F Burtanescu (Botoşani). About a group of "outstreched" burials with Middle Bronze Age grave goods in south-eastern Romania*
The aim of this paper is an attempt at identification and cultural/chronological evaluation of an "outstretched" burials group with Middle Bronze Age (MBA) funeral inventory occurs in south-eastern Moldavia and northeasternmost Wallachia (Muntenia).
We know at present only three firmly sites in which such kind of graves have been found Brăiliţa (grave 173)**, Grădiştea-"Mormântul Elizei (grave 161 (Hatuche et al, 1983, 49. 51, 57), these two in Brăila District (Wallachia), and Matca (grave 3/ barrow 53) (Brudiu, 1985, 32, Fig. 3; 1998, 66, fig. 1), in western part of the Gaiaţi District (Moldavia). The latest grave mentioned was discovered in a medium-size mound(h.1 m; diameter 40 m), being, in addition, the primary burial of that tumulus. Unfortunately, the information published does not give the possibility to determine reliablv enough the character of Brăilita and Grădiştea burials (flat or tumular). The funeral construction of grave3/barrow 53 at Matca consists in a pit with a recess-like chamber (?), roofed by wooden planks. In all three graves, the deceased were buried in the supine position with legs extended. Western orientation apparently prevails. Near the skull and above the chest of the skeleton in grave 173 at Brăiliţa (probably belonged to a man), few charcoal pieces have been discovered.
Under the embankment of the barrow 53 at Matca, lying on the ancient surface, lower part of a Monteoru lc3 amphora has been found***. This pottery type is usually characterized by a prominent, high, funnel-like shaped neck. The fragmentary vessel found at Matca has an undecorated, conical bottom part, separated by the proper body through a threshold. Underneath the threshold two tubular handles have been placed. The lower portion of the body is decorated with incised concentric circles, horizontal and zigzag incised or stitched lines, applied plastic bands with impressions, in a manner very specific for the Monteoru Ic3 phase.
According to excavators, sherd ot a Monteoru Ic3 cup decorated with incised oncentnc circles, has been found in grave 16 at Grădiştea (Harruche et al., 1983,49 51).
The grave goods discovered in grave 173 at Brăilita included four tubular beads made of shells, a circular stone bead, three ceramic fragments of a decorated vesel: and a bone "buckle". The latter one, was found on the pelvis. The "buckle", circular in shape, has a central orifice surrounded by a threshold and two little holes, lying side by side, at the edge of the piect (Hartuche, Anastasiu, 1968, pl. 44/3). "Buckles" of this type, equipped with three holes, appear in north-eastern Wallachia at Brăiliţa and in a tumular cemetery at Baldovineşti (in grave 3, with contracted skeleton) (Hartuche, Anastasiu. 1968,41-42, 48-49, pi 44/1, 2), whie in south-eastern Moldavia it is present at Stoicani (grave 7a, with contracted skeleton, too) (Petrescu-Dimbovita, 1953, fig 53/4). Such "buckles" have been discovered also on the east of the Prui river (Савва, 1992, 44, рис. 57/4; Тощев, 1998, 122). These objects are usually assigned to the Mnogovalikovaja Ceramic culture (MCC).
Looking for a "serried" dating of the graves presented above, we find that the stratified sequence offered by the tumulus at Matca is less useful, because here the next cultural-chronological horizon after the one represented by the grave 3 is ascribed to the Basarabi culture (Brudiu, 1985, 32-33, fig. 4). Instead, the Monteoru Ic3 pottery at Matca and Grădiştea indicate that we should take into consideration a dating in the first half of the MBA. Nevertheless, the burials of this kind cannot be assigned to the Monteoru culture, first of all Ьесаuse the deposition of the dead person in extended positions not typical of this culture and then because the graves under discussion are localized beyond the main area of the Monteoru Ic3 phast (Florescu, 1966, 43, fig. 1; Oancea, 1976, fig. 20; Отрощенко 1995б, 194-195). The bone "buckle" found in grave 173 at Brăiliţa, as well as the possible features of the funeral pit at Matca, could suggest a connection of this group of "outstretched" bunals in south-eastern Romania with MCC. This hypothesis seems to me most likely, although it is known that the extended burials represent no distinctive features of the MCC, but of the late horizon of the Catacomb-Grave culture (CGC) in north-Pontic area (Ingul* culture).
However, there are some reasons to believe in a such cultural connection of the Romanian graves to the MCC. Thus, in the Middle Dnieper basin, bunals with extended skeletons, accompanied by bone "buckles", are quite well-represented, comprise according to S.S. Berezenskaja's estimation, about 20 % from an excavated series of MCC graves in this region (Берeзанская, 1986. 19) It seems thai the graму 4 oiscoveкed in "Tjagunova mogiła" (near the village of Mar'evka, on the right bank of the Lower Dnieper), with a bone "buckle" and ascribed to the MCC, has the skcileton in the extenden position (Пустовалов, 2000, 300-301, рис. 4/3-4). Graves of this typi has been identified in Crimea (Тощев, 1990,126; 1993; Колтухов и др., 1994,105, Отрошенко,, 1995,194; Колтухов, Тощев, 1998, 168-169), wehere fairiy recenily they were bring together in a separate group called "Evpatorija» (Колтухов. Тошев, 1998, 168-169, Тощев, 1998, 194). In the steppe zone situated on the left side of the Lower Dnieper such burials ascribed to the MCC have been discovered in the "Sokolovskij" lumulus (on the Konka river, in the proximity of the Pologi town) (Попандопуло, 1991. 69, 71, рис 2; Отрошенко, 1995, 194). As far as the north-western Black Sea area is concerned, there are some information about the existence of the "outstreched" burials ascribed to the MCC (Черняков, 1985, 135; Дергачев, 1986,131), but in the recent papers dealing with the MCC in this area (Саава, 1992; Субботин, 2000,376-385, they were not discussed anymore.
The evidence so far available from south-eastern Romania shows for the "outstreched" burials with MBA inventory an unmistakable links and, in the same time, an aparent striking and curious (?) resemblances (having in mind that in the space between the similar discoveries are rather scarce as yet) with the group emphasized in Crimea and Dnieper basin. The common elements reffered to the funerary architecture, the deposition of the dead, western orientation of the bodies, presence of the bone "buckles" with 2-3 holes, so that, we believe in the same cultural and chronological explanation for the two series of burials. Initially, G.N. Toscev saw the burials of this type from Crimea as a transition cultural unity from CGC to the MCC phenomenon (Тощев, 1990,126) in that region. At present, the same archaeologist inclined to assigned them directly to the MCC phenomenon, suggesting a genetic connection with the late Catacomb-Grave horizon (Тощев, 1993,158; 1998.123-124). V.V. Otroscenko has also recently come to a similar conclusion about the affiliation of this type of monuments to the MCC, but looking for the origins of the "outstreched" funeral ritual to the MCC people, a particular attention was given to the extended burials endowed with bone "buckles" on the Middle Don (Отрошенко, 1995, 194-195). In my view, the thesis about the connection of this burial group to the MCC is supplementarx supported by the Romanian graves under discussion in which Monteoru Ic3 pottery appear, the mutual relations between early Monteoru and MCC being relatively well-attested****, as opposed to the lack of the information about cultural contact between Monteoru and CGC.
In sum, the existence in south-eastern Romania of the "outstreched" burials with MBA inventory firmly extends to the west the distribution area of this kind of funeral complexes, which can be called Matca-Evpatorţja-Pologi. Monteoru Ic3 wares found in the western graves represent, in our opinion, reliable benchmarks for the chronology of this group. V.V. Otrośćenko also claims for an earlier dating of this group in the stem of the monuments belonged to the MCC (Отрошенко, 1995,194). It is not yet clear if the Matca-Evpatorija-Pologi type burials represent inside the MCC milieu a ritual (and cultural) group, coexisted with the main funerary customs specific for the earlv MCC***** or whether they should be considered as a separate cultural and chronological horizon. We incline lo share the opinion that thev belonged to human groups or simply individuals with cultural roots in the late CGC phenomenon, but integrated in the early MCC society. The differences in the grave inventory must have been due to the different local background with which they came into contact.
*A Romanian version of this paper was inserted in our work "Epoca timpurie a bronzului intre Carpati şi Prut" (Bucharest) (in print)
**All the information about this grave at Brailita were kindly transmitted lo us by the excavator N. Hartuche.
***Unpublished: in the museum of Galati (No inv 20 856) See also Brudiu, 1985. 32
****Toщев, 1986, 107-110, 113-114 - Савва, 1992, 159V-169. One must accepted that in the Monteoru Ic3 and Ic2 phases the active part in this process has been assumed by the estren intrusive MCC population, as demonstrates the presence of us specific objects ("buckles", pottery, flint and metal artefacts) in the local settlements and necropolises (see Savva 1991, 28-29, 31: Савва, 1992, 160-166). There is no doubt thai these cultural elements have been accompanied in their movement by the "eastern" population, which in the Monteoru cemeteries preserved, at least partially, its burial customs. Judging after the notable ratio of the recess-like funeral pits in Monteoru lc3 necropolis at Căndcşti (see Florescu, 1978, 108, 112) it can be presumed a significant number of the newcomers. On the other hand there are some clues, provided also b\\\\ the cemetery mentioned above, that the eastern grvups неге already submitted to the integration process within the Monteoru Ic3 community at Cănilej (Florescu, 1478, 113), which means that the moment of the first contact Monteoru MCC in this region could be placed earlier (in the Monteoru Ic4, 3 horizon maybe). This scenario does not exclude the penetration of small early Monteoru cattle-breeding human groups into the steppe zone of Bugeac and in south-eastern Moldavia. In this way, for instance, could be explained the cultural remains at Rem assigned to the earh Monteoru or the ceramic ftragments of presumed Monteoru Ic3 character at Zarecnoe II (Тощев, 1980, 107, 113, fig. 3/1,Субботин, Петренко, 1990, 251-252, fig. 1/2-3), in the steppe area. Marilcna Florescu als identified few sites claimed lo have Monteoru Ic3 and Ic2 material in south-eastern Moldavia (Vânâtori, Murgeni, Igefsti), i.e in a steppe region, material appeared however in a cultural context considered as "not Monteoru" or "inspired by Monteoru culture" (Florescu, 2001)
*****As an argument to support this assumption could be invoked the case of the grave 8 in tumulus at Kiselova, in which, according to Черняков 7978, 147-148, two skeletons in outstreched and contracted position on the right have been found side by side. The vessel from the grave (Черняков, 1978, fig. 2/3) has good parallels in the pottery ascribed to the earh stage of the MCC in the north-western Pontic area, as defined by E. Sava. Nevertheless, we have some reservations and even perplexities about this "double" grave at Kiselovo, since in the plan of ine tumulus (Черняков, 1978, fig. 1), in contrast with the text, the each of two skeletons been "endowed" with their own funeral pit. If this is the case, then we are dealing in fact two sepaţcie overlapping graves, and therefore, dated to different periods.
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