Saturday, 15 September 2018

Sacrificial animals

On this picture you see "badnjak" (Serbian Yule log, a young oak sapling which is ritually cut on Christmas Eve morning and is then ritually brought into the house on Christmas Eve) and "pečenica" a pig on a spit which is ritually slaughtered on Christmas Eve, roasted and then brought into the house with badnjak.

In Serbian ritual tradition there is a very specific rule which specifies which animal should be sacrificed for which religious holiday. 

Christmas - pig is slaughtered, roasted and eaten by the family (always)
St George's day - sheep is slaughtered, roasted and eaten by the family (always)
St Elijah's day - bull is slaughtered, roasted and eaten by the family (only in exceptional circumstances of devastating draughts. Normally it is a cockerel which is slaughtered, roasted and eaten by the family)

Two things are interesting here. 

Roman tradition preserves both the archaic religious function of the pig as a fertility symbol and its place in the hierarchy of sacrificial animals. The sequence of sacrificial animals in archaic Roman tradition was given by the formula su-oue-taurilia ‘pig-sheep-bull’, in order of increasing importance. In the text of Cato discussing the sacrifice of unweaned animals ( suouetaurilia lactentia ), the sequence is porcus-agnus-uitulus ‘piglet-lamb-calf. This sequence of sacred sacrificial animals must reflect the significance and relative weighting of each animal in the economy. Interestingly, an analogous enumeration of sacred sacrificial animals in Sanskrit tradition does not mention pigs at all; their place is taken by goats (Dumezil 1966:238, 530). It is important that in cultures with developed swineherding that is dominant over sheepherding (as in many ancient Indo-European cultures, in particular early Slavic culture), the pig stands before the sheep in such listings (for East Slavic fairytales see Ivanov and Toporov 1974:39).

It can be concluded that the Romans preserved the ancient Indo-European practice whereby pigs, although they had an important economic function, were nonetheless ranked last in the hierarchy of relative economic weight, behind horses, bulls, and sheep. Of the Indo-European cultures known to us from archeological data, the Scytho-Sarmatian tribes of the northern Black Sea area in the first millennium B.C. are among the groups in which pigs in fact are the least important element in the livestock (Calkin 1966:74).

This is the important bit:

The sequence of sacrificial animals in archaic Roman tradition was given by the formula su-oue-taurilia ‘pig-sheep-bull’, in order of increasing importance.

Second have a look at this diagram linking Serbian sacrificial animals to the stages of the Sun god marked on the Solar circle:

You can see that Serbs strictly follow the above Archaic Roman (Indoeuropean) rule of more important animal being sacrificed to more important aspect of the sun god:

Pig - Baby sun
Sheep - Young sun
Bull - Old sun

Now here is something even more interesting. In the above excerpt the second highlighted part says:

Interestingly, an analogous enumeration of sacred sacrificial animals in Sanskrit tradition does not mention pigs at all; their place is taken by goats

You can see how in Serbian tradition the order of the sacrificial animals is tightly tied to the solar wheel. Now have a look at this:

Goat marks the beginning of the solar year, Ram follows then Bull...

Interesting don't you think?

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Mountain Serbs of Montenegro

Anthropologist Chris Boehm spent 3 years, between 1963 and 1966, doing fieldwork in Montenegro in Gornja Morača region. He called the people that he encountered there "Mountain Serbs of Montenegro".

At the time Chris was there in the mid 1960's, Gornja Morača Tribe numbering 1800 people lived isolated at the headwaters of the Morača River seven hours by foot from the nearest road.

Firewood had to be brought from far away on foot. This was usually women's job.

The Gornja Morača area is a karst country. Arable land is scarce and fields are small. In the 60's these fields were still worked in the same way they had been worked since medieval time.

At home babies slept swaddled in wooden cots. 

Life in villages in Gornja Morača in 1960's involved a lot of hard work outside of the house done by both men and women. If a mother had to go out and do some work, like get water from a well o firewood from a forest (or both) the baby was carried around on their mother's back.

People from Gornja Morača kept small flocks of sheep. The flocks grazed on high mountain pastures which were exposed to extreme weather conditions year round. 

The sheep were of the type Pivska pramenka, a long tailed coarse wool, typical mountain breed, well adapted to severe conditions of rearing

Every household usually had few cows too, of the buša type, a small tough mountain breed, which was used as a working animal.

Horses were used for transport. They belonged to a local hilly horse breed, tough animals used to hard mountain terrain and harsh climate. 

106 years old man from Gornja Morača in front of his house. He insisted on changing into his "burial clothes", traditional local dress, before being interviewed by the anthropologist

In 1960's, a typical house from Gornja Morača was a single room stone hut covered with wooden slates. 

The centre of the house was open hearth like this one used for heating and cooking.

When the walls of a new house were built Gornja Morača, just before the roof work began, a lamb was sacrificed on top of the wall to ensure that the house would stand for a long time.

Local church was the focal point of the Gornja Morača community. All important tribal events took place on the plateau in front of the church. Kolo (traditional circle dance) was often part of the event.

Tribal graveyard is located on a hill top overlooked by high mountain peaks. The ancient oak in the middle of the graveyard is considered sacred. Cutting it or any part of it is considered sacrilegious. Even collecting naturally fallen branches is forbidden.

The graveyard is very old and has many ancient tombstones of unknown age.

It is the isolated communities like this one that have preserved some of the oldest cultural traits in Europe. No wonder considering that they were literally living hidden from the rest of the world in the land above the clouds...

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Slavic pyramids

"As the Sunday dawned in the early morning after the service of the Mass had been completed, Otto, the servant of God, having put on his episcopal headdress and with the standard of the cross borne in front of him, went forth to the multitude of the people in order to preach to them. He took with him Udalricus, who wore a dalmatic, as a deacon, and Adalbert who served as a sub-deacon and others to assist in preaching. There were there some large pyramids surrounded by walls to a considerable height in pagan fashion. The good preacher ascended one of these pyramids with his companions, and through his interpreter Adalbert began to explain the way of truth to those who had gone wrong and to threaten them with eternal destruction if they did not turn from their apostasy."

This is the description of Otto's missionary work among the Slavs of Stettin, from "The life of Otto, apostle of Pomerania, 1060-1139"

Were those "large pyramids built to considerable height in pagan fashion" which Otto saw in the 12th century among the Baltic Slavs, the same pyramids Slavs all over Slavdom still make on St John's day (Summer solstice)? 

Like this one on the picture:

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Basket pottery

Were the first pots made by plastering inside or outside of baskets with clay or plaster and then letting the whole thing dry in the sun? The result would have been a strong container useful for storing dry goods like acorns or grains or nuts.

Putting this plastered basket into a fire would burn the basket off and would produce ceramic vessel which would have "basket or cord like" imprints on the side where basked used to be...

This kind of "pot" would be a very good cooking vessel for cooking acorn porridge, fish and shellfish soups and bone marrow soups. 

Do we have any proof that this theory could be correct?

Well actually could do

"The Advent and Spread of Early Pottery in East Asia: New Dates and New Considerations for the World's Earliest Ceramic Vessels" by David J. Cohen discusses recent data from North and South China, Japan, and the Russian Far East and eastern Siberia on the dating and function of early pottery during the Late Pleistocene period. 

"...Early pottery typically appears in contexts that, except for containing small amounts of pottery, are otherwise similar to Late Paleolithic sites. There is also no evidence of plant cultivation, so clearly in eastern Asia, the old view of pottery's emergence or dispersal as only coming within agricultural societies is no longer viable. Greater consideration needs to be given to the invention and spread of pottery in hunter-gatherer societies... 

...This paper first reviews recent finds of early pottery sites in South China and North China that now clearly show that the pottery first appears in otherwise Late Paleolithic contexts. Excavations and re-dating at Xianrendong Cave (Jiangxi) in South China show that pottery appears there in securely dated stratigraphic contexts dating to ca. 20,000 cal BP, during the Last Glacial Maximum, some ten millennia before sedentary, Early Neolithic villages first appear in China. Yuchanyan Cave (Hunan) has pottery dating to 18,300 cal BP, evidence for processing deer bones to extract marrow and grease, and perhaps evidence of seasonal visits to the site in annual rounds by mobile hunter-gatherer groups... 

In Japan, undecorated Incipient Jōmon pottery with Mikoshiba-type lithics are found in the initial phase of pottery making (Ōdai Yamamoto I, Kitahara, and Maeda Kōji sites, dating ca. 16,500-13,500 BP). Decorated pottery (Phase 2) begins ca.15,700 cal BP during the Bølling-Allerød warming period and rapidly disperses across the archipelago at a time when there may have been significant changes in subsistence and mobility patterns. 

...Russian “Initial Neolithic” early pottery sites, such as Khummy, Gasya, and Goncharka 1 in the Lower Amur River basin, are transitional between Paleolithic traditions and typical Neolithic sites of the Holocene, with pottery and ground stone tools gradually appearing amongst Upper Paleolithic toolkits. As in China and Japan, early pottery production is at a very low scale, with only limited quantities of sherds being found at a few sites. Eastern Siberia early pottery is first present at the Ust’-Karenga 12 site ca. 13,000 cal BP. Pottery may have dispersed westerly across Siberia as forested areas expanded, perhaps resulting in the introduction of pottery into Europe by hunter-gatherer groups..." 

All these cultures produced "bag shaped" pottery with distinct "cord marks" and "basket like impressions"


Yuchanyan and Xianrendong Caves are located in South China. Pottery fragments found in these caves have been confirmed to be 18,000 - 20,000 years old, making them the oldest known pottery in the world.

The caves were occupied from Upper Paleolithic to Neolithic times. The findings from the caves show that the people who lived there were primarily fishermen hunters gatherers, although some evidence for early rice domestication has been noted within the Early Neolithic occupations.

On the "Yuchanyan and Xianrendong Caves - Oldest Pottery in the World" page we can read that

"...A total of 282 pottery sherds were recovered from the oldest levels. They have uneven thick walls between 0.7 and 1.2 centimetres, with round bases and inorganic (sand, mainly quartz or feldspar) temper. The paste has a brittle and loose texture, and a heterogeneous reddish and brown colour which resulted from uneven, open air firing. Forms are mainly round-bottomed bag-shaped jars, with rough surfaces, the inner and outer surfaces sometimes decorated with cord marks, smoothing striations and/or basket-like impressions. They appear to have been made with two different techniques: by sheet laminating or coil and paddle techniques..."


Around 15,000 years ago, in the Northern islands of Japan, lived the Jomon people. Thought to be the forebears of the Ainu people, the aboriginal Japanese of the North, the Jomon were among the very first "sedentary" peoples of the world.  They lived primarily on a diet of fish from the ocean, wild deer and boar which they caught in pit-traps, had a plentiful supply of acorns, nuts and seeds.

Taishō site No. 3 site is located in the southern portion of the Tokachi plain, atop a terrace overlooking the Tobetsu river, a branch of the Tokachi river flowing across the plain, in the eastern part of Hokkaido. Artifacts and features of the Jōmon period were found, starting with artifacts from the Incipient Jōmon, and including pit dwellings of the microlithic culture of the Early Jōmon, plus graves from the final portion of the Early Jōmon. This is the first discovery of a site dating from the Incipient Jōmon in Hokkaido.

Approximately 400 potsherds were recovered, an amount thought to represent more than ten individual vessels. Of these, it is possible to reconstruct the vessel shape for about five items. It appears that all had nipple-like projections at the bottom. The designs include cord impressions and puncture marks of various types including tsumegatamon, and some also have raised belts applied to the surface.

In "A comparative perspective on the ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ Neolithics of Eurasia: Ceramics; agriculture and sedentism" by Kevin Gibs and Peter Jordan, we can read that "pottery on Taishō site was dated to around 15,000 - 13,800 cal BP

Now here are some complete Jōmon pots. Look at the "basket like" impression on the outside wall.

On the "BBC The history of the world in 100 objects: Episode Transcript - Episode 10 - Jomon Pot" we can read that:

"...This Jomon pot is an extremely important pot. It's pretty underwhelming to look at - in fact it's quite dull. It's made of brown-grey clay, a simple round pot about the size of the bucket that children play with on the beach, about six inches high, six inches across at the top, and its got it's got straight sides and a flat base, and it was made about seven thousand years ago in Japan.

When you look more closely, you can see that it was built up with coils of clay and then, into the outside, fibres have been pressed, so that when you hold it, you feel as though you are actually holding a basket. It looks and feels like a basket in clay.

The basket - like markings on this and other Japanese pots of the same time, are in a cord pattern and that's in fact what their name is in Japanese. They are Jomon - or 'cord-pattern' pots. And the word Jomon has come to be used not just for the objects, but for the people that made them, and even the whole historic period in which they were lived. It was the Jomon people living in what is now northern Japan, who created the world's first pots..."


The most interesting sites containing early ceramics In Russian Far East were discovered in the lower Amur River region.

The pottery was found at the Khummi site, dating to 14,300, Gasya site dated to 14,050 BCE, and Goncharka site dated to 13,400 BCE. These people were hunter gatherers who depended on salmon.

"On Early Pottery-Making in the Russian Far East" by Irina Zhushchikhovskaya talks in detail about the way the pottery from these sites was made.

"...The ceramic was made from paste consisting of clay with nonplastic mineral inclusions (quartz, feldspar) and plant fiber temper. The last is identified by long, rough impressions on the surfaces and in the cores of sherds. In some cases the plant fibers are not burned out completely and are thus carbonized. The ceramic samples are very fragile and weak. The walls of the sherds are uneven and thick. The forming method cannot yet be reconstructed with any precision. I have hypothesized that some kind of moulding or a paddle and anvil technique was used because of impressed basketlike patterns on the outer surface of one vessel...

...The surface of these ceramic samples is unslipped and rough. The outer surface of the simpler vessel has a basketlike impressed pattern. There are deep vertical grooves crossed in some places by horizontally oriented grooves. Previously, impressions were interpreted as the traces of processing by a toothed rough tool (Derevyanko and Medvedev 1994). In my view, the morphology and crosslike pattern of the grooves suggest that they were produced by a tool similar in structure to the basketry impressions...

...A basketlike container may have been used as a mould or a tool may have been wrapped with a woven fabric..."

Middle East

White ware is a crumbly form of proto-pottery dated to 9th millennium BC and commonly found in PPNB (Pre pottery neolithic B) archaeological sites in Syria such as Tell Aswad, Tell Abu Hureyra, Bouqras and El Kowm. Similar sherds were excaveated at Ain Ghazal in northern Jordan. It was made by pulverizing limestone, then heating it to a temperature in excess of 900 °C. This turns limestone to quick lime. This reaction takes place at 900 °C, but a temperature around 1000 °C is usually used to make the reaction proceed quickly. This basically means that it was dropped into a burning campfire. In most instances, campfire temperatures generally average 900 °C but depending on the shape of the hearth the temperature can go over 1000 °C. The average temperature of a campfire tends to vary based on the size of the campfire, with smaller campfires often producing less heat than larger ones. Lime was then mixed with ashes, straw or gravel and made into a white or grey lime plaster. The plaster was initially so soft that it could be moulded, before hardening through air drying into a rigid cement. The plaster was formed into vessels by coiling to serve some of the functions of later clay pottery. 

In the "Barley, malt and ale in the neolithic" by Merryn Dineley we can read that "Imprints of basketry on the exterior of some vessels suggest that some were shaped into large basket shapes". It is possible that all were made by plastering the inside of a basket and then shaking and removing the basket leaving the basket shaped plaster vessel. The basket imprints could then be left or removed by scrubbing and polishing.

In "White ware – Near Eastern plaster container" by Bonnie Nilhamn we can see one of these plaster pots (containers) which literally looks like a plaster basket.

And on another picture we can clearly see the basket imprinted on the basket outside wall.


In USA the best example of this basket imprint pottery is Anasazi pottery which was probably made by plastering the inside of baskets with a layer of clay and then baking the whole thing in a fire. This would have left a distinct basket pattern on the outside of the pot.

This is an Anasazi basket:

And these are Anasazi pots. Do you see the similarity?

On the Penn Museum sit page "Anasazi Pottery - Evolution of a Technology" by Eric Blinman we can read that 

"...Anasazi pottery is distinguished from that of other Southwestern culture areas by its predominant colors (gray, white, and red), a coil-and-scrape man­ufacturing technique, and a relatively independent stylistic trajectory. Specu­lation about its origin has centered around diffusion from Mogollon and ultimately from Mesoamerican cultures to the south, but the stark contrasts between Mogollon brown and Anasazi gray and white pottery have also raised the possibility of independent invention through accidental burning of clay-lined baskets...

On Augustana college page "Bowl with impressed basket texture lower body exterior, yellow clay body" we can see an example of an Anasazi bawl. 

On the same page we can also read that Stewart Peckham has identified some of the earliest Southwest "protopottery" as basket liners, "pressed in coiling fashion into the interiors of shallow, coiled baskets"... 

"...Peckham cites pottery examples that have a clear exterior impression of a basket, have no burnishing and seem to have been baked or fired, possibly in an open campfire. For this pot, it seems as if the damp clay vessel was pressed into a basket, and the imprint of the basket's texture remained. While Peckham supposes that the ancient basket liners might have been used as patches to extend the use of a worn basket, or as seed parching trays, he concludes, "Whatever their functions, the basket liners give the impression of being crude attempts to imitate the pottery that early Indians in the Southwest may have seen but did not know how to replicate"..."

So what do you think about this?

Saturday, 4 August 2018


How did the Mesolithic hunter gatherers get the idea to start eating wild grains? Well my guess was that year after year they watched herds of deer and wild donkeys gorge themselves on ripe emmer wheat or einkorn wheat, both of which grow wild in huge quantities in Middle East. 

But it turns out these wild grains have developed sharp inedible husks and awns (long bristle) to protect their seeds from being eaten by grazing animals which basically avoided the ripe wild grasses. So the idea to start collecting and eating the wild grain seeds must have come to our ancestors in some other way. But once someone did get the idea to start collecting wild grain seeds they ended up with this:

Now luckily the Mesolithic people from Middle East already had all the tools and technique to convert the hard, basically inedible and indigestible seeds into food. This is because for a long time before they tried to eat grain, they have been collecting, processing, cooking and eating acorns. You can read more about human consumption of acorns in this series of posts on my blog

One thing that the Mesolithic people didn't have is the way to efficiently collect the wild wheat seeds. Basically they were yet to invent tools for harvesting: sickle. Sickle is a curved blade with a cutting (normally serrated) edge on the inside of the curve. 

So what did our Mesolithic grain gatherers do? Well the most logical thing. They looked at the deer and donkeys grazing on wild grasses and thought: "Their teeth are doing pretty good job cutting through the grain stems. If we kill a deer or a donkey and get its jaw bone (mandible) with all its teeth still in place, we can use it to cut through grain stems as well as deer and donkeys can..."

And they did just that. They started using deer and donkey mandibles to harvest grain. 

Now, just to clarify that I didn't just dream up the possibility that deer mandibles were used as the first sickles myself. Have a look at this. 

This is a deer jaw sickle from USA. Bone sickles for cutting grass, made from the lower jaw of deer, are found most commonly in central and western Oklahoma. Only one side of the jaw was used and this was lashed onto a wooden handle for service as a grass cutting tool. Actual examples of mounted specimens have been recovered intact from dry caves or rock shelters in the Ozarks area of Arkansas. 

Here is one mounted on a handle:

Article that talks about these jaw sickles can be found here: "The Identification of a Prehistoric Bone Tool from the Midwest: The Deer-Jaw Sickle" by James A. Brown 

Wild grains are kind of grass, right?

Deer mandibles were found in the oldest grain farmer's temple in Europe located in Starčevo culture Blagotin settlement, Serbia and dated to the 7th millennium BC. 

In Blagotin we find several overlapping phases of the settlement development. The earliest feature of the site is a 2,5 meter deep sacrificial pit, around which the temple was later built. At the bottom of the pit archaeologists have found a ritually broken deer scull with separated mandibles positioned at a certain angle. 

Why deer mandibles?

Official theory is that "this seems to connect the Starčevo culture to the much older Paleolithic deer cultures of Europe from the time before the last Ice Age. This makes Starčevo culture a link between the Paleolithic Mesolithic Hunter gatherer cultures and Neolithic agrarian cultures". 

But is it possible that the reason why deer mandibles were placed at the bottom of the sacrificial pit was because it was deer which lead hunter gatherers to the wild grain in the first place. And because it was deer mandibles which were used as the first sickles for harvesting first wild and later domesticated grain. 

So deer mandibles at the bottom of the sacrificial pit at the centre of the grain farmer's temple suddenly makes a lot of sense. 

This also explains why deer is found as a symbol in many agrarian cultures. 

Now people using deer mandibles as sickles quickly realised that they are in fact not very good cutting implements. Teeth are not very sharp to start with compared with flint blades and they can't be sharpened. Once they get blunt you have to throw the whole mandible away and go kill another deer or donkey to get a new jaw. So one day someone smart looked at his flint blade and his mandible sickle and thought: "if only I could stick this flint blade into the jaw bone instead of the stupid teeth". Well whoever that person was he did exactly that, and the next incarnation of a sickle was born: deer or donkey mandible with real teeth being replaced with sharp stone "teeth" micro blades.

This type of sickle quickly proved to be much much better than the original "o'naturel" one. Stone teeth were much sharper and when they got blunt, all you needed to do was replace them with newly chipped sharp ones. No need to go hunting for deer or donkeys every time you need to sharpen your sickle. 

But soon more and more people wanted sickles and for each new sickle (actually for each two new sickles) someone had to go and find and kill a deer or a donkey, get the mandibles....Boring...

So someone smart (again) thought: "If I get a piece of wood which is roughly shaped like a deer or donkey mandible and I stick stone micro blades into it I get a sickle. No need to go hunting for deer or donkeys. I can make ten of these a day." And this is exactly what he did and the next incarnation of a sickle was born: wooden "mandible" with stone "teeth" micro blades. 

Here is a neolithic example:

And here is an Ancient Egyptian example:

Some smart people then thought: "Why do we have to bother with this wooden bit? Why don't we just make the whole bloody thing out of one single piece of stone"? And so they did. And the third incarnation of a sickle was born, a "mandible with teeth" made of single piece of sharpened stone. Like this Bronze Age Sumerian one:

As metallurgy developed, sickles started being made of bronze. The "stone mandible with teeth" was replaced with "bronze mandible with (or without) teeth". 

Like this Middle Bronze Age sickle dated to 15th-12th century BC from Europe.

Or this Early Iron Age sickle dated to 7th-6th century BC from Europe. No this sickle is not shaped like a bird. It is shaped like a mandible...

Finally we arrive to the sickles made from iron, like this Roman sickle.

Which is basically the same familiar sickle we all know

Now the word "sickle" comes from Middle English "sikel", from Old English "sicol, siċel", from Proto-Germanic "*sikilō" (ploughshare), of uncertain origin. Possibly a borrowing from Latin "sēcula" (sickle) or, alternatively derived as a diminutive of Proto-Germanic "*seką" (ploughshare), from Proto-Indo-European "*seg-", a variant of Proto-Indo-European "*sek-" (to cut). 

The root "s(e)k" is I believe onomatopoeic. This is the sound which a blade makes when pulled across something in order to cut it. The sound you hear is: “sssssssk”. 

Here you can hear sounds of flesh being cut with a blade. When you cut something off with a sudden hit of blade sound shortens to "tsk" or "tsak". Here you can hear sounds of chopping with a blade. 

What is really interesting is that in Celtic and South Slavic languages the words which are derived from the "s(e)k" basically describe making of a stone blade from a stone and then using of this stone blade. You get a shingly stone, slate, or some other stone that can be split and chipped, like flint, you chip it, split it until you get a sharp blade. Husks and chips fall off in the process. Then you can use it to cut, split and sever…

Here is the Irish example cluster:

Scaineamh– shingly
Sclata– slate
Scaineadh-crack, split

Scoilt  split, crack, cleavage, fissure, parting
Sceallog – chip, thin slice
Scealla – shale, flake
Scablail – chisel work
Scaid – husks
Scaineach – thin, cracked
Scean,scian (pronounced shkian) – knife
Scean – crack, split, sever
Scailp  chasm or a cleft 

Here is the corresponding south Slavic word cluster. You will notice that it is a lot bigger and wider than the Irish one, but it covers the same word range needed to describe making of a stone blade from as tone as well as all the metal blades and their usage. 

Školjka – shell. Shells are sharp and could have been what gave people idea to create first blades
Skriljac – slate. This stone can be easily chipped and was used for weapon blades. 
Skalja – small thin chips of stone or wood
Sek(sometimes pronounced as sik or sk)– root word meaning to cut but also a blade. Word "seći" (to cut) comes from sekti.
Sečivo (pronounced sechivo) – blade which probably comes from sekivo.
Sekira (sikira, skira) – axe
Sekare (škare pronounces shkare) – scissors
Sekia (sekian) – knife. This word is now preserved in Bosnian slang word for knife “ćakija” (sekia). This word can also be deduced from a word škia (pronounced shkia) which is a dinaric dialect word which means a thin hand sliced tobacco. 
Sekač – a one sided blade
Škiljiti – to squint, to make your eyes look like as if they were two cuts.
Skija – a blade on a sled, and later a ski. 
Sekutić – front tooth
Usek,zasek – cut, groove
Sek – log house where logs, which are also called sek, are connected by interlocking cuts made at their ends.
Seknuti – to strike or hit suddenly
Škljocati - to make a noise by closing something sharp like teeth or scissors.
Škrgutati – to grind teeth
Škopiti – to castrate, to cut balls off.
Skulj – a castrated ram
Škrip – a cut, a narrow space

I wonder if other Indoeuropean languages have the same or similar clusters?

How old is this word root? I believe that it comes at least from Neolithic if not from Mesolithic. And I think that we have a proof for this. 

Sumerian language is said to be language isolate, not related to any living language of today. 

In Sumerian dictionary we find these words:

"sag̃a, sag̃, sig̃" - to cut, break, harvest, to make harvesting motion

Now in the dictionary you can read that the sign "g̃" was pronounced as "ng"? But is it possible that in the case of this word the sound was "g" and not "ng"? After all we don't really know how the Sumerian language sounded like. Everything we have is a reconstruction...

And if this word was pronounced ad "sag", "sig" this sounds very very similar to "seg, sek" the Indoeuropean root meaning "to cut". 

Is it possible that here we have pure Indoeuropean word borrowed into the Sumerian language? Or was this a Sumerian word borrowed in Indoeuropean languages? Or is this word even older and comes from the time when the first Mesolithic people in Middle East started using deer and donkey mandibles to harvest grains? And was the word therefore borrowed from that old language into both Sumerian and PIE? I am not sure. 

What is even more interesting is that in Sumerian dictionary we also find these words:

"zú, zu" - tooth, teeth; prong; thorn; blade; ivory; flint, chert; obsidian; natural glass.

"zubu, zubi" - sickle (zú, 'flint; tooth', + bu[r], 'to pull, draw, cut off') 

Remember that the first sickle was basically a deer or donkey mandible (jaw bone with teeth)? And that ever since sickles were basically more and more efficient imitations of jaw bones with teeth?

This Sumerian word literally describes a sickle as "teeth used for cutting". Mad or what?

But it gets even better. In Slavic languages the word for tooth is "zub" and for teeth is "zubi". These words have the same root as the Sumerian word for tooth "zu". And even better Slavic plural teeth "zubi" is the same as Sumerian "zubi" sickle. Sickle literally, as we can see from the above picture, being "teeth" used for cutting wheat...

Now of course the Slavic "zub" (tooth) comes from Proto-Slavic "zǫbъ" (tooth) apparently from Proto-Balto-Slavic "*źambas", from Proto-Indo-European "*ǵómbʰos" (tooth, teeth, peg).

Baltic cognates include Lithuanian "žam̃bas" (sharp edge) and Latvian "zobs" (tooth).

Indo-European cognates include Ancient Greek γόμφος gómphos (peg) and γομφίος gomfíos (tooth), Sanskrit जम्भ jámbha (tooth, tusk, swallowing) and Proto-Germanic *kambaz (comb).

Here I need to ask a question: How is it possible that Slavic (and Baltic) word for tooth has the same root as Sumerian word for tooth starting with "z", while all the other Indoeuropean words for tooth have the root starting with "k,g,j" and the root of the whole cluster starts with "g"? 
Is it the case that this was originally PIE root starting with "k,g,j". And that it was somehow later changed by both Slavic and Sumerian languages, to start with "z"? 
Or is it that the original root, which was much older than both Sumerian and PIE originally started with "z". And that this root was preserved in Slavic and Sumerian languages, while it got corrupted in other Indoeuropean languages where it was changed to start with "k,g,j"? 
I believe that the second explanation is probably closer to the truth. After all the sound you make when you vocalise while showing your teeth is "zzzzz" from which the words for tooth "zu" (Sumerian) and "zub" (Slavic) come from.  Logical right? What are we gonna call that thing you are showing? I suggest something that starts with "ZZZZ", the sound I can make while showing that thing...

Now this is not the only example of such common old word, whose root "z", is found in Sumerian and Slavic languages but was corrupted into "g,k,j" in other Indoeuropean languages. And believe or not these other words are the words for "grain", "life", "breath" all logically related to teeth. 

In Sumerian language we find this word:

"zi" (ži?) - breathing, breath (of life), life, throat, soul...
"zi(d)" "še" - flour, meal
"zíz" - emmer (wheat)
"še" - barley, grain

In Slavic languages the word for "life" is "život". This word comes from the root "živ" which means "alive".

"živ" - alive
"život" - life, stomach
"zev" - yawn (possibly related as yawning is breathing so it could be a remnant of the old meaning zi - breath)
"žir" - acorn (the original first starch food which predates grain. You can read more about human consumption of acorns through history in these posts). In the Balkans the word žir in the past actually meant all plant food. In Eastern Slavic languages, the word for acorn is "želud" which is interesting because in Serbian the word for stomach is "želudac". This word also has the same root as žir.
"žito" - grain

In all the other Indoeuropean languages these words, if they even exist, start with "g,k,j"...

You can read about this in more detail in my post "Breath". 

So in Sumerian and Slavic languages, the word for breath of life, life force, life, grain and acorns (two main staple foods of our ancestors which sustain life), the teeth which are used to eat food, but also to cut wheat all have the same root: "z". 

How is this possible? And why is this not recognised, talked about?

O and one more thing, while we are talking about common wheat related words in Sumerian and Slavic languages. 

In my post "Crop devouring insect" A weevil, a type of beetle which can damage and kill crops, particularly grains and devastate granaries causing famine, has the same name in South Slavic languages and Sumerian...

What do you think about all this?