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Expanding the Dimensions of Early Agricultural Tells: The Podgoritsa Archaeological Project, Bulgaria Douglass W.

Bailey; Ruth Tringham; Jason Bass; Mirjana Stevanovic; Mike Hamilton; Heike Neumann; Ilke Angelova; Ana Raduncheva Journal of Field Archaeology, Vol. 25, No. 4. (Winter, 1998), pp. 373-396.
Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0093-4690%28199824%2925%3A4%3C373%3AETDOEA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Q Journal of Field Archaeology is currently published by Boston University.

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Expanding the Dimensions of Early Agricultural Tells: The Podgoritsa Archaeological Project, Bulgaria
Douglass W. Bdey
University ofwdes, Cardiff, Cardiff, UUes

Ruth Tringham Jason Bass Mirjana St~vaIIovi6 University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley California Mike Hamilton Heike Neumann
University ofwales, Cardiff, Cardiff, LWes University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

Ilke Angelova Regional Historical Museum, Turgovishte, Turgovishte, Bulgaria Ana Raduncheva Archaeological Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria
A single season offield work was carried out in 1995 at the Podgoritsa Tell, an Eneolithic (5th millennium B.c.) settlement mound located between the villages ofDralfa and Podgoritsa in the Turgovishte r&n of NE Bulgaria. Resultsprovide signijcant new data about thephysical and social dimensions of early agricultural settlement tells in SE Europe. Most important is the first dismevy of architectural structures and activity areas located outside ofthe topographic chcumference o f an Eneolithic tell.Additional, and equally unprecedented, info~.mationfj.om geophysical and soil coring investigationsproves that the land around the Podgoritsa site went through cycles o f use and disuse. These cycles were detewnined by variations in the level of the local water table. Evidence ofa bank and ditch structure on the western edge ofthe tell raises the possibility that the site's inhabitants may have been actively managing local water supplies. Thefim evidencefor off-tell activity (which explodes the myth that the modem visible topographic limits of a tell represent the limits $activity) and thepossibility of5th millennium hydrological engineering have imp0rtant consequences not onlyfor our understanding ofthe SE European CopperAge but alsofor fiture strategies of tell excavation across SE Europe and westem Asia.

In 1995, the Podgoritsa Archaeological Project carried out excavation, geophysical, palaeoenvironmental, and GIs research at the Eneolithic (5th millennium B.c.)settlement tell at Podgoritsa, NE Bulgaria (FIGS. 1, 2). The aims of the research were four-fold: 1)to reveal, document, and interpret the life-histories of houses in the tell; 2) to search for, locate, and classify off-tell activity areas and built structures; 3) to document the soil history and hydrology of the tell micro-region; and 4) to explore geography, environment, and landscape at regional, micro-regional, and site scales. Most of these aims were met and the current article presents the primary results of the research program.

Podgoritsa is a multi-layer settlement tell dating to the Polyanitsa Culture of the middle Eneolithic period (46004400 B.c.). The site is located in a small plain in the northern foothdls of the Preslavska Stara mountains between the villages of Dralfa and Podgoritsa in the Turgovishte region of NE Bulgaria. The tell stands 4.5 m hlgh and has a diameter of 80 m. The fieldwork was carried out during July 1995 by a multi-national team of Bulgarian, American, and British archaeologists and geophysicists. In Bulgaria the work was coordnated by the Regional Historical Museum of Turgovishte and the Archaeological Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia (AIM-BAN).Postexcavation analysis has taken place at the University of

374 Early Afiricultural Tells, Bulgaria/Bailey et al.


Figure 1. Map of the Podgoritsa Tell in YE Bdgaria.

Journal o f Field A~chaeolo~y/l/al. 25, 1998 375

Wales at Cardiff and the University of California at Berkeley. The project's original intention was to carry out five to ten years of excavation and survey at Podgoritsa. Due to political events beyond the control of the British and American project &rectors, fieldwork was terminated at the l l samples of soil, pollen, and end of the 1995 season. A burned architectural rubble taken during fieldwork were confiscated by Bulgarian authorities and (it must be assumed) have been destroyed. While enough copies of field documentation sunrived for the team to produce the present report, much of the data has been lost; complete specialist reports wdl, however, be available (Bailey in press). Thus, despite the rich potential of the material and the initial conclusions, no further work on Podgoritsa is possible.

Re~ional,Cultu~al, and Social Contexts

The Eneolithic (4900-3800 B c ) is an important period in the ~ r e h i s t o ~ Bulgaria and across SE Europe. As a of modern archaeological construct, the Eneolithic (or Chalcolithic) of Bulgarian prehistory is equivalent to the Late Neolithic of Romania, the Late Neolithic and Early Copper Age of H u n g q and the Late and Final Neolithic of Greece. In Bulgaria, the Eneolithic is characterized by intensification in the production of ceramic, agricultural and animal products, in the establishment and maintenance of monumental settlement architecture (i.e., the tells themselves), and in the disposal of the dead in small unmarked extra-mural cemeteries. For hscussions of the Eneolithic see Tringham 1971; Todorova 1978, 1986, 1995; Bailey 1991; Lichardus 1991; Fol and Lichardus 1988, Bailey and Panayotov 1995; and Whittle 1985, 1996. Eneolithic ceramics were produced in a variety of shapes (from simple open pans and dishes to complex shapes with up to four carinations) and a variety of decorative techniques (incision, impression, relief, white, red, and graphite painting). Over time, extremely large storage vessels increase in frequency The production of ceramic vessels also increases in quantity; some houses contain many dozens of pots. Agricultural production also intensifies with large-scale cultivation of wheat and barley. Large quantities of these cereal grains were processed ( m a d y parched and ground) and stored in large vessels and permanent storage silos. Management strategies for sheep, goat, and cattle included exploitation for secondary products: sieves, loomweights, and spindle whorls are frequent finds. Age and sex profiles of cattle suggest an increased emphasis on older cattle in later phases, perhaps representing animal use for traction. While the use of cattle for ploughing fits in well with the other evidence for intensified farming, the presence of zoomor-

phic figurines of horned quadrupeds (probably cattle) equipped with containers on their backs confirms the use of animals for transportaion (see examples at Ovcharovo horizons V and IX [Todorova et al. 19831 and at Drama [Bertemes and Krustev 19881). Linked to the developments in production and settlement, the Eneolithic is characterized by an intensification of the expression of personal and group identity. Statements are expressed both through items of personal adornment (e.g., pendants, bracelets) made from exotic materials (e.g., and in the modelthe marine mollusc Spondylus~mde~qpus) ling of ceramic three-dimensional anthropomorphic miniature figurines (Bailey 1991, 1994a, 1994b, 1996a). In addition to shell and fired clay, an important material of &splay was metal (copper and gold), which was used to make tools (chisels, axes, and awls) and personal ornaments (lip plugs, clothing appliques), as well as to decorate ceramic vessels with graphite and gold-leaf. Indeed, the Eneolithic marks the earliest use of gold in Europe. With the exception of the figurines (which occur exclusively in domestic contexts), the expressions of personal identity are concentrated in the extra-mural cemeteries of inhumations that most ofien accompany the tells. One of the most dramatic concentrations of such expression is the Varna cemetery on the Black Sea coast, which contained quite sensational grave assemblages of gold, copper, and spondylus (Ivanov 1988, 1991). Additional work north of Varna, at the coastal town of Durankulak, has revealed similarly sensational grave inventories (Todorova 1989; Todorova and Dimov 1989). Settlement behavior varies across the different regions, with monumental aggregations of houses forming tells for the first time in the NE during the Eneolithlc (Todorova 1982, 1986; Bailey 1 9 9 6 ~ )In . the southern part of the countn; tell use began in the Neolithic (60004800 B.c.) and continued through the Eneolithic and on into the early Bronze Age (3200-2500 B.C ) (such as at the classic Karanovo, Azmak, and Yunatsite tells).There were no Eneolithic tells in western Bulgaria. Tells played an important role in the dynamics of increased material production and expressions of personal and group identity. They functioned as centers for agricultural activities such as large scale sowing, cultivation, processing, storing, and hstributing of wheat and barley (Bailey 1996b). With few exceptions (Bailey 1990; Chapman 1990), traditional interpretations of tell settlements (Todorova 1982) have offered little beyond descriptive reconstructions. Northeastern Bulgaria is rich in Eneolithic tells. A recent survey of the Turgovishte region alone listed 40 tells from this period (Todorova 1986: 277-278; Dremsizova-

376 Early &ricultural Tells, Bulgaria/Bailey et al.

Figure 2. Photograph of mound looking to the west (a) and (facing page) to the south (b).

Nelchinova et al. 1991). A handfid of these sites (most notably Ovcharovo, Polyanitsa, and Turgovishte) were excavated under rescue conditions in the 1970s and early 1980s (Todorova et al. 1983; Angelova 1982, 1986a, 1986b; Ivanov 1982; Todorova 1982; see Bailey 1990, 1991, 1996b, 1996c, 1997for analysis of these sites).

Goals of Research in Socwcaltural Context

An important lacuna in our understanding of Eneolithic life concerns what happened outside of the tells. With the exception of the search for extra-mud cemeteries and research on spatially disconnected contemporary copper mines (e.g., Aibunar in south-centd Bulgaria), very little, if any, investigation of off-tell land use has taken place. While much is known of the contents and activities that occurred within Eneolithic tells, major elements of community activities have not been recognized in the sites. No traces of ceramic-producing centers (as documented by kilns and waste dumps) or places of metal-working have been located. Similarly little energy has been devoted to locating rubbish tips and potential animal butchery sites related to

tells. A major goal of the research at Podgoritsa was the search for off-tell activity areas and structures. The second issue investigated at Podgoritsa concerns the relative chronology of the events of house construction, house use, house abandonment or destruction, and house rebuilding. It is commonly accepted (implicitly and without criticism) that the creation, use, and destruction of houses in tells occurred in a series of synchronic and coherent cross-tell events designated as "building horizons.? Such reasoning suggests that a tell like Podgoritsa may contain five or six coherent building horizons, one following the other. At Podgoritsa, the methodology for excavating and recording the houses was structured to test the validity of the synchronicity and coherence of the building horizon concept. The methodology employed had been developed and implemented with success in previous excavations at Opovo and Golmolava in Yugoslavia (Tringham 1994; Tringham et al. 1992; Tringham, Brukner, and Voytek 1985). The Podgoritsa project attained significant results in investigating these major research topics. Most significantly,

Journal of Field Archaeology/Vol. 25, 1998 377

off-tell activity areas and structures were documented and factors conditioning the use of off-tell land were investigated. An unexpected result was the possibility that the tell users actively engaged in water management. Though limited by constraints of time and local bureaucracy, excavation and analysis of house remains obtained preliminary results. Fieldwork also produced additional preliminary information about regional patterns of resource zones and the correlation of site location and local geology.

GIs and Remote Sensing

Aims and Methods

In order to explore the geography, environment, and landscape around the tell, geographical information systems (GIs) and remote sensing research programs were introduced. This research addressed questions of the environmental and social dimensions of the site and landscape at three scales: regional, micro-regional, and site. At the regional level, attention was focused on mapping environmental and resource zones: such maps aimed to serve as the

basis for future study of exchange networks and the social construction of the Podgoritsa landscape. At the micro-regional level, a local site catchment analysis aimed to address similar issues of resources and landscape (but with additional attention to factors such as site visibility). At the site scale, the GIs work aimed to examine variability in the distribution of material at the tell. To achieve the goals of the GIs and remote sensing agendas, two methods were employed under the direction of Jason Bass: image processing of satellite data and ground-truthing. Image processing proceeded via manipulating satellite imagery within the GIs software program IDRISI. The Podgoritsa Archaeological Project purchased a fbll scene (ca. 180 x 180 km) of Landsat satellite data.' The scene was based on the modem town of Turgovishte and thus provided data for a 90 km radius around the Podgoritsa Tell. From the data in the scene, we selected five different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation combi1 . The scene was purchased from EOSAT Co. (4300 Forbes Blvd., Lanham, Maryland, 20706-9954, USA).

378 Eady A ~ r i c u l t u ~ Tells, a l Bulgaria/Bailey et al.

nations that represented the most significant landscape features (i.e.,vegetation, surface and subsurface water sources, soil type, and geology). We produced false-color composite images for the circum-Podgoritsascene. In order to identie features on the satellite maps with locations on the actual landscape around the site and to distinguish subtle differences in image representation, we undertook a program of ground-truthing. Teams fieldwalked three separate areas: the region surrounding the tell; a region near a flint source outside of Kamenovo; and a region to the south and east of Turgovishte. Using the ground-truthing information, we created a classification relating specific colors of the satellite imagery to specific features in the landscape. The classification was then used to extrapolate ground-truthing results to the entire region of the satellite image. We were thus able to divide this large regional image into analytic layers, each relating to a class of landscape feature (e.g., geolog): soil, modern vegetation). Using these data, we created resource and site location maps at different scales: the area immediately surrounding Podgoritsa and its broader regional context.

surveyed physically and should be tested with controlled and systematic surveys, which have yet to occur in Bulgaria. It is clear that scientific analyses of tells which address the paramount questions of why did such settlements appear where they did and when they did, can only proceed if research encompasses the circum-tell area. Research in this direction at sites like Podgoritsa will require a significant conceptual re-orientation of many Bulgarian prehistoric archaeologists (as well as archaeological laws which limit the area around a site in which archaeologists are permitted to work). The GIs and remote sensing work carried out at Podgoritsa were the first stem towards the creation of a more L complete map of prehistoric resource zones in the region. The initial results, especially the linkage of Eneolithic tell locations to non-saturated zones, should prove the stimulus to hrther GIs and remote sensing work in Balkan prehistoric archaeology. Additional refinement of the land coverage map could follow hture environmental reconstruction work and would help to reconstruct the Eneolithic landscape around Podgoritsa.

Two ground-truthing teams covered 84 sq krn of the scene and created a classification correlating satellite imagery with actual landscape features. By extrapolating the ground-truthing results to non-surveyed areas of the scene, it was possible to construct a land coverage map for an area of 11,600 sq km. Five analytic map layers were classified: vegetation, soil, water sources, geological formation, and Eneolithic sites. As the project did not have access to topographic maps larger than 1:200,000 in scale, it was not possible (as is normal and essential in GIs work) to generate a sixth layer for topography. The local resource mapping documented land coverage in the local region and illustrated resource zones in the modern landscape. Within the region, clear divisions were recorded betsveen fields, forests, saturated soils, surface clay, and a mixed class of towns and villages. The regional resource and site location mapping investigated the relationships between resource zones and the location of Eneolithic sites across the entire Landsat scene comprising the wider region of NE Bulgaria. In the scene darker areas represented agricultural fields while lighter regions represented areas with little or no vegetation. Eneolithic sites are much more numerous in the areas dominated by agricultural fields (zones of saturated soils). One possible explanation for this is that these areas were preferred for settlement due to the greater access to a larger number of resources (including agricultural land). This conclusion is largely based on the correlation we found with the sites we

Geophysical Survey

Aims and Methods

Geophysical investigation at Podgoritsa aimed to locate off-tell structures and activity areas around the tell. Dr. Mike Hamilton carried out a gradometer and resistance survey over a 4.92 ha area centered on the tell. One hundred nventv-three 20 x 20 m gradiometer grids were read. Ten 20 x 20 m grids of resistance data were ~ollected.~

As expected, the survey of the tell itself revealed a pattern of coaxially aligned rectilinear structures similar to that uncovered from previously excavated sites in the region (e.g., Ovcharovo, Turgovishte) (FIGS. 3,4). In addition, the gradiometer sumey identified ten off-tell structures and a series of linear features (FIG. 4).

The gradiometer survey identified six linear features running across, at tangents to, or unconnected with the tell. Linear features range in size from 30 m to over 150 n~ in
2. The grahometer suney \vas carried out with a Geoscan FM36 Rugate gradiometer, Each gradiometer grid had a samphng inrenal of 0.5 m and a t r a ~ r s e internal of 1 m (i.e,, resulting in 800 readings per grid). The resistance suney Tvas carried out using a Geoscan RM4 resistance meter and a DL10 datalogger with each grid having a sampling and traverse intend of 1.0 m (i.e.. 400 readings per grid). Data \vas processed in the field on a Triumph-Adler laptop using - Geoscan's Geoplot (ver. 1.1 and 1.2) software.

Journal of Field Archaeology/Vol. 25, 1998 379

Figure 3 . Gradiometer sumey of modern surface and surrounding terrain of the tell at Podgoritsa.

380 Early Agricultural Tells, Rulgaria/Railey et al.




F~gure 4. Plan of restdts of gradiometer .iun7evat Podgoritsa

Journal of Field ArchaeoLo&l/'ol. 25, 1998 381

length. Some run across the tell and engage existing field boundaries. Indeed, most of the linear features probably reflect recent agricultural activities (representing either lynchets or boundary ditches). Recent geophysical work in the Guvar Punar valley (near Tutrakan, west of Silistra, on the Danube), however, has revealed linear features in clear geometric relationshp to the Eneolithic tell there (S. Alexandrov, personal communication, 1994). The presence of offtell ditches and field boundaries at Guyar Punar and Podgoritsa would complement the patterns of intensified management of animal exploitation based at the tells. An intriguing hypothesis to be tested in future off-tell work therefore, is that some of the linear features are contemporary to the use of the tells and may have senred as prehistoric field-boundaries and animal corrals. An addtional possibdity is that some of the off-tell linear features were part of Eneolithlc systems of water management. The role of water table level and seasonal inundations in the development of early agricultural tells has been proposed in previous research (Sherratt 1980; Todorova 1978, 1986; Bailey 1990,1991).Additional insight into the role of local hydrology in land use is presented below in the results of the soil and alluviation studies carried out bv Dr. Heike Neumann. A future series of test-pits and deep sections, made with appropriate attention to soil hstory and rnicromorphology, would have evaluated these possibilities.

Structure 1. An important result of the test trenching is a qualification of the precise location of structures as determined by gradiometer. While Trench 2 had been positioned directly over Structure 2 as indicated by the gradiometer readings, the trench only managed to clip the corner of the structure. Indeed, the in situ architecture protruded only 0.20 m from the eastern wall of the trench and it was clear that the trench came close to missing the structure entirely. As in the positioning of Trench 2, Trench 4 was located in the middle of the gradiometer readings for a structure (Sl). This trench came down directlv on top of the structure. The accuracy of the latter trench in coming down directly on top of its target may be due to the shallow depth of the structure below modern ground level; at a depth of 0.30 m, there was less chance of a drift in the readings than there would be for a structure further below modern ground level. The inaccuracy experienced in trenching Structure 2 with Trench 2 therefore, was a factor of the depth of the structure below ground level. Having taken t h s caution into consideration, the range of Podgoritsa structure sizes fits into the range of sizes of houses common for this period in this region.

The gradiometer sunrev identified nine off-tell structures (FIG. 4). In geophysical terms, we define strucat ~odgoritsa tures as collections of broadly similar readings of magnetic anomalies that are arranged in shapes and sizes similar to those of contemporary Eneolithic houses known from previous tell excavations in the region. Readings from a structure commonly cover an area 8-10 m long and equally broad.3 While there can be no question that these magnetic readings represent structures made of fired clay (as confirmed by test trenching, reviewed below), a degree of variance exists between the size of the structure represented by magnetic means and its actual size and location when revealed by excavation: the gradiometer exaggerates the size of structures. The reality of this exaggeration was confirmed by comparison of size determined by gradometer with size as determined by test trenching and resistance surveying of
3. T@ically, structures consist of areas of readmgs in excess of i 2 nT with the majoriq of readings in excess of i 4 nT. Parts of the anomahes exceed + l o nT, but rarely exceed i 2 0 nT. Readings from structures are clearly distinct from those of other magnetic anomalies (such as iron objects) whch are much more localized (only a meter in effect) and have higher readings (usually in excess of f 2 0 nT).

The Podgoritsa off-tell structures range in size from 36) . Three structures at Podgoritsa were 168 sq m (TABLE 1 classified as indeterminate for size and shape due to a lack of clarity in the readings (S 5, 7, and 8). Most commonly structures appear in rectilinear form (FIG. w), although the amorphous double Structure 2 may document an additional shape. Double structures are defined as tm7o associated areas of high readings. Structures 7 and 8 are possibly

Table 1. Off-tell structures at Podgoritsa. Obsenrations in parentheses are estimates.

Srnrcture No. Size (m) Shape Orientation

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5" S6 s7S8I S9

12x14 15x11 8x10 9x8


Recthear Amorphous (double) Recdinear Recdinear Rectilinear


E-w E-W (FIG. 5B)

6x6 OX?) (5x7) 7x8



(Rectilinear) Rectilinear

(&I-SE) (E-W)

* Structure lies at edge of surveyed area. t Truncated by Linear Features 1 and 3, this represents, perhaps,
a double structure. Structure is represented by very low readngs due, perhaps, to its position sealed under colluviation of a modern cart-path.

382 Early A~riculturalTells, Bulgaria/Bailey et al

struction of size and shape from the gradiometer work (imprecision easily rectified by excavation), the location of structures at Podgoritsa by geophysics was a success validated by the test trenching program and the subsequent work of the soil coring survey (detailed below). The latter work also confirmed the allocation of the structures to the Eneolithic.

Soil Coring and Test Trenching

Aims and Methods

Soil coring and test trenching aimed to document the soil history and hydrology of the tell's immediate surroundings. Dr. Neumann carried out a coring sunrey to the north and west of the tell. The sunrey was supplemented by a limited campaign of test trenching. Seventy cores were taken with a 5 cm diameter soil auger over nine transects radiating out from the tell (FIG. 6). Individual cores were spaced along each transect at intervals of 5 m (when possible) and reached depths from 2 4 m depending on the depth of the Holocene deposits. Cores were described in terms of texture, organic content, Munsell color, and presence of anthropogenic, faunal, and floral material. After comparing the information about structures obtained during the coring sunrey with that produced by the geophysical sunrey, a series of 1 x 2 m test trenches was excavated in order to refine and elaborate on the coring results and to provide more information about the off-tell activity areas and structures.

Figure 5. Gradiometer survey of off-tell structures from Podgoritsa: a) Structure 1; b) Structure 3.

two additional double structures. A l l structures identified at Podgoritsa are oriented in one of two directions, E-nror NJV-SE x SE-SW. Clearly additional gradiometer work followed by excavation would clarifSiand refine this picture.

The palaeoenvironmental study of the off-tell areas to the north and west of the tell produced important results. The coring sunrey recorded and classified the soil types around the tell and documented the long-term soil history of the region. In addition it confirmed the geophysical location of Eneolithic off-tell structures and, equally significantly, it located a series of off-tell activity areas and potential structures that had not been picked up by the geophysics. The coring sunrey also documented a sequence of off-tell land use that corresponded to a sequence of changes in local environment. From the interaction of these sequences, it identified and documented tm7o environmentally distinct patterns of Eneolithic off-tell land use. Together, the coring and trenching sunrey raised the possibility of Eneolithic human management of the hydrology of the tell's immediate environment. The palaeoenvironmental research has added significant information to our understanding of early agricultural tell villages and has set a series of research goals for future work on similar sites.

Of the four 1 x 2 m test trenches excavated to clarifSithe geophysics and coring sunreys, two revealed architectural features. Test trench 2 was laid out over the gradiometrically determined location of Structure 2, 26 m north of the lowest northern slopes of the tell. The trench produced two separate concentrations of cultural material at depths of 1.35-1.80 m and 0.80-0.90 m respectively. Trench 4 was positioned west of the tell and 30 m from the lowest slopes of the tell. It was centered on the geophysically determined location of Structure 1. At 0.30 m the trench revealed in situ fired clay building material. Additional excavation uncovered a substantial part of a building similar to those coming to light on the top of the tell and known from other excavations in the region. The gradiometer work at Podgoritsa success full^^ located and documented the size and shape of off-tell structures. While there remains a degree of imprecision in the recon-

Figure 6. Coring sumey at Podgoritsa.



The Podgoritsa region is characterized by extensive loess deposits that were laid down as aeolian silts during Pleistocene glaciations. Soils that developed on the loess are characterized by their light texture and fertility. Initial dry conditions during the Holocene were followed by the build-up of peat in valley bottoms. This was followed by the establishment of a marsh with slow-moving surface water. In some areas there is evidence for a change to drier conditions which led to the build up of organic silty clays. It is in this context that evidence for Eneolithic activity is found in the small valley bottom to the west of the tell. Present day soils are characterized as heavy organic clays and are waterlogged in many places even in the dry summer months.

The coring survey identified five types of deposit: topsoils, subsoils, alluvium, peat, and loessic parent material. For the present study, the most important distinction of deposit type is the relation of deposit to prehistoric patterns of hydrology around the tell. In this respect, there are two distinct types of deposit: those laid down in wet conditions and those laid down in dry conditions. The wet deposits were laid down in conditions when the ground was waterlogged for most of the year, as is characteristic in marshy conditions (deposit types T 1 and B1) and in boggy marshes or ditches (T2, C) (TABLE 2). Similarly connected to wet conditions are the low energy alluvia (Al-A3), which represent a gentle throughflow of surface

384 Early &ricultuval Tells, Bulgaria/Bailey et al.

Table 2. Deposit typology from Podgoritsa off-tell cores.

Soil ppe

Topsoil T1 Dark bron.11 orgamc s d n clay Blackldark grey orgamc clay Dark brou n sand1 sdn clay Clayey peat Peat Dense sily clay Siln cla!; lighter in color Clayey silt, lighter in color \'en compact black stick\. clay Organic rich siln claylclayey silt with thin pale grey laminae Organic rich fine silt Organic rich fine sand/coarse silt Peat PI P2 Clavev peat Dark bronn peat directly overlvmg loess and burled b\r allu~ lum Greylgreenish to beige silt 1OkT 312 1OYR 312 2 5Y 312 lOYR 311 2 5Y 312 lOYR 312 1OYR 312 2 51' 312 2.41' 412 2 5Y 514 2 5Y 211

T3 T4 T5 Subsoil B1 B2

2 51' 312

2 51' 412 2 51' 513

which suggests a lowering of water tables over time either because of natural rising of the surface due to the build-up of peat and clays or because of artificial drainage. The second distinct type of deposits are those laid down in drier conditions (B2, B3). These deposits occurred when the water tables were low and a well-drained soil was forming on the loess. In the lower subsoil the dark brown silty clay B1often grades into the loessic parent material, becoming lighter in color and texture. The result is seen in the character of B2 and B3 deposits. It is in these soils that almost all of the Eneolithic material was found. The sequential relationship between wet and d n deposits in the cores around Podgoritsa suggests that the water table rose and fell throughout the time when the tell was being used. Different parts of the land around the tell would have been alternatively inundated and drained. Some parts of the area never experienced inundation, especially the lower slopes closer to the tell. The highest (although perhaps not most recent) level of the water table has been identified as the maximal extent of water logging (FIG. 6).

Parent material 51- 4/2 51- 6/3

water in the marsh. Of these wet-related deposits, the dark brown silty clay ( T l ) is the most ubiquitous around Podgoritsa. Its dark color originates from its high organic content and indicates anaerobic conditions. The absence of undecomposed plant fragments in T1 suggests that these conditions were seasonal. The input of low-energyfine sediments like clay and fine silt led to a slow build-up of organic rich fine siltlclay. Seasonal fluctuations in the water table made it possible for soil organisms to break down some of the plant material and caused a certain degree of mixing. The result was a slow build-up of compact organic silty clay. When drained this soil would have been mainly suitable for grazing but would have been too heavy for unmechanized ploughing. T2 and C deposits of black, sticky clay are the result of waterlogged still water conditions where fine clay slo~vly sinks to the bottom of a marsh or ditch. The alluvial deposits A1-A3 occur beneath the dark grey silty clay,

Fifty-six of the 70 cores (80%) contained cultural material (i.e., high fragmented fired clay building material, ceramics, bone). Concentrations of cultural material were graded in one of three ascending degrees of density- trace, moderate, or dense (FIG. 7). While half (28156) of the occurrences of material contained only a trace of cultural materials, significant proportions were characterized as having moderate (21.4%) and dense (28.6%) concentrations. Obviously there is the additional probability that some of the trace occurrences in upper parts of cores represent little more than erosion from the tell. Although material remains were relatively evenly spread across the cored area (i.e., material was found in at least one core in each transect), there are three main areas of dense concentrations: in transects I and 11, transect and transects VI and VII. Dense concentrations occur apparently without regard to proximity to the tell; they occur both closer, as in transects I and VIII, and further from the tell itself as in transects n/; VI, and VII. The frequency and wide distribution of material culture in the cores and the density of some of the concentrations suggest that off-tell activity was widespread. While some of the material (most probably the trace concentrations) may represent nothing more than rubbish and refuse from the tell, the dense concentrations represent locations of off-tell activities of some significance. As confirmed by test trenching, the moderate and dense concentrations can be associated with architectural features.

Journal of Field Archaeolog3,/Vol. 25, 1998 385

. ..

20 metres

Figure 7. Distribution of cultural material in cores at Podgoritsa. Clear circles = no material, small black circles = low densit\: middle size black circles = medium density, and large black circles = high densities of cultural material.


Comparison of the deposit type and the location of material remains suggests two distinct patterns of off-tell land use at Podgoritsa, both related to hydrology. The first pattern is represented by the small valley bottom that runs from the west to the north of the tell. After initial dry conditions of the early Holocene, here was established a marsh of standing water. Drier conditions led to the buildup of organic silty clays. The Eneolihc material was found on the clays in these areas. Thus, in this pattern, land use followed the draining of wet, or waterlogged land. The other dstinct pattern of off-tell land use is represented both on the lower slopes of the tell (in cores 112 and

Trench 4) and further from the tell (in core VI/7 and Test trench 2). These areas were not affected by marshy conditions or seasonal flooding prior to their Eneolihc use. Here Eneolithlc material is present on soils of siltier consistency reflecting the loessic parent material. This pattern of land use apparently represents the use of originally dry soils. The distinction between the use of originally dry or originally wet (and subsequently drained) land can be seen most clearly in relation to the buildng of two structures west of the tell (FIG 4). Structure 6 is located close to the tell (30 m from the bottom of the tell slope) and was built on top of dark grey silty clay (B2) that grades doumuiards into the underlying loess. This structure was built on mamly dry deposits. On the other hand, the coring survey located an

386 Early A~ricultural Tells, Bulgaria/Bailey et al.

additional structure (Structure 1)10 m further \vest of the tell. It was built on top of dark brown silty clay (Bl), which in turn rests on marshy (P2) and alluvial ( ~ 1 deposits. ) Thus, this structure was built on previously inundated soils that had become usable after the water table had dropped considerably or after the area had been artificially drained. The example from west of the tell also suggests that changes in the level of the water table affected the availability of off-tell areas, especially in the use of previously wet and inundated areas. Other cores and the test trenching support the suggestions that come from the cores from the western structures. Of the 27 moderate and dense concentrations of cultural material, 19 (70.4%) occurred on previously wet or inundated land. It is also clear that some areas of off-tell land went through repeated cycles of a c t i v i ~ inundation, and draining. Transects VI and VII and ~ e s trench ; 3 revealed a clear example of such a cycle. At a depth of 1.50 m, core VI/7 revealed a dense concentration of cultural material overlying a horizon of light-colored clayey silt deposit (B3) that represents dry conditions. From a depth of 0.75-1.50 m, the layer of cultural material was overlain by a preliminary layer of dense silty clay (Bl) representing marshy conditions. In turn, this wet layer mias overlain by a second (0.10 m thick) concentration of cultural material which, in turn, was overlain by another layer of dense silty clay (Bl) representing another episode of marshy conditions. The cycle documented in core VI/7 mias partially confirmed in the excavation of Test trench 3 (although rising groundwater forced the abandonment of our excavation of the trench at 1.20 m). Test trench 2 also produced a cycle of episodes of activity and inundation. The lower concentration consisted of in situ fired buildng material at a depth of 1.35 m. The cultural material and architectural remains were found in a grey-brown silty clay matrix (B2), which obtains from the underlying loessic parent material and not from alluvial input and thus indicates dry conditions. The cultural layer is overlain by a dark-grey clay deposit which continues through the succeeding 0.45 m and which represents a first episode of seasonally marshy condtions. The marshy deposit is overlain by a second concentration of cultural material consisting of several large pieces (0.05-0.10 m in length) and numerous smaller fragments of fired building material. These were found at a depth of 0.80-0.90 m. This layer is followed by a second wet episode marked by a horizon that formed as a mixture of some colluviation and build-up from a marsh. Two other examples of cycles of multiple episodes of activity and inundation were revealed in cores II/5 and IV/5 (FIG. 8).

C~eatiun,Use, and Abandonment of Of-Tell Land

Two conclusions can be drawn about the creation and abandonment of off-tell activity areas at Podgoritsa. First, off-tell land use was established on a variety of deposits (either dr\: loess-derived or formerly wet, drained soils). Second, off-tell activiw was frequently followed by conditions of increased wetness and inundahon. Of the 46 instances of cultural material in the Podgoritsa cores for which information about preceding deposits were available, the majority (67.4%) occur on top of waterlogged or alluvial soils (Al-A3, B1, C). Thirteen of the 46 (28.3%) rested on top of well drained soils (B2, B3). Of the highest density concentrations of material culture, 10 of 15 (66.7%) rested on previously waterlogged or alluvial soils. The remainder (five) of the densest concentrations rested upon well drained soils. Thus the initial use of off-tell areas occurred on both previously dry and wet land. The most strilung pattern concerns abandonment of offtell land use. In almost eve? case (42143; 97.7%), the deposit that follows concentrations of material culture is characterized by wet conditions. In many cases the soils indicate marshy conditions where the ground would have been waterlogged for most of the year (Tl-T3, B1, C). Thus while there existed a mixture of dm and wet conditions before (and perhaps) during off-till land use, wet conditions predominate, almost absolutely, immediately after individual episodes of off-tell activity On the basis of current data in hand, it is not possible to determine whether the episodes of inundation were the immediate and direct cause of the abandonment of these activity areas and structures or whether the records of inundation suggest indirect causes for abandonment. Regardless of the immediacy of the relationship between inundation and abandonment, a relationship does exist. Clearly, the establishment and use of off-tell areas for activities at Podgoritsa was determined by the hydrology of the region around the tell. Areas of the off-tell landscape went through cycles of availability. Some activity areas and structures were not affected by high water tablks (such as the structures uncovered in Test trench 1, which were built on originally dry land) despite being located near the marsh edge. Other structures and areas (such as the structures in Trench 2) went out of use when rising water tables made them unavailable. Others stdl (such as the later one in core VI/8) represent advantageous use (and re-use) of previously marshy, boggy areas that had been drained. The episodic rising and lowering of the water table would have contracted and extended the size of usable area around the tell throughout the Eneolithic.

Journal of Field A~zhaeolog3,/T,bl. 25, 1998 387


Transect IV





[;....... {....... -.-.... :.-!

- organic 0sandy silty clay

1: 1: 1 ' L:L:L:L


- silty clay
. . . .


- laminated silt


dense layer of stone frequent inclusions of cultural material occasional inclusions of cultural material

- clayey peat

83 - silt

- loess

Figure 8. Profile of Transcct I V showing deposits and alternation of idrural mater~aland inundation in cores 5 and 6.

In reaction to the vacillation in water table, the people who used the tell may have responded in a variety of ways. When conditions worsened, and water tables rose, they were forced to cease or relocate activities that utilized much of the off-tell areas. Perhaps they were also forced to reduce or abandon the principal activities based at the tell. When conditions improved, full-scale activity at the tell may have been re-established and the newly re-drained off-tell areas reincorporated into the activity and life of the tell. These proposals assume that the users of the tell acted in passive reaction to environmental changes. An alternative possibility is that they actively managed the hydrology of their micro-region in reaction to the vacillations of environment.

At Podgoritsa, active water management may have taken several forms. One possibility mias the construction of water control facilities such as banks and ditches around the tell. These facilities could have been employed either to keep a

rising water table out of settlement and a c t i v i ~ space or to retain seasonal increases in water supply for later use as needed in agricultural production. Immediately to the west of the tell, the coring sun7eymay have located such a water management fachty in the form of a ditch and trvo banks. Close to the bottom of the western slope of the tell, cores from transect V document a bank ('CT/l and IT/2)that separates the drier siltier deposits of the lower slopes of the tell from what appears to have been a channel or a dtch running along the edge of the tell (identified in V/3 and rV/2). In the dtch, where, in light of the steep-sided nature of the tell on this side, one would expect to find colluviation, there is none. Instead, organic silty clays, representing marshy or ditch-like conditions prevail. A second bank (seen in W/3-W/5 and 'C7/4-TT/5) appears to run parallel to the first bank and separates the dtch from the valley bottom. In core IV/5 the bank rests upon an impenetrable stone layer. While, on the basis of the coring \vork, it is impossible to

388 Eavly A~ricultuvalTells, Bulgavia/Bailey et al.

identie decisively the function of the bank and dtch structures, their presence is not entirely unexpected. Most of the previously excavated tells from this region had a bank around part of their circumference. At Ovcharovo, Todorova identified an "emplekton" wall around the SE side of the tell there during the tell's middle Eneolithic use (horizons IV-\TI, Polyanitsa I11 and N dating to 4600 B C ) (Todorova et al. 1983). These features have been variously identified as defensive ~valls,animal corrals, and levees against seasonal floods. The coring sunrey at Podgoritsa suggests that the banks mav have played a more active role in community management of water, either retaining and directing water as needed for agricultural and other activities based at the tell or as needed t o keep a rising water table from inundating the tell settlement area.

The Life-Histories of Houses

Aims and Methods

One of the major goals of the excavations at Podgoritsa was to determine the methods of construction and destruction of individual houses and to identifi~ and compare variation of such methods beneen different houses. Traditionally, tell archaeology in Bulgaria has focused on the structure and sequencing of "building horizons" (i.e, the combination of architectural features that are assumed to be svnchronically inhabited). In contrast to this research tradition, work at Podgoritsa aimed to elucidate variability among individual house "biographies" in terms of the formation, history of occupation, and eventual destruction of each house (Bailey 1990; Tringham 1995). In addition, the project sought to define the ranges of activities that occurred within and beneen houses. Once the surface of the tell had been cleared of vegetation (FIG. 2), surface collection and surface scraping was carried out across a 40 x 40 m area centered on the relatively horizontal top of the tell. A main stratigraphic profile was established along an E-LV diameter of the tell while a secondary profile ran along a N-s darneter. In a grid of forty-four 5 x 5 m units, the humus layer mias cleared down to the top of three archtectural features. Excavation methodology followed that developed by Ruth Tringham during previous projects in Yugoslavia (Tringham 1994; Tringham et al. 1992; Tringham, Brukner, andvoytek 1985). This methodology maximizes the amount and quality of information retrieved about architectural features and the use lives of houses. Screening and flotation of materials from the humus layer was not carried out due to the disturbed nature of the humus. In addition to the traditional focus on floor plans, particular attention was paid to the superstructural

rubble. While Bulgarian excavation policy dictated the use of 5 x 5 m units, architectural features and artifacts were assigned to a separate sequence of unique context numbers as is common in U.S.-European methodology. Traditional standard Bulgarian practice of tell excavation supplemented this methodology. Mirjana Ste\v.noviL and Ruth Tringham analyzed burned rubble from the architectural features according to a strategy for the study of the collapsed superstructure and house floors that had been developed at the sites of Golmola\~a, Vinta, and Opovo (StevanoviC 1996; Tringham et al. 1992; Tringham, Brukner, and Vovtek 1985). In this strategy, the excavator maps and records, in detail, the collapsed position (i.e., orientation, dip, and strike) of rubble fragments. I n e n impressions of decayed wood and wattle buildng frames are found in the burnt rubble fragments, numerous attributes assigned to house rubble are precisely recorded. Variations in the intensity of burning and variations in atmospheric condition of the burning process are recorded as well. This information can reveal not only the method of house construction and the materials used but also whether or not house destruction by fire was the result of deliberate burning (StevanoviC 1996). It can also indicate whether fires encompassed groups or indvidual houses.

During the humus clearance there emerged a distinct difference in the nature of the site between the areas to the north and south of the main E-JV profile (FIG9). To the north, the humus layer was 0.20-0.30 m thick, deeply disturbed by the roots of modern shrub vegetation and perforated with numerous badger- or fox-holes. To the south of the profile, the humus was thinner (0.10-0.15 m) and had no traces of heavy shrub growth. To the north the traces of two (and possibly three) architectural features (Features 1 and 2) were found. To the south only an eroded layer of clay with a series of poorly defined potential post-holes was found (Feature 3). The x-s distinction in humus condition is most lkely a consequence of modern plowing and cultivation of the southern half of the tell. Indeed, finds of a modern field boundary stone, traces of a linear depression in the soil, and a line of stones running parallel to the depression in contexts 39 and 4 7 mark the spatial limits of recent plowing on the tell. Magnetometry confirmed longterm modern cultivation and subsequent erosion to the south of the cross-tell field boundary. Plowing records, held in the Turgovishte civic and museum archives, indicate that the south side of the tell mias plowed with a tradtional shallon. plow until 1944 and with a tractor-drawn deep plow until 1965.

Journal of Field Archaeolo~y/Vol.25, 1998 389

Humus matrix

Hard yellow clay

Burned clay rubble

Burned clay floor



Modern field boundary

? !L !

Animal disturbance

2 meters

Figure 9. Plan of the excavation of feanues in the humus layer on top of the Podgoritsa mound, 1995.


The initial surface scraping, surface sunrey, and humus removal revealed presenred architectural features very close to the modern ground surface (i.e., within the humus). Three architectural features were located. Feature 1 is a roughly rectangular concentration of burned clay rubble, 5 x 14 m in size, oriented NE-SW. The

concentration represents the remains of a house, which, though badly eroded and truncated at its northern end by a large badger-fox hole, revealed a burned clay surface of a house floor. A section of this floor, in a better preserved state, was revealed by the badger-fox hole 0.35 m below the eroded part. A small house model (FIG. ioc) and a collection of large stones were associated with the presenred floor. Feature 1 was rich in materials (ceramics, bone, un-

390 Early &ricultural Tells, Bulgaria/Bailey et al.

Figure 10. Photographs of materials excavated in Features 1and 2 at Podgoritsa: zoomorphic figurine (a); anthropomorphic figurine (b); house model (c); and chair model (d).

worked stone, superstructural rubble) that were mostly in secondary context. Eighteen thousand ceramic fragments, 1600 pieces of unworked stone, 1000 fragments of bone, and three fragments of grindstone were found within the humus layer over Feature 1. Grindstones are more characteristic of debris at floor level, and not in the upper level of house rubble debris. This may account for their infrequency in the humus of Feature 1.Five anthropomorphic figurines and two zoomorphic figurines were found in and around 0 . 4 , B) as was a pot made of constructuralclay Feature 1(FIG. 1 (i.e., clay that was not cleaned and prepared in the same way as for ceramics and other moveable artifacts, and was not fired as part of its manufacture process; in other words it was prepared in the same way as daub for house w d s and comprised soil mixed with vegetal materials including straw

and chaff). The pot made of constructural day was treated as part of the immovable furniture of the building and was dug into the ground at floor-level in the sw part of the feature. While difficult to interpret conclusively without further excavation, Feature 1 most likely comprises the remains of a detached structure. Feature 2 also most likely represents a detached structure. Although it is smaller (5 x 4 m) and higher than Feature 1, it is oriented in the same direction (i.e., NE-SW). A possible floor surface was uncovered in the southern part of the feature, as were in situ complete pots and building rubble containing large stones. In correspondence to its size, the frequency of material culture from Feature 2 was much lower than that of Feature 1.The reduced material contents include one fragment of a clay anthropomorphic figurine.

Journal of Field Archaeology/vol. 25, 1998 391

The frequency of unworked stones follows a similar proportion, although those from Feature 2 were larger in size than those from Feature 1. Feature 3 was an area of yellow clay, 11 x 6 m in size, found at the base of the humus layer south of the main E-w profile (FIG.9). The surface of the feature was pitted with small holes (0.03-0.10 m in diameter). When compared to the material contents of Features 1and 2, those of Feature 3 are much fewer in number. Undoubtedly, this is a result of the modern'agriculture disturbance that affected the area to the south of the main profile. Despite the intense postdepositional disturbance, a concentration of clay artifacts (a ~oD], a cylinder, fragment of a 'lamp:' a chair model [FIG. and other unidentifiable objects) was uncovered west of Feature 3 and a group of four grindstones was found in the middle of the feature. The interpretation of Feature 3 is not straightforward, being affected as much by post-depositional process as by excavators' preconceptions. One possibility is that the feature represents a foundation layer (i.e., the levelling of the sloping ground) upon which would have been built a wattle-and-daub structure that has subsequently been destroyed by modern ploughing and erosion. On the basis of her experience excavating the site of Dolnoslav in central

Bulgaria (Raduncheva 1991, 1994), Dr. Raduncheva suggested an alternative interpretation: that Feature 3 represents a ritual clay covering of the mound.

Architectural remains excavated at Podgoritsa comprised collapsed house rubble that originally belonged to the house walls, floors, and furniture. Despite the similarities of the rubble from different houses, there are some differences that may be interpreted as variability between individual households. Analysis of the burned architectural rubble found in the humus revealed variation in the use of raw materials (clay composition and admixtures) (FIG.114 c). The wall fragments include wall plaster with a layer of fine clay and three fragments with red pigment (perhaps ochre) (FIG.11~). TWOatypical fragments have a thin layer of a melted material that resembles faience. Overall the rubble fragments are well fired (some to the point of sintering and vitrification). The rubble of Feature 2 was fired at high temperatures and appears to be much more compact and is harder than that from Feature 1. In addition, we observed in cross-section that over 50% of house rubble fragments from Feature 2 consist of two distinct layers. The exterior part of wall

Figure 11. Photographs of examples of burned day rubble from Features 1 and 2 at Podgoritsa 1995: examples of organic adrnixnve in the clay (a, c) and clay with painted plaster surface (b).

392 Early Agricultzwal Tells, Bulgaria/Bailey et al.

rubble, often over 3.0 cm thick, was made of clay that contained no organic additives. The interior part of the wall rubble, which is up to 2.0 cm thick, consists of clay with a very large quantity of organic material. The organic admixtures probably came from the immediate environment of the tell or from the sources of the clay sediments which were exploited for building (i.e., probably marshy environments). The presence of vegetal materials such as grass, straw, and chaff in house construction is characteristic for the Neolithic and Eneolithic periods in SE Europe (StevanoviC 1996). The fragments of oven floors are unusually large for this type of material which is usually up to 5.0 cm thick, indicating unexpectedly large ovens for the period.

Conclusions: Redefining Tells

The geophysical, coring, and test trenching surveys at Podgoritsa produced a series of important results. First, activity areas and structures of fired clay were located in areas outside of the traditionally accepted and excavated limits of Eneolithic tells. The location, identification, and classification of off-tell areas were confirmed by geophysics and excavation. Second, the soil history of the tell's microregion was documented and a typology of deposits was established. Third, the relationship of off-tell land use and local hydrology revealed distinct cyclical patterns of land availability. From these patterns, it is clear that environmental conditions partially condtioned establishment of off-tell land use and, perhaps, conditioned the abandonment of off-tell areas. Fourth, a possible water management facility was located. The results of the geophysical, coring, and test trenching surveys at Podgoritsa have a series of major consequences for our understanding of early agricultural tell villages. phvsical and social dimensions of First, it is clear that the & . early agricultural tell communities are wider than currently recognized. While the tell itself remains an important focus of attention and activin: the immediate (and probably intermediate) physical surroundings also contain traces of activiw and architecture. Furthermore, the boundaries of these communities (wherever one decides to draw them) are not static through time, but vacillate. In the case of Podgoritsa, vacdatiin of the physical dimensions is linked to patterns of local hydrology. As hydrologic conditions change, so also do the dimensions of the site. The initial results of the GIs and remote sensing studes add additional dimensions of information to our emerging recognition of the importance of the character of local hydrology and of prehistoric changes in its composition. The cycles of multiple uses of the off-tell terrain suggest that it is imprudent, if not misleading, to consider the life of tells as continuous, uninterrupted, and unchanging. Indeed it appears that the opposite is more likely to be the case, with expanded use of land around the tell at Podgoritsa taking place in periods of drier conditions. It is equally possible that, through time, other elements in the constitution of the community were changed and transformed in relation to variations in other physical, functional, political, and ideological parameters (Bailey 1997). In addition, interpretive models that are based on a distinction between tell and off-tell, or on a larger scale, settlement and non-settlement (e.g., Hodder's domus vs aagrios [Hodder 19901) must recognize the fuzziness (and in many respects simplistic reductionism) of the dstinction between intra- and extra-mural activities in early agricultural com-

As expected, ceramics dominate all categories of material culture in number and weight ( T ~ L E 3). While Roman and Medieval sherds appear in the upper humus layer (including the areas over the features), the vast majority of material is Eneolithic in date. Ilke Angelova has identified the Eneolithic material (which includes graphite-painted sherds) as belonging to a late phase of the Polyanitsa Culture, which firmlv places both Feature 1 and 2 in the Eneolithic Period. The relatively large amount of flaked stone was unexpected. The inventory of flaked stone from Podgoritsa comprises flint and chert from a variety of sources. These include the Sredna Gora sourced "honey-flint," whose production was significant during the middle and late Eneolithlc of Bulgaria (Manolakalus 1996). Also unexpected was the ver). low incidence of ground stone edgetools: only SLY fragments of ground stone axe-adzes and only 35 grinding stone fragments were recovered. While some of the grinding stone fragments came from the features, a large number (26) were concentrated on the SE edge of the excavation area where no features were noted in the humus and where little potter). and no animal bones were found. The remainder of the finds included faunal remains and non-vessel ceramics (e.g., anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and tectomorphic models, cylinders, and balls). Excavation recovered no objects that could be interpreted as weights which might have been used for weaving. With respect to the excavation of the humus layer at Podgoritsa, little else can be concluded except that the site is as rich in stratified archaeological materials as had been expected and that its occupation dates to much the same period as that of other tells in the region (e.g., Ovcharovo and Polyanitsa). Future research \vould have produced exceptional results.

Journal of Field Archaeology/lrol. 25, 1998 393

Table 3. Inventosy of materials excavated from the major features at Podgoritsa, 1995. Weight is measured in grams.
Context Xumber Ceramia Fgurines 0 . Wt. Othw ch? No. Wt. Flaked stone A . Wt. Polished stone Xo. Wt. Grindstones No. Wt Othev stone ATo Wt. Bones and fia~ments No. Wt. Bone tools A. Wt.

Feature 1 22 23 29 30 31 37 38 Total Feature 2 31 39 40 41 Total Feature 3 46 47 53 54 55 Total 2,062 41,075 3,305 71,860 2,389 49,080 898 23,475 8,654 185,490 999 18,865 1,092 22,295 2,668 42,530 2,372 37,065 1,662 28,045 8,793 148,800 1


2 3 1




39 69 18 7 455 133

195 160 100

185 226 160 115 686





167 8,350 251 45,075 154 34,125 143 33,175 715 120,725 114 70 75 108 152 519 15,695 9,850 2,345 5,275 29,060 62,225

87 206 113 21 427 57 55 113 169 56 450

648 845 1,005 405 2,903 535 455 1,020 1,030 320 3,360




17 3 21 7 22 70

200 195 175 3 0 75 1 675 1

1 1

75 420

50 50

4 6

555 1,050

munities. The structuralist desire to draw a line between "inside" and "outside" may have more influence in determining recent interpretation than has the prehistoric reality of the transparency of such a site boundasy. These consequences, which together destabilize traditional conceptions of tell life, lead us to a fundamental question: What is a tell? Clearly, existing definitions that suggest that tells are physically delimited in space by the diameter of their protrusion above the modern ground level must be qualified, if not discarded. Equally, existing definitions that regard tells as fixed in time and continuously occupied vdages impenrious to changing condtions around them (be they environmental or political) begin to appear outdated. While these implications are paramount for the Eneolithic tell communities in NE Bulgaria, they sow seeds for interpretive dsquiet in the study of other periods in whch "tells" are prominent features. Not only are the related Neolithic tells of southern Bulgaria - and Greece in need of reconsideration, but tells from other less contingent periods are equally qualified for comparison. The example of the early Bronze Age and Middle Bronze Age uses of the Yunatsite tell in southern Bulgaria confirms the challenges proposed by the Podgoritsa research. The excavators of Yunatsite have documented the dramatic changes in the Bronze Age uses of the site (Katincharov et al. 1995). In brief, there occur a series of major spatial reorientations involving both the major re-organization of

internal space, in the early Bronze Age, and the exploitation of off-tell land for settlement in the Middle Bronze Age (Bailey 1996d). Clearly, the dimensions of the settlement, of which a part is the visible monument of a tell, shifted through time and space. Similarly, definition shifts with perspective (Bailey 1997). An additional implication of the Podgoritsa research is the contention that human-environmental relationshps are not as straightfonvard as they may at first appear. Human agency has a role to play in managing environmental condtions, whether this entails keeping a rising water table out of settlement areas, directing and redirecting water flow through a stream plain, or retaining seasonal flood waters for later use. It also qualifies the perception of irrigation: the practice need not entad large-scale engineering works, nor must it be a marker for settlement civilization. The Podgoritsa research has consequences for future work on tells and their surroundngs. Clearly, the modern ground level is a very inaccurate indcator of proximate land use around prehistoric tells. As the coring sunrey revealed, on the western side of the tell there was very little alluviation and relevant material and structures were located within half a meter of the modern land surface. To the north, cultural material was deeply buried (up to 1.50 m in Trench 2) under several episodes of inundation and draining. As one of the fundamental elements of the location of Eneolithic tells is their proximity to small streams (such as the one that must have ran past the west and north of

394 Early Apicultztral Tells, Bulgaria/Bailey e t al.

Podgoritsa), any attempt to model contemporary off-tell land use must employ a study of alluviation and soil histonr to reconstruct accurately the relevant land surface and diachronic changes within it. Perhaps even more important, any intention to investigate the possibility (and character) of off-tell activity will only succeed if it recognizes that relevant material does not appear on the surface either as a scatter of finds or as a topographic feature. Success will follow the implementation of a combination of geophysical and coring sunTeysand well placed excavation. In reaching these conclusions, the 1995 work at Podgoritsa raised a series of questions which future work could have examined. Future research could have focused on producing a more precise chronology of hydrological changes in the area covered by coring in 1995 and on the other sides of the tell not yet examined. Especially important is the degree of temporal and causal relationship befiveen off-tell activity and subsequent inundation of the land. Second, the questions and possibilities raised by the location of the baths-and-ditch structure at the western base of the tell's slopes require detailed investigation, including additional coring and excavation in order to expand the documentation of the area of the structure and to confirm its use in water management. An equally important issue requiring extended study is the chronological relationship between off-tell activity areas and on-tell occupation and activity. Is it possible to link episodes of off-tell activity with particular periods of use of the tell? If so, then what conclusions can be drawn about the diachronic life of the tell and the types of activities that occurred within it? Do the individual life-historiesof off-tell activity areas and structures provide the key to recreating patterns of tell occupation and abandonment? Furthermore, what types of activities took place in the off-tell structures and areas? Undoubtedlv, some of the deposits of material found off-tell represent-rubbish tips. If such is the case, then how are we to reconceptualize Eneolithlc social categorizations of space?The structures located to the west and south of the tell appear to be grouped in three concentrations consisting of Structures 1, 6, and 7, Structures 9 and 3, and Structures 4 and 5 respectively. Both the latter nvo groups are associated with additional, indeterminate geophysical features. Is off-tell activity organized in groups of structures? If so, what are the consequences for understanding what went on off-tell? One of the most enticing prospects for future work on the off-tell activity areas would concern the deep occurrences of material which are overlain by substantial horizons of wet deposits. The possibility of well preserved organic remains would expand our understanding of the period beyond currently imaginable horizons. None of these questions can be adA A

dressed without a continuation (and intensification) of the coring sunTeyand a program of detailed, yet large-scale, excavation.

The Podgoritsa Archaeological Project was funded by grants from the The National Science Foundation (Grant No. SBR-94048840), The British Academy, the Socienr of Antiquaries of London, the Prehistoric Society, The university of Wales, Cardiff, and The Stahl Endowment of the Archaeological Research Facility at the University of California at Berkeley. The American-British-Bulgarian team was directed by Douglass n! Bailey (University of Wales, Cardiff), Ruth Tringham (University of California, Berkeley), Ilke Angelova (Regional Historical Museum, Turgovishte), and Ana Raduncheva (Archaeological Institute and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences). Fieldwork was carried out under permission (4.7.95) granted by the Archaeological Institute and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences under the Cooperative Agreement between the School of Histonr and Archaeology of the University of Wales at Cardiff and the Institute of Archaeology of BAN (Annex 1). Special thanks are due to Jordanka Yurukova, Director of the Archaeological Institute and Museum, Sofia for malung the project possible. The authors are gratefill to Howard Mason for preparing Figures 1,6, and 7.

Douglass W Bailey is Lecturer in European Prehistov in the School of Histo9 and A~zhaeolog~~ at the Universit?,of Wales, Cardzff He specializes in SE European pdistovy, the sociopolitics ofarchaeolog3: and the interpretation o f landscape, the built environment, and representational matevz;al culture. Mailing address: School o f Histoy and Archaeology, l? 0. Box 909, Universit?,o f Wales, Card& CFl 3x9 United @ cardzff ac.uk Icingdom. E-mail: Baile~ldw Ruth Tringham is PY.ofssor ofAnthropology at the Universit?,o f Calqornia at Berkeley. She has directed major excavation projects in the former Yugoslavia and specializes in the prehistoq of eastern Europe and the excavation and interpretation of prehistoric built structures. Jason Bass is a Ph.D. candidate at the Universit?,o f California, Berkeley specializing in GIS and the anahsis of lithic resources and assemblages in pwhistoric eastern Europe. Mike Hamilton is a specialist ingeophysical investigations and is affiliated with the Universit?,of Wales, Cardzff Heike hTeumannis a specialist in soil investigation and micronwphology at the Depavtment ofAdaeology at the Universit?,o f Reading. Miqana StevanoviC is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the A~zhaeologicalReseavzh Facilit?,o f the Universit?,o f California, Berkeley. She is an expevt in the anahsix of pm4istoric

Joztrnal of Field Archaeology/Vol. 25, 1998 395

building techniques and building mate?.zalsand the interpretation of archaeological architecture in prehistoric SE Europe. Ilhe A n g e h a is the Director ofthe Regional Historical Museum., Turgovishte in Bulgaria. She has many years experience in the excavation ofprehistoric settlements and cemeteries in XE Bulgaria. Ana Raduncheva is a Senior Researcher of the Ayzhaeological Institute ofthe Bulgarian Academy oj'Sciences) Sofia, Bulgaha.
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You have printed the following article: Expanding the Dimensions of Early Agricultural Tells: The Podgoritsa Archaeological Project, Bulgaria Douglass W. Bailey; Ruth Tringham; Jason Bass; Mirjana Stevanovic; Mike Hamilton; Heike Neumann; Ilke Angelova; Ana Raduncheva Journal of Field Archaeology, Vol. 25, No. 4. (Winter, 1998), pp. 373-396.
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Reading Prehistoric Figurines as Individuals Douglass W. Bailey World Archaeology, Vol. 25, No. 3, Reading Art. (Feb., 1994), pp. 321-331.
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Water, Soil and Seasonality in Early Cereal Cultivation Andrew Sherratt World Archaeology, Vol. 11, No. 3, Water Management. (Feb., 1980), pp. 313-330.
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Excavations at Opovo, 1985-1987: Socioeconomic Change in the Balkan Neolithic Ruth Tringham; Bogdan Brukner; Timothy Kaiser; Ksenija Borojevi#; Ljubomir Bukvi#; Petar teli; Nerissa Russell; Mirjana Stevanovi#; Barbara Voytek Journal of Field Archaeology, Vol. 19, No. 3. (Autumn, 1992), pp. 351-386.
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The Opovo Project: A Study of Socioeconomic Change in the Balkan Neolithic Ruth Tringham; Bogdan Brukner; Barbara Voytek Journal of Field Archaeology, Vol. 12, No. 4. (Winter, 1985), pp. 425-444.
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