TYPOLOGIE UND CHRONOLOGIE DER NEOLITHISCHEN ALTÄRCHEN AUF DEM BALKAN
Typology and chronology of the neolithic altars in the Balkans
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Crucial for the present article is the following assessment: Protostarčevo, as defined by D. Srejović (Donja Branjevina, Gura Baciului, Grivac Groups), is not a genetic and culture-chronological part of the Protostarčevo Culture in its primary zone in the central Balkans. According to the present authors it is later and represents already an early phase of the Starčevo-Criş Culture on the territory along the Danube. The proper early Neolithic is evidenced only through the monochrome pottery from settlements Padina B, Lepenski Vir and Donja Branjevina III. The basis of the present study are the stratigraphicaly and culturally fixed altars from the tell settlement of Gălăbnik, located on the upper Struma inhabited subsequently by the Gălăbnik Group, Starčevo Culture in the Middle Neolithic. For the Gălăbnik Group triangular-shaped altars with hemispherical container decorated by rows of embossed triangles of type A were characteristic. During the Starčevo Culture settlement phase they were replaced by triangular-shaped altars with triangular container, decorated with incisions of type B. Less numerous were square-shaped altars of type D and altars with cylindrical or bowl-shaped container of type F. The Middle Neolithic altars were likewise triangular-shaped but with various types of engraved ornament of type C. In contrast, the Starčevo-Criş Culture altars, on the territory along the Danube, had always four legs and a bowl-shaped container of the types I – K, on square or round platform. Intercultural comparison demonstrates that the altars, just like pottery, were associated with the culturally defined entities according to shapes and decoration on vessels. The groups of the southern Balkans (Kovačevo, Velušina-Porodin, Podgorie) preferred square-shaped altars of type M. The triangular-shaped altars were common in the upper Struma and most of Bulgaria, and four-legged altars being an exclusive type in Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary. Absence of authentic archaeological contexts makes it difficult to interpret their function. Firs the altars appeared in the Balkans in the cultures with white-painted pottery (Hoca Çeşme II and the Gălăbnik Group). Due to the absence of the Balkan-type altars in Anatolia, an eastern origin cannot be suggested. They did not penetrate to the Europe with the spread of Neolithic way of life, but should be considered as an independent invention by the local Balkan groups successfully establishing permanent settlements with developed economic and social structure in the southeastern Europe.
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