Neolithic settlement of the former coastal zone of the Thermaic Gulf : report on work completed- conclusions-prospects

Here we present the ‘Abstract‘ of the corresponding paper by Chrysostomou, Panayiotis.


What was formerly the north coastal zone of the Thermaic Gulf, part of the centre of the south Balkan cultural fabric, with a wide variety of habitats and types of terrain, attracted Neolithic man to settle there in the very early stages of that historical period and was the focus of his fruitful productive activities.The surface investigations and excavations conducted in the Yannitsa district over the last eight years have yielded 21 Neolithic sites and have brought to light much evidence about the inhabitation of the area over time and about the manner in which its communities were organised and communicated with one another. They have also contributed significantly to the cultural identification of the area and, on the basis of the large number of traces left by the set tlements, archaeologists have been able to trace communications with, and influences from, specific sites or circles of culture elsewhere.In this geographically restricted area, the Early Neolithic period is represented by the settlements known as Yannitsa A, Axos A, Asvestario A and, perhaps, Archontiko. The rescue trenches dug in recent years in the Neolithic settlement of Yannitsa B (1989-95) and the recent excavation in the settlement of Axos A (1996) revealed important evidence about that distant period in connection with the phases of habitation, the manner in which the houses were constructed and the materials used, pottery, looms and their fittings, dietary customs, burial practices, etc. The Asvestario A settlement yielded a limited amount of surface pottery of the Early Neolithic period. These settlements were abandoned or diminished in size in the Middle Neolithic period, being resettled in the Late Neolithic period and inhabited periodically at later times.The other sites (Ambelies, Agrosykia A, Agrosykia B, Axos B, Aravissos, Yannitsa A, Damiano, Drosero, Dytiko B, Karyotissa, Leptokarya A, S. Pella A, S. Pella B, Paralimni A, Paralimni B and Playiari A) came into being at va­ rious points during the Late Neolithic period. Surface investigation of these sites has yielded traces characteristic of the general northern Greek area. Trial trenches of limited extent were dug at Agrosykia A, Ambelies (1990) and Damiano (1991). Only a few of these Neolithic sites were occupied during the following historical period. Archontiko, Yannitsa B and Axos A are the only sites where long-term habitation can be observed.An initial overview of the data suggests that during the Early Neolithic period the former coastal zone of the Thermaic Gulf was part of the southern belt of the Starcevo culture, which covered the geographical areas of Skopje and its vicinity, south-eastern Albania, south-western Bulgaria and part of central and western Macedonia, also maintaining loose links with Thessaly. Al­ though the area had a degree of autonomy within approximately the same zone during the Late Neolithic period, it came under the influence of the Vinca cultural circle, while at the same time displaying the strong influence of, and frequent contact with, eastern Macedonia and Thrace.Here, too, the criteria on which the selection of sites for settlements was based revolved around the proximity of environmental resources. The morphology of the sites chosen for habitation varies, as does the size of the settlements. Typologically, the sites can be classed as low tumuli, settlements on low ridges or hillsides, and settlements on platforms close to river-beds.When systematic surface investigation and excavation work is carried out, with trial trenches, and when the material already assembled is processed, we will possess a more complete knowledge of human activity in this key area during the Neolithic period.



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