neighboring villages. Such intermittent conﬂicts might have
taken place within archaeological taxonomic units or “cultures,”
such as the Vinča culture world, which might have represented
effective tribal territories and mating networks with shared
traditions of practical gestures and material culture styles. In-
termittent feuding is also likely among different cultural tax-
onomic units, especially along the border zones. Direct bioarchae-
ological evidence of such postulated violent encounters remains
scarce at present in the central Balkan Neolithic, although oc-
casional human remains deposited in an unstructured manner
have been found both within settlements and in surrounding
ditches (e.g., Okolište [Müller 2014] and Stubline [A. Crno-
brnja, personal communication, 2015]). The question remains
open to what extent the widespread evidence of burnt buildings at
many sites is the consequence of intentional burning of these
features (e.g., Stevanović1997) or the result of violent attacks.
Parkinson and Duffy (2007) have argued that increasing
social segmentation and the concept of substitutability (i.e., “a
cultural logic that permits the cultural substitution and equa-
tion of an individual with a speciﬁc group with which that
person is a member”; Parkinson and Duffy 2007:100) were the
main social triggers for the appearance of enclosures, forti-
ﬁcations, and similar features in the European Neolithic. From
the perspective of practice theory, we suggest that the com-
munal labor that went into the construction of enclosed sites
in the Neolithic of southeastern Europe must have acted as a
powerful and cohesive social bond in creating and maintaining
a sense of belonging for groups who identiﬁed with particular
settlements. We also argue that, while various enclosure fea-
tures in the Neolithic of southeastern Europe most likely had a
defensive functional role, this does not stand in opposition to
the symbolic importance of such demarcations between the
world inside a village and the one outside. As in examples com-
ing from African ethnography (cf. Descola 2013:26), the village
might have been conceived as governed by social order and seg-
mentary hierarchy strongly permeated by ancestral presence,
while the outside might have been conceived as an unruly and
In the future, with a larger sample of enclosed Neolithic sites
investigated in the same way as Oreškovica-Selište, it will be
possible to provide a more robust analysis of diverse trajecto-
ries of settlement histories. This will allow us to attempt to an-
swer with more certainty questions concerning competition,
conﬂict, and violence as constitutive forms of social interaction
and reproduction in the Neolithic Balkans.
We acknowledge funding received in 2012 from the Wenner-
Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research through an
International Collaborative Research Grant (115 to D. Borić,
R. Doonan, B. Hanks, and D. Šljivar), funding received in 2014
and 2015 for ﬁeldwork and postexcavation analyses from the
Study Abroad Program of Cardiff University (Cardiff, UK),
and funding for determining AMS dates from the Natural
Environment Research Council Radiocarbon Facility (NF/
2014/2/0). We are grateful to the Center for Russian and East-
ern European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitts-
burgh, PA) for small grants to D. Borićand B. Hanks in 2016.
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