EUROPEAN SCIENCE FOUNDATION EXPLORATORY WORKSHOP

EARLY SYMBOLIC SYSTEMS OF COMMUNICATION
IN SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE


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

PREHISTORY FOUNDATION
The “Signs” on the Bottoms of  Vessels (From the Developed Neolithic in
the Carpathian-Balkan Area)

Valeriu Sirbu & Stanica Pandrea
Museum of Braila, Braila, Romania
valeriu_sirbu@yahoo.co.uk

Such signs are characteristic of the developed Neolithic, for they are encountered especially in the areas of the cultures Boian-Giulesti, Precucuteni, Vinca B1-B2/C1, Turdaº, Gradesnica and Karanovo IV.
The large majority of the signs are incised on the bottom of the vessels, on the outside. It is only rarely that they appear on the inside, on the bottom or are made through excision or canalling: some signs have been made after some time of using the vessels. The “signs” are, almost in entirety, on the bottoms of vessels or on fragmentary vessels. One may assume, sometimes, even an intentional breaking of the vessels.
The findings are from settlements: huts, surface dwellings, pits and the archaelogical layer; it is only in the case of some pits that a character of cult can be assigned to them.
Because the large majority of signs are on the bottom of the vessels, usually hidden to the sight and because they are deprived of artistic qualities and difficult to notice, their purely decorating role can be ruled out.
The small number of such signs, the fact that they appear especially on certain types of vessels and the fact that they have been made on vessel fragments later on make for arguments against interpreting them as potter trademarks.
Although there is a common pool of “signs”, probably due also to the small number of geometrical motifs, the combinations of motifs or signs characteristic of a certain archaeological culture suggest different “messages” in different cultural areas.
The main signs are: the “cross”, the angles, the partial circles, the zig-zag or undulated lines, the spiral, the circle, the rhomb/square, the network of lines, the concentric circles etc., rarely the trident, the crux gramata, etc; what are typical, though, are the motifs associations and combinations.
The great diversity of signs and combinations of signs runs counter to a purely utilitarian interpretation aswell.
The analysis of the characteristics of these signs suggest that they contain symbolic (pre-writing?) “messages”, but trying to decipher them  involves too much of unknown and requires a special research.
cprslc@msn.com
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
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