The Archaeological park – Neolithic Settlement

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS ON NEOLITHIC TUZLA AND SURROUNDINGS

The formation of Neolithic settlements and the way of living a Neolithic man has been affected, equally or to different degrees, by the following basic elements: geographical situation (climate, water, soil, natural resources), economic conditions and social factors. Cultivation of land was a major factor influencing the choice of settlement locations.

In addition to the Starčevo stratum in Gornja Tuzla and Tuzla, and the smaller influences of other Neolithic cultural groups that came across the Rivers Sava and Bosna, it can be concluded that the inhabitants of Neolithic settlements in the area of North-East Bosnia developed an autochthonous Vinča cultural group – the Eastern Bosnian variant of Vinča culture, i.e. they adjusted it to its geographic and natural conditions, needs and lifestyle. An extremely important discovery that came about during the research in Gornja Tuzla and in the Palafitte Settlement in Tuzla, is that the inhabitants of this time, in addition to traditional farming, were also engaged in the exploitation of salty springs and salt production, and used salt both for dietary needs and for trade, i.e. the exchange of goods.

 

The Neolithic settlement of Gornja Tuzla with its rich stratigraphy and a cultural layer of 5.50 m thickness, represents the eponymous locality of North-East Bosnia. The fact is that Gornja Tuzla, as a locality on the periphery of the distribution of Neolithic cultures, Starčevo and Vinča, has a clear and continuous overview of the emergence, development and life of the Neolithic settlements of North-East Bosnia, in general. In the archaeological material from Gornja Tuzla, we found an autonomous style in the production of ceramic and timed materials within these two present cultures, which without any traces of conflict assimilated into one snother, that is, Starčevo cukture into the Vinča culture.

 

The largest number of Neolithic settlements in North-East Bosnia lies on the banks of rivers and streams, or on elevated plateaus above river valleys. Here we distinguish several types of Vinča settlements:

 

  • Tele-shaped settlements (Varoš, Grbača, Matići),
  • Palafitte settlements (Tuzla), and
  • Settlements on prominent hills (Benac, 1966: 40-42.).

 

The Neolithic settlement in Varoš, i.e. its strata, provide an opportunity to observe the development of the Neolithic era construction culture in the North-East Bosnia region.

 

As mentioned above, the settlement was located on a terrain that descends slightly from the south and east, while the north and west are steeply cut off and elevated above the surroundings. The houses were placed in a semi-circular manner, along the edges. The fact that such a system has remained throughout the life of the settlement, speaks of a strong tradition and affiliation of all five strata to the Vinča, and as noted by A. Benac, of the need for some isolation, perhaps from the defense point of view, for which it is most likely the settlement was built on wetland terrain (Benac, 1958: 16). Forms of houses were not established, but on the basis of analogy with other sites it is assumed they were polygonal. The greatest attention was paid to the construction of the flooring. They were built solidly to prevent moisture penetration from the wetland. Based on the found parts of the hearth, it can be concluded that they were constructed as an integral part of the flooring structure and were of an open type. The walls were lightweight construction, made of wood and gluing material (Benac, 1958: 16-19).

 

The settlements were built up by joint work of the community, as due to the primitive nature of tools an individual could not build a house on their own, and at the same time provide food by hunting or treating the land and manufacturing all the tools necessary for life.

 

The economy of Neolithic settlements was linked to the sedentary way of life. With the beginning of farming, the permanent settlements and construction of the first settlements came into existence. Land farming, livestock breeding, collecting industry, hunting and fishing were the main occupations of the inhabitants of Neolithic settlements. In addition to these occupations, there was a number of other occupations within the settlement, such as: masonry, knitting of straw material, making jewels, making guns and tools of stone or bones. An important activity was related to processing of animal skins of both domestic and wild animals, which were very useful in the household, either for clothing or bed covers, doors and windows. Also, the first signs of trade and metallurgy occurred.

 

The trade, or, the natural exchange of material goods during the Neolithic period in Bosnia and Herzegovina, can only be judged on the basis of fragmented data, so the conclusions derived from them have a completely unilateral meaning. The one-sidedness of this conclusion is conditioned by the fact that the activities of Neolithic inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina are evidenced exclusively by imported objects/items, i.e. objects which from the perspective of their raw material, technological, typological, ornamental or some other characteristics, were completely foreign to the cultural-geographical framework within which they were found. On the other hand, in most cases it is not possible to determine exactly which local material goods were used as counter value to imported items.

 

In general, Neolithic inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina obtained obsidian, Spondylus shells, clay pottery and ceramic products from other areas. The oldest exchange data is related to the Starčevo culture in Gornja Tuzla, where an opioid blade was found in the VIb phase, whose origin was probably related to the Bükk mountain range in Hungary. During the younger Neolith, the most important item of exchange between the Butmir culture and the Vinča culture in Gornja Tuzla and in thew Palafitte Settlement in Tuzla was salt, which was exported in special dishes with a base/foot (Figure 11). In exchange for salt, the inhabitants of the villages in Gornja Tuzla and in Tuzla, got other type of products, eg. obsidian, as documented by the finding of this material in Gornja Tuzla (G.A., 1988a: 169).

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