PhD Dissertations: Mirjana Roksandic, 1999

Transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic in the Iron Gates Gorge: Physical Anthropology Perspective

The research presented here aims at discerning possible interactions between Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of the Iron Gates Gorge (Serbia-Romania) and the surrounding farmers. The region has, during the 7th and the 6th millenniums BC, witnessed the coexistence of Mesolithic culture of the Lepenski Vir –Schela Cladovei type and the Early and Middle Neolithic of the Balkans, represented in the region by Gura-Baciului and Starcevo. At the end of this coexistence, Neolithic settlements are confirmed on one of the examined sites (Lepenski Vir), as well as downstream from the Gorge, integrated into the Middle Neolithic Starcevo-Cris-Körös complex.

In order to examine the interactions of communities with different modes of subsistence (foraging and farming respectively), the nonmetric anatomical variants of the skull and postcranial skeletons were examined on the four sites with the largest number of individuals buried: Padina, Lepenski Vir, Vlasac and Hajducka Vodenica. The analyses were performed according to sites, chronological units, and combination of sites and chronological units. Another set of analyses, aimed at discerning environmental (occupation/nutrition) changes that could have affected the population in transition was performed on metric variables of postcranial skeleton.

The combination of these two sets of analyses argues for local continuity within the region, with high degree of initial heterogeneity, and temporal ordering as the most likely explanation for the pattern of change. A more pronounced difference at the time of availability of contact with Neolithic populations in the region argues for a limited "seeping in" of a non-local population that did not result in a change of either economic base or ideology. There is no evidence of an incoming population at the time of change to Neolithic economy and integration of sites into the cultural circle of the Balkan Neolithic, but rather of a local population accepting the new way of life.