Romanian version

The publication of the Pietroasa Mica cemetery (Buzau County) by A. Oancea in 1981 signified not only an addition of information on the funeral customs of the of the communities pertaining to the Monteoru culture, but it also opened a debate regarding the terminal phases of this important bronze age culture to the north of the Danube (Notes 1- 8). The cemetery, which was situated on a rocky plateau, could not be exhaustively studied, for solid reasons. There were discovered 62 skeletons and two cremation graves, the cemetery as a whole pertaining to the Monteoru culture (Notes 9 - 10). By using the analysis of ritual elements and the funerary customs, the ceramic, the dress pieces and the weapons, the author of the excavation proposed a horizontal stratigraphical configuration of the cemetery, with three successive horizons marked I - III, with the necropolis developing from the east to the west. Consequently, in his opinion, horizon I, with 25 tombs is characterized by the proportional use of amphorae, mugs, cups and pixida with incised ornaments and having shapes close to the phases M.Ia-Ia and, in addition, with no deep, up-staged pots; the unity of the funeral rites and the similar ritual elements were considered to point to the continuation of the practices dating from earlier stages; for this horizon, an outstanding richness and variety of the funeral inventory could be noted, with the frequent appearance of dress items made of gold, such as loop rings and conches and with an even balance in the amber beads and semi lunar necklaces found. Horizon II, consisting of 23 tombs is characterized by the disappearance of the amphorae and the mugs, the use of cups and pixida, now decorated with grooves, which continued with the appearance of deep, up-staged pots, but with inventories where there now predominated cups, while being otherwise poorer in loop rings B and C; the appearance of the late variant of the type C loop rings could be noted, together with the presence of the daggers with a single flange hilt, the appearance of the warrior tombs with no inventories or with only one item; these were paralleled by the desertion of the southern wing of the necropolis. Last but not least, Horizon III, consisting of 23 tombs, is characterized by the generalization of burial, in the close crouching "packaged" position, mainly oriented towards the eastern sector; it is accompanied by the almost exclusive use of cups alongside the obvious downgrading of some ceramic forms and the simplification of decoration, the disappearance of the dress items, excepting one button and the grouping of the tombs in the north-western sector. A vertical stratigraphical argument invoked by the author in support to the proposed chronology was represented by the relationship existing between one complex containing a deep, up-staged pot and Tomb 53, which pertains to the horizon I burials. In his attempt of placing the evolution of the Pietroasa Mica cemetery in a wider chronological frame, and using mainly some reports presented on a different occasion, in respect to the second half of the middle bronze age and the late bronze age as represented in the area between the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube River, the cited author proposed a chronological diagram structured on four successive horizons ( I through IV), situated between the 14th and 12th centuries B.C. The leading idea of the chronological diagram proposed was that of a gradual narrowing of the Monteoru area under the impact of one eastern influence, which he distinguished under the name of the Petrisoru-Racoviteni cultural aspect. In A. Oancea's opinion, the Monteoru culture ceases to exist at the end of the middle bronze age (the horizon III, i.e. the second half of the 14th century B.C. and at the beginning of the 13th century B.C.), namely together with the MIIb. Balintesti phase, being then replaced by the new cultural aspect which he believed he could identify in South-East Transylvania, the North of Wallachia and the South of Moldavia in the first decades of the 13th century B.C. and the beginning of the 12th century B.C, (i.e., horizon IV). The three horizons that he could make up within the Pietroasa Mica cemetery were considered three sub-phases of the M.IIb-Balintesti phase (labeled as Monteoru III by A. Oancea); these illustrated precisely the gradual spread of the eastern elements within the Monteoru communities, which led to the adoption of a new way of living characteristic for the oriental populations (Notes 11 - 15).
Alexandru Oancea's conclusions received very little feedback and there began practically no discussion on any occasion about his analysis of the cemetery (Notes 16 - 17), which only seems convincing at the first sight. The classifications made by A. Oancea actually rest upon the confusion between the tombs that were deteriorated in the course of time and the ones that were better preserved, which prompted him to reduce the over 10 applicable variants to no more than two kinds of exterior constructions and another two for the interior configurations. Further confusions and superficial appreciations can be detected as regards the disposition of the skeletons, i.e., their position and their orientation. The ceramic form typology in its turn is based on too many vessels reconstituted in their entirety just graphically (on paper) to become relevant enough. (Notes 18 - 29). The opinion regarding the alleged disappearance of the cups with two staged handles branching out from the rim in the same period as the askos type pots, at the end of the Monteoru culture is disproved by the presence of the kantharos type cups at Balintesti, Cabesti or Sabaoani, while the askos type pot itself has been documented at the end of the Monteoru culture in connection with the older discoveries at Tinosu, or the more recent ones in the three-fold tomb at Naeni, where the askos type pot is associated with a cup provided with two up-staged handles. Actually, the ceramic fragment found in Tomb 53 of Pietroasa Mica does not belong to a deep, up-staged pot as A. Oancea surmised but to an askos type pot (Notes 30 - 38). Yet another deficiency of the ceramic typology comes from the fact that there ere established some types or variants represented by only one item, which is completely irrelevant from a statistical point of view. In fact, a similar manner was employed to define the typology of the dress items. It is worth noting also that for the loop rings was used an old publication, completely dated today (Notes 39 - 41). One of the major criteria proposed by A. Oancea for dating the cemetery was the appearance of the weapons, but these are represented by a single flange hilted dagger in Tomb 4, as the other one, in Tomb 37, was actually a bronze fragment 1.6 centimeters long and 5 millimeters wide, that can only be judged as a weapon if we make allowance for the author's purpose. The anthropological analysis of the Pietroasa Mica burials was performed in two stages. The results of the latter stage impair the purport of the appreciations on the necropolis, so that, if the anthropological determinations are taken into account, it becomes immediately obvious that the three horizons are completely imbalanced from the point of view of the age and gender groups (Notes 43 - 45 and the table of Fig. 4). Judging by the study of the ritual elements, i.e., the positions and orientation in conjunction to the gender and age diagnoses as well as by comparison with other Monteoru necropolises, it can be surmised that in all likelihood the Pietroasa Mica funeral finds indicate a community separated into groups with differing ritual codes materialized as correspondingly different funeral expressions. Consequently, the exclusively male group of tombs with closely crouching skeletons no longer represents a chronological horizon, which also requires the consequent rejection of the idea of a necessary value in support to a newly acquired feature. (Notes 53- 78).
But it is not alone for such reasons as the ones outlined above that A. Oancea's funeral horizons are not acceptable. Some of the characteristics of these horizons in the form specified by the above-mentioned author are attenuated not only by the mistaken typology of the material, as shown before, but also by their own frailty. So is it also in the case of the appearance of warrior tombs and of the numerous tombs devoid of inventories, which allegedly define Horizon II. It has already been recorded that the so-called warriors' arms consist of a mere dagger, actually no more than a rudimentary knife and a tin loop, and as for that author's manner of establishing that certain tombs devoid of inventories belonged to one or another horizon - I must confess that I am completely in the dark about that... It has also been proved that the would-be stratigraphic argument about the intersection between the so-called late complex and Tomb 53 is hardly more convincing in its turn.
It is very difficult to perform a statistic study of the Pietroasa Mica cemetery. Not all the tombs could be integrally researched, quite a big number of inventories being incomplete owing to the conservation state of the tombs or even to the individual parts that cannot be precisely identified. As a rule, the tombs do not offer rich inventories; either as regards the ceramic or as regards the dress items, and a big part of the tombs lacks inventories completely. For reasons such as these, their placing in series should be regarded with reservations. According to the dress items found, the women's tombs seem to concentrate into two big groups, of which the first offers as the characteristic item the twisted end necklace (the Osenhalsring). The greater part of the bracelets belongs to this group, together with the three pins discovered in the feminine tombs. Except for Tomb 16, all the other tombs had loop rings type B and in Tomb 36 there also appears a type C ring with a flanged end. A gold loop ring, also of type B, was found in Tomb 49. The second group consists of 6 tombs and is characterized by the appearance of some new inventory items. These are: the bronze buttons, the pendants, the conches, the amber beads, the spirals made of bronze, and in one instance, of gold, as well as one bronze bead, the standard probably being represented by a necklace more elaborated than in the tombs of the first group. The element, which the two groups held in common, was the presence of the loop rings type B. A gold Lockenring was also found in Tomb 2. For the ceramic inventories, five main types have been taken into consideration: the cup, the amphora, the pixida, the mug, the deep, up-staged pot, adding to these the askos type pot, although it is present only through shards and in no more than one case. A detailed cup typology would be something exaggerated, as already shown, since it is likely to dilute the information by creating some unique cases. The same is true for the other main forms, all the more so as it is very difficult to indicate the form or type of ceramic object to which the majority of the fragments mixed up with the earth filling up some of the tombs really belonged. Under the circumstances, it can nevertheless be observed that it is the characteristic of the tombs in the first group of feminine burials to have just mugs in them (but in only two cases), while the deep, up-staged pots appeared only in the tombs of the second group (but in only two cases, too). The other forms are evenly distributed in the two groups of funeral inventories, the amphora included. The separation between the mugs and the deep, up-staged pots could be a chronological indication, when corroborated with the distribution of the type C loop rings equally predominating in the second group, but, given the paucity of instances, it might as well be the expression of some differing yet contemporary dress habits, or even, why not? an expression of mere chance. The small sample of masculine tombs can similarly be divided into two groups, resembling the feminine ones. The distribution of the ceramic, though slightly different, does not run counter to the one in the feminine tombs. There thus begins to take shape a new possibility, namely for the Pietroasa Mica cemetery to have consisted of two successive burial phases- but the differences are almost negligible, and the samples are too small to fully support such a division. In addition, we do not have for the moment any Monteoru sites with late deposits thoroughly stratigraphed and, especially, thoroughly communicated which could serve for verifying the situation of Pietroasa Mica. There seems to exist, however, one slight indication represented by the Candesti finds where it has been stated that there could be identified two stages of the IIb phase, including burials whose inventories resemble the ones at Pietroasa Mica; but for settling the issue, we need to wait until the Candesti cemetery is completely published, together with the corresponding site. At any rate, through the characteristics of its ceramic and its dress items, the Pietroasa Mica necropolis does not seem to go beyond what is understood to be today the Monteoru IIb phase (Notes 79 - 82). In his attempt of defining the Petrisoru-Racoviteni cultural aspect, A. Oancea took into account some discoveries of the Carpathian curve area and some finds from within the Carpathian arch. But at a closer look, the sites quoted prove either to belong to a late phase of the Moteoru culture, as is the case of the sites at Berca, Carlomanesti or Naeni-Zanoaga, or to have been insufficiently researched, or, and especially so, insufficiently published. One of the defining elements for the Petrisoru-Racoviteni aspect consisted, in A. Oancea's opinion, in the ceramic species decorated with a little broom motif, which he considered to be of eastern origin. By some systematic, more recent research at Naeni-Zaoaga, circ. 10 km further west from Pietroasa Mica, it was possible to identify a habitation level in which the ceramic characteristic for the end of the Monteoru culture appears in association with the Besenstrich species, and, more rarely, with some pots of the Noua kind. There have been recorded similar situations at Berca, Carlomanesti, Pietroasa Mica, Tirgsor, Sapoca, Bozioru, and Cotatcu or, in the plain region, at Glodeanu Sarat. Significantly enough, this species appears rather more rarely also beyond the Eastern Carpathians, in discoveries, which belonged to the beginning of the Noua culture, at Candesti, Coroteni or Vartescoiu (Notes 83 - 107) (Notes 108 - 114). The pots covered with notches made by means of a little broom, i.e., the so-called Besenstrich decoration, have been recorded at very numerous sites of the late bronze in south-eastern Slovakia, north-eastern Hungary, north-western and central Romania, in environments associated to the cultures of Piliny, Suciu-de-Sus, of the central Transylvania, Wietenberg - from where they spread beyond the Meridional Carpathians in late Monteoru settlements. The Tichindeal site is especial important, as its ceramic evinces both clearly late Monteoru elements and Noua elements, at the same time with the species decorated with the Besenstrich motifs, which bring it close in time to the Naeni-Zanoaga site. The tradition of the scratched surface pots continues into the beginning of the iron age, in the same from whence it continues to spread to the south of the Carpathians (Notes 115-161). The spread to the south of the Carpathians of the Besenstrich ceramic species at the end of the bronze age and at the beginning of the iron age accompanies in the frame of some wide-range, intense contacts, the spread of some Central-European or Transylvanian bronzes, of which the most significant seem to be the Reutlingen type swords, or the Transylvanian socketed axes (Notes 162 - 170). A telling example, in this respect, is the well-known deposit of Drajna de Jos situated in the thick of the Monteoru area, to which should be added the similar instances of Olteni, Straosti or Putreda. This prefigures a whole group of late Monteoru site extending beyond the IIb phase in the hilly region of northern Wallachia; this group is characterized by the presence of Noua, Tei-Fundenii Doamnei elements and by the Besenstrich ceramic species. In the ex-Moldavian area of the Monteoru culture there exist at the same time discoveries similar to the ones at Balintesti-Cioinagi, Garbovas or Candesti - that belong to the beginning of the Noua culture. It is in this way that, deprived of a material place it might occupy in space and burdened with inconsistency in respect to its archeological content, the notion of the Petrisoru-Racoviteni cultural aspect loses its validity. In parallel, by attributing the discoveries like the ones at Balintesi-Cioinagi, Garbovas or Candesti to the beginning period of the Noua culture, the conception about Balintesti-Barbovas phase as the final phase of the Monteoru culture loses all applicability. The term Monteoru -Naeni, provisional though it may be, seems more useful with a view to delineating a late Monteoru group in the hilly region of Wallachia. For the moment, we lack any systematic research to clarify the manner in which the first manifestations of the Early Iron Age appeared in northern and north-eastern Wallachia; but judging by some indications, acknowledged as sparse, of course, it is possible to suppose that there existed an extension in this area of the grooved ceramic complex (Notes 171 - 174). Regarding the absolute chronology of the Monteoru-Naeni stage, we do not have at the moment any 14C data from Monteoru sites, excepting two contradictory instances, which are only applicable to the beginning phases (Note 175). What we do have, however, is some radiocarbon data from the Noua, Sabatinovka or late Srubnaja environments, which indicate that the beginning of the Noua culture and, by extension and owing to the close relation it has to these environments, the Monteoru-Naeni stage, too, can very well be placed before the year 1,500 B.C. In view of this, the older attempts to place the relationships of the Monteoru culture with the so-called Schachtgraberzeit at the level of the Monteoru Ia - Iia phases become untenable. In effect, the late Bronze Age period may be characterized now, in addition to the appearance and spread of the Noua phenomenon, by the appearance of relationships with the late Helladic (Notes 176 - 180).

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