The prehistoric identity of the first farming communities in continental Croatia
Research on the genesis and continuity of the evolution of the earliest farming cultures in continental Croatia, as part of the South Pannonian area, facilitates the hitherto unknown scientific insights into the emergence of the first Neolithic and Eneolithic cultures in the territory of Europe. Special attention will be given to a scientific evaluation of the continuous evolution of indigenous communities at the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition. The settlement at Galovo in Slavonski Brod is the key site when it comes to understanding the beginning of the development of the Starčevo culture – the Linear A phase, which was here first dated in absolute terms to 6100-5300 cal BC. The research of this settlement may greatly expand our knowledge about the Neolithization of Europe. The systematic excavation of this Starčevo culture site revealed two phases in the evolution of the settlement, as well as a new dimension of the organization of life – a separate ritual-burial space. In addition to unusual burials (three headless and faceless skeletons), we single out numerous altars and unique specimens of zoomorphic figurines. The discovery of white-painted motifs on pottery shifts the border of the distribution area of settlements that feature elements of the White Linear A phase westwards, suggesting that, alongside Eastern Slavonia, this phase was also present in Central Slavonia. The second key site is Pepelana, a tell with 8 habitation horizons, where the Linear C phase of the Starčevo culture was first identified, as well as a new Late Neolithic horizon of the Sopot culture, the so-called Pepelana type. The new evaluation of the tell will clarify and complement the numerous voids in the genesis and chronology of the Eneolithic cultures in the western part of continental Croatia: the Starčevo culture, Malo Korenovo culture, the Pepelane and Brezovljani types of the Sopot culture, and the Retz-Gajary culture. In discussing the genesis and chronology of the Eneolithic one has to reckon with the phase Sopot 4, which corresponds to Lengyel 3 and the Tiszapolgar culture in Hungary. In the Middle Eneolithic there are the Lasinja and Retz-Gajary cultures. The Baden culture first appeared in Slavonia only at the beginning of the Late Eneolithic, followed by the Kostolac and Vučedol cultures. In NW Croatia, the Retz-Gajary culture existed longer, until the Vučedol culture at the end of the Eneolithic and the beginning of the Early Bronze Age. It is our intention to test some of these hypotheses on the material from the Pepelana tell. Interdisciplinary analyses of samples from Galovo in Slavonski Brod will shed light on the beginnings of domestication and present the image of the vegetable and animal world of that time. Radiocarbon analyses will help establish the time scale for the Neolithization of South-East Europe and the development of cultures during the Neolithic and Eneolithic in Southern Pannonia.