Slavonski Brod - Galovo
Settlement, town, county: Slavonski Brod, Brod-Posavina County
Site type: stratified settlement and necropolis
Period: Neolithic – Starčevo culture and Bronze Age – a necropolis of the Barice-Gređani group
Type of excavation: systematic
Institution: Institute of Archaeology in Zagreb
The Institute of Archaeology has been conducting systematic investigations at the Galovo site in the north-eastern part of Slavonski Brod since 1997 as part of the scientific-research project “Prehistoric identity of the first farming populations in continental Croatia”. The topsoil layer yielded the remains of a Late Bronze Age necropolis of the Barice-Gređani group, while in a lower layer, at the depth of 80 cm, a part of an Early Neolithic settlement has been discovered, with a fenced burial space, from the early phase of the Starčevo culture – Linear A. A number of significant features of this settlement qualify it as a key site for the emergence and development of the Starčevo culture in the territory of Croatia. Based on the features of the discovered archaeological material and the absolute dates (around 6100 to 5300 BC), for the first time a chronological sequence of the development of the first Pannonian pottery-using culture—the Starčevo culture—has been established in its incipient phases.
In the investigated part of the settlement, covering an area of 3600 m2, for the first time three phases of construction were discovered, corroborated by 14C dates: the first from between 6100 and 5700 cal BC; the second around 5700 cal BC, while the third, youngest phase, is dated around 5300 to 5000 cal BC.
Previous archaeological investigations uncovered a part of the settlement consisting of 8 pit-houses—three residential ones (measuring 17 x 5 m and 8 x 4 m) and five working ones (5 x 5 m)—as well as an above-ground structure with rectangular foundations (7 x 7 m). Among a group of residential pit-houses there was a working pit – a workshop for making clay objects, which contained four pottery kilns, a number of altars and a group of clay weights for a vertical loom, on which fabric was made within a specially separated space. In another pit-house, in addition to the residential area, there was a workshop for making stone tools – a working room with numerous stone implements. In the south-western area between the settlement and the ritual-burial space there were two cult structures – double timber fences (laid out in the shape of a crescent moon 15 m in diameter). Several minor pits, which are regular accessory features of Neolithic dwellings, were discovered next to the residential pit-houses. A specially important feature in the material assemblage of the pit-houses are the numerous altars (over a 100 different specimens), as well as unique artistic clay figurines of roe deer, pig and bull, which played an important role in the spiritual life of the first farming populations in Pannonia.
The analyses of palaeozoological samples contributed to new knowledge about the first phases of domestication, the population diet (goat, sheep, cattle, pig, deer), as well as cult rituals. The ritual burial of a cattle horn beneath a group of pots in the central part of the large burial pit with human burials proves the cult function of the sacrificed animals.
The investigations within the settlement led to the discovery of a special space separated by timber fences consisting of densely arranged vertical poles dug around 20 cm deep into the soil, which were reinforced in their lower part above the surface level with a thick coat of clay. This was the burial place for the community members that enjoyed a prominent position within the tribe. So far only the western part of the ritual-burial space has been excavated (around 2100 m2), yielding four burial pits: a large one (17 x 5 m) with three deceased persons, and three small ones (each 5 x 5 m) with one deceased person each. Among them, only a single man was buried complete, while the rest were buried without the head or face. The goods deposited with the dead consisted of painted pots and altars, while the faceless man (a tribal leader or witch doctor) was buried also with a group of polished stone axes.
The settlement at Galovo is the only systematically investigated Early Neolithic site in Croatia, which belongs to the oldest settlements of farming populations in the south Pannonian areas.
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