image/svg+xml121 IX/2/2018 INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICA NATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGY homepage: An Archaeobotanical Onsite Approach to the Neolithic Settlements in Southern Regions of the Balkans: The Case of Vrbjanska Čuka, a Tell Site in Pelagonia, Republic of Macedonia Jaromír Beneš a,b , Goce Naumov c , Tereza Majerovičová a,b* , Kristýna Budilová a , Jiří Bumerl a,b , Veronika Komárková a , Jaromír Kovárník a , Michaela Vychronová b , Lucie Juřičková d a Laboratory of Archaeobotany and Palaeoecology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Na Zlaté stoce 3, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic b Institute of Archaeology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of South Bohemia, Branišovská 31a, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic c Center for Prehistoric Research/Goce Delčev University, Kiro Krstevski Platnik 11-2/7, Republic of Macedonia d Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Viničná 7, 128 44 Praha 2, Czech Republic 1. Introduction1.1 Neolithic bioarchaeological knowledge from the Balkans in context Current bioarchaeological research over the last two decades has comprised archaeobotany, archaeozoology and biological anthropology (human bioarchaeology) and in a broader concept of bioarchaeology, as postulated by J. G. D. Clark already in the 1970s (Clark, 1973). In current research, this broader perspective of bioarchaeology has been adopted mostly by European scholars ( e.g. Beneš, Pokorný eds., 2008; Robb, 2014; Marinova et al. , 2013; Bouby et al. , 2013; Miladinović - Radmilović, Vitezović, 2016), because such an approach better refects the current trend towards transdisciplinarity – compared to the narrower view postulated by Larsen for human bioarchaeology (Larsen, 1997; 2014). In this paper, we follow the former approach, a broader concept of bioarchaeology: one comprising the interaction between plants, animals and humans, as refected in the archaeological record.Neolithic research in southeast Europe has, for many years, ofered rich assemblages of bioarchaeological objects: animal bones and other faunal remains, botanical macroremains and microremains (Ivanova et al. , 2018). The southern regions of the Balkans provide a rich and complex network of Neolithic sites (Müller, 2015; Raczky, 2015). Current research refects the long and varied tradition here; however, archaeology in the last century was under the strong infuence of artefactual archaeology during a period when the research paradigm was oriented towards cultural history (Souvatzi, 2008, Volume IX ● Issue 2/2018 ● Pages 121 –145 *Corresponding author. E-mail: ARTICLE INFO Article history: Received: 22 nd September 2018Accepted: 31 st December 2018DOI: 10.24916/iansa.2018.2.1 Key words: bioarchaeologyarchaeobotany Neolithic phytoliths starchmacroremainsBalkans ABSTRACT This paper is focused on the Neolithic tell-site of Vrbjanska Čuka in Pelagonia, Republic of Macedonia, where the authors have been performing archaeobotanical research since 2016. Results of the analyses of botanical macroremains and microremains (starch, phytoliths) and faunal microremains collected in season 2016 are presented in the broader context of the Neolithic in the Balkans in order to estimate the bioarchaeological potential of this site. The frst and fnal parts of the paper outline the bioarchaeological studies connected with Neolithic settlements in the southern regions of the Balkans. A substantial proliferation of environmental studies has been recorded in the last decade concerning the archaeobotanical and archaeozoological evidence. Here, most attention is paid to archaeobotanical studies which consider Neolithic settlements and their bioarchaeological context.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2018 ● IX/2 ● 121–145Jaromír Beneš, Goce Naumov, Tereza Majerovičová, Kristýna Budilová, Jiří Bumerl, Veronika Komárková, Jaromír Kovárník, Michaela Vychronová, Lucie Juřičková: An Archaeobotanical Onsite Approach to the Neolithic Settlements in Southern Regions of the Balkans: The Case of Vrbjanska Čuka, a Tell Site in Pelagonia, Republic of Macedonia 122 pp. 47–51). This concept substantially favoured those studies dealing with material culture rather than ones addressing environmental and biological issues. Furthermore, the lack of local specialists led to a predominance of artefactual and architectural studies.Bioarchaeological research was concentrated towards large systematic excavations made by international expeditions. This is clearly the case with the older research history of the site of Amzabegovo (Gimbutas, 1974; 1976), Sitagroi (Renfrew et al. , 1986; Näslund, 2009), Argissa (Reingruber, 2005), Nea Nikomedeia (Pyke, Yiouni, 1996; van Zeist, Bottema, 1971), Karanovo (Hiller, Nikolov, 1988) and Dikili Tash (Treuil, 1992) being the best examples.The activities of bioarchaeologists have been oriented towards the thematic pioneer research of Neolithic palaeoeconomy. In this regard, R. Dennell studied the archaeobotanical assemblages of such Neolithic sites as Chavdar and Kazanlak in Bulgaria. Dennell established an alternative approach which suggested that the economic value of a Neolithic plant resource can be ascertained by considering its context within the crop-processing activities of a site or area (Dennell, 1972; 1974; 1976). The research of Dennell has opened up new avenues in onsite archaeological interpretations, certainly in comparison to the older common approach of recording the presence/absence of economic plant species in archaeobotanical assemblages. R. Dennell also worked with the archaeozoologist G. Kovačev and attempted to provide a complete onsite bioarchaeological picture of the plants and animals. Likewise, P. Halstead has contributed much to the research area of archaeozoology. He has published a series of papers focused on archaeozoological data of the Neolithic and Bronze Age (Halstead, 1981; 1989). In so doing he has attempted to ascertain the potential of archaeozoological material in helping to identify the part of large-scale pastoral specialization versus small-scale stock husbandry as a component of mixed farming. His concept has opened up such phenomena as the large-scale exchange of animals for meat and the identifcation of “producer sites” and “consumer sites”, as well as the issues of milking, dairying and similar phenomena (Halstead, 1996).In the southern regions of the Balkans in the 1980s and 1990s, local specialists were also active, such as E. Chakalova and Z. Popova in Bulgaria (see Kreuz et al. , 2017). A substantial shift has been recorded in the last decade towards the adoption of a multi-proxy approach: a new trend in the bioarchaeological research of Neolithic sites. In contrast to the best monothematic studies of the 1970s and 1980s, the multi-proxy approach is based on the synergy of two or more analytical methods. The combination of particular methods has been steeply increasing in number up until today (Marinova, Thiebault, 2008; Karkanas et al. , 2011; Pappa et al. , 2013; Garnier, Valamoti, 2016; Marinova, Ntinou, 2017; Kreuz, Marinova, 2017; Ivanova et al. , 2018; Whitford, 2018). In the last 10–15 years, the “critical mass” of specialists and awareness of the necessity to apply multi-proxy approaches has increased. Such synthesis should indeed become “state of the art” in the future (Allen et al. , 2017; Ethier et al. , 2017; Marinova et al. , 2016; Krauß et al. , 2017; 2018). Transdisciplinary studies constitute present-day research and the near future for prehistoric onsite archaeology. Archaeobotanical research is still rare for archaeological excavation in this study region of the Balkans. It is due to the lack of specialists and the technical difculty of sampling in archaeological feld research – and the time-consuming work involved in the post-excavational phase. On the other hand, archaeobotany can contribute to resolving palaeoeconomical questions and trace the forms of human behaviour on a specifc prehistoric site in great detail. 1.2 Natural setting of the southern Balkans and its Neolithic sites Geographically, the southern Balkans region is very variable: its surface is predominantly mountainous. The climate of the coastal regions difers from that inland, it being more continental. Most of the southern Balkans is dominated by a Mediterranean climate, particularly for the area of Thessaly and Greek Macedonia. Towards the north the climate passes to a sub-Mediterranean environment with lower average annual temperatures in the valleys of the rivers Vardar, Haliacmon, Lower Struma and Maritsa (Trifunovski, 1998; Ivanova et al. , 2018). Altitude is an important infuence on temperature and humidity. Due to the melting of the mountain snow cover and other sufcient sources of water, the Balkan region is rich in lakes, rivers and wetlands (Grifths et al. , 2004).The southern part of the region is today covered by evergreen sclerophyll vegetation, constrained by warm, dry summers and rainy winters (Prach et al. , 2009). The southernmost areas of mainland Greece and Greek Macedonia are covered by Mediterranean vegetation characterized by evergreen hardwood forest (with a diverse species composition) combined with alluvial forest (Bohn et al. , 2000/2003). In north-facing river valleys, including the area of Pelagonia, these Mediterranean habitats are alternated with sub-Mediterranean oak forests (dominated by Quercus ilex, Q. coccifera, Q. trojana, Q. macedonica ) with hornbeam ( Carpinus betulus ) and ash ( Fraxinus ornus ). Higher altitudes include Sub-mediterranean Mountain forests dominated by beech and pine trees (Walter, 1985; Marinova, Ntinou, 2017). An important tree species in the study area is Cornus mas: used in the Neolithic period for the construction of fences and wattle-and-daub structures, while its fruits were also collected (Marinova et al. , 2013).Palaeoecological research already ofers much rich and well-structured data for the reconstruction of the Holocene vegetation – and the natural conditions of the Neolithic period in particular. The archaeobotanical data provides comprehensive knowledge about plant macroremains, pollen or charcoal, as well as many other aspects of palaeoecology (Marinova et al. , 2012; Cvetkoska et al. , 2014; Thienemann et al. , 2016; Lespez et al. , 2016; Marinova, Ntinou, 2017).Neolithic settlements were concentrated near water and natural raw material sources. In southeast Europe, there are two types of Neolithic settlement (Figure 1). The
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2018 ● IX/2 ● 121–145Jaromír Beneš, Goce Naumov, Tereza Majerovičová, Kristýna Budilová, Jiří Bumerl, Veronika Komárková, Jaromír Kovárník, Michaela Vychronová, Lucie Juřičková: An Archaeobotanical Onsite Approach to the Neolithic Settlements in Southern Regions of the Balkans: The Case of Vrbjanska Čuka, a Tell Site in Pelagonia, Republic of Macedonia 123 frst type is a horizontal settlement (in other words – fat, extended) with a single layer of settlement (Tolevski, 2009; Nikolov et al. , 2015; Pappa et al. , 2004; Vuković et al. , 2016). The second type is the tell settlement site, which constitutes several settled horizons, due to which the stratigraphy of the settlement is often high – sometimes up to several metres (Rosenstock, 2006; Nikolov, 2007; Darcque et al. , 2007; Naumov, 2016). Settlements are usually open; however, fortifed sites have been registered as well (Kotsakis, 1999; Raczky, 2015). The considerable stratigraphy of tells demonstrates how deep was the attachment between the inhabitants of a tell and its settled area. However, some tells constitute only two settled horizons and the height of the entire tell is not particularly signifcant; these tells could therefore be a kind of transitional form between the fat site and the tell-type settlement (Kreuz, Marinova, 2017).The Neolithic tell settlements are initially established in the region of Thessaly and further dispersed along the tributaries Figure 1. Location of Neolithic settlements in the southern Balkans. Settlements are divided by type. Explanatory notes: Legend explanations: S – unspecifed type of settlement, C – cave, FS – fat settlement, FS-F – fat settlement with fortifcation, T – tell, T-F – tell with fortifcation, T-FS-F – Tell with surrounding fat settlement and fortifcation. Source: EnviroBalkan database (LAPE USB České Budějovice). Data and visualisation: T. Majerovičová, J. Bumerl.1 – Pavlovac, 2 – Piperkov Chifik, 3 – Bersin, 4 – Nevestino, 5 – Vaksevo, 6 – Priboy, 7 – Negovantsi, 8 – Pernik, 9 – Galabnik, 10 – Kremenik, 11 – Kraynitsi, 12 – Kamenik, 13 – Mursalevo, 14 – Drenkovo, 15 – Balgarchevo, 16 – Dobrinishte, 17 – Brezhani, 18 – Ilindentsi, 19 – Kovachevo, 20 – Kremikovtsi, 21 – Slatina, 22 – Slatina Gradini, 23 – Eleshnitsa, 24 – Chavdar, 25 – Ginova mogila, 26 – Rakitovo, 27 – Kapitan Dimitrievo, 28 – Dabene – Pishtikova mogila, 29 – Chernichevo – „Manastirya“, 30 – Plovdiv, 31 – Plovdiv – Yassatepe, 32 – Kuklen, 33 – Muldava, 34 – Muldava, 35 – Kazanlak, 36 – Azmak I, 37 – Stara Zagora, 38 – Karanovo, 39 – Yabalkovo, 40 – Chavdarova Chesma, 41 – Karadzhali, 42 – Krumovgrad, 43 – Veselinovo, 44 – Mlado Nagoričane, 45 – Tumba Madjari, 46 – Gorobinci, 47 – Amzabegovo, 48 – Vršnik, 49 – Kanli Čair, 50 – Stranata Angelci, 51 – Zelenikovo, 52 – Mramor, 53 – Dzuniver, 54 – Resava, 55 – Vrbjanska Čuka, 56 – Topolčani, 57 – Porodin, 58 – Veluška Tumba, 59 – Avgi, 60 – Dispilio, 61 – Servia, 62 – Servia, 63 – Platia Magoula Zarkou, 64 – Makrychori, 65 – Galini, 66 – Rachmani, 67 – Argissa, 68 – Sykeon, 69 – Prodromos, 70 – Myrrini, 71 – Tsangli, 72 – Sesklo, 73 – Dimini, 74 – Pevkakia, 75 – Elateia, 76 – Lerna, 77 – Franchthi, 78 – Agia Triada, 79 – Mandalo, 80 – Nea Nikomedeia, 81 – Yannitsa, 82 – Archondiko, 83 – Paliambela, 84 – Makriyalos, 85 – Stavroupolis,86 – Thermi, 87 – Vassilika, 88 – Mesimeriany, 89 – Promachon Topolnica, 90 – Dimitra, 91 – Sitagroi, 92 – Kryoneri, 93 – Dikili Tash, 94 – Lafrouda, 95 – Krovili, 96 – Makri.