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Discovery of 8,000 year old settlement in Romania provides evidence of first Neolithic farmers in the region


Archaeologists working on the route of the new Sibiu – Orastie highway in Romania have made what looks to be a once in a lifetime discovery of a Stone Age settlement. The site, located in Sibiu county, is believed to be around 8,000 years old, but this, although remarkable in itself, is perhaps less exciting than the discovery that the people who lived in the settlement were Neolithic farmers using technology from the Near East.

If confirmed, the find will provide material evidence of the migration of people from Eastern Anatolia bringing farming to Europe. “Why is this important? I have discovered something that everyone considered hypothetical, at least in Romania; the first phase, the oldest phase, of people from Eastern Anatolia carrying Neolithic technologies beginning to colonize an area previously occupied by hunters and fishermen, following a major climate change,” said Sabin Luca, director of the  Brukenthal Museum in Sibiu.

The site has provided evidence of religion and ritual among these earliest of migrant to Romania’s territory. The archeologists have found what they believe to be a cemetery and a shrine or sanctuary, which contained pottery with apparently ritual significance.

On the central axis of the sanctuary area a vessel was found, which, according to Luca, is unique, the first example of its kind ever found. Analysis of the vessel revealed evidence of the world’s oldest paint. Other important finds are a mask, which Sabin Luca believes will prove to be at least the oldest in Europe, and the oldest known pot with two mouths. The mask shows similarities with examples found in Anatolia, displaying the same ‘coffee bean eyes.’ Polished stone tools and the fine clay used for pottery provide further evidence that this was a ‘hi-tech’ stone age society.

The site is four meters underground and another unique feature is the absence of later settlements on top of the Neolithic site. According to the archeologists, the site was abandoned during the Neolithic era, probably because of a conflict, and has remained undisturbed for the last 8,000 years.

Liam Lever, liam@romania-insider.com

(photo source: sxc.hu)