image/svg+xml9XI/1/2020INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICANATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGYhomepage: http://www.iansa.euIdentifying Early Neolithic Settlements in the Šumadija Region of Serbia Through Combined Pedestrian Survey and Archaeological Geophysical ProspectionMiroslav Kočića,c, Bryan Hanksa*, Marija Kaličanin Krstićb, Marc Bermanna, Petra Basara, Michael MlyniecaaUniversity of Pittsburgh, Department of Anthropology, 3302 WWPH Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USAbInstitute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, Kragujevačkog Oktobra 184, 34000, Kragujevac, Republic of SerbiacArchaeological Institute of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Knez Mihailova 35/4, 11000 Belgrade, Republic of Serbia1. IntroductionResearch on the Early Neolithic Starčevo culture in Central Serbia began in the 1950s (Garašanin, 1954; Gavela, 1961). A new phase of international cooperation was carried out from 1968–1971 (McPherron and Srejović, 1988) at the site of Grivac (Figure 1), where the earliest stage of the settlement was identifed with pit features containing Starčevo artifacts (considered “Proto Starčevo” by the excavators, Bogdanović, 2004). These excavations were followed in the 1970s by additional research at the settlements of Divostin and Kusovac by an international project directed by D. Srejović and A. McPherron (McPherron and Srejović, 1988). Site stratigraphy at Divostin indicated that the earliest occupation dated to the Early/Middle Neolithic and was characterized by Starčevo culture pottery and other artifact types characteristic of this period. Five above-ground domestic structures, pits of various dimensions and shapes, some interpreted as “pit-dwellings”, and open-air fre installations were identifed (Divostin, subphases Ia–c).Eleven radiometric dates of diferent contexts associated with the Divostin I phase were produced (McPherron and Srejović, 1988). A re-analysis and calibration of these dates indicates that Early/Middle Neolithic occupation began by 6,000 cal BC and that the site might have been abandoned by around 5,800 cal BC (Borić, 2009). The site was then reoccupied by 4,700 cal BC (Vinča culture occupation) and then re-abandoned around 4,540 cal BC. Based on this chronology, a potential occupation gap existed of nearly one millennium between the end of the Starčevo occupation and the beginning of the Vinča culture occupation. This chronological phasing is intriguing when considering the interpretations of the original excavators who emphasized that some domestic structures associated with Phase II were Volume XI ● Issue 1/2020 ● Pages 9–19*Corresponding author. E-mail: bkh5@pitt.eduARTICLE INFOArticle history:Received: 25thJanuary 2020Accepted: 8thJuly 2020DOI: words:Early NeolithicStarčevo culturegeophysical prospectionpedestrian surveyABSTRACTThe development of Neolithic lifeways represented fundamental shifts in social organization and human-environment relationships within local ecological settings. An understanding of this process in the Balkans peninsula has remained intriguing and challenging in the broader context of European prehistory. Evidence for Neolithization processes in the Balkans begins around the seventh millennium BC in the south-east at important tell sites such as Nea Nikomedia and Sesklo where rectangular house structures and other elements of the “Neolithic package” strongly resemble those of the Levant. The northern zone of the Balkans peninsula, however, presents a diferent situation, with small fat sites with intrusive later occupation making patterns of early Neolithization difcult to discern. This paper reports recent feld research in Central Serbia (Šumadija region, Gruža River valley) where Early Neolithic occupation related to the Starčevo culture has been found at the newly identifed site of Kneževac through systematic pedestrian survey, artifact spatial analysis, and near surface archaeological geophysics. The results of this research are discussed in the context of other Early Neolithic settlement evidence in the region, along with their implications for understanding early agricultural populations in Central Serbia.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2020 ● XI/1 ● 9–19Miroslav Kočić, Bryan Hanks, Marija Kaličanin Krstić, Marc Bermann, Petra Basar, Michael Mlyniec: Identifying Early Neolithic Settlements in the Šumadija Region of Serbia Through Combined Pedestrian Survey and Archaeological Geophysical Prospection10found exactly above earlier Starčevo “pit-house” features (McPherron and Srejović, 1988). Unfortunately, due to heavy weathering of the early Phase I deposits, and subsequent intrusive occupation of the Divostin II phase, Phase I does not provide much additional information on the organization of early Starčevo culture settlements.Important new information about the Early Neolithic in the Central Balkans was generated in the 1980s by excavations at the site of Blagotin, situated in the Morava River valley (Stanković and Leković, 1993). There were large scale excavations completed in the 1980s at the sites of Paljevine and Grobnice, which are now located in the submerged zone of the Gruža Lake. Unfortunately, these sites (450 square meters of excavated area) were not published and the associated feld reports are not available. The most recent archaeological excavation in the Morava River valley is the large-scale project at Drenovac; however, this is a multi-period site with a very signifcant Vinča stratigraphic layer overlying the earlier phases/occupations at the site (Perić, 2016). Apart from these sites, other reported Early Neolithic sites are covered by later Vinča phase occupation and have only been subject to very limited excavation. This situation challenges any interpretation of the spatial organization of Early Neolithic sites in central Serbia and any attempts to reconstruct the important Starčevo to the later Vinča transition.Currently, one of the best sources of information on the organization of Starčevo communities in Serbia is the salvage excavation at the site of Jaričište I (Marić, 2013). A large expanse of this site was exposed through excavation, revealing concentrically grouped subterranean pit-houses and details of their construction, use, and maintenance (Marić, 2013). The site of Jaričište I indicates that Starčevo pit-houses were durable constructions, supporting interpretations that these were fxed, permanent occupations rather than ephemeral camp sites in the landscape. These early sites, therefore, represent important early domestic loci for examining emergent Neolithization trends in the Balkans. However, much more research is needed to better understand these early occupations, the community organization and regional settlement patterning, and use of local resources.It is important to note that there are indeed many similarities among Starčevo-Körös-Criș settlements across the central Balkans, including their spatial organization. Important feld research, including archaeological geophysics, pedestrian survey, and stratigraphic excavation, has been completed at several Early Neolithic sites in Hungary and Romania and provide an important foundation of comparative data for interpreting early settlement sites in central Serbia (Bánfy, 2000; Green and Lawson, 2018; Bánfy, 2013). However, there also exist strong regional characteristics and patterns and it is difcult to make direct comparisons of central Serbian sites to contemporaneous sites in the Panonian Basin, which are over 400 kilometres away and in a completely diferent geomorphological zone. More research, therefore, is needed to examine such settlement patterning in Serbia and to address the many open questions regarding these Early Neolithic sites. In response to this, in 2016, the University of Pittsburgh and the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Kragujevac, Serbia, initiated a new program of cooperation focusing on systematic pedestrian survey coupled with multi-method archaeological geophysical surveys in the Šumadija region of central Serbia. To date, a total area of 102.47 km² has been surveyed through systematic feld walking (Kočić, 2019, doctoral dissertation research) and fve Neolithic settlements have been investigated with multi-method geophysical surveys (total of 52 ha) through the Šumadija Regional Geospatial Archaeology Project (SRGAP). In the following sections, we discuss research at the site of Kneževac, which was identifed through pedestrian survey and surface collection and spatial analysis by M. Kočić in 2017. Subsequent multi-instrument geophysics was conducted at the site by SRGAP in 2018 to further characterize the archaeological potential of the site. Further investigation and ground truthing will be conducted at Kneževac in 2020.2. Pedestrian survey methodsThe methods employed for the regional scale pedestrian survey followed those associated with North American feld archaeology traditions, which have been long infuenced by a comparative focus on the emergence of sedentism and animal and plant domestication processes in diferent locations around the world. Reconstruction of settlement patterning as a way of interpreting demographic processes, catchment zones, and settlement hierarchies has been a common element in such studies (Carneiro, 1970; Earle, 1997).Historical property inheritance practices within the Šumadija region have led to the splitting of land parcels, resulting in virtually no large, open tracts of land to survey. The feld methods utilized in the regional scale pedestrian survey drew on previously published methods (MacNeish et al., 1975; Hirth, 1980; Feinman and Nicholas, 1990) and more recent statistical approaches to sampling sites with dense concentrations of surface artifacts (Drennan and Peterson, 2011). The survey team maintained an objective target of approximately 50 ha of coverage per day but this varied depending on the sites encountered and density of associated surface artifacts.Most of the survey zone was made up of open tilled felds and feld walking was done over the course of a calendar year and multiple seasons. This ensured that the surface visibility of artifacts was excellent in felds that had been recently tilled or left fallow through the winter. The survey team was comprised of a line of fve members who walked together systematically while spaced 20 m apart. Handheld GPS units were utilized to record the beginning and end of each transect. The primary collection units were 1-hectare cells, which were further divided into sub-cell collection units of 20×20 m. These units were sampled using a 1.81 m radius “dog-leash” collection circle, which provided a 10 m2
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2020 ● XI/1 ● 9–19Miroslav Kočić, Bryan Hanks, Marija Kaličanin Krstić, Marc Bermann, Petra Basar, Michael Mlyniec: Identifying Early Neolithic Settlements in the Šumadija Region of Serbia Through Combined Pedestrian Survey and Archaeological Geophysical Prospection11sample, thereby limiting the total number of artifacts that needed to be collected for spatial analysis (Drennan and Peterson, 2011).In total, 27,754 artifacts were collected during the regional survey and this included full coverage of two large Neolithic settlements (Grivac and Kusovac, each approximately 35 ha) with evidence of Early to Late Neolithic occupation (Starčevo and Vinča) and a third site, Kneževac (approximately 6 ha in size), which displayed only Early Neolithic occupation (Starčevo) (Figure 1). In the following sections, we detail the results of research at Kneževac as this was the only Early Neolithic site identifed with no later intrusive Neolithic occupations.3. The Kneževac settlementThis site was largely undocumented in the scientifc literature other than from verbal reports of Neolithic potsherds being found in felds by local villagers (Bogdanović, 1983). No subsequent archaeological survey or test excavations were undertaken in the area to try and locate the site. The regional pedestrian survey in 2017 identifed a spatial cluster of Starčevo type pottery near the northernmost part of the historical Kneževac village. The site is situated along a gentle slope that represents the frst outcrops of the foothills of the Rudnik Mountain. There is one active freshwater spring within the site, another in the immediate vicinity, and two small creeks running on both sides. The soil on the site is vertisol-smonitza, which is also found in the immediate vicinity of the site, and the adjacent creek areas. The surrounding higher fatlands are comprised of the cambisol gajnjačasoil type, which has a relatively low agricultural production yield. Even today, higher fatland crops are more dispersed than in the lower parts of the valley where the soils are more productive.A total of 436 artifacts were recovered at Kneževac through pedestrian survey and surface collection, with pottery (75%), lithics (15%) and daub (10%) being represented (Figures 2 and 3). Artifact density over the site was surprisingly high