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TECHNOLOGY OF THE LAST FORAGERS AND FIRST FARMERS IN THE BALKANS

Final Report Summary - MESO-NEO TECHNOLOGY (TECHNOLOGY OF THE LAST FORAGERS AND FIRST FARMERS IN THE BALKANS)


WORK PROGRESS AND ACHIEVEMENT DURING THE PERIOD

The project “Meso-Neo Technology” aimed at clarifying the mechanisms of postglacial adaptations along the eastern Adriatic coast and along the River Danube from the Epipalaeolithic (c. 13,000-10,000 BC) throughout Early-Late Mesolithic (c. 10,000-6300 cal. BC) and the consequences of contact between two different technological traditions in these regions due to the interactions between foragers and farmers in the period after around 6200/6000 cal. BC. The main research objectives were: 1) Defining elements constituting the technical, functional and typological traditions in the exploitation of hard animal tissues (bone, antler, ivory tusks) in Istria, central Dalmatia and in the Danube Gorges during the Epipalaeolithic (13,000-10,000 cal. BC) and Meso-Neolithic occupations of these regions (c. 10,000-5500 cal. BC); 2) Defining how local Epipalaeolithic and Meso-Neolithic traditions from the study regions relate to the postglacial palaeo-environmental conditions and whether it is possible to identify the influence of changing climatic conditions on the nature of technological and functional adaptations/specialisations; 3) Identifying the technological traits which indicate interactions between foragers and the first farming communities in the Balkans and how do they reflect new ways of inhabiting the world; 4) Providing a wider perspective on the role of Mesolithic technology of the Balkans for understanding postglacial adaptations and the spread of the Neolithic knowledge in Europe.

During the second year Dr Cristiani concluded the techno-functional analysis of osseous material culture and ornaments from selected Late Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Early Neolithic dwelling sites and burials in the Balkans and also processed all the collected data. The Fellow focused the analysis on the following sites: 1) Vela Spila Cave (Korcula, Croatia); 2) Sandalja Cave (Istria, Croatia); 3) Vlasac (the Danube Gorges, Serbia); 4) Lepenski Vir (Serbia); 5) Salitrena Cave (Serbia); 6) Crvena Stijena (Montenegro); 7) Vruca pecina (Montenegro); and 8) Vrbicka Cave (Montenegro).

Archaeological materials were stored at various institute and Museum in Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia (the Institute for Quaternary Palaeontology and Geology of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb – Croatia; the Archaeological Collection and National Museum in Belgrade - Serbia; and at the Centre for Archaeological Studies in Nikšić - Montenegro.

This year Dr Cristiani focused on the characterisation of archaeological and experimental residues. In particular, Dr Cristiani carried out new experimental work aimed at testing hypotheses formulated during the analysis of Mesolithic and Early Neolithic technologies of the central Balkans and the Eastern Adriatic region. Dr Cristiani focused on the production and use of projectile points on metapodial bones. This activity allowed Dr Cristiani to understand to what extent the differences identified in osseous points dimensions and hafting systems in the analysed bone techno-complexes might have related to climatic conditions or to specific functional adaptations/specialisations.

Additionally, during the second year, Dr Cristiani strengthened her connections with the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge and with the prehistoric and Ethnographic Museum of Rome “L. Pigorini” where ornaments and fishing gear produced by Native American foragers and farming communities were analysed. Results of this analysis were key for interpreting the techniques of ornaments suspension in prehistory as well as for reconstructing the specific use of harpoons and composite hooks in the Central Balkans.

As a part of her training in transferable skills, Dr Cristiani continued being actively involved in the organization of the international discussion group on Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Studies (PalMeso discussion group) running weekly at the Department of Archaeology in Cambridge. She has also demonstrated independent thinking organizing a popular ‘Marie Curie Ambassadors' event held for the public during the Festival of Ideas, in Cambridge (November 2012).

During the second year the fellow attended 4 main conferences, delivering oral presentation as first or second author:

05/2013 Annual Meeting of the Serbian Archaeological Society, Novi Sad, Serbia: oral presentation (co-authored paper).
03/2013 INQUA Conference - Croatia Quaternary Geology in Croatia, Zagreb (Croatia): Oral presentation (first author).
01/2013 Unrevealing Human Origin, Cambridge (United Kingdom): Oral presentation (first author).
10/2012 Use-wear 2012, Faro (Portugal): Oral presentation (first author).

Additionally, Dr Cristiani also delivered two talks at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, with the aim of presenting her results:

2/2013 Palmeso discussion group Seminars
4/2013 Garrod Research Seminars

RECENT PUBLICATIONS RELATED TO IEF PROJECT

Dr Cristiani’s most recent publications related to the IEF project:

Papers/chapters in books submitted and/or in press:

1. Cristiani E., Borić D., Živaljević (in press), Residue analysis and ornament suspension techniques in prehistory: Cyprinid pharyngeal teeth beads from Late Mesolithic burials at Vlasac (Serbia), Journal of Archaeological Science.
2. Borić, D., French, C.A.I. Stefanović, S., Dimitrijević, V., Cristiani, E., Gurova, M., Antonović, D., Allué, E.A. and Filipović, D. (2013), The Mesolithic life and death at Vlasac (Serbia). Journal of Field Archaeology 39: 1-28.
3. Cristiani E. (2013), Ornamental traditions of the Late Pleistocene and the Early Holocene foragers in the eastern Alps: The case of Riparo Biarzo. Gortania 34:35-48.
4. Boric D., Dimitrijevic V., White D., Lane C., French C., Cristiani E. (2012), Early Modern Human settling of the 'Danube corridor': The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic site of Tabula Traiana Cave in the Danube Gorges (Serbia), Antiquity (Project Gallery). http://antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/boric334/
5. Cristiani E., Borić D. (2012), 8500-year-old Late Mesolithic garment embroidery from Vlasac (Serbia): Technological, use-wear and residue analyses, Journal Archaeological Science 39: 3450-3489. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2012.05.016
6. Borić, D., and Cristiani, E. (in press), A Hybrid Cultural World: The Turn of the 7th to the 6th millennium B.C. in the Central Balkans. In Biehl P.F. and Rosenstock E. (eds.) 6,000 BC - Transformations and Change in the Near East and Europe, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
7. Cristiani E., Borić D. (in press), Technology of osseous artifacts in the Mesolithic Danube Gorges: The evidence from Vlasac (Serbia), Proceedings of MESO Conference 2010, Santander 14-17 Sep. 2010.
8. Cristiani E., Farbstein R. and Miracle P. (submitted), Late Pleistocene and early Holocene personal ornaments from the Eastern Adriatic: The evidence from Vela Spila (Croatia), Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.
9. Cristiani, E. and Borić, D., (submitted), Personal adornment and personhood among the Last Mesolithic foragers of the Danube Gorges in the central Balkans. In Bar-Yosef D. and Choyke A. (eds.) Bead. The archaeology of beads, beadwork, and personal ornaments. Cotsen Institute Press, UCLA.

Papers in preparation

1. Cristiani E., Systems of ornamentation and relationality among prehistoric hunter-gatherers. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology
2. Borić D. & Cristiani E., Ornaments in transition. The role of personal adornments in the foragers/farmers transition in the central Balkans. Current Anthropology
3. Cristiani E., Mesolithic technological innovations in Southern Europe: harpoons from the eastern Alpine region, World Prehistory.
4. Cristiani E., A new perspective on Mesolithic-Early Neolithic transition in the Balkans: the evidence of osseous technology. Euroasian prehistory

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

The fellow completed the planned milestones and deliverables expected the second year. Living stipend and relocation expenses have been used as planned. ‘Participation expenses’ were used for:

1) Training in residue analysis;
2) Fieldworks expenses (travelling and living expenses);
3) Covering travelling expenses and conferences fees;
4) C14 dating of the main technological features and innovations identified;
5) Purchasing various books and stationary.