Excavations at Aşağı Pınar, Turkish Thracia: the onset of farming on the threshold between orient and occident
The archaeological investigation of the Late Stone Age settlement of Aşağı Pınar aims at answering important questions about the material culture and the way of life of early farming communities at the intersection between orient and occident.
The monument has been discovered in 1980 by Professor Dr. Mehmet Özdoğan (Istanbul University) during a prehistoric survey, in the course of which surface finds were located on the site. Systematic excavations have been taking place since 1993.
During the previous years a total area of c. 6000 sq.m has been excavated. The first campaigns concentrated on the Middle and Late Neolithic settlement, the stratigraphy of which was able to be differentiated in detail, covering the periods AP 1 - 5 and corresponding to the stages Karanovo III-IV (middle of the 6th - beginning of the 5th millennium BC). Current research interests focus on the Early Neolithic periods AP 6 - 7 (Karanovo I-II, beginning - middle of the 6th millennium BC). An important result of the works was the establishment of a reliable chronological framework for the so far archaeologically more or less unknown Turkish part of Thracia. It was also possible to gain far-reaching information on architecture and organisation of the Neolithic village from the numerous house structures and the abundant material remains. First results of the excavations have been presented in two monographs and numerous journal articles. Between 1993 and 1998 the project was generously sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
From July to Septenber 2005 the excavation and documentation of Middle and especially Early Neolithic cultural layers was continued. Future research will mainly focus on the latter horizon, because the Early Neolithic settlement remains are exceptionally well preserved and yield rich archaeological, botanical and zoological material. Geomorphological and geophysical research as well as surface surveys will further add to the knowledge about the prehistoric micro-region east of Kırklareli.
Already today the site at Aşağı Pınar must be regarded as one of the most thoroughly investigated prehistoric settlements of the Balkan peninsula. The rectangular houses built of stamped mud with their numerous installations as well as the material culture clearly connect the site to the Karanovo culture which existed mainly in the Bulgarian and to a lesser extent in the Greek part of Thracia. Several rows of buildings attest to the planned structure and organisation of the prehistoric settlement. A number of features observed in the houses and courtyards indicate a growing specialisation of crafts and the development of focal points of domestic production - such as a workshop for the manufacture of malachite beads - within the village. Special finds, among them an anthropomorphic vessel linked to the Hungarian Theiss culture, show extensive long-range connections. In addition to the archaeological investigations, interdisciplinary archaeobotanical and archaeozoological research as well as specialist studies of the lithic industry considerably broaden the overall picture.
The archaeological research at Aşağı Pınar is carried out as a cooperation of the Head Office of the German Archaeological Institute with the Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology of the Istanbul University and the Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology of the Martin-Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg.
Heiner Schwarzberg, M.A.
Institut für Prähistorische Archäologie
D-06120 Halle (Saale)
N. Karul/Z. Eres/M. Özdoğan/H. Parzinger, Aşağı Pınar I. Einführung, Forschungsgeschichte, Stratigraphie und Architektur. Studien im Thrakien-Marmara-Raum 1 (Mainz 2003).
H. Parzinger/H. Schwarzberg, Aşağı Pınar II. Die mittel- und spätneolithische Keramik. Studien im Thrakien-Marmara-Raum 2 (Mainz 2005).