Oldest Neolithic settlement in Croatia

C14 dating of early Neolithic settlement Galovo near Slavonski Brod in Northern Croatia

 Author(s)
KRAJCAR BRONIC I. ; MINICHREITER K. ;

In Northern Croatia, more than hundred settlements are known from the period of the Starcevo culture, the first Neolithic period in south-east (SE) Europe. Here we present the 14C dating of nine charcoal samples from the Neolithic settlement Galovo in Slavonski Brod. According to archaeological findings, it belongs to the early phase (Linear A) of the Starcevo culture and has a special ritual-burial area separated by two wooden fences from its residential part. The vertical stratigraphy revealed two phases of the settlement construction in period 6070-5630 cal BC. In the younger phase (5380-4960 cal BC) the settlement expanded and the burial area became smaller. Combination of archaeological findings and 14C dates thus allowed a reconstruction of the 1000-year-long existence of this settlement that existed simultaneously with the nearby settlement Zadubravlje-Duzine, dated earlier to 6000-5000 cal BC. These are the first absolute dates of the beginning of neolithization in Northern Croatia.

More on the site…

In 2005, the ninth season of systematic archaeological excavations of an Early Neolithic Starčevo culture settlement was conducted on a land called Galovo in the north-eastern part of
Slavonski Brod. The works were organised by the Institute of Archaeology from Zagreb in co-operation with the Museum of Brodsko Posavlje from Slavonski Brod, led by K. Minichreiter, Ph.D. (Minichreiter 2005, 25-30). During the excavations an area of 200 m2 was excavated, which on its southern and western sides was a continuation of the surface excavated in past years. The working pit dwelling 205/206 was completely excavated, and the excavations of the upper layers of four surrounding pit dwellings – 291/292, 323/324, 749/750 and 753/754 – started. In the follow-up settlement excavations, working pit dwelling 205/206 was uncovered with a bread oven and a pottery kiln, as well as a wooden frame and clay weights of a vertical loom. The pit dwelling had two rooms, northern and southern, and on its north-eastern side there was an entrance with two steps, each 20 cm high. In the northern part were the kiln, the oven and the loom, and in the southern part a levelled walking area and a niche (possibly a shelf) for storing things or sitting.

The pit dwelling walls on the western, southern and south-eastern side were steeply dug up to 1 m from the peripheral part of the structure. On the northern, north-eastern and eastern side
sequences of pillar holes were found, and in the middle of the pit dwelling, from NW to SE (along the longer axis) vertical wooden pillars were entrenched (with a 30-40 cm diameter) serving as the main central supports of the roof construction. At two points, rows of diagonal supports were identified as well, arranged vertically with the central structure. Along with clay vessels standard in shape and decorations, fragments of bowls were found in the pit dwelling painted white on a red background. Of specific finds, decorated bone objects, clay idols and smoothed stone axes stand out. Radiocarbon 14C analyses determined the age of the baking oven (5800-5715 cal BC) and the loom (5790-5660 cal BC), suggesting that pit dwelling 205 is somewhat older than the neighbouring pit dwellings. This is confirmed also by vessel fragments with white painted motifs, which were unearthed only in this pit dwelling out of a total of six pit dwellings excavated in this part of the settlement. In the upper layers of pit dwellings 749, 753 and 291 parts of an altar, a dog figurine – protomes on an altar, pillared idols and pottery decorated with reliefs, probably of an animal figure. Archaeological finds belong to the Linear A stage, just as in the previous works. The discovery of white painted patterns on vessels confirm the assumption made by S. Dimitrijević, who called this stage the white Linear A. This significant discovery in continental Croatia moves the white Linear
A distribution border further west, suggesting that white Linear A existed not only in eastern, but also in central Slavonia.

And here and here.

And some images of the site…
Galovo

Galovo - stove

Stove.

The very early date means this was probably one of the first neolithic settlements in Croatia- a beautiful country, and well worth a visit. The Neretva river delta in early summer looks like heaven on earth.

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