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Book: Squaring the Circle – Neolithic Way (Balkans)


Original title
Ненад Н. Тасић

The book in front of you comes as an invitation and a teaser for the revival of interest in the complex enigmas of the Neolithic period of the Central Balkan region. For that reason, this book tackles diverse subjects from different perspectives and involves some of the most important and yet unsolved questions. These are the initial settling down of Neolithic communities, their taming of nature, the importance of salt, infant nutrition and its role at the beginning of the Neolithic period, and the periodization of the Early and Middle Neolithic of the Central Balkans. Th e choice to include these topics in a book is also stems from this author’s wish to summarize his long term involvement with problems of the Early Neolithic period. At the end of this book a new periodization of the Starčevo culture is proposed.

The author advances the hypothesis that Early Neolithic settlements are almost always associated with some sort of salt source – surface salt, a rock salt mine, or brine or saline. Th e argument is put forward that the settlement pattern in the zone of primary Neolithisation and its diffusion into the Southeast Europe is closely associated with salt-rich soils and salines. Numerous sites in salt-rich regions may support the hypothesis that salt was used in food preparation and conservation and also in animal husbandry.

The vast region of the Balkans is speckled with sites of the Early Neolithic that have similarly ornamented painted pottery. From Podgorie, Albania in the southwest to Kovačevo, Bulgaria in the east and from Giannitsa, Greece in the south up to Donja Branjevina, Serbia, in the north, a tendency to represent geometrical motifs can be ascertained. Th e square, which occurs on a number of pots in the Balkans and southern Anatolia, is perhaps the most striking of all. But there are not just squares depicted on pottery. Along with them, “steps-shaped” motifs, straight lines, nets, triangles, wavy lines and leaf-shaped motifs are also common.

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