A Neolithic Sign System In Southeastern Europe

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Book Chapter

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Anthropology and Sociology


Social Science and Global Studies


The discovery of tablets with script-like content at Tartaria in 1961 generated renewed interest primarily because they seemed chronologically inappropriate in the light of accumulating radiocarbon dates from numerous Neolithic sites in southeastern Europe. Clear antecedents for the Vinca sign system cannot be established, however, despite the long pre-Neolithic heritage of ritual marking. Engraved bands on stone objects at Vlasac and Lepenski Vir, in the Iron Gates region of the Danube, precede the early Neolithic register pattern of decoration, but development of these linear decorations into components of the sign system cannot be demonstrated. The most striking comparison with Vinca sign usage from an approximately synchronous culture was observed by the author at Banpo, a 5th millennium Neolithic village near Sian, China. The village at Banpo may have reached a stage of complexity comparable to that of typical settlements in southeastern Europe.

Publication Title

The Life of Symbols

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