AA  Vol.2 No.3 , August 2012
Mobile and Terrestrial but Firmly Rooted on the River Banks: Biological Anthropology of Lepenski Vir and the Iron Gates Gorge Mesolithic
Author(s) Mirjana Roksandic*
Archaeological interpretation often links both the European Mesolithic and the complexity with reduced mobility and permanent or semi-permanent settlements. The Iron Gates Gorge (IGG) Mesolithic, on the banks of the Danube, with substantial formal disposal areas for the dead and canonized architecture, especially as manifested at the site of Lepenski Vir, fully conforms to this notion. Different aspects of bioarchaeological analysis – when evaluated concurrently – offer a counter-intuitive picture: at the time of its most complex development, the site of Lepenski Vir represented a focal point for a larger, more mobile hunter-gatherer group that identified with the site, its burials and its smaller resident population. The article explores the evidence provided by human skeletal remains and possible reasons behind these contradictory results.

Cite this paper
Roksandic, M. (2012). Mobile and Terrestrial but Firmly Rooted on the River Banks: Biological Anthropology of Lepenski Vir and the Iron Gates Gorge Mesolithic. Advances in Anthropology, 2, 117-124. doi: 10.4236/aa.2012.23014.
[1]   Babovi?, L. (1997). Location and function of the Sanctuaries at Lepenski Vir. In M. Lazi? (Ed.), Uzdarje dragoslavu srejovi?u/antidoron dragoslavo srejovi? (pp. 97-108). Beograd: Filozofski Fakultet.

[2]   Babovi?, L., & Srejovi?, D. (1981). Umetnost Lepenskog vira. Beograd: Narodni Muzej.

[3]   Barker, G. (1985). Prehistoric farming in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[4]   Bolomey, A. (1973). An outline of the Late Epipalaeolithic economy at the “Iron Gates”: The evidence of bones. Dacia N.S., 17, 41-52.

[5]   Bonsall, C. (2008). The Mesolithic of the iron gates. In G. Bailey, & P. Spikins (Eds.), Mesolithic Europe (pp. 238-279). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[6]   Bonsall, C., Cook, G. T., Hedges, R. E., Higham, T. F., Pickard, C., & Radovanovi?, I. (2004). Radiocarbon and stable isotope evidence of dietary change from the Mesolithic to the Middle Ages in the Iron Gates: New results from Lepenski Vir. Radiocarbon, 46, 293-300.

[7]   Bonsall, C., Macklin, M. G., Payton R. W., Boronean?, A. (2002). Climate, floods and river gods: Environmental change and the MesoNeolithic transition in Southeast Europe. Before Farming, 3-4, 15.

[8]   Bonsall, C., Cook, G. T. et al. (2000). Stable Isotopes, radiocarbon and the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in the Iron Gates. Documenta Praehistorica, 27, 119-132.

[9]   Bonsall, C., Lennon, R. et al. (1997). Mesolithic and Early Neolithic in the Iron Gates: A palaeodietary perspective. Journal of European Archaeology, 5, 50-92.

[10]   Bori?, D. (2006). Cultural continuities and ruptures: Tradition, social memory and re-presentation in Balkan prehistory I. Lisbon: Union of Preand Protohistoric Sciences.

[11]   Bori?, D. (2005). Deconstructing essentialism: Unsettling frontiers of the Meso-Neolithic Balkans. In D. Bailey, A. Whitlle, & V. Cummings (Ed.), (Un)settling the Neolithic (pp. 16-31). Oxford: Oxbow Books.

[12]   Bori?, D. (1999). Places that created time in the danube gorges and beyond, c. 9000-5500 BC. Documenta Praehistorica, 26, 41-70.

[13]   Bori?, D., & Dimitrijevi?, V. (2007). When did the “Neolithic package” reach Lepenski Vir? Radiometric and faunal evidence. Documenta Praehistorica, 34, 53-72.

[14]   Bori?, D., & Miracle, P. (2004) Mesolithic and Neolithic (dis)continuities in the Danube gorges: New AMS dates from padina and hajducka Vodenica (Serbia). Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 23, 341-371. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0092.2004.00215.x

[15]   Bori?, D., G. Grupe, Peters, J., & Miki?, ?. (2004). Is the MesolithicNeolithic subsistence dichotomy real? New stable isotope evidence from the Danube gorges. European Journal of Archaeology, 7, 221248. doi:10.1177/1461957104056500

[16]   Boronean?, A., & Dinu A. (2006). The Romanian Mesolithic and the transition to farming. A case study: The Iron Gates. Studii de Preistorie, 3, 41-76.

[17]   Boroneant, V. (1973). Recherches archéologiques sur la culture Schela Cladovei de la zone des “Portes de Fer”. Dacia, N.S. 107, 5-39.

[18]   Boroneant, V. (1980). Probleme ale culturi Schela Cladovei-Lepenski Vir in lumina noilor cercetari. Drobeta, 4, 27-42.

[19]   Boroneant, V., Bonsall, C. et al. (1999). A Mesolithic burial area at Schela Cladovei, Romania. In A. Thévien (Ed.), In P. Bintz, & A. Thévenin (Eds.), L’Europe des derniers chasseurs: épipaléolithique et Mésolithique. Actes du 5e colloque international de l’UISPP, commission XII, Grenoble 18-23 septembre 1995 (pp. 385-390). Paris: éditions du Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques.

[20]   Buikstra, J. E., Frankenberg, S. R. et al. (1990). Skeletal biological distance studies in American physical anthropology: Recent trends. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 82, 1-7. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330820102

[21]   Carr, C., & Case, D. T. (2006). Gathering Hopewell. Society, ritual, and ritual interaction. New York: Springer Science and Media Inc.

[22]   Chapman, J. (2000). Fragmentation in archaeology, people, places and broken objects in the prehistory of South-Eastern Europe. London: Routledge.

[23]   De Stefano, G. F., Hauser, G. et al. (1984). Reflections on interobserver differences in scoring non-metric traits (with practical examples). Journal of Human Evolution, 13, 349-355. doi:10.1016/S0047-2484(84)80041-X

[24]   Dinu, A. (2006). The question of pig domestication at Mesolithic Iron Gates. Ph.D. Thesis, Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison.

[25]   Evans, R. K., & Rasson J. A. (1984). Ex balcanis lux? Recent developments in Neolithic and chalcolithic research in Southeast Europe. American Antiquity, 49, 713-741. doi:10.2307/279738

[26]   Gara?anin, M., & Radovanovi? I. (2001). A pot in house 54 at Lepenski Vir I. Antiquity, 75, 118-125.

[27]   Gregg, S. A. (1988). Foragers and farmers: Population interaction and agricultural expansion in Neolithic Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[28]   Grupe, G., Miki?, Z. et al. (2003). Vertebrate food webs and subsistance strategies of mesoand neolithic populations of Central Europe. In G. Grupe, & J. Peters (Eds)., Documenta archaeobiologiae: Dechypering ancient bones (pp. 196-213). Rahden: Verlag Marie Leidrof Gmbh.

[29]   Hunn, E. S., & Williams N. M. (1982). Introduction. North American and Australian hunter-gatherers (pp. 1-16). Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

[30]   Jackes, M. (2011). Representativeness and bias in archaeological skeletal samples. In S. C. Agarwal, & B. A. Glencross (Eds.), Social Bioarchaeology (pp. 107-146). Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.

[31]   Jackes, M., Roksandic, M., & Meiklejohn, C. (2008). The demography of the djerdap Mesolithic/Neolithic transition. In C. Bonsall, I. Radovanovi?, & V. Boronean? (Eds.), Iron Gates gorge in the Mesolithic: New perspectives. BAR 1893 (pp. 77-88). Oxford: Archaeopress.

[32]   Jovanovi?, B. (1966). Hajdu?ka Vodenica, praistorijsko nalaziste. Arheolo?ki Pregled, 8, 102-103.

[33]   Jovanovi?, B. (1966). Sculptures de la necropole de l’age du fer a Hajducka vodenica. Arcaeologia Iugoslavica, 7, 31-34.

[34]   Jovanovi?, B. (1967). Hajdu?ka Vodenica, nalazi?te gvozdenog doba. Arheolo?ki Pregled, 9, 55-57.

[35]   Jovanovi?, B. (1968). Padina, naselje starijeg neolita i starijeg gvozdenog doba. Arheolo?ki Pregled, 10, 89-93.

[36]   Jovanovi?, B. (1969). Padina, naselje starijeg neolita i starijeg gvozdenog doba. Arheolo?ki Pregled, 11, 129-136.

[37]   Jovanovi?, B. (1970). Padina—Naselje mezolita, starijeg neolita i starijeg gvozdenog doba, rimska straza i ostava iz XIV veka. Arheolo?ki Pregled, 12, 78-84.

[38]   Jovanovi?, B. (1974). Praistorija gornjeg Djerdapa. Starinar n.s., 22, 1-22.

[39]   Larsen, C. S. (2002). Bioarchaeology: The lives and lifestyles of past people. Journal Journal of Archaeological Research, 10, 119-166. doi:10.1023/A:1015267705803

[40]   Miki?, ?. (1981). Djerdapska serija kao antropolo?ki model neolitizacije. Glasnik Etnografskog Instituta SANU, 30, 103-130.

[41]   Nemeskeri, J. (1969). Stanovni?tvo Lepenskog Vira (Prethodni izve?taj). In D. Srejovi? (Ed.), Lepenski Vir (pp. 239-262). Beograd: Srpska Knji?evna Zadruga.

[42]   Nemeskeri, J., & Lengyel I. (1978). Laboratory examination on the vlasac bone finds. In D. Srejovi?, & Z. Letica (Eds.), Vlasac. Mezolitsko naselje u djerdapu (pp. 261-284). Beograd: SANU. 2 Geologija, Biologija, Antropologija.

[43]   Nemeskeri, J., & Szathmary L. (1978a). Analysis of the variation of quantitative traits. In D. Srejovi?, & Z. Letica (Eds.), Vlasac. Mezolitsko naselje u djerdapu (pp. 157-176). Beograd: SANU. 2 Geologija, Biologija, Antropologija.

[44]   Nemeskeri, J., & Szathmary L. (1978b). Individual data on the vlasac anthropological series. Vlasac. In D. Srejovi?, & Z. Letica (Eds.), Mezolitsko naselje u Djerdapu (pp. 285-426). Beograd: SANU. 2 Geologija, Biologija, Antropologija.

[45]   Nemeskeri, J., & Szathmary L. (1978c). Taxonomical structure of the vlasac mesolithic population. In D. Srejovi?, & Z. Letica (Eds.), Vlasac. Mezolitsko naselje u Djerdapu (pp. 177-229). Beograd: SANU. 2 Geologija, Biologija, Antropologija.

[46]   Ney, P. (1971). Mineralogische analyse einer fussbodenprobe von Lepenski Vir I. In H. Schwabedissen (Ed.), Die anfaenge des Neolithikums vom orient bis Nordeuropa (pp. 33-34). K?ln: Teil 2: ?stliches Mitteleuropa.

[47]   Nikitovi?, D., & Bogin, B. (2012). Ontogeny of sexual size dimorphism and environmental quality in Guatemalan children. 81 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Portland, 11-14 April 2012, 224.

[48]   Ogilvie, M. D. (2006). Changing mobility roles at the advent of agriculture: A biobehavioral reconstruction, In F. Sellet, R. Greaves, & P.-L. Yu (Eds.), Archaeology and ethnoarchaeology of mobility (pp. 155-183). Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

[49]   Price, D. T. (1995). Some perspectives on prehistoric coastal adaptations and those who study them. In A. Fischer (Ed.), Proceedings of the International Symposium, Kalundberg, Denmark 1993: Man and sea in the Mesolithic: Coastal settlements above and below present sea level (pp. 423-424). Oxford: Oxbow Books.

[50]   Radovanovi?, I. (2006). Further notes on Mesolithic-Neolithic contacts in the Iron Gates region and the Central Balkans. Documenta Prehistorica, 37, 1-8.

[51]   Radovanovi?, I., & Voytek, B. (1997). Hunters, fishers or farmers: Sedentism, subsistence and social complexity in the Djerdap Mesolithic. Analecta praehistorica Leidensia, 29, 19-31.

[52]   Radovanovic, I. (1996). Iron Gates Mesolithic. Ann Arbor: University of Michigen Press.

[53]   Roksandic, M. (2000a). Between foragers and farmers in the Iron Gates gorge: Physical anthropology perspective. Documetna Prehistorica, 27, 1-100.

[54]   Roksandic, M. (2000b). Conference review: The Iron Gates in Prehistory, Edinburgh 30 March-2 April 2000. The European Archaeologist, 15, 14-15.

[55]   Schwidetzky, I., & Miki?, ?. (1988). Lepenski Vir und das Grazilisationsproblem in der Anthropologie. Godisnjak Centra za Balskanoloska ispitivanja ANUBiH, 24, 113-123.

[56]   Sj?vold, T. (1977). Non-metrical divergence between skeletal populations. Stockholm: Osteological Research Laboratory.

[57]   Sj?vold, T. (1984). A report on the heritability of some cranial measurements and non-metric traits. G. N. van Vark, & W. W. Howells (Eds.), Multivariate statistical methods in physical anthropology (pp. 223-246). Dorchester: D. Reidel Publishing Company.

[58]   Srejovi?, D. (1966). Lepenski Vir, Boljetin—Neolitsko naselje. Arheolo?ki Pregled, 8, 94-96.

[59]   Srejovi?, D. (1968). Lepenski vir (Boljetin)—Predneolitska i neolitska naselja. Arheolo?ki Pregled, 10, 85-87.

[60]   Srejovi?, D. (1969). Lepenski vir. Nova praistorijska kultura u Podunavlju. Beograd: SKZ.

[61]   Srejovi?, D. (1971). Predneolitske i neolitske kulture u Djerdapu. Materijali VIII kongresa arheologa Jugoslavije, 6, 21.

[62]   Srejovi?, D. (1972). Europe’s first monumnetal sculpture: New discoveries at Lepenski Vir. Aylesbury: Themes and Hudson.

[63]   Stalio, B. (1986). Le site prehistorique Ajmana a Mala Vrbica. Djerdapske sveske—Cahiers des Portes de Fer, 3, 27-35.

[64]   Stefanovi?, S. (2000). Arheolo?ki Istra?ene i antropolo?ki obra??ene nekropole na tlu srbije. Master’s Thesis, Belgrade: Belgrade University.

[65]   Tasi?, N. (1997). Apsolutna hronologija neolita centralnog Balkana, Ph.D. Thesis, Belgrade: Belgrade University.

[66]   Van Andel, T. H., & Runnels, C. N. (1995). The earliest farmers in Europe. Antiquity, 69, 481-500.

[67]   Van Dyke, R. M., & Alcock, S. E. (2003). Archaeologies of memory. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. doi:10.1002/9780470774304

[68]   Vasi?, R. (1986). Compte-rendu des fouilles du site préhistorique à Velesnica 1981-1982. Djerdapske Sveske, Cahièrs des Portes de Fer, 3, 271-285.

[69]   Wilkinson, L., Blank, G. et al. (1996). Desktop analysis with SYSTAT. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

[70]   Wiltschke-Schrotta, K. (1992). Das fruhbronzezeitliche graberfeld von franzhausen i, niederosterreich. 3. Untersuchung der epigenetischen merkmale. Anthropologischer Anzeiger, 50, 27-49.

[71]   ?ivanovi?, S. (1976). Ostaci ljudskih skeleta iz praistorijskog nalazista na Hajdu?koj Vodenici. Starinar, N.S., 26, 124-129.

[72]   ?ivanovi?, S. (1979). Further evidence on cromagnon in the Iron Gate gorge of the Danube. Current Anthropology, 20, 805. doi:10.1086/202385

[73]   Zvelebil, M. (1996). What’s in the name: the Mesolithic, the Neolithic and social change at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition. In M. Edmonds, & C. Richards (Eds.), Understanding the Neolithic of NorthWestern Europe (pp. 1-35). Glasgow: Cruithne Press.

[74]   Zvelebil, M., & Rowley-Conwy, P. (1986). Foragers and farmers of Atlantic Europe. In M. Zvelebil (Ed.), Hunters in transition (pp. 67-93). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.