The Trypillians.

Archived item. Not written by me.

Archaeologists had not found early farming sites in eastern Europe until they discovered a number of them between the Dnieper and Dneister Rivers, which they identified as the Cutcuteni-Tripolye Culture. The first of those was the village of Trypillia, 50 km south of Kiev, Ukraine. Trypillian sites have been dated from 6000 BCE to 3000 BCE. These settlements seemto have been occupied for 50-70 years each, after which they were abandoned. It is not known why Cutcuteni-Tripolye Culture vanished after 3000 BCE, or why the settlements were often abandoned.Evidence shows that Trypillya tribes cut down forests and enlarged the steppe. Turning the steppe into grazing land invited invasions by Indo-European animal herders. The lack of diversification may have been another reason, since the villages depended on land farming more than domesticated animals. The climate may have become colder over time, or the soil may have worn out. Some evidence exists that the village had been burned, and archaeologists have a theory that the people may have burned down their houses before leaving to frighten invaders and wild animals.Ancient Trypillian farmers cultivated wheat, barley, peas, and legumes. According to paleobotanists, these crops were grown in fields that were used for long periods of time. Spore-pollen analysis shows that these plants were grown around settlements. Ravines were covered with rich motley grass, red mallow, white bindweed, and pinks. Cornflowers grew in the wheat fields. Willow, alder, oak, hornbeam, and nut-trees grew along woodland waterways. Bison, deer, wild boars, bears, wolves, foxes, and hares lived in the forests. Animal bones and artwork show that the Trypillian people raised cattle. Having a rich supply of wood, inhabitants cut down many trees for their dwellings.At the beginning their settlements were small, from seven to fourteen buildings, but with time somegrew into towns with thousands of buildings. Evidence of dwellings was found in floors of baked clay, which included both dwellings and barns. Houses show evidence of thatched roofs, earthen walls, and clay and bran coating on the walls. The floor space ranged from 50-160 square meters. The houses were complex, perhaps two-storied with walls of wooden stakes covered with clay. At some sites, houses were arranged in concentric circles. Larger houses—like longhouses—were occupied by families of several generations. Evidence of earthen storage benches and painted altars was found in some houses. The floors and the walls of some houses were painted in black, red, or white colors in geometrical ornamental patterns, which probably had a spiritual meaning. Communal houses of 200-300 square meters might have been shrines, with something like altars in them, which could accommodate a whole community gathered for a ritual. The early settlement occupied half of a square kilometer, and Trypillyan farmers tilled the land close to the settlement until it was exhausted, then moved on.

Improvements to land cultivationand development of crafts led to increases in population. Some settlements began to grow into towns divided into streets and blocks, with some two-storey houses, which were connected by bridges at the second floor. Some later settlements may have had 15,000 residents. To clear fields for farming, Trypillian people used stone and copper axes. Sickles with silicon (flint) inserts were used to harvest crops. Clay or stone mortars for grinding harvested grain into flour were found in the houses. Evidence or crafts such as metallurgy and metal-working, pottery, and weaving was found. Copper tools and weapons, pottery bowls, flint arrowheads, and a variety of bone points, needles, and tools were also found around the site. Stone tools included axes, knives, and spindle whorls.

Metal was used to produce weapons (axes and daggers), bracelets, rings, pendants, and amulets. Trypillians used molded and forged metal products. Most tools were produced from flint, stone, animal horns, and bones. Residents made vertical looms and a potter’s furnace. Crude pottery with no decoration served for cooking. Archaeologists found fancier pottery jars and other vessels, and footed beakers that show painted decoration with intricate swirled and geometric designs. These designs may indicate worship of the sky, sun, and rain. Tree-of-life images on pottery, horned animals for handles on vessels, and brown and black painted designs on pale yellow background show reverence for nature, magic, and use of symbolism. Figurines in the form of seated women were very common at Trypillian sites. “Tokens,” beads, or clay shapes incised with geometric designs might be a form of pictograph used for counting.

As far as can be surmised, they seemed to be a matriarchal society with a mother goddess.


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