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Climatic Influences on Appearance and Development of Neolithic Cultures in Southern Outskirts of Carpathian Basin

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Southern outskirts of Carpathian basin, namely the region between Sava, Drava and Danube rivers, have specific climate conditions today partially influenced by geological structure and geographical position. In this region Neolithic Starčevo and Sopot cultures are observed. Radiocarbon dates for Neolithic cultures are used to build a time frame which is compared with climate proxies, especially with Holocene rapid climate events (8.2, 5.9 and 4.2 ka), to draw a conclusion on when and how these cultures developed in southern regions of Carpathian basin. Lacking firm geoarchaeological data the results are not conclusive but can provide some insight on how the climate may have directly and indirectly influenced development of Neolithic and beginning of Eneolithic period in the region.
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Studia Quaternaria, vol. 33, no. 1 (2016): 11–26.
DOI: 10.1515/squa-2016-0002
CLIMATIC INFLUENCES ON APPEARANCE AND DEVELOPMENT
OF NEOLITHIC CULTURES IN SOUTHERN OUTSKIRTS
OF CARPATHIAN BASIN
Katarina Botiæ
Institute of Archaeology, Ljudevita Gaja 32, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia, e-mail: kbotic@iarh.hr
Abstract
Southern outskirts of Carpathian basin, namely the region between Sava, Drava and Danube rivers, have specific cli-
mate conditions today partially influenced by geological structure and geographical position. In this region Neolithic
Starèevo and Sopot cultures are observed. Radiocarbon dates for Neolithic cultures are used to build a time frame
which is compared with climate proxies, especially with Holocene rapid climate events (8.2, 5.9 and 4.2 ka), to draw a
conclusion on when and how these cultures developed in southern regions of Carpathian basin. Lacking firm geoar-
chaeological data the results are not conclusive but can provide some insight on how the climate may have directly and
indirectly influenced development of Neolithic and beginning of Eneolithic period in the region.
Key words: northern Croatia, Slavonia, Neolithic, Starèevo and Sopot cultures, rapid climate events (8.2, 5.9 and 4.2 ka).
Manuscript received 17 July 2015, accepted 12 February 2016
INTRODUCTION
Attempts of absolute dating of Neolithic cultures in
southern regions of Carpathian basin, i.e. the Slavonia region
of northern Croatia, haven’t been very successful so far. The
main problem is the inconsistency in collecting and interpret-
ing radiocarbon data, often used to date structures and not the
remains of material culture. When dates are published and at-
tempts made to firmly connect them with certain phases of
known Neolithic cultures, some problems are not detected or
are simply ignored (Obeliæ et al., 2004; Minichreiter and
Krajcar Broniæ, 2006; Minichreiter, 2007; Krajcar Broniæ
and Minichreiter, 2007; Krznariæ Škrivanko, 2011; Sraka,
2012).
In this paper we are giving an alternative way of narrow-
ing down the possible absolute dating of Neolithic cultures in
this region. Sums of radiocarbon dates for two main Neo-
lithic cultures (Starèevo and Sopot) are used as a time frame
which is in turn compared to climate proxies and data avail-
able from close by regions that already underwent detailed
analysis. Although this method is questionable, there is no
other geoarchaeological data available yet for the region un-
der observation here. The conclusions, although method-
ologically questionable, are still sufficiently interesting and
open up a new perspective to the archaeological context.
Southern outskirts of Carpathian basin, the region ob-
served in this paper, in geographical sense covers the region
between Sava, Drava and Danube rivers (Fig. 1). In geopoli-
tical sense, it is the north-east part of Croatia, i.e. Slavonia
and Syrmia region. Drava and Sava rivers flank it from the
north and south while Danube river makes its eastern border.
Those rivers represent quickest communication routs but
they were also source of great annual flooding of the plain1,
put under control only at the end of the 19th c. by melioration.
The floods influenced the Neolithic way of life, especially
the choice of settlement positions. By observing these posi-
tions, it is possible to come to the conclusion how the flooding
and underground water levels changed over time. The water
levels depend heavily on the amount of precipitation in the wider
region even today, making this region very sensitive to it.
Slavonia region has a specific geological structure (Fig. 2)
which enabled permanent settlement of populations from the
beginning of Neolithic onwards. Drava and Sava rivers make
alluvial plains, both running from the pre Alpine region to-
wards the east. Sava runs slower than Drava, making it easier
to cross. Drava was running faster until the hydro power
plants were built on it in the 20th c. and it was more difficult to
cross in prehistoric times. Both rivers enter Danube river
which makes a sharp turn to the east after coming from the
north through Pannonian plain. Drava has a lower level of the
1 The wider region is full of rivers, like Vrbas, Bosna, Drina, Kupa etc. that added to the flooding. Melting of snow in the Alps as well as in the Balkan
mountains were additional source of flooding. In 2014 the excessive precipitation in central Balkan region provoked heavy flooding and mudslides
in middle and lower flows of the rivers including lower flow of Sava river (Pearson et al., 2014). The damage was horrifying.
waters and is slowed down by high Danube waters, making a
wetland near its mouth called Kopaèki rit (Buriæ and Teak
Gregl, 2009). Banks of Sava and Drava rivers are low but
Danube’s right bank is much higher than its left bank – in
some parts more than 30 m. Between Sava and Drava Holo-
cene alluvial plains there is a Pleistocene loess ridge (Haase
et al., 2007: Fig. 1, Fig. 9 – here, the area in question is
marked as containing loess derivates only but see detailed
map in Baèani et al., 1999; Buriæ and Teak Gregl, 2009)
known as Ðakovo-Vinkovci plateau (Baèani et al., 1999).
Loess and its derivatives cover app. 35.7% of Croatia’s total
surface area, in some areas reaching thickness of up to 30 m
(Galoviæ, 2005; Galoviæ et al., 2009; Buriæ and Teak Gregl,
2009). It makes extremely fertile zone exploited from the be-
ginning of agriculture in the Neolithic. The alluvial plains
regularly flooded were exceptionally good for growth of
penduculate oak (Quercus rubor), while regions west and
south of Slavonia are still covered by sessile oak (Quercus
petraea) (Pearson et al., 2014).
Recently, the work on collection of subfossil samples for
multimillennial tree-ring chronology started. The samples
are taken from Sava, Bosna, Vrbas, Kupa and Krapina rivers
as well as some archaeological sites (Pearson et al., 2014).
This chronology, when finished, will not only present excel-
lent method of dating but will provide much needed climato-
logical data. Climatological studies of Èufar et al. (2014)
indicated potential to cross-match material from Croatia with
oak growth in the wider region (Pearson et al., 2014). They
identified common climatic controls of oak growth at sites in
Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia, from 45.00°
to 48.00°N latitude and from 13.14° to 21.63°E longitude
(Pearson et al., 2014). Èufar et al. (2008) have also con-
structed an oak tree-ring chronology spanning the period AD
1456-2003 for Slovenia but Croatian chronology already
shows potential for time span of several millennia (Pearson et
al., 2014)2.
Continental Croatia has a temperate continental climate
today. The climate is modified by the maritime influence of
the Mediterranean, which is stronger in the area south of the
Sava River than in the north, and which weakens towards the
east (Zaninoviæ 2008). Although there is no significant dif-
ference in mean annual air temperature between Zagreb in
the west and Osijek in the east, gradual decrease in mean an-
nual precipitation can be observed (Zaninoviæ 2008). Area of
our interest has on average 300 mm less mean annual precipi-
tation. Eastern part of Slavonia is showing microclimate con-
ditions today but we don’t have available data for the past.
RELATIVE CHRONOLOGY OF NEOLITHIC
CULTURES IN NORTHERN CROATIA
Dating of Neolithic cultures in northern Croatia, even af-
ter decades of investigation, is not sufficiently precise. The
foundation for relative chronology of Neolithic cultures was
given by Stojan Dimitrijeviæ in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It suf-
fered very little change since and it is still in use today.
The beginning of Neolithic in northern Croatia was
marked by appearance and development of Starèevo culture
which was divided by S. Dimitrijeviæ into 6 phases with one
additional final phase: Monochrom,Linear A,Linear B,
12 K. BOTIÆ
Fig. 1. The position of Slavonia and Syrmia region.
2 The groups of samples with their calibrated end dates show span from 5983–5747 BC to AD 1278-1406. So far, these are floating groups.
NEOLITHIC CULTURES IN SOUTHERN OUTSKIRTS OF CARPATHIAN BASIN 13
Fig. 2. Geological map (after Baèani et al., 1999: 142, Fig. 1).
Girlandoid,Spiraloid A,Spiraloid B,dralovi final phase
(Dimitrijeviæ, 1969, 1979). After extensive work on Pepe-
lana site in 1985, K. Minichreiter filled in this division of
Starèevo culture with additional Linear C phase for western
Croatia (Minichreiter, 1992) while a little later Z. Markoviæ
gave his division of the same culture: Starèevo 1,Starèevo
2A,Starèevo 2B,Starèevo 3,Starèevo 4A,Starèevo 4B
(Markoviæ, 1994).
The end of Neolithic was marked by Vinèa and Sopot
cultures in the observed region. Vinèa culture was present
only in the easternmost part of the region of Croatia and it
gave impulse that lead to the development of Sopot culture.
The latter was first linked to the Vinèa B phase but recently,
after new archaeological research and new radiocarbon dates
published, especially in Hungary, it is believed to have ap-
peared at the end of Vinèa A phase (Link, 2006; Kalitz et al.,
2007) (Fig. 6). Sopot culture later appeared in several re-
gional variants: Raište type,Pepelana type,Brezovljani
type, all in the west of northern Croatian territory, together
with classical Sopot culture in the east. Again, the first divi-
sion of Sopot culture was given by S. Dimitrijeviæ (Phase IA,
phase IB,phase II,phase III) (Dimitrijeviæ, 1968, 1971)
which was later filled in by Z. Markoviæ (Markoviæ, 1994).
He added a short 4th phase already parallel with the first
Eneolithic cultures in the region (Markoviæ, 1985, 1994,
2012) which was latter recognized on Sopot site itself (Krz-
nariæ Škrivanko, 2007; Balen et al., 2009). Thus, the end of
Sopot culture was postponed from the beginning of Vinèa D
to the end of Vinèa D-2/D-3 phase (Markoviæ, 1994).
ABSOLUTE DATING OF NEOLITHIC
CULTURES IN NORTHERN CROATIA
There are several problems linked to the attempt of abso-
lute dating of these two cultures. Firstly, from around 150
known Starèevo culture sites, only 6 have been radiocarbon
dated with total of 32 dates (Fig. 3, black) and from several
hundred known Sopot sites, only 17 have been radiocarbon
dated with total of 71 dates (Fig. 3, red). Furthermore, the
dates published are only linked to the structures at best and
not to the remains of material culture (i.e. context) thus not
providing firm dating of specific phases of both Neolithic
cultures. Nevertheless, these radiocarbon dates provide a
rough time frame for the beginning and the end of each cul-
ture even giving limits to certain phases of these cultures.
The oldest radiocarbon dates for Starèevo culture come
from Galovo and Sopot sites (Tab. 1). At Galovo site, two
structures were dated to 6835±110 BP (5810–5620 BC),
6875±35 BP (5800–5715 BC) and 6850±60 BP (5790–5660
BC) (Minichreiter and Krajcar Broniæ, 2006)3. Two more
structures from the same site, considered the cult structures
by the excavator, were dated even earlier: 7060±150 BP
(6070–5770 BC) and 7000±140 BP (6000–5740 BC) (Mini-
chreiter and Krajcar Broniæ, 2006). Sopot site yielded even
older dates: layer before sterile ground was dated to 7120±50
BP (6060–5900 BC) while the oldest structure, a pit-dwell-
ing, was dated to 7100±50 BP (6060–5890 BC) (Krznariæ
Škrivanko, 2011).
14 K. BOTIÆ
Fig. 3. Neolithic sites radiocarbon dated: 1 – Bapska; 2 – Otok-Mandekov vinograd; 3 – Privlaka-Gradina; 4 – Sopot; 5 – upanja,
Dubovo-Košno; 6 – Kruševica-Njivice; 7 – Novi Perkovci-Krèavina; 8 – Ivandvor-šuma Gaj; 9 – Tomašanci-Palaèa; 10 – Èepin-Ovèara/
Tursko groblje; 11 – Osijek-Hermanov vinograd; 12 – Kneevi vinogradi; 13 – Belišæe-Staro Valpovo; 14 – Golinci-Selište; 15 –
Podgoraè-Raište; 16 – Zadubravlje-Duine; 17 – Slavonski Brod-Galovo; 18 – Nova Kapela-Ravnjaš; 19 – Nova Gradiška-Slavèa; 20 –
Vidovci-Glogovi; 21 – Pepelana; 22 – Virovitica-Brekinja (Starèevo culture sites black, Sopot culture sites red).
3 The BP age is given here as 14C uncalibrated age and BC dates correspond to 1s(68.2%).
The youngest radiocarbon dates for Starèevo culture
come from Galovo and Zadubravlje sites (Tab. 1). From
Galovo site there are two structures dated to 6300±80 BP
(5380–5290 BC) and 6190±130 (5300-4960 BC) (Mini-
chreiter and Krajcar Broniæ, 2006). From Zadubravlje site
one structure was dated to 6260±130 BP (5370–5040 BC)
(Minichreiter, 2001; Minichreiter and Krajcar Broniæ, 2006).
Here, the obvious problems are too low dates for clearly
Starèevo culture structures from both sites that overlap with
Sopot culture dates from other sites. It is difficult to say if
here we can see the prolonged Starèevo culture life at certain
sites or it is just a question of badly dated or corrupt samples.
The beginning of Sopot culture can’t be considered
without Vinèa culture in the wider region. Absolute dating of
Vinèa culture was recently given by D. Boriæ (2009): the be-
ginning (Vinèa A phase) is dated to 5400/5300–5200 BC
while the end (Vinèa D phase) is dated to 4850–4650/4600
BC. The only problem noted here is very high end date for
Vinèa D phase because it doesn’t correlate well with dates for
the end of Vinèa culture in wider region4.
The beginning of Sopot culture according to radiocarbon
dates (Tab. 2) is quite problematic. Some dates are too high
(old wood effect?) but the main problem is the lack of sites
with earliest phase (IA) of this culture. So, the oldest dates
correspond to the end of the first phase (IB) or later. One co-
mes from Dubovo-Košno site (6320±100 BP; 5390–5140
BC), the other from Sopot site (6340±100 BP; 5470–5210
BC) but both were published without remains of material cul-
ture. The most probable dates come from Golinci – Selište
and Kruševica – Njivice sites (Tab. 2), both corresponding to
the IB phase: the first is 6160±45 BP (5210–5050 BC), the
second 6115±60 BP (5210–4940 BC).
The youngest radiocarbon dates for Sopot culture (Tab. 2)
are much lower than Vinèa D phase according to Boriæ
(2009) or somewhat later in the wider region, and they par-
tially overlap with dates for Eneolithic Lasinja culture (Balen,
2008). Several come from Sopot site: 5380±98 BP (4340–
4040 BC), 5360±130 BP (4320–4040 BC), 5330±90 BP
(4250–4040 BC), 5300±40 BP (4250–4030 BC) and 5220±
100 BP (4230–3940 BC) (Obeliæ et al., 2002). One date is
NEOLITHIC CULTURES IN SOUTHERN OUTSKIRTS OF CARPATHIAN BASIN 15
Table 1
Radiocarbon dates for Starèevo culture used in this paper
Site Lab and code Material and context
14C age
(BP)
d13C/12C
(‰)
Calibration range
(%) Source
Sopot
Beta 251909 tooth from SU 80 (sq. J25);
layer before sterile ground 7120±50 –20.0 6060–5900 BC
(68.2%)
Krznariæ Škrivanko, 2011, Table 3Beta 251911 tooth from SU 143 (sq. J37);
layer before sterile ground 7110±50 –19.7 6060–5900 BC
(68.2%)
Beta 251910 tooth from SU 519 (sq. K35);
pit-dwelling 7100±50 –20.5 6060–5890 BC
(68.2%)
Slavonski
Brod–Galovo
I.R.B.Z., Z-3586
charcoal from the western cult
structure 89 (sq. F/12-d), SF
312
7060±150 / 6070–5770 BC
(68.2%)
Minichreiter and Krajcar Broniæ,
2006, Fig. 2; Minichreiter, 2007, Fig.
1; Krajcar Broniæ and Minichreiter,
2007; Krajcar Broniæ, 2011, Fig. 4
I.R.B.Z., Z-3584
charcoal from the western cult
structure 149 (sq. E/11-a), SF
150-151
7000±140 / 6000–5740 BC
(68.2%)
I.R.B.Z., Z-3587
charcoal from the western cult
structure 389 (sq. G/12-a), SF
331
6865±65 / 5850–5710 BC
(68.2%)
I.R.B.Z., Z-2936
charcoal from the kiln 032,
pit-dwelling 9 (sq. C/3) with
3skeletal burials
6835±110 / 5810–5620 BC
(68.2%)
Obeliæ et al., 2002; Minichreiter and
Krajcar Broniæ, 2006, Fig. 2;
Minichreiter, 2007, Fig. 1; Krajcar
Broniæ and Minichreiter, 2007;
Krajcar Broniæ, 2011, Fig. 4
I.R.B.Z., Z-3574 charcoal from the pit-dwelling
205 (sq. I/13a,c), SF 484 6875±35 / 5800–5715 BC
(68.2%)
Minichreiter and Krajcar Broniæ,
2006, Fig. 2; Minichreiter, 2007, Fig.
1; Krajcar Broniæ and Minichreiter,
2007; Krajcar Broniæ, 2011, Fig. 4
I.R.B.Z., Z-3583 charcoal from the pit-dwelling
37 (sq. b/10-c), SL 044 6300±80 / 5380–5290 BC
(68.2%)
Minichreiter and Krajcar Broniæ,
2006, Fig. 4; Minichreiter, 2007, Fig.
1; Krajcar Broniæ and Minichreiter,
200; Krajcar Broniæ, 2011, Fig. 4
I.R.B.Z., Z-2935 charcoal from a pit 15 (sq.
D/2), with 1 skeletal burial 6185±130 / 5300–4960 BC
(68.2%)
Obeliæ et al., 2002; Minichreiter, 2007,
Fig. 1; Krajcar Broniæ and Minichrei-
ter, 2007; Krajcar Broniæ, 2011, Fig. 4
Zadubravlje–
Duine I.R.B.Z., Z-2925 charcoal from working pit 12
(sq. A/20-21) 6260±130 / 5370–5040 BC
(68.2%)
Minichreiter and Krajcar Broniæ,
2006, Fig. 5; Minichreiter, 2001;
Krajcar Broniæ, 2011, Fig. 5
4 For example see absolute chronology for the late Vinèa culture in Romania (Lazarovici, 2006; Lazarovici and Lazarovici, 2007).
from Nova Gradiška – Slavèa site (5300±40 BP; 4250–3990
BC) (Mihaljeviæ, 2013), one from Osijek – Hermanov vino-
grad site (5260±120 BP; 4230–3810 BC) and one from Otok
– Mandekov vinograd site (5330±120 BP; 4330–4040 BC)
(Obeliæ et al., 2002). Attempts to firmly date Sopot culture
phases weren’t successful so far (Obeliæ et al., 2004, Krz-
nariæ Škrivanko, 2011; Sraka, 2012) because too high dates
are considered or the 4th phase is ignored, in addition to the
fact that the clear context of the finds is missing.
Observing the available radiocarbon dates, even if we ig-
nore their obvious downsides, shows several problems con-
cerning absolute dating of Starèevo and Sopot cultures. The
beginning of Starèevo culture fits well the beginning of Neo-
lithic in the wider region (see for example Hertelendi et al.,
1995; Biagi and Spataro, 2005; Biagi et al., 2005; Lazarovici,
2006; Minichreiter and Krajcar Broniæ, 2006; Budja, 2013
etc.) but dating of its end in the north Croatia is not quite
clear. Sopot culture shows problems concerning dating of all
the phases, from the beginning until its end. It is worth noting
that one date from Hungarian site Sormás-Mátai-dûlõ
(VERA-3102, 6115±35 BP; 5210–4980 BC) (Barna and
Pásztor, 2011), belonging to this site’s Sopot level, corre-
sponds well with two dates from Croatian sites Golinci–
Selište and Kruševica–Njivice (Tab. 2) although the context
of these dates is not considered to represent the oldest phase
of Sopot culture. As the Sopot culture first appeared in north-
ern Croatia and then spread to the north, the question is when
that happened bearing in mind that Vinèa culture is older.
All radiocarbon dates available for Starèevo and Sopot
cultures, when summed (Fig. 4), give us a time frame which
will be used to compare it with climate proxies (Tab. 3). Al-
though this method is not accurate and faces many problems5,
it is at the moment the only possible way to observe how these
cultures fit the Holocene rapid climate events. Unfortunately,
no larger archaeological context or geoarchaeological data is
available at the moment for the observed region.
16 K. BOTIÆ
Table 2
Radiocarbon dates for Sopot culture used in this paper
Site Lab and code Material and context
14C age
(BP)
d13C/12C
(‰)
Calibration range
(%) Source
upanja–Dubovo–
Košno I.R.B.Z., Z-3045 Charcoal, SU 1804, square
Z-43d, PU 339 6320±100 / 5390–5200 BC (51.2%)
5170–5140 BC ( 5.1%)
Obeliæ et al., 2002; Obeliæ et al.,
2004, Table 1; Marijan, 2001;
Marijan, 2006; Èataj and Janeš,
2013; Buriæ, 2015, Tab. 3
Golinci–Selište LTL 5772A Charcoal from SU 113/114 6160±45 / 5210–5050 BC (68.2%)
5230–4980 BC (95.4%) Èataj and Janeš, 2013
Kruševica–Njivice I.R.B.Z., Z-3595 Sq. N24, SU 314, half earth-hut 6115±60 / 5210–5160 BC (15.1%)
5080–4940 BC (48.1%)
Obeliæ et al., 2011; Krznariæ
Škrivanko, 2011; Èataj and Janeš,
2013
Sopot
I.R.B.Z., Z-2826
Charcoal, part of wooden con-
struction supporting wall of
house SU 11*, probe Sopot III,
block 5, quadrant I/6, 2.11 m
depth
6340±100 / 5470–5210 BC (65.7%) Obeliæ et al., 2002; Buriæ, 2015,
Tab. 1
I.R.B.Z., Z-2827 Charcoal from SU 11 (sq. J
6/97); house floor 5380±98 /
4340–4210 BC (36.8%)
4200–4140 BC (13.5%)
4130–4040 BC (17.9%) Obeliæ et al., 2002; Obeliæ et al.,
2004, Table 1; Krznariæ Škri-
vanko, 2011, Table 3; Èataj and
Janeš, 2013; Buriæ, 2015, Tab. 1
I.R.B.Z., Z-2754 Charcoal from SU 11 (sq. G
9/97): house floor 5360±130 / 4320–4270 BC (14.4%)
4260–4040 BC (53.8%)
I.R.B.Z., Z-2911 Charcoal from SU 20 (sq.
H6/01): house floor 5330±90 / 4250–4040 BC (66.1%)
Beta 230030 Charcoal from SU 222 (sq.
G/H 35): zap. kanala 5300±40 / 4250–4030 BC Krznariæ Škrivanko, 2011, Tab. 3;
Èataj and Janeš, 2013
I.R.B.Z., Z-2909 Charcoal from SU 20 (sq. I
6//99): house floor 5220±100 / 4230–4180 BC (8.9%)
4170–3940 BC (59.3%)
Obeliæ et al., 2002; Obeliæ et al.,
2004, Table 1; Krznariæ Škri-
vanko, 2011, Table 3; Èataj and
Janeš, 2013; Buriæ, 2015, Tab. 1
Nova
Gradiška–Slavèa
Beta
278786 Charcoal from SU 91 5290±40 –24.3 4250–4030 BC Mihaljeviæ, 2013, Table 31;
Buriæ, 2015, Table 9
Osijek–Hermanov
vinograd I.R.B.Z., Z-2830 Charcoal from fireplace, depth
1.8–2.0 m 5260±120 /
4230–4180 BC ( 7.7%)
4170–3930 BC (53.2%)
3860–3810 BC ( 7.3%)
Šimiæ, 2000; Obeliæ et al., 2002;
Obeliæ et al., 2004, Table 1;
Šimiæ, 2006; Èataj and Janeš,
2013; Buriæ, 2015, Tab. 6
Otok–Mandekov
vinograd I.R.B.Z., Z-2762 Charcoal, square 10/ij, depth
0.77 m 5330±120 / 4330–4290 BC (7.1%)
4260–4040 BC (57.6%)
Obeliæ et al., 2002; Obeliæ et al.,
2004, Table 1; Èataj and Janeš,
2013; Buriæ, 2015, Tab. 4
* House 11 at Sopot site is dated to the III/IV phase (I.R.B.Z., Z-2754 and I.R.B.Z., Z-2827) but this date is older. It is possible that the sample doesn’t belong to
this house but to some older construction.
5 Large number of dates available for few sites, very few dates available for other sites, majority of sites remainsundated etc. (Weninger et al., 2014).
This time frame corresponds well with Hungarian Neo-
lithic (Fig. 5) and generally corresponds well with absolute
dating of Neolithic in wider region (Fig. 6), although there are
some differences – the beginning of Starèevo culture is dated
later and the beginning of Eneolithic earlier than in our ob-
served region.
CLIMATE PROXIES
In recent times the interest for Holocene climate change
increased considerably. One of the most remarkable discov-
eries is the existence of a distinctly repetitive pattern of
global cooling anomalies, with major (among other cycles)
1450-year periodicity during the Glacial periods, extending
through the Holocene (Weninger et al., 2009). These climate
changes were manifested by cooling oscillations, tropical
aridity and major atmospheric circulation changes (Budja,
2007) and are known as Rapid Climate Change (RCC) events
(Mayewski et al., 2004; Weninger et al., 2009). The exis-
tence of rapid fluctuations in Northern Hemispheric Glacial
and Holocene atmospheric circulation patterns was first re-
cognised some years ago in a detailed analysis of the GISP2
(Greenland) ice core glaciochemical record (Mayewski et
al., 1997; Clare and Weninger, 2010). Subsequent compari-
sons of the GISP2 record with terrestrial and marine records
NEOLITHIC CULTURES IN SOUTHERN OUTSKIRTS OF CARPATHIAN BASIN 17
Fig. 4 The sum of radiocarbon dates for Starèevo (black) and Sopot (red) cultures.
Table 3
Absolute chronological time frame for the Neolithic
cultures in northern Croatia
around 6000 BC the beginning of Starèevo culture
5500–5300 BC the end of Starèevo culture
5300–5000 BC
5200–5050 BC the beginning of Sopot culture (?)
5050–4300 BC duration of Sopot culture (most of the available
dates)
4300–4200 BC hiatus? (drastic decrease of available dates)
4200–4000/3990 BC the end of Sopot culture (the end of Neo-
lithic/beginning of Eneolithic)
Fig. 5. Diagrammatic representation of the three phases of the Neolithic period (after Hertelendi et al., 1995: 242, Fig. 2).
on a global scale have demonstrated the existence of six dis-
tinct time-intervals, each of which showed major cooling
anomalies during the Holocene (Mayewski et al., 2004;
Clare and Weninger, 2010). The ages attributed to these
(wider) Rapid Climate Change (RCC) intervals are: 9000–
8000, 6000–5000, 4200–3800, 3500–2500, 1200–1000, and
600–150 calBP (Mayewski et al., 2004; Alley and Ágús-
tsdóttir, 2005; Budja, 2007; Clare and Weninger, 2010;
Weninger et al., 2009). The most recent manifestation is
known as the Little Ice Age (LIA) (Budja 2007; Clare and
Weninger, 2010; Weninger et al., 2009).
For the North Atlantic, these cooling phases are ex-
plained with changes in salinity caused by final deglaciation
of the Laurentide ice sheet and related fresh-water outbursts
into the ocean, as well as iceberg discharges which equally
supplied fresh-water to the North Atlantic (Budja, 2007;
Gronenborn, 2009), known as Holocene IRD events (Ice
Rafted Debris) (Gronenborn, 2009) or Bond events (Bond et
al., 1997). IRD events show a good correlation with insola-
tion cycles and solar triggering is considered (Bond et al.,
2001; Gronenborn, 2009). These North Atlantic temperature
changes and changes in the ocean salinity could also have had
hemispherical effect, with teleconnections to the monsoonal
cycles (Alley and Ágústsdóttir, 2005; Gronenborn, 2009).
Two of the RCC intervals are important for this paper:
9000–8000 and 6000–5000 calBP (Clare and Weninger,
2010). The bibliography consulted is extensive (Alley et al.,
1997; Bond et al., 1997; Bianchi and McCave, 1999; Hu et
al., 1999; Perry and Hsu, 2000; Bond et al., 2001; Ogutsov et
al., 2001; Sümegi et al., 2002; Magny et al., 2003; Mayewski
et al., 2004; Alley and Ágústsdóttir, 2005; Bailey, 2006;
Kuper and Kröpelin, 2006; Weninger et al., 2006; Bout-
Roumazeilles et al., 2007; Budja, 2007; Thomas et al., 2007;
Weninger et al., 2007; Clare et al., 2008; Weninger et al.,
2008; Berger and Guilaine, 2009; Bocquet-Appel et al.,
2009; Gronenborn, 2009; Gronenborn and Sirocko, 2009;
Kotova, 2009; Weninger et al., 2009; Clare and Weninger,
2010; Kotova and Makhortykh, 2010; Gulýas and Sümegi,
2011; Lemmen et al., 2011; Carozza et al., 2012; Welc and
Marks, 2014 – all with their corresponding bibliography) but
we will only take specific RCC intervals into consideration
and their correlation with archaeological indicators for the
observed region of Slavonia.
8.2 ka calBP climate event
The ‘8.2 ka BP event’ is the most unfavourable of all
events from the beginning of Holocene including the Little
Ice Age (LIA). Anomalies have been observed in paleocli-
mate archives on a near global scale, except for the high
southern latitudes (Budja, 2007). Greenland ice-core records
show that temperatures in the North Atlantic region dropped
abruptly around 8200 BP6and took around 160 years to re-
cover (Thomas et al., 2007; Weninger et al., 2009). This
cooling was caused by flood outburst from the final degla-
ciation of the Laurentide ice sheet, strengthened atmospheric
18 K. BOTIÆ
Fig. 6. Chronological table of middle Neolithic and late Neolithic cultural groups in the Carpathian basin (after Link, 2009: 96, Abb. 1).
6 Greenland ice-core records show decrease in Greenland temperature for 6±2°C (Thomas et al., 2007). Compared to the current change of 0.5°C for
the mean annual temperature, which is globally responsible for dramatic climate changes, it is clear how extreme 8.2 ka interval was on global scale.
The anomalies of that interval differed regionally though.
circulation over the North Atlantic and Siberia and more fre-
quent polar north-westerly winter outbreaks over the Bal-
kans and Aegean Sea (Budja 2007; Weninger et al., 2009).
Extremely cold and dry air flowing rapidly over a warm sea
surface caused water evaporation which could have resulted
in very abrupt and heavy precipitation (Weninger et al.,
2009). Analyzing the marine core LC21, situated near the
east coast of Crete in Aegean sea, Weninger et al. (2009)
noted three major temperature drops in the south east Ae-
gean, dated to 8.6–8.0 ka calBP, 6.5–5.8 ka calBP and
3.5–2.8 ka calBP which corresponds to the RCC intervals on
a global scale (Figs 7, 8).
Decline in winter temperatures of more than 4°C was
noted in northern Greece (Tenaghi Philippon site) and north-
west Romania (Steregoiu and Preluca Tiganului sites) in pol-
len records. The significant drop of Dead Sea water levels
was noted for the period after the 8.6 ka calBP recovering
slightly only around 7.5 ka calBP and continuing at relatively
low levels until 5.6 ka calBP (Budja, 2007; Weninger et al.,
2009). As the Dead Sea level responds primarily to precipita-
tion changes in the northern Jordan Valley, it is possible to
conclude that, during the low levels of the Dead Sea, precipi-
tation decreased significantly in the wider eastern Mediterra-
nean region (Weninger et al., 2009) (Figs 9, 10).
In south-central Europe, pollen analysis showed change
in terrestrial vegetation in response to the climatic change be-
tween 8170 and 7950 calBP. This change is probably direct
response to the annual temperatures decreasing by about
2–3°C and to increased moisture availability. Southern Bal-
kans faced rainfall seasonality change, with drastic decrease
in autumn to spring precipitation and considerable fall of
temperatures (Budja, 2007). The reconstruction of climatic
parameters from European lake-level fluctuation data sug-
gest that regions at mid-latitudes between 43° and 50°N un-
derwent wetter conditions in response to the cooling, while
northern and southern Europe was marked by drier climate
(Magny et al., 2003; Budja, 2007).
In the southern Levant, the 8200 calBP ‘climate event’
was associated with the transition from the Pre-Pottery
(PPN) to Pottery Neolithic (PN); the Jericho settlement was
abandoned as well as the settlements at Ain Ghazal (Levant),
Catalhöyük East (Central Anatolia) and settlements of Cy-
prus (Budja, 2007; Weninger et al., 2009). It is suggested that
this climate event correlated with spread of farming from
West Asia and Near East into Europe but there is enough evi-
dence that farming (i.e. pottery) in Europe appeared prior to
the 8200 calBP althoug the domestication of animals arrived
immediately after (Budja, 2007).
According to Gronenborn (2009), IRD events 5 and 4
were contemporaneous with two major shifts in the Neolithi-
sation process in Temperate Europe (Figs 7, 9). The IRD
event 5a can be linked to the beginning of the Neolithisation
NEOLITHIC CULTURES IN SOUTHERN OUTSKIRTS OF CARPATHIAN BASIN 19
Fig. 7. Selected marine and terrestrial palaeoclimate proxy data for Central Europe. PBO – pre-Boreal oscillation; EHE – early Holocene
event; CE – cold events; GDO – germination/dying-off events. Duration of Neolithic in Slavonia region is marked in purple (modified after
Gronenborn, 2009: 99, Fig. 2).
around 6500 BC. The IRD event 5b started around 5700 BC
and ended abruptly around 5100 BC with the 5.1 event, cov-
ering more or less the entire extension of the LBK in Central
Europe (Gronenborn, 2009).
It can be concluded that the Neolithisation process of
south-east and central Europe (regions at mid-latitudes be-
tween 43° and 50°N) was interrupted by 8200 calBP event
because of the increase of precipitation, flooding and change
in vegetation. The Morava River valley, a waterway connect-
ing the southern Balkans to north-central Europe, was badly
affected by river dynamics and floods. It can be speculated
that in the Pannonian Plain there was an extension of wet-
lands and long-term flooding at the time of the climate event,
because the records show that it was flooded at least twice a
year before the regulation in the 19th century (Bánffy, 2004;
Budja, 2007; Bánffy and Sümegi, 2012). This is also true for
Sava, Drava and Danube interfluve (Slavonia region). The
initial agriculture in Peloponnesus and most of Balkans pre-
date the climate event (6200–6000 BC) but Neolithic popula-
tions crossed Danube and entered the southernmost region of
the Pannonian Plain after the major climate fluctuations (i.e.
around 6000 BC) (Budja, 2007).
6.0 ka calBP climate event
The time range of the next RCC period (6.0 ka calBP) is
6000–5200 calBP. In southern Europe, this period is associ-
ated with transition from the final Neolithic (or Late Copper
Age/Late Eneolithic, according to region) to the Early Bronze
Age. In this part of Europe (Greece, Bulgaria, Romania) ar-
chaeological research confirmed an abrupt collapse of long-
standing cultural systems and long-lived settlements that can
20 K. BOTIÆ
Fig. 8. Northern Hemisphere Palaeoclimate Records showing Holocene Rapid Climate Change (RCC) (site map cf. Fig. 2), (A) Greenland
GISP2 ice-core d18O (Grootes et al., 1993), (B) Western Mediterranean (Iberian Margin) core MD95–2043, sea surface temperature (SST)
C37 alkenones (Cacho et al., 2001; Fletcher et al., 2008), (C) Eastern Mediterranean core LC21 (SST) fauna (Rohling et al., 2002), (D) North
Atlantic Bond-Events, stacked petrologic tracers of drift ice from cores MC52–V29191+MC21–GGC22 (Bond et al., 2001), (E) Romania
(Steregoiu), Mean Annual Temperature of the Coldest Month (MTC, °C) (Feurdean et al., 2008), (F) Gaussian smoothed (200 yr) GISP2 po-
tassium (non-sea salt [K+]; ppb) ion proxy for the Siberian High (Mayewski et al., 1997; Meeker and Mayewski, 2002), (G) High-Resolution
GISP2 potassium (nonsea salt [K+]; ppb) ion proxy for the Siberian High (Mayewski et al., 1997; Meeker and Mayewski, 2002). Duration of
Neolithic in Slavonia region is marked in light gray (modified after Weninger et al., 2009: 9, Fig. 1).
be dated to sometime around 6.0 ka calBP which corresponds
to the onset of the RCC (Weninger et al., 2009). Measure-
ments of non-sea salt (nss) [K+] from GISP2 ice-core let
Weninger et al. (2009) to single out cold peaks at about 6162,
5971 and 5746 calBP followed by short warmer period be-
tween 5200 and 5150 calBP. The RCC finishes abruptly at
4992 calBP (Fig. 8). Evidence of poorer settlement pattern in
this period for a long time was considered to be the result of
NEOLITHIC CULTURES IN SOUTHERN OUTSKIRTS OF CARPATHIAN BASIN 21
Fig. 9. Culture history informed interpretative chronozone model of the spread of farming across western Eurasia (telescoped time slice
layers, non geo referenced). YD – Young Dryas; PBO – pre-Boreal oscillation; EHE – early Holocene event; 6.2-E – 6.2 event; 5.1-E – 5.1
event; LIA – Little Ice Age; CE – cold events; GDO – germination/dying-off events (after Gronenborn, 2009: 98, Fig. 1). Detail is shown in
the lower section.
insufficient archaeological research but the new research in
Thessaly showed that this lack of settlements during the end
of Neolithic/Eneolithic can be linked to abrupt and major
move away from tell settlements in favour of a distinct shift
towards small upland sites. In recent times, it is also consid-
ered that populations shifted from Neolithic agrarian to Cop-
per Age pastoralist economy. At the beginning of the Early
Bronze Age, there was a switch back to agriculture (Wenin-
ger et al., 2009).
Further analysis of material culture and 14C dates
showed that, for example, the tell Dipsis (Ezero) in Thrace
was abandoned between 6200 and 5200 calBP, which corre-
sponds to the transition from Karanovo VI to Karanovo VII
in cultural terms; the 14C dates show the existence of a major
cultural hiatus. This hiatus, between the end of Neolithic and
the beginning of the Bronze Age in most of the Greece, lasted
about 800 years or longer. The gap is also present in Bulgar-
ian 14C sequence between 6100 and 5200 calBP. Here, as in
Greece, the switch from an agrarian (tell-based) economy to
pastoralism (with small settlements in upland locations) ap-
pears as well as the tell abandonment, for example Yagodna
in Western Bulgaria. Yagodna was finally abandoned in the
second half of the 6th millennium calBP because the climate
became even too extreme to support less sensitive pastoralist
economy. Hiatus is also visible in the succession of cultures
in this region because the early Bronze Age Ezero culture ap-
22 K. BOTIÆ
Fig. 10. Climate proxies combined with Neolithic Starèevo and Sopot cultures and Eneolithic Lasinja culture in northern Croatia (modified
after Weninger, 2014).
pears in Thrace without any links to any local antecedents
(Weninger et al., 2009).
In Romania new research and new 14C dates showed that
the end of Eneolithic in southeast Europe can be expected
around 6250 calBP. Site of Petriele was destroyed by major
burning dated to 6200±50 calBP; this date was confirmed by
dates from Cãscioarele site. Lower Danube and its tributaries
were densely populated before 6200 calBP, after which new
settlements appeared on the left bank of Danube and in the
Dobrogea. Unfortunately, in Romania (as in Greece and Bul-
garia) further work is needed to establish sequences and
economy of cultures for the 6000–5200 calBP RCC interval
(Weninger et al., 2009).
In Tisza River region (Hungary) the life span of tells fall
between 5110 and 4450 calBC. The earliest date is from tell
Öcsöd-Kováshalom (5110–4830 calBC), situated in the
lower flow of Körös River and the latest date is from tell
Berettyóújfalu-Herpály (4730–4450 calBC), situated in the
eastern part of this region. These radiocarbon dates directly
link the end of life at tell sites with the beginning of Eneo-
lithic in Pannonian plain (4500/4450 calBC) (Hertelendi et
al., 1998).
CLIMATE PROXIES AS A FRAME
FOR ABSOLUTE DATING
The overview of global climate changes during the be-
ginning of Holocene gave us an insight of how certain peri-
ods of significant oscillation in temperature, precipitation
and circulation of cold air masses can be linked to partial so-
cial change in specific regions. It is clear that the beginning of
the Neolithisation of northern Balkan and part of Carpathian
basin can’t be expected before 6200–6000 calBC (Budja,
2007) because the antecedent period was extreme on global
scale and the climate conditions in Europe were very unfa-
vourable (dry and cold in the north and south zones, ex-
tremely moist in the central zone). Large quantities of preci-
pitation made certain parts of Europe impossible to cross
(Budja, 2007; Bánffy and Sümegi, 2012), while in the eastern
Mediterranean the severe draft is observed (Budja, 2007;
Weninger et al., 2009). Northern Africa was changed by the
abrupt arrival of monsoons at that time and desert was re-
placed by savannah-like environments and quickly inhabited
(Kuper and Kröpelin, 2006).
Radiocarbon dates for the beginning of Starèevo culture
fit well here: the earliest dates from the sites Sopot and
Galovo appear slightly after the end of 8.2 ka calBP event
(around 6000 calBC). As the 8.2 calBP event lasted about
160 years (Thomas et al., 2007; Weninger et al., 2009), the
beginning of the earliest phase of this culture can be placed at
this time. Somewhat earlier date can be expected for the be-
ginning of this culture, but certainly not earlier than 6200
calBC.
Climate proxies show somewhat stronger change during
the 7.1 ka calBP event, i.e. between 5700 and 5100 calBC.
This change is manifested by decrease of temperature and
precipitation in Europe, while less dry conditions in the Mid-
dle East prevail. Retrating monsoons caused new desiccation
of Sahara at 5300 calBC. During the period between 5300
and 4200 calBC (6250/6200–5200 calBP) in Greece, Bul-
garia and Romania tell settlements were abandoned and new
smaller upland settlements appeared. The economy also
changed from agriculture to pastoralism. The gaps (hiatus) of
about 800 to 1000 years appear at that time between old
Eneolithic and new early Bronze Age cultures which in gen-
eral have no connection to their antecedents. Tell abandon-
ment is noted in the eastern part of Pannonian plain after
4450 calBC as well (Hertelendi et al., 1998).
This is the period which corresponds to the end of
Starèevo and the beginning of Sopot culture according to ra-
diocarbon dates. Around 5200 calBC climate proxies show
the lowest temperature in 7.1 ka calBP event. This can repre-
sent the lower date for the end of Starèevo culture but there is
not enough radiocarbon data to confirm that. The beginning
of Sopot culture should be placed around 5300 calBC (or just
after); the greater change in global climate proxies can be ob-
served at that time. After 5300 calBC in southern Balkan and
Black Sea region tells were abruptly abandoned and the sig-
nificant change in social and economic structure of the popu-
lation appear. In these regions the next new change can be
dated only after 4200 calBC.
The last observed 6.0 ka calBP event (4400–3200
calBC) shows very long unstable period in which the most
unfavourable are 4600 and 4200 calBC. Sopot culture shows
its most intensive existence between 5050 and 4300 calBC,
period of dramatic change in eastern regions of Europe. Fi-
nally, the change in Sopot culture came late: between 4300
and 4200 calBC the decrease of radiocarbon dates can be ob-
served and after 4200 calBC, while in the wider region
Eneolithic is present for a few hundred years, Sopot culture
slowly adapts to this new situation before it gives way to
Lasinja and other Eneolithic cultures in Slavonia region
(southern outskirts of Carpathian basin). Finally, the 4.2 ka
calBP marks the full beginning of the Bronze Age in Sla-
vonia region.
CONCLUSION
Climate change, although not the principal and only
cause, had an impact on the social change during the Neo-
lithic and beginning of Eneolithic in southeast and central
Europe. Three cold intervals had an impact on the formation,
development and final transformation of Neolithic popula-
tions in these regions. Comparison of radiocarbon dates with
these cold intervals (8.2 ka, 7.1 ka and 6.0 ka cal BP) facili-
tates, to a certain point, better understanding of specific
phases of Neolithic Starèevo and Sopot cultures in northern
Croatian territory (southern outskirts of Carpathian basin).
The beginning of Starèevo culture can be linked to the end of
8.2 ka cal BP interval while its final phase can be linked to the
end of 7.1 ka cal BP interval. The beginning of Sopot culture
can be placed somewhat earlier but still during the 7.1 ka cal
BP interval. Duration of Sopot culture coincided with the pe-
riod of tell abandonment in southeast Europe and the Black
Sea region and towards its end the decrease of available ra-
diocarbon dates is noted, possibly signifying decrease of life
in the region but it is not clear to what extent the life of the
known settlements was abandoned. The eponym Sopot site
was abandoned around 4200 BC or somewhat later and life
there was never renewed.
NEOLITHIC CULTURES IN SOUTHERN OUTSKIRTS OF CARPATHIAN BASIN 23
It is clear that the beginning of the late Neolithic Sopot
culture in southern outskirts of Carpathian basin, i.e. north
Croatian territory or Slavonia region, coincides with the ma-
jor changes in Greece, Romania and Bulgaria where the
abrupt abandonment of settlements and great cultural chan-
ges happened. It is also clear that the end of Neolithic life in
Slavonia region coincides with renewal of life on Balkans
and in the Black Sea region. That also marks the beginning of
Eneolithic way of life which ends in the second half of the 3rd
millennium BC, giving way to the beginning of the Bronze
Age just around the time of 4.2 ka calBP event.
There is a possibility that southern outskirts of Carpa-
thian basin, having specific geographic and geological con-
ditions, was able to sustain Neolithic way of life somewhat
longer than the surrounding region without any hiatus de-
tected but more interdisciplinary data is needed to confirm
this theory.
Lastly, no serious analysis of archaeological remains in
the light of climate changes can be done without extensive in-
terdisciplinary research. We consider this paper to be the first
step towards this new research.
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26 K. BOTIÆ
... Starting with given data (Fig. 14), it would promising to further explore the emerging Rapid Climate Change (RCC) event that is evident at around 7.4 ka calBP (Filippidi et al., 2016(Filippidi et al., , 2019. The impact of RCC has already previously been anticipated as explanation for certain properties of the archaeological data (Botić, 2016). As goes for future applications of the BS technology, the available dating precision for the Southeast and Central European Neolithic is presently less limited by the number and quality of 14 C-AMS measurements, but rathermore, (1) by the shape of the 14 C-age calibration curve, (2), by the lack of internal time-structures for the dated archaeological sites, and (3) the nearly complete lack of 14 C-AMS-ages on short-lived Mesolithic samples in the Pannonian Basin and adjacent regions. ...
... The Holocene climate fluctuations and their effect on prehistoric societies have been extensively studied over the last 20 years (see for example Weninger et al., 2009;Gronenborn, 2009; see also an extensive overview in Botić, 2016). Several periods of rapid climate change (RCC) causing major temperature drops have been attested. ...
... Publications, Inc., New York, pp. 190. Botić, K., 2016. Neolithisation of Sava-Drava-Danube interfluve at the end of the 6600-6000 BC period of Rapid Climate Change: a new solution to an old problem. ...
Book
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This special issue of Quaternary International contains a selection of contributions from the international Conference entitled “LBK & Vinča - Formation and Transformation of Early Neolithic Lifestyles in Europe in the second half of the 6th millennium BC” held from 21st to 23rd of March, 2019 in Tübingen (Germany).
... Particularly in speleothems, this should leave a paleoenvironmental signal in form of higher δ 13 C values (Jiménez de Cisneros and Caballero, 2011), so the earlier discussed positive δ 13 C shift around 7.4 ka in NG stalagmites could be explained by anthropogenic deforestation. However, Neolithisation -a shift from the hunter-gatherer nomadic to sedentary agricultural lifestyle -ushered also permanent settlements often built on the riverbanks (Botić, 2016a). In continental Croatia, Early Neolithic sites were discovered mainly in the eastern part in the lowlands (Botić, 2016b), while the hilly region of NG cave retains no sign of human settlements, supporting hydroclimate causes of isotopic variations, rather than anthropogenic. ...
Article
We present the first stable isotope (δ13C and δ18O) speleothem record from continental Croatia retrieved from two coeval stalagmites from Nova Grgosova Cave. U-Th dates constrain the stalagmite growth history from 10ka to the present, revealing coeval growth between 7.8 and 5.6ka. We interpret δ18O as an autumn/winter hydrological proxy related to changes of vapor source, precipitation amount, and/or seasonal rainfall distribution, while δ13C predominantly responds to spring/summer vegetation status and soil microbial activity. We identify several centennial to millennial-scale hydroclimate oscillations during this period that result from multiple forcing factors. Along with amount and source effect, it appears that some centennial variations were governed also by seasonal moisture balance. From 9.2 to 8.8ka BP, the local environmental setting was characterized by enhanced vegetation activity, while during the 8.2ka event the main feature was a change in precipitation seasonality. The most prominent change, identified in both δ13C records, is a sudden decline of vegetation and soil biological activity around 7.4 ka, indicating a precipitation decrease at a time of maximum plant growth in spring and summer and likely also reduced precipitation in autumn and winter. Although small in magnitude in these speleothems, a peak in δ18O and δ13C values at 4.3–4.1ka suggests that both summer and winter conditions were substantially drier during the 4.2ka event, in accordance with increased Mediterranean aridity and consistent with other global climate changes reported at this time. Compared to the present North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) influence, we assume that millennial Holocene NAO-like variations were persistent through the Holocene via their effect on modifying local/regional air temperature, vapor origin, and inter- and intrannual precipitation distribution. Anthropogenic deforestation, which was the first major human impact on the environment during the Neolithic agricultural revolution, is excluded as a leading factor in δ13C variability since the first sedentary settlements were established further to the east in more arable locations along river valleys. However, the impact of intensive mining around the cave site during the last millennium is evident, with substantial deforestation driving an increase in δ13C.
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Sites from the Eneolithic period belonging to the Sălcuța culture were partially identified and researched in the Băilești Plain, a sector located in the south-western part of the Romanian Plain. We refer to the archaeological sites from Curmătura and Cerăt. Since the site from Curmătura is a tell settlement with a height of over 10 m, being one of the most impressive sites in Oltenia, it is necessary to resume the systematic research, especially because we identified another circular enclosure that may be related to the tell settlement, at a short distance north-west of it, on satellite images. This new circular enclosure is not the only one in the Băilești Plain, several other circular enclosures being located in Urzicuța, Bârca, Cioroiași, Portărești, while similar structures are to be found in Castrele Traiane and Dobridor, archaeological sites in Dolj county. Therefore, the next natural step is to verify the new structures in the field through an intrusive archaeological diagnosis and the resumption of systematic research in Curmătura. The typology of the circular sites extend over wide geographical areas in South-Eastern Europe and on chronological levels, starting from the Eneolithic and continuing to the Second Iron Age, sometimes even in the Middle Ages.
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A total of 272 oak ( Quercus sp.) samples have been collected from large subfossil trees dredged from sediment deposited by the Sava and various tributary rivers in the Zagreb region of northwestern Croatia, and in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Measurement series of tree-ring widths from these samples produced 12 groups, totaling 3456 years of floating tree-ring chronologies spread through the last ca. 8000 years. This work represents the first step in creating a new, high-resolution resource for dating and paleoenvironmental reconstruction in the Balkan region and potentially a means to bridge between the floating tree-ring chronologies of the wider Mediterranean region and the continuous long chronologies from central Europe.
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New radiocarbon dates for the Early Starčevo Culture confi rm that the process of Neolithization in continental Croatia began already around the year 6000 BC. Evidence of this includes discovery of settlements in Zadubravlje and Slavonski Brod that belong to the initial phases of Starčevo Culture development - Linear A phase. The long duration of the Starčevo Culture is demonstrated by over one hundred recorded settlements from all phases of its development, from Linear A to the closing Spiraloid B phase. This confirms that the territory of continental Croatia was an integral component of the central Starčevo Culture zone and one of the key such zones in its emergence and existence. Typological and stylistic analyses of archaeological material from the settlement at Galovo in Slavonski Brod established that it belongs to the Linear A phase, which lasted for a considerable period of time. The first radiocarbon dating of a Starčevo Culture settlement in Croatia have determined a more precise chronological status of Slavonski Brod and Zadubravlje within the chronological scale of Early Neolithic settlements of the Starčevo Culture complex. Archaeological methods applied resulted in the discovery of two construction phases (vertical stratigraphy), while the third phase (horizontal stratigraphy) could only be determined using the 14C dating method. The dating of residential pit-house 37 and burial pit 15 in the most recent structures in this part of the settlement allowed, for the first time, a scientifically-founded portrayal of the horizontal stratigraphy of one of the oldest Early Neolithic settlements in continental Croatia.
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The results of radiocarbon dating of several Late Neolithic archaeological sites in Slavonia, eastern Croatia, are presented. According to the archaeological findings, the sites belong to the Sopot culture. Stages I-B, II-A, II-B, and III were identified at the eponym site Sopot near Vinkovci, stages I-B and II at the site Dubovo-Košno near Županja, while findings for other investigated sites (Herrmann's Vineyard near Osijek, Mandek's Vineyard from Otok, Privlaka near Vinkovci, and Slavča near Nova Gradiška) were placed to phases II and III. 14C results place the I-B stage to the period 5480-5070 cal BC, stage U-A to 5030-4770 cal BC, stage II-B to 4800-4250 cal BC, and phase III to 4340-3790 cal BC. These dates were compared to those obtained for other Late Neolithic cultures in the Pannonian Valley. The results confirmed the Protolengyel character of Sopot culture.