Bronz timpuriu (post-Coţofeni)

Last changed: May 2007


Here, we deal with all early Bronze Age cultures of Romania that follow chronologically after the Coţofeni culture and which are distributed in its place (Oltenia, Muntenia, Transylvania). The Banat is a special case, because here cultures of the Carpathian Basin and cultures of the lower Danube regions mix, as it is the case in many periods. Therefore, we will consider the finds there only partially. We will discount in most cases places in north Bulgaria, due to the fact that some of them can be connected to the cultures in Wallachia.

The definition of the begin of the early Bronze Age is still not clear among Romanian researchers. It is connected with the classical dependence of some not-Romanian chronological systems. According to these, one might term even the Coţofeni culture as early Bronze Age, due to it being contemporaneous with the Ezero and Yamnaya cultures (for this early dating cf. e. g. Vulpe 2001). Petre Roman’s classification into three stages from 1986 for Transylvania and Wallachia has, however, taken root in research today. Like some other authors before him, Roman connected the begin of the early Bronze Age to the end of the Coţofeni culture, which took place, however, at different points in time in the different regions of the distribution of this culture (Roman 1986). Even though the exact dating of some groups may fluctuate, depending on the author, Roman’s classification is still a terminological basis. For Transylvania, we have to mention H. Ciugudean, who constructed – in imitation of Roman’s system – a chronological classification with three stages for the early Bronze Age (Ciugudean 1996 and 1998).

During the last years, however, researchers especially in the west of Romania started to adapt more and more the Hungarian chronological classification. So, H. Ciugudean attributed the Coţofeni culture wholly to the late Neolithic and thus abstained from employing a “transitional period” (Ciugudean 2000). Likewise, Fl. Gogâltan refuses a transfer of Roman’s chronology in Banat and also disapproves of Vulpe’s chronology. His three-stage classification actually corresponds to Hungarian chronology and therefore equates the begin of the early Bronze Age with the Makó-Kosihy-Čaka culture (Gogâltan 1999a). So it cannot be synchronized with Roman’s and Ciugudean´s classifications, which is even more complicated by the fact that all authors use the same names for their stages (Bronz Timpuriu (BT) I-III resp. FBZ/EBA I-III).

All cultural groups that are dealt with here – Ciomortan, Copăceni, Dâmboviţa-Muscel, Glina, Gornea-Orleşti (Gornea-Vodneac), Iernut, Jigodin, Livezile (Bedeleu), Năeni (Odaia Turcului), Schneckenberg, Şoimuş, Zăbala and Zimnicea-Mlăjet – are investigated only so-so. That is why the term “culture” should not be used. We should like to point out that the chronological fixation, revocation, renaming or fusion of existing groups as well as the formation of completely new ones is still going on, considering that some separations between groups are methodically problematic. It seems, for example, strange that some, partly even contemporaneous groups were defined alone with graves (Zimnicea-Mlăjet; Dâmboviţa-Muscel) while others were defined using almost only settlements (Glina; Gornea-Orleşti). As a prime example for the problems occurring with foggy distinctions between groups we mention Gligoreşti – “Holoame”, a place where material of four different groups Livezile, Copăceni, Şoimuş and Iernut mixes (Gogâltan 1997). These problems cannot be solved here anyway, and therefore the existing groups are accepted as the momentary state of research and are treated as such.

Since the sources of most groups do not justify a usual treatment separated into settlement patterns, treatment of the dead et cetera, these groups will be summarized shortly in the following. Well researched cultures which correspond in part spacially or chronologically but for the most part belong to a different period or a different region (e. g. Yamnaya (pit grave culture/”ochre grave culture”), Monteoru, Tei but also, depending on the chronological system, Coţofeni itself), will be dealt with separately in different files.

Despite the state of research, there are numerous attempts to place the groups in a wider context. Potential partners for synchronisation can be found in all late Copper Age and early Bronze Age cultures as well as in some middle Bronze Age cultures and cultural groups in south-east Europe. The material of the Wallachian and Transylvanian early Bronze Age does indeed allow this. Especially often such comparisons are accomplished with metal finds, mainly axes, whose typological classification and terminology according to Vulpe was adapted by all authors (Vulpe 1970). The three surrounding great cultural centres – the Carpathian Basin, the pontic steppe and the Aegean (and, with it, also, Anatolia) – are always mentioned as potential triggers of influence. J. Machnik pursued an interesting approach: he pointed out the similarities of all early Bronze Age cultures in south-east Europe, placed them in context with the Caucasian Kuro-Araks culture (Samšvilde-Koda type), but dismissed a connection across the steppe because of great differences of the Yamnaya cultural sphere (Machnik 1991).

Indeed, some of these comparisons can be drawn at least in a closer south-east European frame, using artefacts appearing in practically all groups, such as zoomorphic figurines, wheel models (even cart models), curved knives or flint arrow heads with a concave base, but also rarer pieces and characteristics such as bone slides (Popescu 2001), “hedgehog” decoration (Băjenaru 1996), cord decoration (Bertemes 1998) or pedestalled bowls decorated on the inside (Schuster 1995a). They connect single groups among each other and lead over to the classical great Bronze Age cultures, whose origin, however, is in the dark. Its research might be hugely accomplished by quickly clearing und structuring the early Bronze Age material of the lower Danube and Transylvania.

In terms of absolute chronology, the groups can only be roughly dated via external comparisons to the time between 2750 and 2100 BC. Appropriate radiocarbon dates are extremely rare (e. g. in Livezile). Băjenaru (Băjenaru 1998a) and Gogâltan (Gogâltan 1999a, pl. 1-20) give a good overview of radiocarbon dates of the late Copper Age and Bronze Age cultures of the neighbouring Carpathian Basin. Unfortunately, Reinecke’s repeatedly modified chronological system, a classification devised for south Germany according to metal finds, is still used in research for dating cultures and groups in south-east Europe defined mainly through pottery. Therefore it should be mentioned that Bz A1 corresponds roughly to BT III.