VITA ANTIQUA, ISSN 2522-9419 (Online), 2519-4542 (Print)
Center for Paleoethnological Research
VITA ANTIQUA 10, 2018, Prehistoric Networks in Southern and Eastern Europe, 48-60
The Formation of Wetland Identities in the Neolithic Balkans
Centre for Prehistoric Research, Republic of Macedonia
The so-called ‘Neolithic Package’ in the Balkans did not introduce only economic advantages and novelties, but also had a significant social impact onto the communities that inhabited this region. The interaction between indigenous population and migrants in the Early Neolithic initiated new notion of identity established on trade, exchange, labor, ideology and on the production of material culture. Consequently, the first farming communities were socially modified and many new were created as the agriculture, domestication, clay objects, human representations and intramural burials progressed in various areas of the Balkans. Thus the identity was subsequently incorporated in various aspects of Neolithic life, and in the archaeologically was mainly observed through material culture i.e. architecture, decorated pottery, house models, stamps and human representations in particular. However, beside these distinct signposts of identity, there were not many studies focused on landscape and spatial patterns as other means of identification between societies and environment. Nevertheless, the recent research indicates that there was preference of particular geographical setting that contributed in the formation of identities that were simultaneously transmitted onto the settlement features and material culture.
It is evident that particular Early Neolithic societies dispersed in different wetland regions of the Balkans were establishing tells, built houses with specific structures, produced pottery with distinct patterns and modeled anthropomorphic and house representations. Such societies apparently maintained economic networks with other communities and especially were intensified with those inhabiting wetlands and lakesides. They deliberately accented its discrete identity throughout painted vessels, house models, stamps and figurines and some of them bear evident reminiscences of Neolithic visual culture from the wetland communities in Anatolia. Therefore, this paper will mainly consider the formation of wetland identities in the Neolithic Balkans and will discuss its complex character within the networking that regarded merely particular spheres of the societies. These wetland communities interacted in the domain of economy and exchange of goods, but the major social and symbolic distinctiveness was reflected onto architecture and material culture. In this context the painted pottery, house models, figurines and stamps from the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania will be mainly concerned as it gives a broad overview of units and clusters of societies, which shared similar identities sometimes associated with those established in Turkey and Anatolia in particular.
Key words: Neolithic, tell, wetland archaeology, Neolithization, Balkans