The paper discusses ten anthropomorphic figurines that were found during the archaeological investigation of a multilayer site near the town of Varbitsa in 2015 (fig.1). They were found in stratigraphic layers associated with phases Karanovo II-III (cat. nos. 1–7) and Кaranovo II (cat. nos. 9–10) and predominantly represent strongly stylized female bodies. This style is characteristic for the entire Early Neolithic Balkan-Anatolian cultural block. An attempt to render some individualization is visible at one of the figurines whose body is made in a dynamic ‘dancing’ pose and the face expresses a strong emotion (figs. 3.4, 4.4). The typological characteristics of these Neolithic figurines link them to the Ovcharovo culture in Northeast Bulgaria and its variant Samovodene in Central North Bulgaria.
Following the assumption that the Neolithic witnessed the first widespread appearance of permanent houses and households, in line with the adoption of sedentism, this article examines the relevance of residential and construction practices to our understanding of the process of Neolithic expansion from Anatolia to the Balkans. Three practices, with a broad spatial distribution, are reviewed: house burning, the vertical superimposition of houses and intra-settlement burial. The article first outlines the basis of a contextual method to retrieve practices from material patterning left in the record, such as burnt houses for the practice of intentional house burning. The next section delves into the similarities in practices between Neolithic communities in Anatolia, Thrace and Greece, during the 7th and 6th millennia BC cal. to suggest that: 1) house burning was a key strategy to bring houses to ‘closure’ at the end of their use-lives; 2) people took advantage of the stability of extant houses to build new houses atop; and 3) this practice was closely connected with the burial of the dead in, or in close proximity to, houses. Common attitudes to residence and construction across a vast array of sites underpin similarities in house form and house use patterns. To conclude, the discussion highlights the need for a dynamic approach, based on comparative time-lines of practices, to determine the direction of spread.
The paper presents the range of crops documented at Neolithic sites in the territory of Serbia and discusses the differences between early and late Neolithic crop spectra. The approximate timing of arrival to the region of the founder- and other crops is summarised. Further, the degree of use of different crops is explored for the region in general, and for three late Neolithic/Vin?a culture sites (Opovo, Gomolava and Vin?a) in more detail. Possible patterns in the treatment of crops are identified, such as the likely separate cultivation and processing of einkorn and emmer at Opovo, their probably combined consumption at Gomolava, and the apparent preference for emmer in the final occupation phases at Vin?a.