Contribution to the monograph on the Varna Necropolis

Three bilingual (German, English) volumes dedicated to the necropolis of Varna, Das Varna Gräberfeld, will be published by Philipp von Zabern, in the DAI Eurasian Series, edited by V. Slavčev. I am in charge of the lithics, which I comprehensively reviewed after the recent revision of the funerary inventories. The multidisciplinary approach will combine technological and typological data, in connection with raw material supplies and types of production, as well as the functional analysis carried out by M. Gurova.

L. Manolakakis in V. Slavčev, Dir. (2020, à paraître)

Coordinator: Laurence Manolakakis

Three bilingual (German, English) volumes dedicated to the necropolis of Varna, Das Varna Gräberfeld, will be published by Philipp von Zabern, in the DAI Eurasian Series, edited by V. Slavčev. I am in charge of the lithics, which I comprehensively reviewed after the recent revision of the funerary inventories. The multidisciplinary approach will combine technological and typological data, in connection with raw material supplies and types of production, as well as the functional analysis carried out by M. Gurova.

Lithics are relatively frequent in the Varna I graves (247 deposited in 142 graves). They are all made of Ludogorian flint, with the exception of an obsidian blade from the Cejkov region of Tokaj in Slovakia (Zemplín Mountains) (Bonsall et al. 2017). The three types of production recognised in Chalcolithic habitats in the north-eastern Balkans (Manolakakis 2005) are attested here: domestic village production by indirect percussion, specialised production by lever pressure debitage, specialised production by crutch pressure debitage (Fig. 1). However, the composition of the series contrasts with that of habitats; lever-pressed blades account for 21% of the corpus and crutch-pressed blades are over-represented, accounting for 45% of the corpus.

Fig. 1: Examples of production by indirect percussion, crutch pressure flaking, lever pressure flaking

The lithics deposited in the tombs are mostly blades, generally without retouch and unused. Most of the blades are whole, in particular those flaked by lever pressure, in which case they are preferentially associated with symbolic graves. As a result, the longest blades are most often associated with symbolic graves. The longest examples of lever pressure flaked blades are found in the richest tombs.

The tools consist mainly of scrapers and, to a lesser extent, retouched or used blades. Almost all of these tools were used, with the apparent exception of projectile armatures, which show no breaks or traces of use. Armatures with a transverse cutting edge are predominant, whereas only two very large piercing armatures were found.

In the current state of anthropological determinations, no whole blades flaked by indirect percussion were deposited in female graves. Tools appear to be associated with graves with extended skeletons, and were generally only deposited with male adults. Some tools seem to be reserved for men, such as end scrapers, burins and armatures.

At a regional level, practices differ from those of Durankulak where tools predominate lithic deposits and seem to be much less associated with gender or an age class than at Varna (Todorova 2002).

Bibliography

Bonsall, C., M. Gurova, N. Elenski, G. Ivanov, A. Bakamska, G. Ganetsovski, R. Zlateva-Uzunova, et V. Slavchev. 2017. « Tracing the Source of Obsidian from Prehistoric Sites in Bulgaria ». Bulgarian E-Journal of Archaeology 7:37–59.

Manolakakis, L. 2005. Les industries lithiques énéolithiques de Bulgarie. Vol. 88. Rhaden: Verlag VML.

Todorova, H., éd. 2002. Durankulak, Band II. Die Prähistorischen Gräberfelder von Durankulak. Teil 2, Kalatogteil . Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.

 

See also in «Current projects»

Chalcolithic lithic industries of Sultana My research focuses on the lithic industries of the Chalcolithic sites of Sultana, thanks to new excavations led by C. Lăzăr, and includes training a Romanian student in lithic technology. Autour du grand tell daté du Gumelnița et fouillé en 1924 (Andrieșescu 1924), se trouvent des sites plats et des cimetières couvrant l’ensemble du Chalcolithique : Boian pour l’étape ancienne et Gumelnița pour l’étape récente. Les sites sont installés dans la grande plaine loessique roumaine, sur la rive droite du Moștistea, affluent du Danube, et aujourd’hui au bord du lac artificiel de Moștistea. IRP NORth (2020-2023) The Eastern European model of Neolithization contrasts with that of the West, in terms of modes and chronology. In the central Russian plain, the beginning of the Neolithic is dated between the second half of the 7th and 6th millennia BC, depending on the region considered, and is defined by the emergence of sedentarism and the appearance of ceramic technology. Despite occasional contacts with mixed farming groups, local populations maintained a lifestyle based on hunting, fishing and gathering. It was not until several millennia later that a real production economy was adopted and became widespread in the area (3rd and 2nd millennia BC). Based on the duration and the breakdown of events recorded in the Russian plain, we can follow the history of communities in the process of Neolithization in a very original way. MEAE Archaeological Mission: 2NOR (2018-2021) The archaeological mission 2NOR Neolithization of Northwest Russia, supported by the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, is a Franco-Russian collaboration between the CNRS (coordinator Y. Maigrot) and the Hermitage Museum (coordinator A. Mazurkevich).