Summer School 2017
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Archaeology Summer School 2017

Bronze Age tell settlement Toboliu –Dambul Zanacanului

May-September 2017

 

Tell settlements – general information

The Bronze Age tells occupy the highest position in the settlement system of the Carpathian Basin and can be compared to contemporary sites from the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. Their development covers a period of approximately 1000 years, between circa 2500 and 1500 B.C.

The tells differ visibly from the rest of contemporary settlements from the Carpathian Basin both in terms of architectural building patterns and thickness of the occupation debris resulted from long-term inhabitation of the same area. The central role played by the tell-settlements in the region is also proven by their fortification systems, the presence of defensive structures indicating the fact that a certain political authority with control over a well-defined territory.

In the 2016 campaign, the research was focused on investigating the first unit, located approximately in the middle of the mound. Several habitation phases were revealed. Some of the features discovered in 2016 deserve special attention, such as a dugout house, as well as a surface dwelling containing several phases. The dugout was partially revealed in the south-eastern corner of the unit, with relative dimensions of 3,20x2,40 m and reaching a total depth of 3,60 m (in relation to the modern ground level). The structure contained large fragments of adobe, as well as numerous pottery fragments and animal bones. The dugout was assigned to the 6th phase of the settlement. Another interesting feature is represented by a surface dwelling. Two successive wood floors can be related to this structure, both with similar dimensions and orientation (aprox. 5,80x4,80 m, oriented ENE-VSV). The first floor (in the order of discovery) was rather poorly preserved. A fire hearth, with 6 successive phases, was constructed straight on top of the wood planks. The second floor was very well preserved and also had a fire installation with 5 phases.

Numerous pottery fragments and animal bone pieces were discovered, as well as several spindle whorls, clay weights and miniature clay wheels. A very problematic discovery is represented by a small iron blade. Considering the chronological frame of the settlement, the discovery should be treated with caution.

 

Toboliu Dambul Zanacanului

History of research

The first artefacts were found on the surface of the site in 1904. This lot of artefacts, consisting of 7 pottery fragments and a ceramic cup, were dated as belonging to the Bronze Age. Eugen Potoran, a local teacher, properly recorded the location of the settlement after conducting numerous field walks in the area back in mid 20th century. Following the teacher’s reports, researcher N Chidioșan was the first to perform an actual excavation here (as a test trench) in the autumn of 1960. In 1965 and 1966, archaeological investigations here were resumed by S. Dumitrascu, but two following campaigns, conducted in 1968 and 1972, were led again by N. Chidioșan, accompanied by D. Ignat, both researchers at Oradea Museum. No other excavations were carried on here until 2014 and, except for a few field walks conducted in 2007, the site was pretty much overlooked. Despite the great number of finds resulted after the above mentioned excavations, written information about the tell settlement is still limited, as the archaeological reports were never published.

2014 - 2016 Campaign

Investigations were resumed in 2014 and continued in 2015 and 2016, conducted by the Association for Promoting Transylvanian Archaeological Heritage, Criș County Museum and the Institute of Archaeology and History of Art of the Romanian Academy. These investigations consisted of excavations and non-intrusive methods (topographic survey, aerial photography, systematic survey, resistivity profiling and geomagnetic scanning). Regarding the actual excavations, three trenches were dug. The first trench (7x5 m) was located on the highest point of the tell settlement. In this part, a modern cemetery disturbed the upper layers of the prehistoric site, a total number of 13 graves being exposed, arranged on three parallel rows. Seven of these graves were fully investigated, revealing remains from one adult and six infants. Copper and bronze coins (the earliest was issued in 1812 ( Francisc II (I)) and the latest in 1879 (Franz Joseph), as well as metal and porcelain buttons were identified. It was also observed here that the burial pits cut through a Bronze Age structure, from which a large number of pottery fragments (still in situ) were recovered. The second trench (4x2 m) overlapped an old archaeological trench and was intended as means of verifying and comparing old and new results. The third trench (7x5 m) was excavated in the eastern part of the mound. After removing the top soil and a disturbed layer, patches of compact adobe were observed, belonging to a surface dwelling. Unfortunately, here too we encountered an old archaeological trench (1,5 m wide), crossing our section on a NNE-SSV axis and cutting trough the prehistoric structure.

Archaeological finds consisted of pottery, bone and adobe fragments, as well as other special finds, from which we mention whole or well preserved vessels, miniature cart wheels, a bone pendant and a bivalve casting mould for obtaining a socketed chisel. Based on ceramic style, the upper layer investigated was dated in Middle Bronze Age III (Bz B1), assigned to the Otomani III Cultural phase. From the surface of the house in Caseta I (features 10,12) a bone was sampled for Radiocarbon analisys. The result places the house between 1600-1500 B.C.

In the 2016 campaign, the research was focused on investigating the first unit, located approximately in the middle of the mound. Several habitation phases were revealed. Some of the features discovered in 2016 deserve special attention, such as a dugout house, as well as a surface dwelling containing several phases. The dugout was partially revealed in the south-eastern corner of the unit, with relative dimensions of 3,20x2,40 m and reaching a total depth of 3,60 m (in relation to the modern ground level). The structure contained large fragments of adobe, as well as numerous pottery fragments and animal bones. The dugout was assigned to the 6th phase of the settlement. Another interesting feature is represented by a surface dwelling. Two successive wood floors can be related to this structure, both with similar dimensions and orientation (aprox. 5,80x4,80 m, oriented ENE-VSV). The first floor (in the order of discovery) was rather poorly preserved. A fire hearth, with 6 successive phases, was constructed straight on top of the wooden planks. The second floor was very well preserved and also had a fire installation with 5 phases.

Numerous pottery fragments and animal bone pieces were discovered, as well as several spindle whorls, clay weights and miniature clay wheels. A very problematic discovery is represented by a small iron blade. Considering the chronological frame of the settlement, the discovery should be treated with caution.

2017 Objectives

This year we will continue excavating the two units (trench I and III), documenting already identified structures. Also, we will extend the topographic survey to a larger area. A systematic field walk is also scheduled, as well as geomagnetic scanning and core drilling.

 

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