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ISBN 973-7951-59-X, Editura Nereamia Napocae – Cristian Matos, Hunedoara 2004

Volum îngrijit de: Cristian C. Roman, Dragoş Diaconescu, Nicolae Cerişer


Prelucrare Web: Cosmin Suciu; Powered by: Institutul pentru Cercetarea Patrimoniului Cultural Transilvanean în Context European (IPTCE)



Archaeological findings in the site of Şeuşa-”Gorgan”

(Ciugud parish, ALBA County). I. (pages 43-81)






1. Localization and geomorphologic characteristics

The field research carried out in the surrounding areas of the Şeuşa-”La cărarea morii” site, that took place in several successive campaigns-both during the archaeological excavations and between the campaigns[1]-revealed a series of new points, where archaeological materials belonging to different historic periods were found (fig. 1). In 1996, during a field research carried out on the top of a hillock[2] (at a distance of 1,5 km towards north - north-east of “Cărarea morii” and 3 km east of the village (fig. 1-2) on the eastern hill side (farm land), we noticed the presence of a relatively rich quantity of archaeological materials, especially pottery, which could be framed within a late phase of the Coţofeni culture, on the basis of the specific structure and decoration style. The same research revealed the fact that on the highest point of the hillock (which has an absolute altitude of 463 m; latitude: 46°3’53’’; longitude: 23°39’2’’), there is a knoll having a diameter of approx. 8-10 m, with a topographic landmark on its top (fig. 2-4). The etymology of this toponym-“Gorgan” (“The Gorgan top”)[3], the shape of the land and the presence of the archaeological materials mentioned above were potential arguments, which at that moment (1996) spoke for a possible existence of a tumulus probably belonging to the Coţofeni culture in that place.

We would like to mention that the traces of two parallel, covered ditches were visible on the lateral, north-eastern and south-western sides of the knoll. The form of these ditches seemed to resemble sections of stratigraphic probing. Following bibliographic research and consulting fellow archaeologists, we found no mention of past excavations carried out in this location. We do not exclude either the intervention of “treasure seekers” or the possibility that the knoll, respectively the ditches, could be results of certain recent human interventions (these could have been military arrangements and/or even the placing of the topographic landmark)[4]. On the other hand, the stratigraphic situation obtained during the three campaigns carried out here, corroborated with toponymic and archive information, shed a new light on the understanding of the morphology of this knoll; this kind of knolls having the same toponym (quite frequent in this region) used to represent landmarks between localities in the medieval age.[5]

Geomorphologically, the Gorgan hillock belongs to the contact area between the western Secaşelor Plateau and the valley of river Mureş, which is, in this sector, a wide corridor (fig. 1). Its dominant position offers an excellent overall view (of the surroundings) over the entire Mureş valley (from Vinţu de Jos parish to the vicinity of Teiuş town, that is more than 30 km), as well as over the entire western and central part of the plateau (fig. 2). In order to give a better localization of this point/site, we would like to add that it lies at approx. 3 km south-west of Măgura Străjii, which is the highest point of the western Secaşelor Plateau, at the at the same distance towards the south from Jidovar top (which belongs to the Hallstatt fortified settlement of Teleac) and approx. 6 km East of Alba Iulia town (fig. 2-3). The point lies on the border of three localities: Şeuşa, Drâmbar and Hăpria, all three villages belonging to Ciugud parish. In order to avoid any confusion, we have chosen to carry out the archaeological investigations in the closest locality that is Şeuşa. Following the inclusion of this site in the plan of the Pre- and Protohistorical Research Centre within the University “1 Decembrie 1918” of Alba Iulia, the approach through systematic archaeological research of the “Gorgan” point was decided in 2000.


2. The research (2000-2002)

The first stage of the effective approach of this site was the carrying out of a control probing in order to obtain stratigraphic information[6]. The probing had in view the eastern area of the hillock-characterized by the highest density of archaeological materials found on the surface-and identifying the stratigraphic situation in this sector of the hillock was our main objective. For this purpose, the first section was opened (S I/2000 = 5 x 2 m), oriented north-west-south-east, situated at 11,40 m towards south-east of the topographic landmark[7] (fig. 4, 6).

Up to 1 m deep no complex was grasped, but the archaeological materials discovered in the cultural layer, especially the pottery, spoke for a local existence of a relatively intense occupation of the Coţofeni community, on several levels. At this depth, in the north-western half of this section, we noticed a flat, uniform agglomeration consisting of adobe fragments, red-coloured, with a thickness ranging from 5 to 8 cm; under this agglomeration, we found a similar uniform level of black-coloured burned material (coal) and, under this level, a thin, white-yellowish coloured level (2-4 cm) (fig. 7). The grasping of this complex at the surface, within the section’s profiles (entirely on the north-western and only partially on the south-western and north-eastern profiles) led to the conclusion that we were facing the southern extremity of a burned down surface dwelling (L1/2000). Within the agglomeration that represented the dwelling, a rich archaeological material was found, consisting of ceramic fragments, animal bones, quartzite splinters (rarely flint), bone tools (three sharped, worked pieces) and relatively large burned adobe fragments. The stratigraphic situation we had noticed and the characteristics of the archaeological material allowed us to launch the hypothesis regarding the way the dwelling came to an end, namely through fire[8] (fig. 7).

Under this complex, that marked the lower limit of the Coţofeni cultural layer, at a depth of 1,2 m, we grasped a darker coloured, more compact level, with reddish-brick coloured intrusions, in which ceramic fragments scarcely appeared, totally different from the Coţofeni ones; this cultural level was quite poor and difficult to delimit on the stratigraphic profile (fig. 7). We would like to point out the discovery, in this last level, of a few ceramic fragments belonging to a beaker with high leg, decorated with circular impressions, made with a thin cylindrical tool, apparently belonging to the Tiszapolgár culture, according to the analogies with its shape and ceramic structure[9] (fig. 22/3). At the depth of 1,30 m-in the south-eastern extremity-and 1,60 m in the north-western extremity[10], under the level corresponding to the “Tiszapolgár type” occupation, we grasped the archaeological sterile ground, which was loess-like, clayey, yellow coloured (fig. 7).

The second stage of the 2000 campaign[11] was characterized by vaster activities[12]. Our main goal was the complete unveiling of dwelling 1/2000 by opening an adjacent surface to the north-western end of S I/2000 (leaving a 30 cm thick stratigraphic marker). Before the opening of this surface, a magnetometric survey was carried out, in a 400 m2 area (a square, which had a side length of 20 m, having the centre on the topographic landmark)[13]. The result of the prospection proved the existence of several areas with magnetic anomalies that could have been complexes or burned dwellings (fig. 8).

The surface S II/2000 = 8 x 4 m was opened perpendicularly on the direction of S I/2000, north-east-south-west oriented[14] (fig. 4, 6). The level difference corresponding to the long sides, relatively parallel with the hillock’s contour lines, ranged between 30-40 cm. In squares 5 and 7 (in the higher area, close to the topographic landmark), at a depth of 0,50 m, a new Coţofeni surface dwelling (L2/2000) was partially revealed. This dwelling was characterized by the presence of a relatively rich archaeological material, mostly pottery; however, it lacked the solid basis structure as well as the adobe walls. In the profile, the dwelling was marked through an ash lens. Then we noticed that the dwelling had several occupation stages (fig. 9/3-4, 7). More precisely, these could have been previous arrangements (reconstructions) of the dwelling. This situation could be later revealed, following the stratigraphic profiles from the south-western corner of the surface, that showed the arrangements of the complex (more exactly, of the complexes), characterized by a short-lived (probably seasonal) occupation, that usually ended through fire[15] (fig. 9).

In the northern area of the surface, in squares 1-2-3, a new dwelling (L3/2000) was revealed at a depth of 0,80 m, and in squares 4-6, in the same level, another dwelling (L3bis/2000) was grasped, both having the same characteristics with dwelling 2/2000, but lacking re-arrangements (fig. 9/6, 9, 11). The first one (L3/2000) had a relatively rectangular shape (approx. 4 x 2 m) and it was indicated by the burning and ash traces and even burned post holes. The margins of the second dwelling (L3bis/2000) could not be fully grasped, as they remained under the south-eastern profile of the surface. In the north-western corner of S II/2000, in square 1, we noticed a new arranged/laid out structure – an ash lens (2-3 cm), under which lied a thick flat lens (10 cm) of yellow coloured clay. This proved to be a new surface dwelling (L4/2000), in fact its northern corner, as the complex continued under the north-eastern and north-western profiles (fig. 9).

In the level corresponding to dwelling 4, at a depth of 0,90 m, in the south-eastern area of the surface (the lower one, corresponding to the northern end of S I/2000-fig. 11/4, 8, 9) and at a depth of 1,30 m in the opposite (north-western) area, we found dwelling 1 (L1/2000-fig. 9/10, 18; fig. 13/12), initially identified in S I/2000. In the end, this dwelling proved to have a rectangular shape and quite large dimensions, of approx. 7 x 4 m, having an east-west orientation[16] (fig. 10). In SI/2000 we grasped its south-eastern corner and in surface II we found the rest of this dwelling, thus being revealed over 85-90% of its entire surface (its north-eastern corner could not be unveiled as the stratigraphic marker could not be removed) (fig. 10, 11, 13). The dwelling had the aspect of a large flat agglomeration of burned adobe fragments of different dimensions-some of them with wattle or wooden posts traces-in some cases burned until vitrification, ceramic fragments belonging to several vessels of different dimensions and structure (some burned until vitrification), osteological material, lithic (chipped, polished etc.) material, charred wood fragments and so on. Dwelling 1 was built on a wooden structure and wattle plastered with adobe and came to an end through a strong fire. On the way in which the walls collapsed-towards inside or outside-and were fragmented, depended the manner we revealed the dwelling’s shape using the trowel (fig. 10). In certain areas there was mostly strong, red-coloured burned material with vitrified adobe remains and, in other areas, black burned material of charred wood (sometimes in large pieces), associated with white-coloured ash.

The dwelling showed a very rich inventory: complete or restorable vessels (more than ten pieces), fragmentary ceramic material with different decoration techniques (fig. 27-31), flint and quartzite blades and sharp bone tools. In the profile, the remains of the dwelling had a thickness ranging between 10 and 30 cm (fig. 9, 11-12-13). On both profiles of the long sides we noticed two holes. The first one (G1/2000), grasped in the south-eastern profile (fig. 11) and in which two filling phases were observed, was placed inside the dwelling and within it we found three large vessels, broken on the spot, as well as other restorable vessels nearby (fig. 10). The hole was filled with material resulted from the fire. The second hole (G2/2000) observed in the north-western profile, was situated outside the dwelling, had larger dimensions and was bell-shaped (fig. 9/10). It was characterized by a rich inventory of animal remains, ash and charred wood and ceramic vessels fragments. The purpose of this hole seems to have been that of keeping the domestic waste, being covered by the dwelling’s debris (some of the fragments belonged to vessels within the dwelling).

In the next excavation level, in squares 1 and 2, a new cultural layer was outlined, within which a new complex was revealed (C1/2000), as a flat agglomeration of burned adobe fragments, grinder fragments and restorable or even complete ceramic vessels (fig. 10, 14). Remarkable was the discovery, inside it, of a distinct, massive rectangular structure with 1,5 x 1 x 0,15 m dimensions, east-west oriented, made of compact burned adobe (slightly fragmented as a result of earth’s pressure, yet maintaining its initial shape), having a slightly trough-like upper surface due to a 3-5 cm wide and probably 5-10 cm high chime, quite poorly preserved, fragmentary along the margins[17] (fig. 14-15-16). At its western end we found four diverse shaped grinders (mill stones) of different dimensions (fig. 16) and in its vicinity (towards north-west) two complete vessels (fig. 23/1, 4) and one restorable vessel (fig. 23/5) lying directly on the chime. The vessels’ fragments had specific decoration (fig. 24/5-7, 9-15) and the shape of the complete vessels confirmed that the archaeological materials found in this cultural layer belonged to a “Tiszapolgár type” cultural phenomenon.

On the entire surface of the research unit we grasped the layer corresponding to the complex-the same that was grasped also in S I/2000 under L1/2000-having a brown-russet colour, with red-brick coloured mineral intrusions, containing Eneolithic archaeological materials and being of approx. 30-40 cm thick. In squares 5 and 6, at the lower part of this level, we noticed a hole (G3/2000) of relatively large dimensions, having a diameter of 1,5 m and deepened 1 m into the sterile ground, covered by an external hearth and a grinder. When we emptied the hole, we noticed that it contained, along fine ceramic material, brick-reddish coloured, well polished, belonging to a large vessel (fig. 22/4), animal bones and snail shells (over 50 pieces). On its bottom, directly on the sterile ground, we discovered a ceramic fragment decorated with dark-coloured painting, quite poorly preserved, applied on an engobed, white-yellowish background (fig. 22/1).

In square 6, at a depth of approx. 1,40 m from the contemporary ground level, in the “Tiszapolgár type” layer, we discovered a well preserved, small copper chisel, whose dimensions were 10 x 1 x 0,7 cm (fig. 24/18). It lied at approx. 24 cm under the lower limit of the Coţofeni surface dwelling (L1/2000), in the close vicinity (3-4 cm) of the south-eastern profile. The piece did not belong to any complex; it lied within the cultural layer (the closest complex corresponding to the cultural layer of this piece was G3/2000). Revealed as a result of the intense green oxide coat, the small chisel had the active (sharp) side half-moon-shaped, quite well preserved, with wearing-out traces, similar to the back side, having also traces of bevelling, as the result of using this end for percussion. The specific weight confirmed that the core of the piece was still massive[18]. This small chisel made the object of special investigations[19], which revealed a high copper purity (96,2 %), as well as the presence of elements that proved the using of native copper and its “cold” processing[20].

The “Tiszapolgár type” level had a horizontal basis, fact that allowed us to think of the possibility of an initial levelling (terracing) of the land by the community settled here. Under this level lies the sterile ground having a compact, hard structure.



The 2001 campaign

The first action undertaken was the complete unveiling of the complex that contained the probably cultic arrangement (shrine-granary?) belonging to the “Tiszapolgár type” occupation that remained in situ in the previous campaign, as we lacked then the adequate means for its removal and bringing to the conservation-restoration laboratory. Once it was fully unveiled, photos of this structure were taken from different angles, it was re-drawn, divided on squares encoded with symbols, then removed, piece by piece, as it could not have been taken out at once (“in block”)[21]. At the removal of the complex’ fragments, on their internal side we could notice longitudinal wattle imprints (parallel with the long axis of the shrine, with a 3-5 cm diameter), which represented the wooded “bed” on which the clay pasting mixed with a large quantity of organic, vegetal degreasing substance was most probably placed (fig. 16). The burned adobe was about 15 cm thick towards the margins, where it is slightly raised in the shape of a chime, while to the middle it decreases to a thickness of only 2-4 cm, thus the entire complex had a slightly trough-like aspect[22] (fig. 15-16).

A new surface (S III/2001), with 8 x 4 m dimensions, was opened further towards north-north-east of S II/2000, with a 50 cm stratigraphic marker between the two sections, in order to unveil the partially grasped complexes[23] (fig. 6). The stratigraphic situation was similar to that grasped in S II/2000, as we noticed seasonal Coţofeni occupations in the upper half of the layer belonging to this culture; at the basis of this layer, in squares 5 and 7, we found the continuation of the surface dwelling, L4/2000, which had a rectangular shape, built on a yellowish-green clay “bed” (floor), with a thickness ranging between 5-10 cm (the clay was taken from nearby) (fig. 9). The dwelling was burned down, just as L1/2000, with which it was contemporary.

Under L4/2000-2001-respectively the first Coţofeni occupation layer-C1/2000 continued. In squares 5-8, on the almost entire surface of 4 x 3 m, a burned compact adobe agglomeration was revealed, mixed with large pottery fragments (ewers), restorable and even complete vessels (six vessels), elements of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic plastics, lithic flint chipped pieces and grinder fragments (fig. 14, 17-18). Judging on the aspect of the layout, it seemed possible that it continued under the north-western profile (stratigraphic marker).

In order to grasp the extension of the prehistoric occupation on the entire area of the hillock, we opened three control-sections on its north-eastern slope in order to obtain stratigraphic information (S IV, S V and S VI/2001, each one with 10 x 2 m sizes, with a 5 m wide stratigraphic marker left between them), having a north-west-south-east orientation. They had the shape of a partial trench, having in view the opening of a cross-trench for stratigraphic information (fig. 6). Due to the terrain’s morphology, in the form of successive terracings, we assumed the existence there of human layouts, on which certain complexes could lie, representing extensions of Eneolithic occupations; we should also have in view that this slope was best protected from winds, having thus natural advantages, offering favourable living conditions. The stratigraphic situation revealed in S IV/2001 and S V/2001, placed exactly on the presumed “terraces”, proved that these configurations are, in fact, natural. Under the vegetation layer, with a thickness ranging between 0,20 and 0,45 cm, containing no archaeological materials, we found the yellow sterile ground similar to that grasped in S I and S II/2000 (fig. 19).

We could thus establish that the Eneolithic occupations of Gorgan were grouped around the top of the hillock (on a radius of 15-20 m, at most). This cannot stand for a final conclusion, but only for a current hypothesis based on the current stage of the research – at least until the western, southern and south-eastern slopes of the hillock will be probed as well, even if they do not seem to have the same natural advantages for habitation[24].

The archaeological layer was clearly grasped only in section VI/2001. Seasonal dwellings (huts) that had been burned (down) were noticed. These dwellings were agglomerations of burned adobe without a compact aspect (L6/2001–Coţofeni culture). Under this layer, at a different depth due to the natural slope, another surface dwelling was found (L5/2001-2002–Coţofeni culture); its floor board was partially grasped, as well as remains of the burned wall, this time having a compact aspect and clearly delimited sides. In order to completely unveil the dwellings and complexes that were grasped, we expanded the long (south-eastern) side towards S III/2001 and we left a 50 cm marker between the two research units. Section VI/2001 became thus a trapeze (S VIbis/2001-2002) with the sides length of 10 x 4,35 x 6,50 x 10,50 m (fig. 4, 6, 20). The numbering of the initial squares (of section VI/2001) remained the same (1-5, from north to south) and its extension towards south-east followed the numbering of the resulting squares, from north to south (6-10). Objective reasons forced us to stop the excavations and preserve in situ these two dwellings.


The 2002 campaign

Our attention has been exclusively drawn to the surface VIbis/2001, which became surface SVIbis/2001-2002[25]. The Coţofeni dwelling, named L6/2001-2002, which was grasped in the 2001 campaign in squares 3-4-9-10 of S VIbis, revealed a simple structure of seasonal hut type. Its presence was indicated by a light coloured ash lens, with an irregular form and a thickness of 2-5-10 cm, as well as ceramic materials and quite few animal remains. Its structure was mostly wooden, the small burned adobe fragments being quite rare. This dwelling could also have been burned down.

In the north-eastern corner of the surface (squares 1-6-2-7), at a depth of 1,20 m, a new surface dwelling belonging to the Coţofeni culture (L5/2002) had been completely unveiled. Of a relatively rectangular shape, the sides having an approx. length of 3 x 1,8 m, east-west oriented, the dwelling had the aspect of a massive burned adobe agglomeration, with traces of posts and wattle, ceramic fragments, animal remains, stones, fragments of charred wood and a large quantity of ash and so on (fig. 20).

At the removal of the materials, we noticed that many of the vessels were restorable, with frequent traces of secondary firing. Some of the fragments were burned until they got vitrified. These arguments make us believe that the dwelling was very probably burned down in a strong fire, just like L1/2000 and L4/2001, contemporary with L5/2002; they delimit the basis of the Coţofeni layer, respectively the earliest occupation of this type at Gorgan.

Along squares 4-9-5-10, on the almost entire southern half of the surface, under dwelling 6/2001-2002, at a depth of approx. 1,40 m, corresponding to dwellings 1 and 5, respectively the first occupation level of the Coţofeni culture, we grasped the continuation of dwelling 4 (Coţofeni). Dwelling 4 had been partially grasped in the previous campaigns, in the north-western corner of S II/2000 and south-western corner of S III/2001), thus this became L4/2000-2002. The dwelling was built on a yellow-coloured clay “bed” (floor) (about 5-10 cm thick) and was characterized, as in the part grasped in S III/2001, by a poor material inventory, the floor being covered with a compact ash and charred wood layer (lens) (sometimes over 5 cm thick!). This indicates that the dwelling was very probably burned down as well. A rich inventory of pottery and animal remains was found in the dwelling. A bell-shaped hole (G5/2002), probably belonging to the same dwelling, was grasped as an annex at the limit between squares 5 and 10 and then emptied. This hole had a diameter of approx 1,20 m and a depth of 1,50 m. It contained quite few materials (especially pottery) and on its bottom there was no charred wood lens, which was previously grasped in a complex of similar dimensions and shape (G4/2001 in S III/2001), which also belonged to dwelling 4.

The stratigraphic situations and the complexes revealed in the 2002 campaign confirmed our previous hypotheses regarding the existence of an initial occupation (early), stable, long-lasting, of a Coţofeni community in this point (belonging to the third phase of this culture’s evolution). That occupation was indicated by surface dwellings of relatively large dimensions, built upon wooden posts and adobe and levelled clay floors (L1/2000, L4/2000-2002, L5/2002, fig. 9; 20); these dwellings seem to have come to an end through a strong fire. The initial occupation was followed by further seasonal occupations, in wooded huts and, probably, pit-houses, belonging to the third phase of this culture’s evolution as well.[26] The morphology of this site makes possible the framing of the settlement (at least the one from the first occupation stage) in the so-called category of “the high settlements, on terraces”[27].

Under the Coţofeni level, in squares 3-4-8-9 (in the western half of surface VIbis, at a depth of approx. 1,70-1,80 m), a new surface complex belonging to the “Tiszapolgár type” cultural horizon was grasped (C2/2002, fig. 20). This complex was characterized by a massive agglomeration of ceramic vessels of different dimensions, broken on the spot, collapsed burned adobe walls. Outside this agglomeration we found a hearth having a thickness of approx. 4 cm (fig. 20-21). Within this complex, as well as in its near vicinity, grinders and grinder fragments were found, as well as stone crushers. The ceramic vessels found belong to the fine category (small-shaped, bowl type, eight of them) as well as to the rough category (large storage vessels, amphorae and ewers, with horizontally pierced handles, at least four of them). The conservation state of the vessels is very good, one of them being entirely preserved, the rest being easily restorable.

Between this complex and the eastern margin of the surface, where we expected the continuation of the first “Tiszapolgár type” complex (C1/2000-2001), there was no connection element. Thus, it has been confirmed that it represents a new surface dwelling, of a relatively rectangular shape (the complex was not fully unveiled, it continues under the western profile, fig. 20). This dwelling is quite similar, in terms of structure and material, to C1/2000-2001; however, it lacks the cultic layouts and the specific rich decoration elements[28].



At the current stage of the research, we can state that at Şeuşa-“Gorgan” we have an archaeological site with multiple cultural layers. The settlement situated on the top of the Gorgan hillock began with communities of the “Tiszapolgár type” cultural horizon, which were the first to intervene upon this specific micro-area through a specific terracing needed for habitation. We do not exclude the existence of a cultic layout on this hillock, related with agricultural practices (farming), associated with the movement of the stars (the sun) on which certain sacrifices were offered. Up to this moment we grasped two surface dwelling complexes, two external hearths and a hole (probably for domestic waste?) belonging to this occupation level, and a copper piece, discovered in the cultural layer, close to the shrine-granary. These facts prove a relatively intense occupation, with a single level grasped stratigraphically.

Subsequently-and/or contemporaneous with the final occupation-there took place certain phenomena of cultural mixture, determined by possible contacts with other horizons (Herculane II-III – Cheile Turzii). Chronologically, there follows an end of the occupation in this area, which was stratigraphically grasped in some places, where the stratigraphy was not disturbed through further layouts.

The occupation will continue, this time more intensively, at the beginning of the third phase of evolution of the Coţofeni culture. In this context, the human occupation of this not quite accessible top could be easily justified as a result of the subsistence sources and raw materials present in this area (wood, useful rocks etc.). The drinking water springs, which are nowadays at a distance of approx. 600 m from the site, were much closer to the top in those times, as a consequence of the forest vegetations. We presume that there was a forest in the close vicinity of Gorgan in the prehistoric times, which covered then the entire surrounding area and even the mentioned top (the forest exists nowadays as well, but only on the northern slopes, in the low areas, close to Hăpriţa valley)[29].

Moreover, the morphological shape of the top must have been flatter, the “pointed” aspect of today being the result of the intense occupations in this place, and probably of the modern placing of the triangulation point.

The shape of this land was also exploited by the Coţofeni communities; they systematically terraced the top, continuing the work of the previous settlers.

The succession of the Coţofeni occupations-the first level is one of intense and stable occupation, with large surface dwellings (L1, L4, L5) which came to an end through a strong fire, followed by further occupation levels, the dwellings and the materials suggesting a seasonal character (L2, L3, L3bis, L6). The thickness of the Coţofeni layer reaches a maximum of 1,80 m towards the top and decreases as the distance from the top increases. It disappears at a distance of approx. 25 m towards east.â




Complex 1 (“Tiszapolgár type” horizon)[30]

The pottery we found here had a floury aspect, yet nice, the reddish-yellow, orange colour predominates, the grey one is rare (fig. 22/3); only one of the vessels has polishing traces (fig. 22/4). The fine sand was used as a degreasing substance. Regarding the vessels' shape, there is a large number and a variety of bowls. According to the typology of Ida Bognár-Kutzián[31] and largely taken over by Gh. Lazarovici[32], we have small bowls with slightly rounded body, quite similar to flatter bowls (străchini) (fig. 23/2, 3, 5; 24/16, 17, 19; 25/2, 4, 7), which, after their depth, could be seen as deeper bowls (castroane) (fig. 23/7)[33]. Another variant is represented by the bowls with widened out lip and slightly carenated shoulder (fig. 23/4; 24/15) or bitronconic with well delimited shoulder and straight or even slightly narrowed lip (fig. 22/2; 23/7; 24/15; 26/8). We would also like to point out the frequency of the calotte-like bowls with straight or even slightly narrowed lip (fig. 23/2, 3; 24/16; 25/4; 26/2, 4), as well as those with pouring beak. The larger vessels are framed within the category of amphorae with large neck (fig. 22/4) or jar-vessels (fig. 23/6; 25/3, 7). Then there is a miniature vessel, with a bitronconic shape, with two small handles slightly sharpened, attached to the lip (fig. 23/1), a beaker with high leg, fragmentary (fig. 22/3) and a ceramic fragment which could be from an anthropomorphic idol of large dimensions or, more probably, from a beaker-like vessel with leg (fig. 24/8).

The vessels' decorations are poor and rigid, there are only in relief ornaments, like conical knobs (fig. 22/4; 23/4, 5; 24/11, 14; 25/1, 5; 26/11) or round buttons (fig. 26/17). The second (and last) type of ornaments are round impressions, placed in horizontal band right under the vessels' lip (fig. 23/6; 24/6, 10, 13), grouped in order to obtain various motifs (fig. 24/7, 9, 12) or angularly placed in order to obtain "V"-shaped motifs (fig. 25/3). We could identify brown painting on two of the fragments (fig. 22/1; 26/1), as well as the slight alveolated shape of the lip of a large vessel fragment (fig. 22/2).

The beaker with high leg (fig. 22/3) has good analogies in the late Tiszapolgár settlement from Deva-“Ciangăi”[34], while the small bowls are similar to those found in the inventory of the pit-house from Aiud-“Microraion III”[35], which are dated by the excavator as a component of the Băile Herculane-Cheile Turzii complex, probably as a local facies. The researcher S. A. Luca includes, however, the discoveries from Aiud-“Microraion III” in the Decea Mureşului group[36] and this aspect has to be kept in view for our discovery as well, when we study closely the forms and the ornaments of some of the bowls (fig. 22/2; 23/4-5, 7; 24/14-15, 17, 19; 25/7). This bowls proved strong similarities (shape, structure, technique of decoration and ornaments) with the ceramic pots discovered in the graves nr. 8[37] and nr. 11[38] from Decea Mureşului cemetery.

The same conclusion is indicated by the floury aspect of the pottery, which is smoothed, even polished in most of the cases of the classic Tiszapolgár phase (this is very rarely seen at “Gorgan”).

Regarding the small copper chisel discovered near C1/2000, the copper processing within the Tiszapolgár culture is well known on the Romanian territory, as well as in Hungary, Slovakia and Yugoslavia. The cross-shaped axes discovered in Tiszapolgár settlements or in settlements of Bodrogkeresztúr mixture are especially well known. On the other side, in the cemetery from Decea Mureşului where discovered specific copper pieces, (needles) very similar with the small chisel from şeuşa-“Gorgan”[39] .

Thus, following the detailed and comparative study of the materials provided by the Tiszapolgár complexes (C1/2000-2001), we would like to launch the hypothesis – without definitive cultural and chronological framing of the Middle Neolithic discoveries – that the “Gorgan” occupation is chronologically situated at the end of the Tiszapolgár culture (phase B), close to the mixture stage to the Bodrogkeresztúr culture[40]. However, the shape and the decoration particularities prove direct and strong contacts with the Decea Mureşului communities. Thus, it is possible that this could be a process of cultural mixture, cohabitation (at this moment, we do not know how direct this was), this being the situation in the intra-Carpathian area at that time; the cultural unity was then “broken” due to the existing contacts between communities.

The structure and the shape of the ceramic vessels have a particularized  aspect (visible different)from that of the similar products of the initial area of the Tiszapolgár culture.[41] The peripheral geographical position of the Şeuşa-“Gorgan” settlement within the classic area of this culture and the possibility of emergence of cultural mixture phenomena, of grafting Tiszapolgár tradition elements on the previous and contemporary Eneolithic Transylvanian background point out in the same direction, at this moment. Unfortunately, actually the Decea Mureşului cultural group is not very clearly defined, but having in consideration the strong similarities between the ceramic and copper artefacts discovered at şeuşa-“Gorgan” with the others from the cemetery of Decea Mureşului, we are temptated to consider, in this moment of the researches, that our discovery from Şeuşa is very close with Decea Mureşului group, probably more that with the Tiszapolgar culture. This is the reason why, at the moment, we prefer to use, for the terminological definition of the cultural phenomenon from şeuşa, the conventional name: “Tiszapolgar-Decea Mureşului”. The future researches will place more exactly the cultural-chronological position of this habitation.

Regarding the cultural and chronological framing-as correct as possible-of the Coţofeni occupation, we would like to point out the presence of several elements that our discovery has in common with similar discoveries. Thus, the large handles decorated with in relief girdles and buttons (fig. 29/6), or the common vessels with in relief cuffs and crests (fig. 27/1; 28/13; 29/5) are similar to the ones from settlements from the first stage of the third phase of the Coţofeni evolution, as that of Măgura Căpudului[42]. The globular vessels that imitate the metal shape (fig. 27/6) are present in discoveries from the beginning of the third phase[43], from Sebeş-“Râpa Roşie”[44], but also in settlements assigned to the sub-phase IIIb[45], like the one from Câlnic[46]. A vessel almost identical with the one mentioned before was found at Tăuţi[47]. The bowl in the shape of a truncated cone, slightly decentred, with a single, slightly over-raised handle, is also almost identical with those discovered at Poiana Ampoiului-“Piatra Corbului” and Câlnic[48]. The small cups with globular bottom and low waist (fig. 27/4; 29/2, 3) are also characteristic for the first stages of the third phase and they could be found in settlements like those from Sebeş-“Râpa Roşie”[49] or Meteş-“Piatra Peşterii”[50]. However, the ceramic fragment decorated with circular concentric motifs (fig. 28/12) has good analogies with the older fragment from Răchita-“Vârful Zăpozii”, which is framed within a “post-Câlnic” horizon of Vučedol influence[51]. According to the older chronological system[52], this analogy indicates the end of the second sub-stage (IIIb) and the beginning of the third (IIIc) of the last phase of the Coţofeni culture. The pottery decorated with successive stitches and white-encrusted proves contacts with the Kostolac culture; the fact that the two cultures co-exist a long period of time in Banat and the Danubian region is well known. The presence of a ceramic fragment, decorated with successive stitches in the form of the spiral-like ornament of “glasses-like pendant” type, could have been inspired by the concentric circles frequently noticed in the Vučedol culture[53].

Having in view what we have outlined above, at the current stage of the research we believe that the Coţofeni occupation from Şeuşa-“Gorgan” took place, most probably, at the end of the second sub-stage (IIIb) and at the beginning of the third (IIIc), as it results from the system elaborated by P. Roman. The Vučedol influences are obvious (we have to mention that in one of the re-arrangements of dwelling L2/2000 we found an amphora fragment with horizontal ornaments made of successive stitches placed in the so-called “glasses-like spirals”).

The Vučedol influences are natural sometime in the late phase of this occupation, as it is one of long duration (L2, L3 and L3bis/2000 are more recent than L1/2000, L4/2000-2002 and L5/2002, which are stratigraphically overlapped by the first mentioned dwellings). According to the older chronological system[54], this parallelization indicates the end of the second sub-stage and the beginning of the third (IIIc) of the last phase of the Coţofeni culture. We will return to this fact when we will publish the resulting materials on levels and complexes.

The systematic archaeological research will continue at Gorgan in the following years as a school-archaeological excavation. The “cross” approach will be completed with trenches of information and stratigraphic control, simultaneously with opening adjacent surfaces in order to completely unveil the Coţofeni and “Tiszapolgár-Decea Mureşului” occupations and, in case our assumptions are confirmed following probings, to reveal the archaeological inventory of the potential tumulus. Another purpose will be the precise delimiting of the stratigraphic position, both vertically and horizontally, and of the archaeological layers that were pointed out so far, and the grasping of possible connections between the “Tiszapolgár-Decea Mureşului” cultural horizon and Petreşti occupations from the nearby point of Hăpria-“Capu’ Pădurii”[55].


(Translated by ANITA NICULESCU)



Ciugudean 1978           - Ciugudean, N., „Noi descoperiri arheologice pe teritoriul

 judeţului Alba.(I)”, Apulum, (Alba Iulia), XVI, p. 39-53.

Ciugudean 2000           - Ciugudean, N., Eneoliticul final în Transilvania şi Banat: Cultura

                                    Coţofeni, BMBA, Timişoara.

Ciută, Gligor 2001        - Ciută , M., Gligor, A., „Seuşa-Gorgan. Raport arheologic” Cronica Cercetărilor Arheologice (CCA), Suceava, p. 242-243.

Ciută, Gligor 2001a      - Ciută, M., Gligor, A., „Raport preliminar asupra cercetărilor

arheologice de la Şeuşa-„Gorgan” (com. Ciugud, jud. Alba), campania 2000”, Acta Praehistorica et Archaeologica Transsilvaniae, I, Alba Iulia, (in course of apparition).

Ciută, Gligor 2002        - Ciută, M., Gligor, A., „Seuşa-Gorgan. Raport arheologic”, CCA, (Timişoara), p. 519-520.

Ciută, Gligor 2003        - Ciută, M., Gligor, A., „Seuşa-Gorgan. Raport arheologic”, CCA (Covasna), p. 312-314.

Ciută et alia 2000         - Ciută, M., Daisa, B., Breazu, M., Andrei, Ş., „Şantierul

                                    arheologic de la Şeuşa-La cărarea morii”, CCA, (Deva), p. 101.

Ciută et alia 2000a        - Ciută, M., Gligor, A., Kadar, M, „Consideraţii pe marginea unei

                                     piese de aramă eneolitice descoperite la Şeuşa-Gorgan (com.

                                     Ciugud, jud. Alba)”, Corviniana, (Hunedoara) VI,  p. 69-74.

Ciută et alia 2001         - Ciută, M., Beldiman, C., Ferencz, I., V., Mazăre, P., Daisa, B.,

                                    Breazu, M., Pataki, G., „Şantierul arheologic de la Şeuşa-La

                                    cărarea morii, campania 2000”, CCA, (Suceava), p. 239-242.

DEX 1984                   - ***, Dicţionarul Explicativ al Limbii Române, (ed. I), Ed.

                                    Academiei, Bucureşti.

DEX 1998                   - ***, Dicţionarul Explicativ al Limbii Române, (ed. II-a) Ed.

                                    Univers Enciclopedic, Bucureşti.

Gligor 1999                  - Gligor, A., „Materiale arheologice aparţinând culturii Coţofeni

            din aşezarea Măgura Căpudului (jud. Alba)”, Buletinul Cercurilor

             Ştiinţifice Studenţeşti, 4, p. 63-81.

Kovács 1932               - Kovács, I., „Cimitirul eneolitic dela Decia Mureşului”, Anuarul

                                    Institutului de Studii Clasice, Cluj, 1, 1928-1932, p. 89-101.

Kutzián 1972                - Kutzian, Ida Bognar, „The Early copper age Tiszapolgár culture

                                     in the Carpathian basin”, Budapest.

Lazarovici 1983            - Lazarovici, Gh., „Principalele probleme ale culturii Tiszapolgar

                                     în România”, ActaMN, (Cluj), XX, p. 3-32.

Lazăr 1982                   - Lazăr, V., „Aşezări de înălţime cu terase ale culturii Coţofeni în

                                    Transilvania. Consideraţii generale social-economice şi istorice

                                    (IV)”, Marisia, 11-12.

Luca 1999                    - Luca, S., A., „Sfârşitul eneoliticului pe teritoriul intracarpatic

                                    al României. Cultura Bodrogkeresztúr”, Alba Iulia.

Luca 1999a                  - Luca, S., A., „Aspecte ale neoliticului şi eneoliticului din sudul

                                    şi sud-estul Transilvaniei”, Apulum, (Alba Iulia) XXXI, p. 5-33.

Mantu 1997                 - Mantu, C., M., „Cronologia absolută a culturii Cucuteni” The

                                    “Cucuteni” Exhibition Catalogue „Ceramica pictată Cucuteni”,

                                    Atena 1997.

Mantu 1998                 - Mantu, C., M., „Cultura Cucuteni”, Piatra Neamţ.

Paul, Ciută 1997           - Paul, I., Ciută, M., „Şantierul arheologic de la Şeuşa-La cărarea

                                    morii”, CCA, (Bucureşti),  p. 60.

Paul, Ciută 1998           - Paul, I., Ciută, M., „Şantierul arheologic de la Şeuşa-La cărarea

                                    morii”, CCA, (Călăraşi), p. 74-76.

Paul, Ciută 1999           - Paul, I., Ciută, M., „Şantierul arheologic de la Şeuşa-La cărarea

                                    morii”, CCA, Vaslui, p.113-115.

Roman 1976                - Roman, P., „ Cultura Coţofen”i, Bucureşti.

Ţiplic 2003                   - Ţiplic, M., «„Hotar”, „Graniţă, şi/sau „Frontieră” în Evul Mediu Timpuriu», Acta Terrae Septemcastrensiss, Sibiu, II.


Explanation of figures


  1. Location of Şeuşa village within the Romanian territory and Mureş valley (■ - „La cărarea morii”, 6  “Gorgan”).
  2. Positioning of “Gorgan” point within the area between Teiuş and Vinţul de Jos.
  3. “Gorgan” hill (red arrow) viewed from Alba Iulia (front of the 3rd Gate of the Vauban Fortress).
  4. Topographical plan of “Gorgan” hill with the position of the research units (made by M. Breazu and T. Borşan – BCUM Alba Iulia).
  5. 3D perspective of the topographical plan of Gorgan (view from south).
  6. Plan of the archaeological excavations, the emplacement of trenches and surfaces (research units).
  7. North profile of surface SI/2000, with the Coţofeni surface house (L1) remains in stratigraphy.
  8. The magneto metrical plan obtained after the prospections from Gorgan (made by William McCann, EuroScan LTD, London).
  9. North-west profile of surfaces SII and SIII.
  10. Graphical reconstitution of L1/2000 Coţofeni dwelling (left), and partially C1/2000-2001 “Tiszapolgar-Decea Mureşului” complex (right).
  11. South profile of surface SII/2001.
  12. South profile of surface SII/2001 (photo).
  13. South- west profile of surface SII/2001.
  14. Ground of the “Tiszapolgar-Decea Mureşului” C1/2000-2001 complex.
  15. Photo of complex C1/2000-2001 – the “granary-altar” area.
  16. Graphic reconstruction of the A1/2000, the “granary-altar”.
  17. Photo of complex C1/2000-2001, view in the surface SIII.
  18. Detail from the “Tiszapolgar-Decea Mureşului” C1/2000-2001, in to surface SIII.
  19. General view of SIV/2001 and SV/2001.
  20. Ground with the L5/2002 dwelling, Coţofeni (right) and C2/2002, Tiszapolgar-Decea Mureşului (left).
  21. View from north-west at C2/2002 (“Tiszapolgar-Decea Mureşului”).
  22. “Tiszapolgar-Decea Mureşului” pottery from the cultural level, G3/2000 and C1/2000-20001.
  23. “Tiszapolgar-Decea Mureşului”pottery from C1/2000-2001.
  24. “Tiszapolgar-Decea Mureşului”pottery from C1/2000-20001.
  25. “Tiszapolgar-Decea Mureşului”pottery from C1/2000-20001.
  26. “Tiszapolgar-Decea Mureşului”pottery from C1/2000-20001.
  27. Coţofeni pottery from L1/2000.
  28. Coţofeni pottery from L1/2000.
  29. Coţofeni pottery from L1/2000.
  30. Coţofeni pottery from L1/2000.
  31. Coţofeni pottery from L1/2000.







* Universitatea „1 Decembrie 1918” Alba Iulia, Str. Mihai Viteazul, nr.12, Alba Iulia;

[1] Paul, Ciută 1997; 1998; 1999; Ciută et al. 2000; 2001.

[2] Carried out under the co-ordination of the authors of this paper, by students at Archaeology and Museology Departments within the “1 Decembrie 1918” University of Alba Iulia.

[3] Gorgan = knoll, earthen mound above an ancient grave (DEX 1984, p. 379; DEX 1998, p. 429).

[4] As some of the villagers said, there was a triangulation point instead of the current topographic landmark in the ‘50s-‘60s.

[5] Ţiplic 2003, p.163.

[6] Ciută, Gligor 2001. To the research carried out in June, the following students (at that time): Marius Breazu, Beatrice Daisa, Emilia Pop, Cristian Florescu and Antonia Costea.

[7] The topographic landmark became thus the main fixed coordinate of the research units’ positioning.

[8] Ciută, Gligor 2001, p. 242-243.

[9] Luca 1999, p. 95, fig. 1/5.

[10] The difference is due to the slope’s falling.

[11] Ciută, Gligor 2001, p. 242-243.

[12] To the research carried out in September took part 30 students from the History and Museology Departments of the “1 Decembrie 1918” University of Alba Iulia, alongside of those mentioned above.

[13] Dr. William McCann, representative of “EuroScan LTD” (Great Britain) participated in these surveys. A special magnetometer (GEM 300) was used – it was a prototype at that time – adapted to detecting magnetic anomalies within the soil structure, which were present in the archaeological site, especially as burned structures and/or surfaces.

[14] The surface was divided in 8 squares (2 x 2 m), numbered from north to south, from left to right.

[15] Ciută, Gligor 2001, p. 242-243.

[16] Ciută, Gligor 2001, p. 242-243.

[17] We will insist upon the functionality of this layout in the second part of the present paper, as well as in further studies.

[18] The piece underwent conservation operations carried out by the fellow colleague Dan Anghel, following which a specific, metallic-russet colour was revealed.

[19] Analyses carried out through atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES) and mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) (Ciută, Gligor, Kadar 2000).

[20] Ciută, Gligor, Kadar 2000, p. 69-74.

[21] The removal and the conservation-restoration operations were carried out by the fellow colleague Dan Anghel, to whom we would like to express our gratitude (Ciută, Gligor 2002, p. 519-520).

[22] At this moment, the complex is restored and can be found in the exhibition within the University of Alba Iulia (Ciută, Gligor 2002, p. 519-520).

[23] Ciută, Gligor 2002, p. 519-520.

[24] Ciută, Gligor 2002, p. 519-520.

[25] The square numbering within this research unit was made by keeping the initial codes of S VI/2001 to which squares 6-10 were added, from north-east towards south-east (Ciută, Gligor 2003, p. 312-314).

[26] The problems concerning the more precise cultural-chronological framing of the Coţofeni occupation, based on the detailed description of the materials, will be presented in a study we are currently preparing.

[27] Lazăr 1982; Ciută, Gligor 2003, p. 312-314.

[28] Ciută, Gligor 2003, p. 312-314.

[29] The brown-russet soil underneath the Coţofeni occupation seems to confirm this hypothesis.

[30] Starting with this article, we are continuing the presentation of complex 1 of Tiszapolgár type, respectively the corresponding cultural level discovered at Şeuşa-“Gorgan”; we will subsequently elaborate further studies and papers regarding the other complexes, hopefully within the following issues of the same publication.

[31] Kutzián 1972, p. 199-134.

[32] Lazarovici 1983, p. 3-21; Iercoşan 2002, p. 124 sqq.

[33] In the Romanian terminology, there are three different terms for the same kind of vessel; respectively we have bol, castron and strachină defining bowl type vessels. The Romanian researchers often disagree over this aspect.

[34] Luca 1999, fig. 1/5.

[35] Ciugudean 1987, p. 39-40, fig. 1.

[36] Luca 1999a, p. 17.

[37] Kovács 1932, p. 93, Fig. 6.

[38] Kovács 1932, p. 94, Fig. 8-9.

[39] Kovács 1932, p. 94-101, Fig. 7, 10/1, 11/2, 12/1-2, 15/1.

[40] According to S. A. Luca, this would be called “the transition phase from the Tiszapolgár culture to the Bodrogkeresztúr culture”, culturally simultaneous with: Decea Mureşului Cultural Group - Cucuteni A3-4-Gumelniţa A2 final - Petreşti B - Lengyel IV - Sălcuţa III - Balaton I - Ludanice (Luca 1999).

Chronologically, this period could be framed between 4300-4200 cal. B.C. and it corresponds to the beginning of the Cernavoda I - Suvorovo group and Karanovo phase VI, Varna (Mantu 1997, 1998).

[41] The structure (facture, colour, aspect etc.) of the ceramic material is more similar to the Petreşti type than the one from the initial area (cf. Iercoşan 2002, p. 124-125).

[42] Gligor 1999, pl. V; X/4, 5, 8.

[43] Roman 1976, p. 54, fig. 8.

[44] Ciugudean 2000, pl. 67/2; 69/3.

[45] Roman 1976, p. 54, fig. 8.

[46] Ibidem, pl. 32/6, 7; Ciugudean 2000, pl. 83/21.

[47] Ciugudean 2000, pl. 142/2.

[48] Ibidem, pl. 74/1; 83/13.

[49] Ibidem, pl. 68/1-4; 69/1-2.

[50] Ibidem, pl. 78/1, 2.

[51] Roman 1976, p. 46, 55, pl. 43/10.

[52] Ibidem, p. 35-67, fig. 8.

[53] Ibidem, p. 40-67; Ciugudean 2000, p. 48-49, 60-61. The horizon of these contacts with phases 2-3 of the Vučedol culture is placed by the author at the same chronological level with the Jevišovice B, Rivnač and Zlata cultures, the end of Baden and Horodiştea-Folteşti cultures and the third phase of Glina culture (Roman 1976). The absolute chronology indicates 3300-3200 cal. B.C. (Mantu 1997; 1998).

[54] Ibidem, p. 35-67, fig. 8.

[55] Ciută, Gligor 2001, 242-243. The point lies at the foot of the Gorgan hillock, toward east, on the Hăpriţa valley.