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The First Farmers of the Northern Croatia.

Dr. Kornelija Minichreiter
Zagreb Academy

In the area of northern Croatia known as southern Pannonia, between the rivers Drava, Danube and Sava, the first Neolithic settlements developed ca 6000 – 4800 BC. Numerous excavations in the last 25 years provide an overview of the development of Starcevo Culture sites (the earliest Neolithic culture in this region), from the first phases (Linear A) to the end of its development (Spiraloid B).

The two oldest sites have been explored in the Sava valley; the manufacturing area at Zadubravlje and the ritual and burial area of the settlement at Slavonski Brod (the Linear A phase). The third investigation was carried out in the Drava valley in Pepelana (Linear C phase).

The manufacturing area at Zadubravlje (an area of 6200m 2 was explored in 1989 and 1990) was organized so that each part had a specific purpose with additional buildings essential to the life of a tribal community. In the eastern part of the settlement, there was a large open fireplace for the preparation of food, with food storage and drying structures nearby. Next to these, to the west, a working pit was discovered – a workshop for making stone utensils and weapons. In the central part of the settlement, there were two sod houses and a circular enclosed area probably used for cult purposes. Each sod house had a yard with a wooden fence, in which remains of grindstones and loom weights were found. A well was discovered in the western part of the settlement, and next to it were the pottery workshops with pits in which all the phases of pottery production were executed – from the digging out of the clay to the final phase of firing and painting. Two cylindrical kilns were found in the working sod houses (for the baking of large vessels), three long kilns (for the baking of small and painted vessels) and two spherical kilns for the baking of bread.

At Slavonski Brod (systematic research from 1997 till now explored 2200 m 2 ), part of a settlement was investigated, in which two sod houses (17 x 5 and 5 x 5 m) contained 4 burials (3 men and 1 woman). One would enter the settlement from this area through the northern, western and southern “gate”. Another sod house (17 x 5 m) has been discovered in the northwestern (explored) part of the settlement, and 6 others (roughly 17 x 5 m) in the southwestern part, with their longer axes aligned radially in a semicircle around the area for rituals and burials. These 6 sod houses contained a large number of altars, and many doe statuettes.

In 1985, a small part of a Starcevo culture site was explored at Pepelana . In its centre was a tell with 8 cultural horizons spanning the Neolithic and Eneolithic periods: Starcevo, Malo Korenovo, Brezovljani and Pepelana type of the Sopot culture, and 3 horizons of Retz-Gajary culture. Part of a huge sod house was discovered in the Starcevo settlement, with two levels and several rooms, a large fire-place and remains of a human burial in a niche.

The numerous archaeological excavations in the past 25 years, and 80 recognised sites in northern Croatia, have enabled a review of the development of Starcevo Culture settlement (the earliest Neolithic culture in this region) from its beginnings to the final stage of its development. These results allow us to identify the basic elements of the “urban” growth of these settlements, and the arrangement, form, and purpose of the pit structures in them. This will serve as fundamental material for the further investigation of the very first Neolithic cultures in these areas, and of the process of the spread of the Neolithic through southeastern Europe.

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