EUROPEAN SCIENCE FOUNDATION EXPLORATORY WORKSHOP

EARLY SYMBOLIC SYSTEMS FOR COMMUNICATION
IN SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE


KARLOVO, BULGARIA, 14-20 APRIL 2002, SUMMARIES
EUROPEAN SCIENCE FOUNDATION

PREHISTORY FOUNDATION
Ornamentation of the Neolithic Pintaderas in Bulgaria (Typology and Comparison with the Decoration of Other Finds)

Tanya Djanfezova
Veliko Turnovo University, Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria
calix@mail.bg

There is a limited information about the function of the prehistoric symbols and signs due to the fact that they can be often observed on finds which purpose is rather obscure. The unclear function of the engraved ornaments causes further difficulty – whether they had decorative function, were means of information, or they represented a combination of esthetical ideas.
     It is essential by discussing the problems about understanding (not interpreting) the prehistoric symbols and signs to consider one particular kind of objects, which is thought to be designed especially to “carry” an ornament and to distribute it – the so-called pintaderas. Scientists still are not unanimous about the function of pintaderas but it is accepted broadly that most likely the ornaments have been engraved on the base not to serve as a decoration of the stamp but to be used for other surfaces and materials.
     The communication includes the following sections: 1. Typology of the ornaments; 2. Type of the stamp, which eventually the pintaderas would leave after its use, and 3. The observations on the similarities between the ornaments of the pintaderas and other synchronous objects (vessels, figurines, “cult tables” etc.).
     The main conclusions of the typological and comparative analyses are as follows:
     1. A great part of the ornaments, which are known from the pintaderas, can be observed on other finds too. Those are mostly types that had a long tradition, were widely spread and recently are a subject of various interpretations. The fact that they are engraved on objects, different in kind and function, speaks well of the possibility that they might have been a universal phenomenon, but we cannot exclude the presumption that they might have been interpreted in different way in the different regions.
     2. Some of the ornaments are unique and have no analogues.
Therefore it might be concluded that the ornaments engraved on pintaderas are both widely popular as well as quite specific.
     3. The different interpretations of the pintaderas  (as body decorations or for impression on bread, cloth, leather, ceramics, or as interior decorations, for property marking, or as amulets, etc.) are in connection with their uncertain origin and their possible multifunctional nature. Then, I divide quite theoretically the ornaments as a means of information into different types. So far it can be concluded that some of pintaderas might have had more specific functions and therefore the character of the information they comprised would be different. So, on one hand, we could divide the information as an information connected with well-known and comprehensible signs and on the other hand, as an information of a special kind, unknown from other finds and related to a specific function of the objects.
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2002 © European Science Foundation
2002 © Prehistory Foundation & Reports of Prehistoric Research Projects
2002 ©The Author
Editor: Lolita Nikolova
All rights reserved. Published: 12/21/02
Since 12/21/02