Tripolian Figurine
Schweizerisch-Liechtensteinische Stiftung für archäologische Forschungen im Ausland
   
   
   

Talne: Archäologisches Projekt in der Ukraine

Die letzte Phase der Tripolye-Kultur in der Ukraine

Grabungskampagne 2009
Dieses Projekt von Prof. Francesco Menotti, Universität Basel, befasst sich mit der letzten Phase der «Tripolye-Kultur» der Zeit von ca. 3000 v. Chr. Während der Feldkampagne 2009 legten die Archäologen zwei weitere Behausungen der riesigen Siedlung von Talianki frei. Zudem analysierten sie Funde aus bereits früher am Fluss Dniester (Region Vinnitsa) von ukrainischen Archäologen bei einer Notgrabung sichergestellten Siedlungsresten der Tripolye-Kultur.

In diesem Jahr wurden nicht wie bisher zwei nebeneinanderliegende Hütten erforscht, sondern zwei, die an verschiedenen Standorten errichtet waren. Die eine befindet sich im nördlichen Teil der Siedlung und die andere im südlichen. Durch die Wahl zweier Standorte sollten Unterschiede über Art und Zeitpunkt der Erbauung festgestellt werden. Die Grabungsergebnisse werden in einer detaillierten typologischen Analyse der beiden Hütten festgehalten. Zudem erstellten die Forscher eine Analyse von archäobotanischen Funden und liessen Kohlereste für eine C14-Analyse durch das Oxford AMS Labor untersuchen. In Bernashovka, einer kleinen Stadt am Fluss Dniester im Südwesten der Ukraine (Region Vinnitsa), wurde im Zuge eines Strassenbaus von ukrainischen Archäologen eine Notgrabung an zwei tripolischen Siedlungen durchgeführt. Bei der ersten (Bernashovka 1) handelte sich um eine Siedlung der frühen Phase der Tripolye-Kultur (Pre-Cucuteni), die andere (Bernashovka 2) war während der spätesten Phase (Tripolye B2–C1) erbaut worden.

In Bernashovka 1 wurde eine Hütte freigelegt, in Bernashovka 2 deren zwei. Alle drei scheinen sich von den typischen tripolischen Bauten zu unterscheiden. Grösse und Typ legen die Vermutung nahe, dass es sich eher um Lagerräume als um Wohnhütten handelte. Die unterschiedlichen Bautechniken und Funktionen sowie die langen zeitlichen Abstände der Erbauung dieser beiden Siedlungen unterstreichen ihre Wichtigkeit für ein besseres Verständnis der Entwicklung der Tripolye-Kultur, ihrer Veränderungen und ihres Untergangs. Dank der guten Zusammenarbeit mit den an den Ausgrabungen von Bernashovka beteiligten Archäologen konnte das SLSA-Projektteam Kohleproben für die Erstellung absoluter und relativer Chronologien entnehmen und für einen Vergleich mit denjenigen aus der Region des Dnieper Flusses verwenden.

Eines der Hauptanliegen des Projektes ist der Einbezug der lokalen Bevölkerung, um den Einheimischen ihr jahrtausendealtes kulturelles Erbe näherzubringen. Zu diesem Zweck organisierte das Tripolye-Museum von Legedzeno 2008 ein grosses Volksfest, die sogenannte Toloka. 2009 wurde die Bemalung der bei der Toloka erstellten Tripolye-Hütten fertiggestellt. Dabei wurden traditionelle Pigmentfarben verwendet. Das Echo aus der Bevölkerung war sehr positiv.

Die Projektleitung hat entschieden, auf eine weitere Grabung zu verzichten und stattdessen die reichlich vorhandenen Daten und Funde aus den ersten zwei Kampagnen aufzuarbeiten und eine Schlusspublikation vorzubereiten. Der Kredit der SLSA kann zu diesem Zweck umgenutzt werden.

Ausgrabungen an Haus 43 (2009).

Haus 40 (2008).

Wet-sieving
During the 2009 fieldwork season, wet-sieving was carried out in the giant settlement of Talianki (Cherkassy region). The soil was collected from four 50X50cm pits within each of the two excavated houses (house 42 and house 43 – two pits each house). The soil was collected in each pit every 10 cm from the top to the bottom (original surface on which the house was constructed) of the house remains.

Pit 1 reached a depth of 40 cm, whereas pit 2, due to thicker house remains (clay blocks), was 10cm deeper (50cm). As a result, four bags of soil (one each 10 cm – see above) were obtained from pit 1 and five from pit 2. The amount of soil in each bag varied and depended upon the quantity of clay blocks in each of the 10 cm layer. The first 20 cm from the top usually contained more house remains and therefore less soil. Altogether the two pits of house 42 have produced nine bags of soil (four from pit 1 and five from pit 2). Due to a more homogenous distribution of house remains both pit 1 and pit 2 reached the depth of 40 cm, resulting in four bags of soil (one each 10 cm – see above) in each pit. As in house 42, the amount of soil in each bag varied, and also in this case it depended upon the quantity of clay blocks in each of the 10cm layer. All together the two pits of house 43 have produced eight bags of soil; four from pit 1 and four from pit 2.

Archaeobotanical Analysis
The organic remains of the seventeen wet-sieved bags of soil obtained from the four above-mentioned pits were put in plastic test tubes and sorted and analysed by Dr. Lucia Wick, Basel University.

Palynological analysis of pot contents: Amongst the large number of pottery fragments recovered from the two excavated houses in Talianki, seven entire pots with intact contents have come to light during the excavation. Palynilogical analyses of the contents of these seven pots (five found in House 42 and two in House 43), will be carried out during the final year of the project.

14C Dating
A selection of charcoal particles found in house 42 and 43 (Talianki giant settlement), and house 1 (Bernashovka 1) will be sent to the AMS laboratory in Oxford for 14C dating. The purpose of obtaining 14C dated from various Tripolye Culture settlements (from the Dniester to the Dnieper) is that of developing a absolute chronology (presently still at an infancy stage within the Tripolian research in Ukraine), which will be subsequently compare to the already well-established relative one, in order to prove (or disprove) present migration theories within local and regional Tripolye Culture groups.

Experimental archaeology and folklore: the Toloka
Since one of the principle objectives of the project is to involve local communities and make them appreciate their cultural heritage, last year, the Tripolye Museum of Legedzeno, in collaboration with the Tripolian Reservation and the Cultural Heritage, organised an important cultural event called the Toloka, whereby people of the local community as well as from other areas were invited to help plaster a newly-built house with clay. For this particular event, the Museum built an experimental Tripolian house and, using the same techniques used by the Tripolians 5,500 years ago, the house was fully daubed in clay mixed with chaff.

This year, the folkloristic activity of traditional Tripolian house building was completed by painting the house. The response of the local community was very positive, and the house was successfully painted using tradition pigments obtained from organic as well as inorganic materials.

Toloka folklore: Mixing the clay with a horse, 2008.

Painting the traditionally built Tripolian house (Photograph: F. Menotti, 2009.

Die Ausgrabungen von Talianki 2008
Die erste Feldkampagne 2008 verlief nach Einschätzung der Projektleitung sehr erfolgreich und nach Plan. Die Archäologen erforschen Siedlungsreste der Tripolye-Kultur aus der Zeit zwischen dem 6. und dem frühen 3. Jahrtausend vor Christus. Die sogenannten Riesensiedlungen waren in den Gegenden des heutigen Rumänien, Moldavien und der Ukraine weit verbreitet. Die Ansammlungen ovaler Behausungen bedeckten Flächen von 60 bis 450 ha. Die meisten Riesensiedlungen sind in der Region um Talne zu finden. Die Entstehung von Siedlungen dieses Ausmasses wurde begünstigt durch äusserst fruchtbare Böden und ausgedehnte Waldflächen.

Die Tripolye-Siedlung von Talianki ist die grösste. Hier wurde eine gut erhaltene Behausung freigelegt. Ein wichtiger Aspekt des Projektes ist die Integration der lokalen Bevölkerung. Im Zusammenhang mit den Grabungen wurde eine «Toloka» für die gesamte Bevölkerung der Umgebung organisiert, ein Fest, bei dem die Anwesenden gemeinsam die Mauern eines Neubaus mit Lehm verputzen. Zu diesem Anlass liess das Tripolye Museum of Legedzeno ein tripolisches Gebäude mit den Hilfsmitteln nachbauen, die vor 5500 Jahren den Tripolye zur Verfügung standen.

This year’s campaign started with a visit to the Institute of Archaeology of the Ukraine National Academy of Sciences in Kiev in February, to organise the whole project and in particular the Talianki excavation for the summer (see below). This initial trip included also the visit of a potential archaeological site in Slavske near Lviv. The Ukrainian team of experts started to work on the project in early spring reviewing the most important literature published in Russian and Ukrainian. The summer field season consisted of the excavation of two house of the Talianki giant-settlement, plus a few test-pits in two other important settlements: Apolanka and Fioderovska. The summer field included two trips to Charkassi and Slavske to meet other experts in the Tripolian research and visit two potential archaeological sites related to the project. An important aspect of the project is the direct involvement of the local community; the Tripolian Museum of Legedzeno has therefore organised an important cultural event called the Toloka, which links experimental archaeological research to folkloristic traditions (see below).

One of the main tasks of the 2009 research campaign was the excavation of two houses within the Tripolye Culture giant-settlement of Talianki. Two houses (No. 40 and No. 41 - see Fig. 7) have been carefully chosen within the Talianki giant-settlement using geomagnetic survey and fully excavated from June to August.

The excavation was carried out by eight professional archaeologists with the help of about 40 students from the T.G. Shevchenko National University (Ukraine), the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (Ukraine), The Uman National University. The results of the excavation were astonishing: the debris of the two houses were very well preserved, one of the house (40) turned out to be the biggest house in the settlement (22 metres long and almost 6m wide). Some of the characteristic features (altar, oven and elevated shelf [platform]) were clearly visible. Finally both houses yielded a high number of potsherds and seven intact ceremonial pots (see Figs. 10 and 11) and one kitchen pot. An astonishing discovery is that some potsherds showed traces of repairs (see Fig. 12); e.g. some broken plates had been repaired and continued to be used. This shows that pottery was made periodically (possibly seasonally), therefore, during the periods of pottery unavailability, the broken vessels were not thrown away, but repaired and used again.

Fig. 10: Ceremonial pot (House 40 – (Talianki).

Fig. 11: Ceremonial pot (House 41 – (Talianki).

In addition to the rich ceramic assemblage, the excavation yielded important aspect of the house construction techniques; e.g. traces of different layers of clay to form the main floor of the house (see Fig. 13) and the imprints of human fingers left on walls during the plastering (see Fig. 14).

Experimental archaeology and folklore: the Toloka
An important aspect of the project is to involve local communities and make them appreciate their cultural heritage. This year, the Tripolye Museum of Legedzeno, in collaboration with the Tripolian Reservation and the Cultural Heritage, has organised an important cultural event called the Toloka, whereby people of the local community as well as from other areas are invited to help plaster a newly-built house with clay. For this particular event, the Museum built an experimental Tripolian house and, using the same techniques used by the Tripolians 5,500 years ago, the house was fully daubed in clay mixed with chaff (see Fig. 15).  The Toloka folkloristic tradition has been passed on for generations and generations, and in some remote areas it is still part of the everyday life. This event was not only an interesting folkloristic experience, but it was used an archaeological experiment to test archaeological findings and theories within the project.

Fig. 15: Moment of the Toloka.

Fig. 16: Moment of the Toloka.

Introduction
The Tripolye Culture (also know as Cucuteni in Rumania and Moldavia) is one of the most striking phenomena of the Neolithic (locally known as Chalcolithic) in the Eastern European plains. Tripolye settlements covered a very large territory, which included present-day Rumania, Moldavia and Ukraine, spanning from the 6th to the early 3rd Millennium BC. The Tripolye Culture is best known for its exquisite multicolour ceramic (Figs. 1, 2), anthropomorphic clay figurines (Figs. 3, 4) and miniature models of houses (Fig. 5), but, one of the most intriguing mysteries of this culture are the so-called giant settlements, in Ukraine. These agglomerates of houses (of oval shape) cover a surface that varies from 60 to 450 hectares. The largest Tripolye settlement is that of Talianki (450ha) (Fig. 6), located in the Cherkassi District between the rivers Southern Bug and Dniper. It is indeed in this area (Uman and Talne regions) that the majority of giant settlements are situated. Eleven of them are part of the recently-established Tripolye Reservation. The importance of this area (forest steppe) is its geographical location. In fact, because of its exclusively fertile soil and the presence of fairly large woodlands, it offered an ideal environment for agriculture, cattle-breeding and livestock activity. The favourable environmental conditions of this region facilitated the development of these extremely large settlements, especially in the last phase of the Tripolye Culture, e.g. 3,200 to 2,700 bc (CI/CII – Passek periodisation).

Fig. 1: Tripolian vase found at Peshane (BII), Ukraine.

Fig. 2: Tripolian vase found at Peshane (BII), Ukraine.

Fig. 5: Tripolian miniature clay model of a house found at Peshane (BII), Ukraine.

Fig. 6: Geographical location of the Talianki giant-settlement.

Organising Institutions:
Institute of Prehistory and Archaeological Science, Basel University
Institute of Archaeology of the Ukraine National Academy of Sciences

 Project coordinators:
Dr. Francesco Menotti (Basel University, Switzerland)
Dr. Aleksey Korvin-Piotrovsky (Institute of Archaeology, Kiev)
Dr. Vladimir, A. Kruts (Institute of Archaeology, Kiev)

 Contact:
Dr. Francesco Menotti
Institute of Prehistory and Archaeological Science (IPNA)
Basel University
Spalenring 145
4055 Basel

Email: francesco.menotti@unibas.ch


Moment of the Toloka
 
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