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Coalescent community at Alsónyék: the timings and duration of Lengyel burials and settlement

By Anett Osztás, István Zalai-Gaál, Eszter Bánffy, Tibor Marton, Éva Ágnes Nyerges, Kitti Köhler, Krisztina Somogyi, Zsolt Gallina, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Elaine Dunbar, Bernd Kromer, Alexandra Bayliss, Derek Hamilton, Peter Marshall and Alasdair Whittle


The Neolithic settlement of Alsónyék reached its greatest extent during the Late Neolithic Lengyel period. Nearly 9000 features, including postholes associated with 122 houses, pits and pit complexes, and c. 2300 burials, could be assigned to it. The traces of Lengyel settlement and burials were found over the entire excavated area, with an estimated extent of some 80 ha. The burials uncovered mostly form part of groups of graves, actually being small cemeteries within the various parts of the settlement. Apart from the grave groups, several solitary or scattered graves were also found. Other large Lengyel burial grounds or large Lengyel settlements with numerous burials are known in Transdanubia, but the enormous number of graves at Alsónyék is unprecedented within the Lengyel cultural complex as a whole, and provides exciting opportunities for varied archaeological and bioarchaeological investigations. The discovery of 122 surface-level, timber-framed houses at a single site is also unique for the area and the Lengyel period as a whole. These buildings help to build a better understanding of the architecture and lifestyle of the Lengyel population, which is a fairly new strand in the settlement archaeology of the Lengyel culture in Hungary and beyond. This and the sheer size of the site make Alsónyék exceptionally significant. Altogether 217 radiocarbon results are presented for the Lengyel phase. For the purpose of analysis subsites 5603, 11 and 10B have been modelled separately. The modelled estimates are precise enough that it is possible to estimate robustly the timing of activity across the site. The modelling suggests that burial activity in subsite 5603 probably began in 4790-4740 cal BC (68% probability) and that it began at a similar time, 4795-4745 cal BC (68% probability), in subsite 11. An intensive period of burial began slightly later, in 4715-4690 cal BC (68% probability), on subsite 10B. At this time settlement was established across a wide area, in subsite 11 from 4745-4690 cal BC (68% probability), on subsite 5603 from 4745-4665 cal BC (68% probability), and on subsite 10B from 4720-4700 cal BC (68% probability). After a brief episode of intense occupation, lasting at most a few decades, settlement and then burial ended on the northernmost subsite 10B, in the 4700s or 4690s cal BC (68% probability) and 4695-4670 cal BC (68% probability) respectively. Settlement also ended before burial on subsite 11, but endured for much longer. The settlement here ended in 4670-4620 cal BC (37% probability) or 4610-4565 cal BC (31% probability) and burial in 4585-4515 cal BC (68% probability). Both settlement and burial endured longest on sub-site 5603, although here the end of burial preceded the end of settlement by well over a century. Burial ended here in 4515-4465 cal BC (68% probability), and settlement ended in 4345-4245 cal BC (68% probability)

Publisher: Verlag Philipp von Zabern GmbH
Year: 2017
OAI identifier: oai:

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