Sunday, 9 March 2014

Cultural continuity in Central Europe from Linear Potery culture to Western Slavs

The Stroke-ornamented ware (culture) or (German) Stichbandkeramik (abbr. STK or STbK), Stroked Pottery culture, Danubian Ib culture of V. Gordon Childe, or Middle Danubian culture is the successor of the Linear Pottery culture, a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic in Central Europe. The STK flourishes during approximately 4600-4400 BC. Centered on Silesia in Poland, eastern Germany and the northern Czech Republic, it overlaps with the Lengyel horizon to the south, and the Rössen culture to the west. 

The Linear Pottery culture is a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic, flourishing circa 5500–4500 BC. It is abbreviated as LBK (from German: Linearbandkeramik), and is also known as the Linear Band Ware, Linear Ware, Linear Ceramics or Incised Ware culture, and falls within the Danubian I culture of V. Gordon Childe.

The densest evidence for the culture is on the middle Danube, the upper and middle Elbe, and the upper and middle Rhine. It represents a major event in the initial spread of agriculture in Europe. The pottery after which it was named consists of simple cups, bowls, vases, and jugs, without handles, but in a later phase with lugs or pierced lugs, bases, and necks.[1] They were obviously designed as kitchen dishes, or for the immediate or local transport of food and liquids.

Important sites include Nitra in Slovakia; Bylany in the Czech Republic; Langweiler and Zwenkau in Germany; Brunn am Gebirge in Austria; Elsloo, Sittard, Köln-Lindenthal, Aldenhoven, Flomborn, and Rixheim on the Rhine; Lautereck and Hienheim on the upper Danube; and Rössen and Sonderhausen on the middle Elbe.

Excavations at Oslonki in Poland revealed a large, fortified settlement (dating to 4300 BC, i. e., Late LBK), covering an area of 4,000 m². Nearly 30 trapezoidal longhouses and over 80 graves make it one of the richest such settlements in archaeological finds from all of central Europe. The rectangular longhouses were between 7 and 45 meters long and between 5 and 7 meters wide. They were built of massive timber posts chinked with wattle and daub mortar.[2][3] 

This Linear pottery culture is through a particular type of bread ovens and houses directly linked to the West Slavic cultures of central Europe of the medieval time:

These so called bread ovens are known from a number of sites in central Europe that are dated from the 7th-12th centuries (Skružny 1963, 1980 ; Vignatiová 1992). A find of this type is usually represented by a hole sunk into a loess soil with the highest vaulting of 40-60 cm, red-burnt walls of 5-10 cm and a grey-burnt bottom, sometimes stone-lined.
The bottom ground plan is usually of renal, semi-circular up to round shape, east-west oriented.
From later periods (13 th century) it is documented that slightly modified ovens with an underground heating duct can serve for food-smoking (Skružny 1980). Archaeological finds of bread ovens are usually excavated on the margin of a settled area outside of the houses (Skružny, Vignatiová 1992, p. 90) or they are sunk into the wall of a dwelling (e.g. Breclav-Pohansko : Vignatiová 1992, fig. 3). The ovens outside the dwellings and the site area are known from Neolithic sites in Slovakia : in Pác near Trnava (Kolník 1977) or in Horné Lefantovce (Bánesz 1962). These finds were recently enriched by a new exceptional site where ovens from 11 th-12 th century were excavated in the vicinity (ca. 150 m) of the similar ones from the Late Stone Age (6 th millenium B.C.) belonging to the Linear-Pottery culture people. These ovens were revealed in Borovce, distr. of Piest’any, Slovakia, and the finds have not been published yet. The particular situation of Borovce has offered a chance to compare these finds, similar in types but different in history as well as in culture.
Comparing the find circumstances of the ovens studied in Borovce, we can state that there is very little or  no difference between the Stone-Age ovens and those made in the Middle Ages. Dimensions of burnt bottoms and walls are conspicuously similar : the diameter of the Neolithic ovens was 80-110 cm, the diameter of the medieval ones was 78-110 cm. This observation could support the already stated opinion that these constructions reflect a technical advancement or special needs of a certain community, regardless of its ethnicity (review in Vignatoivá 1992, p.89 ; Skružny 1980, p.221).  Some differences among the ovens of Borovce could be seen in the stages of burning of the bottoms. Two of the Neolithic ovens have grey-burnt bottoms, which means that their temperature had to be higher than 2000 C. These changes in a loess colour in relation to firing temperatures were experimentally tested in Borovce (Staššíková-Štukovská 1989). The bottoms of the medieval ovens are not burnt, which means that the temperature was lower there. High temperatures are not necessary for bread-baking or food-smoking and this would correspond with the stage of burning of the medieval ovens. The temperature of the Neolithic ovens had to be higher for some time than that needed for bread-baking.  This fact, of course, does not exclude this activity, as it is suggested also by other authors, e.g. in connection with pottery ovens in the Middle Ages (Skružny 1980). But the same time the find situation in Borovce supports the hypothesis of T. Kolnik articulated in connection with the find of a battery of 15 ovens of the éeliezovce culture (Neolithic) in Pac near Trnava (Slovakia). He suggested that ovens used to serve also for pottery-drying and he issued from findings of O. Sujanova that the Neolithic pottery was not burnt, but only dried in temperatures up to 200°C (Kolník 1978, p.134). He has applied this hypothesis also to the find of a battery consisting of 13 ovens in Lefantovce (Bánesz 1959, 1962).

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