On the Chronology of the Ariuşd-Cucuteni Culture Cover Image

Az Erősd-Cucuteni kultúra időrendjéről
On the Chronology of the Ariuşd-Cucuteni Culture

Author(s): Attila László
Subject(s): Archaeology
Published by: Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület
Keywords: archaeology; Erosd-Cucuteni culture; Bronz Age

Summary/Abstract: According to the current division into periods, the Cucuteni culture includes the A 1-2-3-4, A-B 1-2, B 1-2 (-3) phases, preceded by the Precucuteni I-II-III phases. Moreover, some archaeologists also distinguish numerous sub-stages within these periods. It is not always clear to what extent one may speak of successive (chronological) stages and sub-stages, or of stylistic variations and regional aspects. As far as the Ariuşd culture is concerned in the south-east of Transylvania, this was classified by most of the scholars as part of the Cucuteni A2 and beginning of A3 phases. The stratigraphic position and archaeological context is still uncertain in the case of certain Cucuteni A-B and B type vessels and ceramic fragments, discovered in some sites in the south-east of Transylvania. Thus, the evolution of the Ariuşd culture and its relation to the stages of the Cucuteni culture has not been yet fully clarified. This paper is a comparative analysis of the radiocarbon dating available on the one hand for the Ariuşd culture (Malnaş Băi site), and on the other hand for the Precucuteni III, Cucuteni A and A-B (Tripolie A, B I-B II) phases of the area between the Carpathian Mountains and the Dnieper River. The analysed 66 dates are presented in a table (appendix 1) and by graphics, on the BP (appendix 2) and cal. BC (appendix 3) time scale. In order to emphasize some distinctive features of certain regions, the dating was grouped according to geographical units, from west to east and, in some cases, from south to north. One may notice that the radiocarbon dating only partially confirms the chronological classification of the settlements, based on the stylistic distinctive features of the ceramics: there are temporal synchronisms and superpositions more or less extended between the settlements from different areas, belonging to the Cucuteni A 1-2-3-4 stages. It seems that after the occurrence of Cucuteni A pictorial style of pottery or, possibly, even during its formation, there were early local or regional variations that had a parallel, more or less simultaneous evolution. For many years, they had an overestimated chronological value, which resulted some hesitations that can be noticed regarding the classification of certain sites in the Cucuteni A 1-2-3-4 stages. One may also remark that the few radiocarbon dating available for the Cucuteni A-B settlements from the Bahlui River basin (no. 36-37) and from the Prut-Răut inter-river area (no. 49-50) placed between the dating of the Cucuteni A 3 stage (no. 27-28, 31-33, 35, 45, 53) and only partially subsequent to the dating of the Cucuteni A 4 stage (no. 39-41, 46-47) (see appendix 2-3). This can enable some scholars to believe that the formation of the Cucuteni A-B painted pottery style could have started earlier, originating in one of the local alterations of the Cucuteni A style, at a time when, in other areas, the Cucuteni A style was still preferred, at least for a while. These remarks may be the starting point for the development of a new "evolution" pattern of the Cucuteni culture, placing more emphasis on the existence of regional variations and on the reassessment of the relation between the evolution of the painting styles and the actual relative and absolute chronology of this culture. The analysis and comparison of the radiocarbon dates allow us to make the following observations concerning the Malnaş Băi settlement and the chronological position of the findings in the south-east of Transylvania within the Cucuteni culture: 1. The beginning dates of the dating no. 4-6 of Malnaş Băi (5597-5570 BP/4460-4445 cal. BC) are in agreement with the beginnings of the settlements of Poduri (no. 15-19), Ruseştii Noi (no. 44), thought to belong to the Cucuteni A 2 stage, and Polivanov Iar (no. 52), probably of early Cucuteni A type. These dates, however, are later to the early period of the Cucuteni A 2 settlement of Mărgineni (no. 23- 25). 2. The span of time represented by the datings no. 4-5 and 7 (which end towards 5410-5387 BP/4255-4240 cal. BC) totally or partially correspond with the existence of certain settlements thought to belong to the Cucuteni A 2 (no. 15-26, 44, 52), Cucuteni A 3 (no. 28-33, 35, 45, 53) and even Cucuteni A 4 (no. 39-41,46-47) stages. 3. The later part of the time interval represented by the datings no. 6 and 8 (which end towards 5309-5260 BP/4049-4045 cal. BC) correspond to the dating of the more recent Cucuteni A 2 complexes of the Sub-Carpathian area (no. 19, 22, partially 20-21), as well as to the age of somé settlements of more Eastern areas, belonging to the Cucuteni A 3 (no; 28, 32-33, 35, 45, 53) and even Cucuteni A 4 (no. 39-41) stages. 4. The later datings mentioned above reach, in time, the datings of some sites belonging to the Cucuteni AB/Tripolie B II (B I- B II) stage (no. 36-37, 49-50). Therefore, the radiocarbon dating obtained for the Malnaş Băi settlement are in agreement with the dating of the sites belonging to the Cucuteni A 2-3-4 stages, located in the Eastern part of the Carpathians. Taking in consideration the no. 3 dating, the outset of the Malnaş Băi settlement could have even reached the earliest stage of the Cucuteni A stage of the sub-Carpathian area. On the other hand, considering especially the longer intervals of the no. 6 and 8 datings, the late period of this settlement may have even reached the appearance of the Cucuteni A-B painted ceramic style. The radiocarbon datings obtained for the Malnaş Băi settlement were performed on samples from the Ilh and IInd habitation levels and, consequently, they can be taken in consideration only for orientative reasons, both for the existence of the settlement and the overall chronological position of the Ariuşd culture. Considering, the remark on the parţial synchronism of the sites belonging to various sub-stages of the Cucuteni A period, the available dates show that the south-eastern Transylvanian branch of the Cucuteni culture belongs to the period characterized by the Cucuteni A painted ceramic style, under the form of a regional variation that had a more or less simultaneous evolution. The debates, however, on the integration of the Ariuşd type settlements to the Cucuteni A 2 or A 3 stage (or to its sub-stages) seem to be pointless. When the hypothesis presented in this paper is confirmed, according to which the Cucuteni A-B painted style may have occurred in certain areas at a time when in other areas the vessels were still being painted in the Cucuteni A style, this would provide a possible explanation why the Cucuteni A-B type ceramics appear in somé settlements of the Ariuşd culture. Most of the here presented ideas are hypothetic. In order to understand better of the evolution and chronology of the Cucuteni culture, more precise datings and dating series are needed for all areas of the Ariuşd-Cucuteni-Tripolie culture, for all the stages and stylistic groups, obtained on samples from many settlements, preferably with multiple layers/levels of habitation.

  • Issue Year: 2006
  • Issue No: I
  • Page Range: 7-28
  • Page Count: 22
  • Language: Hungarian