Journal article Open Access
Naumov, Goce; Mitkoski, Aleksandar; Talevski, Hristijan; Murgoski, Aleksandar; Dumurđanov, Nikola; Beneš, Jaromír; Živaljević, Ivana; Pendić, Jugoslav; Stojanovski, Darko; Gibaja, Juan; Mazzucco, Niccolò; Hafner, Albert; Szidat, Sönke; Dimitrijević, Vesna; Stefanović, Sofija; Budilová, Krýstina; Vychronová, Michaela; Majerovičová, Tereza; Bumerl, Jiří
The research of Vrbjanska Čuka in 2017 continued those started the previous season, but resulted in much more significant data regarding stratigraphy, architecture and economy in the Neolithic, Late Classical period and Middle Age. They were enabled by the multidisciplinary approach by implementing archaeobotany, zooarchaeology, geomagnetic scanning, digital topography, geoarchaeology, photogrammetry and 3D modeling of artifacts and the environment, drone orthophotography, isotopic, radiocarbon, lipid and use-wear analyses. All these components of the research of Vrbjanska Čuka enabled a comprehensive understanding of the Neolithic settlement and the community that lived there, that was the primary aim of this project.
In regard to the stratigraphy of site, it has 5 horizons, the Neolithic ones being determined by architectural features and not by material culture. In this context, a further revision of Neolithic horizons is possible, upon extending the archaeological trench and making a detailed insight into the material culture and the architectural features that would arise. Even though ceramic vessels as the most frequent finds do not bear significant differences between Neolithic horizons in Vrbjanska Čuka, still it could be considered that, examined further, they could contribute towards an even more thorough understanding of changes of this settlement, but also within society. In this regard, radiocarbon analyses provide even a more detailed insight into the chronology of the settlement. According to the data obtained by these analyses at the University of Bern, the earliest Neolithic layers could be dated around 5900 BC. So far, this date places the site in the final phases of Early Neolithic, completely corresponding the dating of few other sites in Pelagonia.
Analyzing samples from other Neolithic horizons would determine the chronology of the remaining Neolithic phases of the settlement, which, according to the architectural features, composes of three horizons. Such a stratigraphic condition could potentially be changed, unless there is a significant divergence within material culture and dating of the remaining two horizons. However, according to the current acknowledgment, despite not having an especially high stratigraphy (about 1 meter of the total tell height), this Neolithic settlement was especially dynamic during the 6th millennia BC. The tell was actively used for several hundreds of years during the Early Neolithic, only to be deserted in the next 5 000 years until Late Classical period. According to the material culture found in Horizons IV and V, activities at this site might have continued around the 4th and 5th centuries AD, with recorded activities around the 7th and 8th centuries, and then between the 10th and the 14th centuries.