for the sample Lyon-7478 (measurements SacA-21366 and SacA-24565), providing again very consistent results.

5 Nikolov & Petrova 2011.

6 Nikolov 2011.

7 The 2011 excavation campaign as well as the analysis of the second series of samples have been carried out thanks to a donation from Yvonne and Arthur Koenig (Rome), to whom we extend our sincerest appreciation.

8 According to the evidence from the Northeastern Area its thickness exceeds 3 m.

9 Georgieva 2005, fig. 4: 7.

10 Detev 1954, pl. 47‑48.

11 Petrova 2004, pl. 4: 8.

12 Todorova & Matsanova 2000, fig. 26.3: 3, 26.4: 1, 26.5, 26.6: 1.

13 Matsanova 1999, pl. 1: 4‑5, 5: 6.

14 Georgiev et al. 1979, pl. 134‑148.

15 That sample is from a bone which apparently sank very deep down to the boundary of the Copper Age layer.

16 As mentioned above, the bone from which the sample was taken was apparently “dug up” during construction works.

17 Taking into account the life of a house, they might be two building phases.

18 See also the discussion about the “plateau” of the late 4th millennium BC, supra, chapter 1, p. 48, and infra, chapter 24, p. 461.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 1 – Tell Karanovo. Plan of the excavated areas.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/512/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 228k
Légende Fig. 2 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Photo of the eastern profile in square K16/III.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/512/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 224k
Légende Fig. 2 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Photo of the eastern profile in square K16/III.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/512/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 436k
Légende Fig. 4 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Ceramic sherds from the Late Copper Age layer. Karanovo VI culture, IIIc phase.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/512/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 192k
Légende Fig. 5 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Ceramic sherds, an antler hoe, and a leg of a ceramic figurine from the Late Copper Age layer. Karanovo culture VI, IIIc phase.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/512/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 84k
Légende Fig. 6 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Late Copper Age ceramic sherds from the so-called “gap” layer. Karanovo culture VI, IIIc phase.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/512/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 116k
Légende Fig. 7 – Tell Karanovo, the 2011 trench. Ceramic sherds. Early Bronze Age, Ezero A phase.
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/512/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 163k

Auteurs

National Institute of Archaeology with Museum, Sofia (NIAM-BAS).

National Institute of Archaeology with Museum, Sofia (NIAM-BAS).

Boyan Alexiev (Traducteur)
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