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European Journal of Archaeology 16 (4) 2013, 589609

Dating the East Adriatic Neolithic


Institute for Anthropological Research, Croatia
Departments of Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Lakehead University,
Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, UK

New radiocarbon determinations from Mesolithic, Neolithic, and/or Copper Age contexts at ten sites are
presented, bringing the number of absolute dates available for the East Adriatic to more than twice that
of a decade ago. The dates show that, from 6000 BC onward, pottery styles (Impressed Ware, Danilo
variants, Hvar, Nakovana, and Cetina) emerged, spread, and disappeared at different times, places,
and rates within the region. The implications for models of the spread of farming and other features of
Neolithic life are discussed. The continued usefulness of the threefold division of the regional Neolithic
into Early, Middle, and Late phases is found to be dubious.

Keywords: Neolithic, Mesolithic, radiocarbon dating, East Adriatic, pottery styles, Impressed

INTRODUCTION sites scattered from Dalmatia to Istria

were available for the Mesolithic, Neo-
For decades now, meaningful discussions lithic, and Copper Age combined
of crucial issues in the archaeology of the (Forenbaher & Kaiser, 1999; Forenbaher
East Adriatic Neolithic have been difficult & Miracle, 2005). To make matters
to sustain. Questions relating to change, worse, many of those dates are suspect as
whether in settlement pattern, social they lack adequate information about the
organization, economy, or long-distance contexts and associations of the dated
contact, among others, have not been material. Southeast of Dubrovnik, through
effectively addressed in the regions Montenegro and Albania, Neolithic
archaeological discourse, hampered in chronometry disappears almost entirely.
large part by a flimsy chronological frame- By comparison, radiocarbon dates for the
work built on relatively few and western (Italian) coast of the Adriatic
occasionally insecure absolute dates. The reach into the hundreds (Skeates &
need for more thorough radiometric Whitehouse, 1994; Skeates, 2003). New
dating of the East Adriatic Neolithic has radiometric dates from safe contexts are
long been acute. thus essential if we are to test more rigor-
Until recently, only some seventy-odd ously and refine further our understanding
radiocarbon dates from under two dozen of this regions Neolithic prehistory, such

European Association of Archaeologists 2013 DOI 10.1179/1461957113Y.0000000038

Manuscript received 24 December 2012,
accepted 10 May 2013, revised 4 April 2013
590 European Journal of Archaeology 16 (4) 2013

as recently proposed models of the tran- stratified caves may help us resolve the
sition to farming in the eastern Adriatic question.
(Forenbaher & Miracle, 2005), changing
patterns of cave use (Miracle & Forenba-
her, 2006a), and shifts in long-distance NEW RADIOCARBON DATES
contacts, possibly by transhumant pastoral-
ists (Boschian & Montagnari-Kokelj, To augment the number of radiometric
2000; Miracle & Forenbaher, 2005). dates for the East Adriatic Neolithic, we
The East Adriatic Neolithic is marked submitted samples of organic material
by long and relatively detailed pottery (charcoal, human bone, and animal bone)
sequences based on characteristic pottery to the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator
styles (Batovi, 1979; Forenbaher et al., Unit (ORADS) as part of the ORADS
2004; C ecuk & Radi, 2005; Marijanovi, project, Dating the Neolithic in the
2005). Some of these styles are believed to Eastern Adriatic Region (Table 1).
have lasted only for short periods of time, All the samples dated as part of our
but this has never been confirmed by inde- project came from sites that have been
pendent chronometric determinations. If excavated recently, following high standards
these distinctive pottery styles could be of excavation. Unless otherwise noted, the
shown to have been short lived, and hence selected samples were hand-picked at the
diagnostic of relatively brief prehistoric time of excavation, air-dried, and stored
episodes, then we could indirectly date in foil and plastic bags. Archaeobotanical
many sites and site components that samples (wood charcoal and charred grains)
presently lack materials suitable for and bone samples were taxonomically
chronometric dating with greater confi- identified. Most of the dated sites are caves
dence. The implications for possible with long stratigraphic sequences that have
intra-assemblage comparisons within the been worked out in detail. These sites are
region are clear. generally characterized by excellent preser-
An improved chronological framework vation of archaeological materials, with
would also allow comparison between the well-defined stratigraphy and features. The
eastern and the western Adriatic coasts. newly dated sites fall into two groups
The temporal distribution patterns of one in the north (Istria and the Kvarner
characteristic pottery styles in the two islands), the other in the south (the islands
areas appear to be similar but not identi- and littoral of southern Dalmatia)thus
cal; they invite closer inspection. For allowing comparison between the northern
instance, Impressed Ware pottery seems to and the southern parts of the eastern
last for a long time in the western Adria- Adriatic region (Figure 1).
tic, where it often appears together with A total of forty-one samples were sub-
stylistically different ceramics that even- mitted; three of these failed owing to low
tually replace Impressed Ware (Skeates, yield after pre-treatment and no carbon to
2003). By contrast, in the eastern Adriatic, date (T. Higham, Personal Communi-
later pottery styles seem to replace cation, 2008). The thirty-eight successfully
Impressed Ware relatively quickly, with dated samples come from ten sites (nine
hardly any overlap in time (Forenbaher limestone caves and one open-air site
et al., 2004). It is possible that the appar- Kargadur). Fifteen samples come from
ent difference is related to the relatively sites in southern and central Dalmatia and
insecure stratigraphies of open-air sites. twenty-three come from sites in the north-
Dating safe (or safer) contexts in clearly ern Adriatic (Kvarner and Istria). The
Forenbaher et al. Dating the East Adriatic Neolithic 591

Table 1. Radiocarbon dates obtained as part of the ORADS project, Dating the Neolithic in the
Eastern Adriatic Region
Site Sample material Lab no. BP Calibrated age BC Attribution
68.2% 95.4%
range range

Jacmica Charcoal, Pinus OxA-18025 9115 45 84218273 84568251 Mesolithic
Jacmica Charcoal, Pinus OxA-18026 192 26 recent recent Mesolithic*
Ovcja pe Charcoal, Pinus OxA-18023 9315 45 86348483 87168352 Mesolithic
Ovcja pe Charcoal, Pinus OxA-18024 9310 45 86318482 87098351 Mesolithic
Pupiina Charcoal, Pinus OxA-18028 8930 40 82367990 82497964 Mesolithic
Vela (Loinj) Charcoal, Pinus OxA-18170 9494 39 91128734 91218651 Mesolithic
Vela (Loinj) Charcoal, OxA-18041 9805 50 92999247 93669211 Mesolithic
Vela (Korcula) Bone, OxA-18171 8110 37 71407051 72897038 Mesolithic
Homo sapiens
MesolithicNeolithic transition
Pupiina Charcoal, OxA-18027 6190 36 52135070 52915029 Mesolithic-Neolithic*
Early Neolithic styles
Kargadur Charred seed, OxA-21092 6769 33 57065640 57215629 Impressed
Kargadur Charred seed, OxA-21093 6612 32 56135520 56185490 Impressed
Vela (Loinj) Charcoal, OxA-18118 7134 37 60485988 60695921 Impressed
Nakovana Charcoal, OxA-18120 7050 37 59865902 60085846 Impressed A
Nakovana Charcoal, OxA-18121 6982 36 59715811 59815758 Impressed B
Nakovana Charcoal, Pinus OxA-18122 6975 37 59665801 59795752 Impressed B
Nakovana Charcoal, Prunus OxA-18123 6711 36 56625572 57085559 Undecorated pottery
Nakovana Charcoal, Prunus OxA-18124 6609 37 56135514 56185487 Undecorated pottery
Middle Neolithic styles
Jacmica Charcoal, OxA-18181 6191 31 52135074 52865039 Danilo-Vlaka
Pupiina Charcoal, OxA-18119 6516 36 55265469 55545377 Danilo-Vlaka
Pupiina Charcoal, OxA-18128 6606 36 56135512 56175486 Danilo-Vlaka
Vela pe Charcoal, OxA-20830 9445 45 87838642 91138614 Danilo-Vlaka**
Vela pe Charcoal, OxA-18229 5409 33 43284254 43424174 Danilo-Vlaka
Kargadur Bone, Sus scrofa/ OxA-18172 5686 33 45464464 46144452 Danilo-Vlaka
Nakovana Charcoal, OxA-18125 6236 35 53015081 53065069 Danilo
Nakovana Charcoal, Quercus OxA-18126 6117 34 52044988 52084951 Danilo polychrome
Nakovana Charcoal, Ulex OxA-18127 6004 34 49384846 49904799 Southern Dalmatian
592 European Journal of Archaeology 16 (4) 2013

Table 1. Continued
Site Sample material Lab no. BP Calibrated age BC Attribution
68.2% 95.4%
range range

Late Neolithic styles

Jacmica Charcoal, Cornus/ OxA-18182 5263 31 42253995 42303985 Late Neolithic
Viburnum (Hvar?)
Grapceva Bone, Homo OxA-18178 5796 30 47054613 47184553 Hvar (classic)
Grapceva Bone, Homo OxA-18177 5867 31 47804711 48284624 Hvar (classic)
Nakovana Charcoal, OxA-18173 5631 31 45024375 45354368 Hvar (outlined)
Nakovana Charcoal, OxA-18174 5547 33 44464350 44524342 Hvar (classic)
Nakovana Charcoal, OxA-18175 5190 30 40383968 40443959 Hvar (late)*
Nakovana Charcoal, Prunus OxA-18176 5357 30 43174077 43264054 Hvar (late)
Copper Age styles
Jacmica Charcoal, Quercus OxA-18183 5325 29 42334070 42524048 Late Neolithic or
Copper Age
Novacka Charcoal, OxA-18184 5252 29 42223989 42293978 Late Neolithic or
Fraxinus Copper Age
Novacka Charcoal, OxA-18185 5100 29 39603811 39683800 Copper Age (early)
Pupiina Charcoal, OxA-18179 5077 30 39503804 39593797 Copper Age (early)
Pupiina Charcoal, Salix OxA-18180 3963 27 25622464 25712349 Copper Age (late)

*Considered as too young (see text for specific cases).

**Considered as too old (see text for details). A repeat determination on the same sample provided a
result of 9255 38 BP (OxA-20830[b]).

temporal distribution of these dates is as information about the associated finds (n

follows: nine from the Mesolithic, eight = 22), ambiguous cultural attribution of
from the Early Neolithic, nine from the associated finds (n = 15), uncertain context
Middle Neolithic, seven from the Late (n = 15), problematic material for dating
Neolithic, and five from the Copper Age. (n = 1), and extremely large standard devi-
ation (n = 1). This leaves us with
thirty-seven usable radiocarbon dates for
the Mesolithic and ninety-nine dates for
the Neolithic and Early Copper Age
(Table 2). We use this data set to address
three linked sets of questions related to
Including our thirty-eight new AMS
the East Adriatic Neolithic:
dates, there are now 190 radiocarbon dates
for the Mesolithic to Early Copper Age in 1. When and at what pace did Neolithic
the eastern Adriatic region. From this lifeways appear in the region?
total, we have excluded fifty-four dates for 2. How old are specific Neolithic pottery
the following reasons: insufficient styles, how long did they last, and how
Forenbaher et al. Dating the East Adriatic Neolithic 593

Figure 1. Map showing the sites mentioned in the text (black: caves, white: open-air). 1, Edera;
2, Ciclami; 3, Jacmica; 4, Novacka; 5, Pupiina; 6, Ovcja pe; 7, Vela pe; 8, Kargadur; 9, Vizula;
10, Vela spilja (Loinj); 11, ureva greda; 12, Tinj; 13, Velitak; 14, Danilo; 15, karin samograd;
16, Ravlia peina; 17, Grapceva; 18, Vela spila (Korcula); 19, Nakovana; 20. Gudnja; 21, Suac.

do they relate to the traditional par- (reported as cal BC) are for one standard
tition of the Neolithic into Early, deviation. We have available a total of
Middle, and Late phases? ninety-nine Neolithic and Early Copper
3. How long did the East Adriatic Neo- Age dates suitable for Bayesian modelling
lithic last? When did the transition to of the start and end dates of particular
the Copper Age take place? pottery styles. Bayesian modelling was
done using the boundary command in
All radiocarbon dates were calibrated OxCal v. 4.1. This protocol treats each
using OxCal version 4.1 (Bronk Ramsey, group of dates associated to a specific
2009) and InitCal 09 calibration curve pottery style independently and does not
(Reimer et al., 2009), and, unless other- make any assumptions about their relative
wise noted, calibrated date ranges age.
594 European Journal of Archaeology 16 (4) 2013

Table 2 Provenience, association and number of all usable radiocarbon dates

Age or pottery style Cave sites Open-air sites Total

Mesolithic Benussi 5 37
Ciclami 1
Edera 7
Jacmica 1
Klanjceva 2
Nugljanska 1
Ovcja 2
Pupiina 6
ebrn 3
Vela pe 1
Vela spila (Korcula) 4
Vela spilja (Loinj) 2
Zemunica 2
Impressed Ware Gospodska 1 Crno vrilo 4 30
Grapceva 1 Kargadur 3
Gudnja 2 Konjevrate 1
Nakovana 3 Vizula 1
Nova peina 1 Pokrovnik 2
karin samograd 2 Suac 1
Vela (Korcula) 1 Tinj 3
Vela (Loinj) 1
Zemunica 3
Early Neolithic undecorated pottery Edera 1 ureva greda 1 6
Nakovana 2
karin samograd 2
Danilo (Dalmatia) Gudnja 2 Danilo 14 19
Nakovana 1 Pokrovnik 2
Danilo-Vlaka (Istria and Karst) Ciclami 1 Kargadur 1 17
Edera 4
Jacmica 1
Mitreo 2
Pupiina 6
Vela pe 2
Danilo polychrome Nakovana 1 1
Southern Dalmatian polychrome Grapceva 1 Suac 1 3
Nakovana 1
Hvar Grapceva 8 Velitak 4 16
Nakovana 3
Pupiina 1
Early Copper Age Grapceva 2 Bukovi 3 7
Novacka 1
Pupiina 1
Total number of dates Cave sites 95 Open-air sites 41 136

THE TRANSITION TO FARMING IN THE region (Forenbaher & Miracle, 2006:

EASTERN ADRIATIC 497504). However, this observation is
based on a smattering of dates from
Recent analyses and reviews of the existing Mesolithic contexts (there are only about
latest Mesolithic and earliest Neolithic thirty-five dates from a dozen sites).
dates from the region indicate that while In order to improve the situation, nine
there is often a temporal gap between the samples were submitted for dating from
last hunter-gatherers and the first farmers five different cave sites where chipped stone
in individual sequences (Biagi & Spataro, assemblages permitted attribution to the
2000; Berger & Guilaine, 2009: 34), there Mesolithic or transitional Mesolithic-
is continuity of occupation over the wider Neolithic: Pupiina, Ovcja, Jacmica, Vela
Forenbaher et al. Dating the East Adriatic Neolithic 595

spilja (Loinj) and Vela spila (Korcula). BC and fits well with other evidence from
Despite our careful selection of what we the site of comparatively intense Late
considered to be secure contexts, two of the Mesolithic occupation during the seventh
dates came out as too young. One sample to the eighth millennia cal BC (Miracle &
(pine wood charcoal) from Jacmica Radi, In press). None of these new dates,
(OxA-18026: 192 26 BP) is evidently however, falls close to the time of the
modern and from a recent disturbance. The transition to farming, which in this region
second sample (ash wood charcoal) from took place around 6000 cal BC. They bear
Pupiina (OxA-18027: 6190 36 BP) upon the issue of a putative Mesolithic/
came from a layer of clay overlying a calcitic Neolithic gap by supporting, rather than
crust containing Mesolithic artefacts and disproving, its existence.
remains of wild animals dated to 8930 40 Little doubt remains that innovations
BP (OxA-18028), and underlying a series related to farming spread into the Adriatic
of ash lenses with Middle Neolithic arte- from the southeast (Chapman & Mller,
facts and remains of domestic animals 1990; Skeates, 2003; Legge & Moore,
dated to 6516 36 BP (OxA-18119) and 2011: 178; but for an alternative view, see
6606 36 BP (OxA-18128). This date is Budja, 1999). A recent model postulated a
out of sequence relative to the overlying two-stage process in which pottery and
Middle Neolithic dates and is thus con- domestic animals dispersed very rapidly in
sidered to be unreliable. the southern Adriatic and along the
The remaining seven dates all belong to coastal strip, while the complete Neolithic
the eighth to the tenth millennia cal BC package (including pottery, domestic
(Table 1). Dates from sites in the northern animals, and settled villages) moved more
Adriatic (Jacmica, Ovcja, Pupiina, Vela slowly in the northern Adriatic and into
spilja [Loinj]) are associated with typolo- the hinterland. The temporal and regional
gically Early Mesolithic lithic shift in the rate of spread was explained as
assemblages, vertebrate assemblages domi- a consequence of variable interactions with
nated by red deer, roe deer, pig, and existing local foraging populations (Fore-
mollusc assemblages dominated by terres- nbaher & Miracle, 2005).
trial species. The new radiocarbon dates Further refinement and testing of this
from the ninth to the tenth millennia cal and other models required more securely
BC add nuance to the existing pattern of dated contexts from sites across the
an intensive Early Mesolithic occupation region. To this end, we submitted for
of the region. The relative paucity of typo- dating six samples from the earliest Neo-
logically Late Mesolithic sites and dates lithic contexts of five caves (Nakovana,
from the seventh to the eighth millennia Vela spilja [Loinj], Pupiina, Vela pe,
cal BC in the northern Adriatic region and Jacmica) and an open-air site (Karga-
may reflect a shift in settlement pattern dur) (Table 1). At Nakovana, Vela spilja
(from caves to open-air sites and/or from (Loinj) and Kargadur, the dated contexts
inland to coastal locations) or a decrease in contained Impressed Ware pottery. At
population. The single date from southern Pupiina, Vela Pe and Jacmica, they con-
Dalmatia (Vela spila [Korcula]) is associ- tained Danilo-style pottery, which is
ated with a typologically indeterminate considered Middle Neolithic in regions
lithic assemblage, a vertebrate assemblage farther to the south-east, but is the earliest
dominated by fish and fox, and a mollusc pottery in northern Istria (Forenbaher &
assemblage dominated by marine species. Miracle, 2005: 520, 2006: 49295;
This date is from the eighth millennium Forenbaher & Kaiser, 2006).
596 European Journal of Archaeology 16 (4) 2013

The date from Vela pe (OxA-20830: exogenous domesticates (sheep and goat),
9445 45 BP) is evidently too old. In this and novel subsistence strategies (herding).
case, a charcoal residual from the immedi- During the second stage, farming villages
ately underlying Mesolithic layer must were established in what were then the
have been submitted. Of the remaining most attractive locations. Moving from the
five dates, the most remarkable is the one southeast to northwest in the Adriatic
from Vela spilja (Loinj), a site located on region, the first stage lasted progressively
the island of Loinj in the northern Adria- longer and the second stage began pro-
tic (OxA-18118: 7134 37 BP, 6048 gressively later. A more detailed discussion
5988 cal BC). The charcoal sample of of our modified model for the spread of
Rhamnus sp. was recovered under con- farming in the Adriatic will be published
trolled conditions in the course of recent elsewhere (Forenbaher & Miracle, In
excavations from an undisturbed press).
Impressed Ware context (Komo et al.,
2005). This is one of the earliest Neolithic
dates anywhere in the Adriatic, roughly DATING SPECIFIC EAST ADRIATIC
contemporary with the earliest secure NEOLITHIC POTTERY STYLES
Neolithic dates in Dalmatia (Forenbaher
& Kaiser, 1999: 3334) and the Tavoliere Relative dating based on characteristically
(Skeates, 2003: 184). Unless one invokes shaped and/or decorated potsherds is a
an old wood effect, this date suggests that long-standing tradition among eastern
the first stage of maritime exploration by Adriatic prehistorians (e.g. Novak, 1955;
Impressed Ware pioneers extended Koroec, 1958; Batovi, 1979; Dimitrije-
further north and the rate of spread of vi, 1979; Mller, 1994; C ecuk & Radi,
some Neolithic technologies during this 2005; Marijanovi, 2005). It still remains
first stage was faster than we previously our last resort when dealing with surface
thought (Forenbaher & Miracle, 2005). finds or excavated contexts that do not
A number of other high-resolution contain chronometrically datable materials.
AMS determinations from safe contexts at As related earlier, one of our aims was
Early Neolithic sites in the eastern Adria- to explore the timing and duration of
tic have become available over the last few specific pottery styles in order to judge the
years (Marijanovi, 2009: 114; Drni suitability of characteristic potsherds for
et al., 2010; Berger et al., 2011; Legge & relative dating. To this end, twenty-four
Moore, 2011: 179; Radovi, 2011). At the samples (including those from the earliest
same time, some of the old dates have Neolithic contexts mentioned above) were
been reattributed to different periods or submitted from six caves (Jacmica, Pupi-
discarded due to problems with their attri- ina, Vela pe, Vela spilja [Loinj],
butions (Radi, 2009; Berger et al., 2011). Grapceva and Nakovana) and an open-air
In combination with the unexpectedly site (Kargadur). Samples were taken from
early date from Vela spilja (Loinj), this contexts containing pottery stylistically
relative wealth of new data prompts us to characteristic of the defined Neolithic
reconsider and slightly modify the two- sequence. The three major stylistic tra-
stage model of Neolithic beginnings. It ditions of the East Adriatic Neolithic were
now appears that the first stage of farmer- investigated: the Early Neolithic
forager contacts and maritime explorations Impressed Ware, the Middle Neolithic
encompassed most of the Adriatic region, Danilo complex, and the Late Neolithic
spreading new technologies (pottery), Hvar style.
Forenbaher et al. Dating the East Adriatic Neolithic 597

Early Neolithic Impressed Ware tenuous, while that from Tinj

(GrN-15238: 6280 210 BP, 54715011
While information from the southern cal BC, Chapman & Mller, 1990: 130;
Adriatic remains scarce, it seems that the Chapman et al., 1996: 186) has a very
geographic distribution of Impressed Ware large standard error that renders it practi-
(Batovi, 1979; Mller, 1994; Forenbaher cally useless. Aside from these, a single
& Miracle, 2005) covers the entire eastern very early date from Vela spila (Korcula),
Adriatic coast and its hinterland, except its originally published as associated with
extreme northern end (northern Istria and early Impressed Ware (Z-1967: 7300
the Trieste Karst of southern Slovenia and 120 BP, 63376032 cal BC, C ecuk &
northeast Italy). The six new dates for Radi, 2001: 102, 108, note 4), has
Impressed Ware fall between around 6000 recently been reattributed to a hypothetical
and 5500 cal BC (Table 1), which corre- Mesolithic/Neolithic transitional period
sponds to the time-span proposed by (Radi, 2009: 17).
Forenbaher and Kaiser (1999) for the dur- The available dates suggest, therefore,
ation of that stylistic complex in the that Impressed Ware came into use in the
eastern Adriatic. Only two of about eastern Adriatic region shortly before or
thirty-five radiocarbon dates currently around 6000 cal BC and went out of use
available from the region are younger than about five centuries lateran impression
5500 BC, and the reliability of both dates that is supported by Bayesian modelling of
is open to question. The date from Vizula the dates (Figure 2). This pattern differs
(HD-11733: 6140 70 BP, 52085003 from the situation on the opposite side of
cal BC, Chapman & Mller, 1990: 130) the Adriatic, where Impressed Ware con-
comes from an old excavation and its tinues to appear together with stylistically
association with Impressed Ware is later pottery for several more centuries

Figure 2. Approximate temporal spans of eastern Adriatic pottery styles. Probability density functions
for start and end boundaries of specific pottery styles were generated using Bayesian modelling.
598 European Journal of Archaeology 16 (4) 2013

during the second half of the sixth millen- for Impressed Ware in southern Dalmatia.
nium cal BC (Skeates, 2003: 170). Currently available radiometric evidence
Most authors distinguish between an thus suggests that Impressed Ware pottery
earlier Impressed A and a later Impressed lasted only about three centuries in this
B style (e.g. Batovi, 1979; Mller, 1994; area (disappearing soon after 5800 cal
C ecuk & Radi, 2005). Large surface BC), while it lingered a few centuries
areas of pottery vessels covered by dense longer further to the north. At present,
impressions made by the edge of a the best evidence for the end of Impressed
Cardium shell or by some other small Ware style comes from Nakovana Cave,
object mark the former style, while bands where a thick layer dominated by undeco-
of zigzag impressions characterize the rated pottery separates the latest Impressed
latter style (Figure 3.12). Potsherds Ware from the earliest Danilo-style
attributable to both styles were recovered incised-geometric pottery.
from stratified contexts at Nakovana Cave, Two contexts with only undecorated
with Impressed A underlying Impressed pottery at Nakovana Cave yielded radio-
B. Three charcoal samples from those metric dates around 5600 cal BC
contexts yielded a tight cluster of radio- (Table 1), which makes them contemporary
carbon determinations that follow the with later Impressed Ware sites in North-
stratigraphic sequence. As expected, ern Dalmatia and Istria. In this respect,
Impressed A was dated to immediately Nakovana is not alone. Neolithic contexts
after 6000 BC. Somewhat surprisingly, containing only undecorated pottery have
dates for Impressed B are only half a been noted at several other sites, three of
century younger. which have been dated: Edera in the
Only two other dates have been linked Trieste Karst (GX-19569: 6700 130 BP,
explicitly to a specific Impressed Ware 57215515 cal BC, Biagi, 1995), karin
style. At Vela spila (Korcula), an Samograd in the northern Dalmatian hin-
Impressed B context is just as early as the terland (HD-12094: 6750 60 BP, 5711
one at Nakovana (Z-1968: 7000 120 BP, 5626 cal BC, and HD-11773: 6740 50
59895767 cal BC, Radi, 2009: 17). On BP, 57075623 cal BC, Chapman &
the other hand, the open-air Early Neo- Mller, 1990), and ureva Greda in Lika
lithic site SU-002 on the island of Suac, (Beta-293836: 6710 50 BP, 56695564
summarily attributed to the Impressed A cal BC, Forenbaher & Vujnovi, In press).
style, yielded a single, relatively late date Remarkably, all of these dates cluster
(ETH-22912: 6925 65 BP, 58775736 around 5600 BC.
cal BC, Radi, 2009: 17). These dates do There is no evidence of a monochrome
not support the contention that the widely ware horizon that would precede the
accepted stylistic division of the Impressed Impressed Ware (Mller, 1988: 234,
Ware in the eastern Adriatic reflects an 1994: 217)an issue that we have already
important chronological distinction. discussed in some detail (Forenbaher &
Kaiser, 2006: 19698). A few isolated
plain sherds have been reported recently
The end of Impressed Ware and the from the lowest Neolithic levels of Vela
transition from Early to Middle spila (Korcula) (Radi, 2005: Figure 3,
Neolithic 33637, 2009: 1618), but details of their
relationship to the overlying Impressed
The date from Suac mentioned above is Ware contexts and the underlying Meso-
the youngest date that we have presently lithic contexts remain to be resolved. For
Forenbaher et al. Dating the East Adriatic Neolithic 599

the time being, the new dates support our Istria or the Trieste Karst: Pupiina
previous suggestion that Impressed Ware (Miracle & Forenbaher, 2006b), Edera
is the first pottery style in the eastern (Biagi & Spataro, 2000), and Ciclami
Adriatic region. (Gilli & Montagnari Kokelj, 1992). This is
Bayesian modelling (Figure 2) suggests the area where geometric-incised Danilo
a complete overlap between the end of pottery (Figure 3.3) is not preceded by
Impressed Ware and the appearance of Impressed Ware. The earliest dates from
assemblages with only undecorated Dalmatia are those from Gudnja Cave,
pottery. In Istria and the Karst, these where the Danilo component has been
assemblages of undecorated pottery dated to soon after 5500 cal BC
overlap with the start of the Danilo-Vlaka (Chapman, 1988: 7), but most of the Dal-
syles, whereas in Dalmatia such assem- matian dates for Danilo fall between 5300
blages precede the Danilo style. Further and 4800 cal BC (Chapman & Mller,
work is needed to clarify these spatio- 1990; Moore et al., 2007). Only five dates
temporal patterns. are younger than 4700 cal BC; all of them,
once again, are from sites in Istria
(Table 1) and the Trieste Karst
Middle Neolithic Danilo complex (Montagnari-Kokelj & Crismani, 1996).
Radiocarbon dates thus suggest a tem-
The Danilo complex (Batovi, 1979) poral overlap between Impressed Ware
probably encompasses the entire eastern and Danilo styles from around 5600 to
Adriatic region, although information 5500 BC in the northern Adriatic region.
from its southern part is again scarce. It This temporal overlap is confirmed by
includes the Danilo-Vlaka variant in Bayesian modelling (Figure 2). There is
Istria and the Trieste Karst (Barfield, no mixing, however, of Impressed Ware
1972; Forenbaher & Kaiser, 2006: 198 and Danilo styles within any of the clearly
202), as well as at least two distinctive stratified and well-excavated cave sites
styles of polychrome painted figulina such as Nakovana (Forenbaher & Kaiser,
pottery in Dalmatia (Koroec, 1958; 2010: 27), Vela spila (Korcula) (C ecuk &
C ecuk & Radi, 2005; Marijanovi, Radi, 2005: 109), Ravlia peina (Marija-
2005). We begin by addressing the very novi, 1981: 11, 44), or Gudnja
wide time-span covered by the nine new (Marijanovi, 2005: 32, 34).
dates (Table 1). One of them, the ninth Dalmatian Neolithic pottery assemblages
millennium cal BC date from Vela pe in which Danilo or early Hvar styles predo-
(OxA-20830), has already been dismissed minate usually contain a small quantity of
as aberrant (see above). Six of the remain- figulina type finewares (Spataro, 2002: 13).
ing eight dates fall between around 5600 These are attributed by various authors to a
and 4900 BC, corresponding to the dur- number of different polychrome painted
ation of the Middle Neolithic proposed styles. A well-defined style, commonly
by Forenbaher and Kaiser (1999). Two referred to as Danilo polychrome
dates, however, are very much younger (Figure 3.4), is best known from the
(OxA-18229 and OxA-18172), falling Middle Neolithic village of Danilo itself
around and/or after 4500 cal BC. (Koroec, 1958: 4053), and is restricted
The geographic distribution of more mainly (but not exclusively) to northern
than forty Danilo radiocarbon dates reveals Dalmatia. Our new date from Nakovana
interesting patterns. Almost all of the early Cave (OxA-18126: 6117 34 BP, 5204
dates for Danilo come from three caves in 4988 cal BC, Table 1) is currently the only
600 European Journal of Archaeology 16 (4) 2013

Figure 3. Characteristic potsherds: 1, Impressed Ware A; 2, Impressed Ware B; 3, Danilo incised geo-
metric; 4, Danilo polychrome (after Koroec, 1958: Plate 98); 5, southern Dalmatian polychrome;
6, outlined Hvar; 7, classic Hvar; 8, channelled Hvar; 9, Nakovana; 10, early Cetina.

published radiometric date explicitly associ- A somewhat different polychrome

ated with the Danilo polychrome style; it painted figulina style, here defined as the
places this style near the end of the sixth Southern Dalmatian Polychrome, is best
millennium cal BC (Figure 2). known from cave sites such as Gudnja,
Forenbaher et al. Dating the East Adriatic Neolithic 601

where it has been attributed to the & Kaiser, 2008; Forenbaher et al., 2010).
Gudnja culture (Dimitrijevi, 1970: 115; All major Hvar sites are located in Dalma-
Petri, 1976: 30003; Marijanovi, 2005: tia and its hinterland.
4045), or Vela spila (Korcula), where it Only ten radiocarbon dates from three
has been assigned to the Vela Luka sites have been published previously
culture (C ecuk & Radi, 2005: 11215). (Miracle & Forenbaher, 2006b: 76; Fore-
Most of such potsherds were recovered nbaher et al., 2010: 345; Podrug, 2010:
from the latest Middle Neolithic or the 20). Of the seven new dates reported here
earliest Late Neolithic contexts in (Table 1), six are from Hvar levels at
southern Dalmatia (Figure 3.5). Three Grapceva and Nakovana caves. The
radiocarbon dates from three different seventh date, from Jacmica Cave in Istria,
sites, Nakovana (OxA-18127: 6004 34 dates a context whose attribution to the
BP, 49384846 cal BC, Table 1), Late Neolithic relies on the presence of a
Grapceva (Beta-103487: 6000 80 BP, few Hvar-like sherds. All of these dates
49934794 cal BC, Forenbaher & Kaiser, fall between 4800 and 4000 cal BC, which
2008: 21), and Suac (laboratory identifi- corresponds to the duration of the Late
cation number not reported, 5895 65 Neolithic proposed by Forenbaher and
BP, 48434693 cal BC, Della Casa & Kaiser (1999). There is, however, a strati-
Bass, 2001) make up a tight cluster graphic inversion of the two dates from
around 49004800 cal BC (Figure 2). Nakovana Cave that are associated with
The sub-regional distribution of radio- late Hvar pottery. The later date
carbon dates for the Danilo complex thus (OxA-18175) comes from a stratigraphi-
hints at the possibility that this style may cally older context that abuts a disturbed
have originated in Istria and the Trieste context next to the cave wall. This makes
Karst around 5600 cal BC, and that there it more suspect than the earlier date
it lasted almost until the end of the fifth (OxA-18176), which corresponds to a
millennium cal BC, making it contempor- clearly stratified and stratigraphically
ary with Hvar style pottery in Dalmatia. younger context interpreted as a hearth.
Typical late Neolithic Hvar-like pottery There are a few characteristic ways of
appears only sporadically at northern decorating Hvar pots that appear to be
Adriatic sites (Cermesoni et al., 1999: rather restricted in time. Prominent
239; Forenbaher & Miracle, 2006: among them is the outlined style (Fore-
52830), usually together with more abun- nbaher & Kaiser, 2008: 5152;
dant Danilo-Vlaka pottery. Ceramic Forenbaher et al., 2010: 346) in which
vessels in the Classic Hvar style, it now complex geometric designs were produced
seems, may have been restricted to Dalma- by a combination of decorative techniques.
tia, while farther north a slightly modified First, the design was outlined by incision,
Danilo-Vlaka pottery tradition with then the surrounding surface was burn-
occasional Hvar-like elements was present. ished, and finally the incised motif itself
was filled with bright red paint after the
vessel had been fired (Figure 3.6). Sherds
Late Neolithic Hvar style decorated in this manner appear at the
bottom of the Late Neolithic stratigraphic
Hvar style pottery, decorated by a rich sequences at Grapceva, Nakovana, and
variety of incised and painted designs, is Vela spila (Korcula); they dwindle and dis-
best known from Grapceva Cave on the appear in higher Hvar levels. They also
island of Hvar (Novak, 1955; Forenbaher appear in quantity at Velitak, an open-air
602 European Journal of Archaeology 16 (4) 2013

site in northern Dalmatia dated by two indicated that a few specific Hvar-style dec-
radiocarbon determinations to around orative techniques and designs are
4800 cal BC (UCIAMS-78155: 5975 15 chronologically sensitive; they were pre-
BP, 48974809 cal BC, and ferred only during certain short periods of
UCIAMS-78156: 5920 15 BP, 4830 time. However, most Hvar styles, including
4746 cal BC, Podrug, 2010: 20). These the iconic dark, burnished, red-painted
dates correspond closely to the single date ware (Figure 3.7), are not so diagnostic.
associated with the outlined Hvar style Bayesian modelling of the dates supports
from Grapceva cave (Beta-103486: 5900 the impression that they continued to be
60 BP, 48424709 cal BC) (Forenbaher generally popular from approximately 4800
et al., 2010: 345). Intriguingly, the only to 4000 cal BC (Figure 2).
other date for outlined Hvar, OxA-18173
(5631 31 BP, 45024375 cal BC) from
Nakovana Cave (Table 1), is about three THE DURATION OF THE EAST ADRIATIC
centuries younger. By that time, outlined NEOLITHIC AND THE TRANSITION TO THE
decoration apparently had gone out of use COPPER AGE
at Grapceva, but given the scarcity of
dates and the small dimensions of the Less is known about the Copper Age than
Grapceva test trench, this is far from any other period in the entire post-
certain. Future research will show whether Mesolithic prehistory of the eastern Adria-
the outlined Hvar style had a shorter life tic. Its definition rests almost entirely on
at some sites and a longer life at others. certain stylistic traits of pottery (Petri,
Channelling is another characteristic 1976; Dimitrijevi, 1979; Forenbaher,
and temporally restricted decorative tech- 2000). The transition from the Neolithic
nique that appears on dark, burnished to the Copper Age has been difficult to
bowls in Late Hvar contexts (Figure 3.8). pin down owing to the fact that Early
Currently, four dates are available for such Copper Age pottery assemblages share
contexts, two from Grapceva (Forenbaher many features with Late Neolithic ones.
et al., 2010: 345) and two from Nakovana Common in central and southern Dalma-
(Table 1). Unfortunately, one of the dates tian assemblages, restricted sets of pottery
from Nakovana has been discarded as shapes and decorative elements
unreliable (see above). Likewise, one of (Figure 3.9) are often assigned to the
the dates from Grapceva is out of sequence Nakovana culture. These stylistic traits
and should also be discarded (Forenbaher are only occasionally present in the north-
& Kaiser, 2008: 27). That leaves us only ern Adriatic assemblages.
with single dates from Nakovana The five new radiocarbon dates for the
(OxA-18176: 5357 30 BP, 43174077 Copper Age (Table 1) are discussed in
cal BC) and Grapceva (Beta-106625: chronological order. The first two dates fall
5210 40 BP, 40423974 cal BC) which around 4100 cal BC, but one of them
suggest that channelled Late Hvar bowls (OxA-18183 from Jacmica) is unreliable
were used during the last quarter of the since it is out of sequence with the other
fifth millennium cal BC. dates from the same site. The other date
Recent careful work at stratified cave (OxA-18184 from Novacka) comes from a
sites such as Grapceva (Forenbaher & context rather vaguely attributed to the
Kaiser, 2008; Forenbaher et al., 2010), Vela Late Neolithic or Copper Age and there-
spila (Korcula) (C ecuk & Radi, 2005) and fore is not very useful. The next two dates
Nakovana (Forenbaher & Kaiser, 2010) has (OxA-18185 from Novacka, and
Forenbaher et al. Dating the East Adriatic Neolithic 603

OxA-18179 from Pupiina) are associated of several subsequent, crucial issues in the
with pottery exhibiting some Nakovana-like Holocene prehistory of the eastern Adria-
traits; both fall around 3900 cal BC. tic: the arrival of food production.
Finally, the youngest date (OxA-18180 The new dates for the earliest Neolithic
from Pupiina) is associated with Early support the two-stage model for the spread
Cetina style pottery (Figure 3.10) (Marovi of farming in the Adriatic (Forenbaher &
& C ovi, 1983; Della Casa, 1995) and falls Miracle, 2005) with a minor modification
around 2500 cal BC, an age traditionally (Forenbaher & Miracle, In press). The date
thought to correspond to the Late Copper from Vela spilja (Loinj), taken in conjunc-
AgeEarly Bronze Age transition. tion with other reliable radiocarbon dates
As noted above, the latest secure Late that have become available recently,
Neolithic dates fall around 4000 cal BC. suggests that the first stage of farmer
The seven currently available and reliable forager contacts and maritime explorations
dates from four Early Copper Age sites embraced almost the entire coastal zone of
spread along the eastern Adriatic coast the eastern Adriatic region. Doubtless com-
span the entire fourth millennium cal BC. posed of complicated interactions, we
Typical Nakovana pottery shapes and dec- cannot track the earliest encounters
oration appear at some point between between members of farming and of fora-
4000 and 3500 cal BC (see Forenbaher & ging societies with much precision yet,
Kaiser, 1999). As things now stand, the thanks to the patchy radiocarbon silence of
transition from the Neolithic to the the archaeological record. What we do see,
Copper Age is blurred, but probably though, is that shortly after the initial
occurs around the beginning of the fourth explorations there followed a second stage.
millennium cal BC (Figure 2). Then, farming villages were established in
what were apparently the most attractive
locations. From southeast to northwest in
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION the Adriatic basin, the first, exploratory
stage of the Neolithic lasts progressively
How improved is the chronological longer and the second, village stage begins
picture? The new radiocarbon dates progressively later.
reported here put the East Adriatic Neo- As expected, all of the new dates associ-
lithic into sharper focus even if its edges, ated with Impressed Ware pottery fall
the beginnings and endings of local iter- within the first half of the sixth millen-
ations of the Neolithic, remain pixelated. nium cal BC. It is not possible to make
The new radiocarbon dates for the any finer chronological distinctions with
Mesolithic do not narrow the existing gap confidence. The division of Impressed
that separates the latest Mesolithic from Ware into an earlier Impressed A and a
the earliest Neolithic assemblages in the later Impressed B has not been con-
eastern Adriatic region. If anything, they firmed. While several dates suggest a
support rather than disprove its existence. possible temporal overlap between the
One should bear in mind, however, that Impressed Ware and the Danilo complex
only a very few sites are known that around the middle of the sixth millennium
contain both Late Mesolithic and Early cal BC, these two distinct pottery styles do
Neolithic components, and not all of them not mix at any of the clearly stratified cave
have been dated yet. So, for the moment, sites. To the contrary, several dates suggest
the issue of the Mesolithic gap remains that in some areas assemblages with only
unresolved. This has a bearing on the first undecorated pottery separate the
604 European Journal of Archaeology 16 (4) 2013

Impressed Ware and Danilo complexes at southern Dalmatia, respectively; and Hvar
around 5600 cal BC. style vessels are restricted primarily to Dal-
In Dalmatia, most of the dates associ- matia. It goes without saying that none of
ated with Danilo pottery fall between these geographic exclusions is absolute.
5300 and 4800 cal BC. Further north, In conclusion, what the new dates
dates on materials associated with the reported here for the East Adriatic Neo-
Danilo-Vlaka pottery style variant span a lithic show is that beginning around 6000
much longer period, from 5600 to 4300 cal BC, pottery styles emerged, spread,
cal BC. This suggests that Danilo styles and disappeared at different times and at
may have originated in the northern different rates within the region. This calls
Adriatic region (northern Istria and the into question the usefulness of the old,
Trieste Karst) around 5600 cal BC, and threefold division of the Neolithic into
that the Danilo-Vlaka variant then Early, Middle, and Late phases. To
endured for most of the fifth millennium simply shoehorn assemblages into the old
cal BC. A few contexts containing poly- phases, as has been the traditional practice
chrome painted figulina pottery have been in the region, distorts the record.
dated to the late sixth and the early fifth Why persist? We now have the begin-
millennia cal BC (Danilo polychrome and ning of a more solid and reliable
the southern Dalmatian polychrome, chronological framework built on absolute
respectively), but we are not yet certain dates. With a finer-grained chronological
that those styles were shortlived. picture, we should be able to examine the
All of the new dates for Hvar style temporal and geographic patterns in past
pottery are between 4800 and 4000 cal cultural remains. In the case of ceramics,
BC, as expected. While many distinctive for example, the new framework allows us
Hvar decorative techniques and designs to explore the possible social, cultural, and
were in use throughout these eight centu- ecological factors that led people to
ries, a few ceramic elements may be more develop, transmit, adopt, and/or abandon
tightly clustered in time. For instance, the particular styles of pottery. Tackling these,
outlined style appears to be limited to the and other, more nuanced questions
earlier part of the fifth millennium cal BC, requires further refinement of chrono-
while channelled decoration seems to be metric control: that is, many more
limited to the last centuries of the fifth radiocarbon dates from secure contexts
millennium cal BC. Some of the elements associated with appropriate cultural
of the Nakovana pottery style began to remains. The expanding database of radio-
appear soon after, heralding the transition carbon dates for eastern Adriatic
from the Neolithic to the Copper Age Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Copper Age
soon after 4000 cal BC. assemblages allows us to liberate material
While it is still not possible to pin culture in general and prehistoric pottery
down precisely the duration of any one of in particular; these remains no longer need
the pottery styles we have discussed, it is to be slaves to chronological masters.
already clear that some of them are more
chronologically diagnostic than others
(Figure 2). Furthermore, some of them are ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
geographically restricted to only a part of
the region. Impressed Ware is absent from We gratefully acknowledge the financial
the far north; the two polychrome figulina support for archaeological fieldwork at
styles are restricted to northern and Grapceva, Jacmica, Novacka, Nakovana,
Forenbaher et al. Dating the East Adriatic Neolithic 605

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sity of Zagreb), Institute for Evidence: Some Aspects of the
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Frhneolithikum: Die Impresso-Kultur und
die Neolithisierung des Adriaraumes. Berlin:
Novak, G. 1955. Prethistorijski Hvar, Grapceva
spilja. Zagreb: Jugoslavenska akademija Stao Forenbaher is Research Advisor at
znanosti i umjetnosti. the Institute for Anthropological Research
Petri, N. 1976. Prethistorijske kulture and Assistant Professor at the University
Peljeca. Peljeki zbornik, 1:295313.
Podrug, E. 2010. C ista mala Velitak: prve of Zagreb, Croatia. He received his PhD
tri istrazivacke kampanje na nalazitu from the Southern Methodist Uiversity at
hvarske kulture. Diadora, 24:725. Dallas (Texas). He specializes in the
608 European Journal of Archaeology 16 (4) 2013

archaeology of post-Mesolithic societies of and Interdisciplinary Studies, Lakehead

Mediterranean Europe, and has conducted University, 500 University Avenue, Orillia,
field research at a variety of prehistoric Ontario L3V 0B9, Canada. [email:
sites throughout Croatia. tkaiser@lakeheadu.ca]

Address: Institute for Anthropological

Research, Gajeva 32, HR-10000 Zagreb, Preston T. Miracle is University Senior
Croatia. [email: staso.forenbaher@zg. Lecturer and Director of the Grahame
t-com.hr] Clark Laboratory in the Department of
Archaeology at the University of Cam-
bridge. He received his PhD from the
Timothy Kaiser is Professor of Anthropol- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. A
ogy and Interdisciplinary Studies at major theme in his research is human
Lakehead University, Orillia, Ontario, strategies and agency in the context of
Canada. He received his PhD from the environmental and social changes from the
University of California, Berkeley. His end of the last Ice Age through the spread
research interests include Adriatic archae- of farming in Southern Europe.
ology, Neolithic Southeast Europe, and
ceramic analysis. Address: Department of Archaeology, Uni-
versity of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2
Address: Departments of Anthropology 3DZ, UK. [email: ptm21@cam.ac.uk]

Datation du Nolithique de lEst Adriatique

On prsente ici de nouvelles dterminations par radiocarbone provenant de contextes msolithiques, no-
lithiques et/ou de lge du Cuivre de dix sites diffrents, plus que doublant ainsi le nombre de dates
absolues disponibles pour lEst Adriatique par rapport 10 ans plus tt. Les dates montrent qu partir
de 6000 cal BC des styles cramiques (cramique impressions, variantes Danilo, Hvar, Nakovana et
Cetina) se rpandent et disparaissent en des temps, places et rythmes diffrents au sein de la rgion. Les
consquences pour les modles de diffusion de lagriculture et autres aspects de la vie nolithique sont
tudis. On doit se poser la question si la triple division du Nolithique rgional en des phases dbut,
moyen et rcent demeure utile. Translation by Isabelle Gerges.

Mots cls: Nolithique, Msolithique, datation au radiocarbone, Est Adriatique, styles cramiques,
cramique imprime

Zur Datierung des ostadriatischen Neolithikums

In diesem Beitrag werden neue Radiokarbondaten aus Kontexten des Mesolithikums, des Neolithikums
und/oder der Kupferzeit von zehn verschiedenen Fundpltzen vorgestellt, womit sich die Zahl der
Daten, die fr den ostadriatischen Raum zur Verfgung stehen, im Vergleich zum letzten Jahrzehnt
mehr als verdoppelt hat. Die Daten zeigen, dass ab 6000 v. Chr. zu verschiedenen Zeiten, an
Forenbaher et al. Dating the East Adriatic Neolithic 609

unterschiedlichen Orten und in abweichendem Mae innerhalb der Region verschiedene Keramikstile
(Impresso, Danilo-Varianten, Hvar, Nakovana und Cetina) erschienen, sich verbreiteten und wieder
verschwanden. Die Konsequenzen dieser Ergebnisse fr Modelle der Verbreitung der Landwirtschaft
und anderer Merkmale des jungsteinzeitlichen Lebens werden diskutiert. Dabei wird die Zweck-
migkeit der traditionellen Dreiteilung des lokalen Neolithikums in eine frhe, eine mittlere und
eine spte Phase in Zweifel gezogen. Translation by Heiner Schwarzberg.

Stichworte: Neolithikum, Mesolithikum, Radiokarbondatierung, Ostadria, Keramikstile