Seimeni – the ring of time
His heart was beating out of his chest and he knew it was not because of the exertion. There were still a couple of steps.
He would climb running, but he lacked the strength. After the final steps, he raised his head and, slowly, before his eyes, it stretched far and wide … it was as they had said it would be … it was the Great Water.
Sunshine was dancing on the waves that rolled merrily and he thought he saw fish hurdling near the bank. Instinctively, he raised his hand to his chest … he touched the seeds and then gathered them in his fist. He turned and looked behind … he visualized the waft of the fields … then he knew he would never leave.
Looking around, at the teary eyes of the women who was holding her children, he grabbed forcibly his staff and thrust it deeply into the ground. It was there where he would dig his dwelling, on that light-showered hill.
It was there from where he would leave on his final way to the City of Shadows and he would have next to him the statuette carved in stone by his favourite nephew … the statuette of the Thinker.
In the second half of the 6th millennium BC, representatives of the Neolithic revolution triggered by the Fertile Crescent were arriving in South Dobrogea, where, by mixing with the existent Mesolithic communities, shaped the first Neolithic civilization on the Occidental Coast of the Black Sea,The Hamangia Culture. As its level was five meters higher, the Danube created in the proximity of the nowadays locality Seimeni a dreamy view.
The water masters gifted them, within a stone’s throw, with a large bay entering inside the land almost ten kilometres, -this allowed them to fish all year through. The running water was also the one to provide them increased communication opportunities.
The hill that encircled the meadow as a protective glove, ensured the possibility to monitor the surroundings far-off and the foot of the hill presented the prospect of cultivating the fertile land on an extended surface.
Using ropes, they traced circles and started to dig. They would build semi-subterranean dwellings, as they were taught by their ancestors, only that now the dwellings would not protect them only from the sun heat, but also from the wind.
For obtaining the partly subterranean dwelling, the circular enclosure was deepened by excavating the earth from inside the perimeter and depositing it, as raised banks, along the circumference of the circular shape to prevent the rainwater from permeating through inside the enclosure.
For a better thermal insulation and for a better strengthening of the wooden poles which formed, together with the wattle-work (similar to a braided fence), the outer wall they applied one or several layers of clay, both on the inside and on the outside.
Over the outer wall, a conic roof made of beams and straws was rigged-up. Another part of the ensuing earth was deposited as banks, having the role of delimitating the space related to a household. Those dwellings were not much different to those at the end of the Palaeolithic.
They honoured their elders as they had learned from their ancestors: on the opposite bank of the bay they built, another village, also on a hogback. Only that this village was meant to be inhabited by the souls of the dead. Within 200 meters from the water, the land rises up to a height similar to the hill on which the circular dwellings were built (approximately 70-80 m). There, on the hill nowadays named Sofia, separated from the dwellings of the living, by the bay’s waters, they decided to build dwellings for their deceased.
In the necropolis situated in present times in the vicinity of Cernavodă, among the objects deposited in order to accompany the deceased ones in the world of shadows, there were also found two statuette placed by UNESCO on the 5thplace in the top of the most important ten artefacts of the cultural world. In 2000, an international board of NASA experts decided that a replica of the Thinker should be placed, together with other nine items symbolizing the human culture, inside the Voyager IV capsule which left in a travel through our galaxy.
The fact that the daily activities were performed inside the same inhabited space, successively, for a long period of time, in the conditions of a sedentary living based mainly on cultivating land, generated the overlapping of a tell over the hogback. As the article specifies „The village people: an early history of neighbourly disputes” published in Archaeology News from Past Horizons, there are no proofs from the Neolithic era and Bronze Age supporting the theory of conducting the village activities outside the inhabited area, as each group of dwellings or the individual dwelling represented a favourable place for the manifestations of collective innovations.
For several people – members of one extensive family – to be able to live together, the dimensions of the circular dwellings increased progressively through the whole Neolithic area, to end up, at the end of the Bronze Age and beginning of Iron Age having diameters bigger than 20 meters.
The wooden-poled and wattle-work outer wall of the dwellings, with a diameter bigger than 15 m could not support by itself the burden of the conic roof. For that reason it was necessary to place inside the enclosure a ring formed of massive wooden masts, intended to take over most of the pressure. The remaining pressure force would be taken over by the other wall of the circular enclosure. The dwellings discovered in the UK had the outer wall replaced by a stone wall. In the Seimeni area, there is no stone but instead there is plenty of sandy earth.
In 2010, using the Google Earth program, I discovered on the hill near Seimeni, discoid impressions to which I attributed, in the beginning, a spiritual role, launching the hypothesis of a Getae or Neolithic sanctuary. The images provided by the street view revealed the fact that those impressions had a concave shape, suggesting the hypothesis that they represented the remains of some large circular semi-subterranean dwellings.
In June 2014, together with my wife and younger son, I went to Seimeni to research the shapes I saw on Google Earth. On that occasion, on the basis of the hypotheses that the discoid impresses would represent former circular dwellings dating from the end of the Bronze Age. I performed excavations in the centre of two of the circular surfaces, hoping to locate the fireplace or any possible objects of the household stock formed of tools, cooking or storage vessels.
At a very shallow depth (approximately 15 cm) I discovered, in one of the dwellings, an average sized, amphora shaped clay vessel of Getae origin. In the other one I found ceramic material from larger sized vessels. Those discoveries confirm the fact that the discoid impresses represent the remains of large-sized circular semi-subterranean dwellings, and, moreover, they place the continuity of the settlement until the second period of the Iron Age – La Tene ( 4th – 3rdCenturies BC), when the Getae were living on the both banks of the lower course of the Danube.
The positioning of the dwellings inside the inhabited area is similar to the Middle Bronze Age village arrangement discovered at Corrstown and the study of which was presented in the above-mentioned magazine. At Seimeni as well as at Corrstown, the dwellings are arranged in small groups of two dwellings each, however there are also lines of three to five, or even more dwellings.
The continuity of the economic-social activities in the same inhabitable area of the village may also be inferred from the overlapping of new dwellings over old ones and also from the fact that the overlapping dwellings have greater diameters than the overlapped ones, that is also applicable to the closely placed dwellings, grouped two by two. This demonstrates in addition the development of the circular dwellings by the dimensional increase, starting from the Neolithic towards the Bronze Age (in the case of Corrstown) or even the Iron Age (in the case of Seimeni).
As it was fact-found in the UK and Ireland, when a village ceased to exist, the subsequent generations did not attempt to „resuscitate” that village by re-settling in the same perimeter, but that area became, from that moment, uninhabited. A similar phenomenon can be noticed at Seimeni, where, at the beginning of the Iron Age, the old central area of the village had been deserted in the favour of the area placed around the hill, at its foot, which provided opportunities for the expansion of the village by scattering the population. In fact, in the South of Seimeni, there is a fortified Getae settlement dated in the Second Iron Age Latene.
It is possible that the reason which, at the end catalyzed, if not determined the people to leave the old inhabited area, be the same as the one determining nowadays some of the locals to evict their dwellings.
The Seimeni is slowly sliding down under the waters of Danube, due to fact that a part of the settlement was established on a layer of alluvial deposits, that engages the shift towards the river bed of another, older alluvial layer deposited at the foot of the hill, thus determining a degradation of the hill and, implicitly, of the old inhabited core on the hogback.
The danger presented by the land sliding is doubled by the necessity to build other dwellings instead of the cleared ones. The new buildings irremediably damage the evidence of the habitation since Neolithic, and it is possible that, within a couple of years, this site be entirely destroyed.
Using Google Earth one may notice that a part of the impressions of the circular dwellings have been already destroyed by the expansion of Seimeni, while another part – by building the Cernavodă – Dunărea road, which surrounds Seimeni at the South-East. Thus, only during the last six years, the modern buildings extended and destroyed one of the impresses.
Due to the impressively large dimensions of the circular dwellings at Seimeni (diameters of over 25 m render a useful surface larger than 300 square meters for each dwelling), to the large number of dwellings to be found in a very good preservation condition (currently more than 60 dwellings can be noticed, but it seems that the village had almost 200 dwellings), due to its accessibility (the land is not privately owned) and to the perfect view of the arrangement of the dwellings and of the village map provided by the satellite images, the settlement at Seimeni could represent the largest concentration of circular dwellings of over 20 m diameters in Europe and subsequently the missing link between the Neolithic civilization of the Hamangia Culture and the Getae civilization.
The wood of the semi-subterranean circular dwellings has decomposed, the walls and the earth banks have been eroded by the wind, the dust has spread a thick layer over the ceramic vessels and the silence rules the hogback. But the voice of the ancestors, caught in the time capsule, is yet again to be heard reeling legends about the earth covered in ears pointing to the stars, about the murmur of the running water, about the people who spoke to the Supreme Beings.
All those whispers are set free with each item bearing the impress of the ancestors. The bronze sealing ring discovered within a circular dwelling at Seimeni bears four incised ideograms. Two of them are to be found also in the inventory of the Vinca-Turdaş signs – one of them is even represented on the round amulet discovered at Tărtăria by the researcher Nicolae Vlassa from Cluj, in 1961. The other two closely resemble one of the figurative signs on the ceramic plate discovered in 1969 at Gradesnica, in the North-West of Bulgaria, bearing an „old European” inscription.
Those beautiful people that created masterpieces such as the Thinker and the Thinker’s spouse, have also carved in clay the spells and magical potions in order to wear them next to their heart. Some of them shouted their incantations at Tărtăria, others at Karanovo, Gradesnica, Porodin „Veluska Tumba”. Many of them travelled in time unchanged, and always generating the same emotion to the person wearing them, until the end of the Bronze Age. And always, in the same universal language of the ancestors, in which we may find the hiss of the vipers, the rustle of the ripe wheat and the music of “hora” dance, in the language that determined the creation of the oldest writing of the world, the Danube writing.
Autor : Stefan Cristian Pintilie
All my gratitude and consideration goes to Mr. Iordan Stavar, President/CEO of WIIA – Washington D.C., USA, President of the Association of the Independent Inventors of Romania, and observer in the legislative committees, namely the Committee for Education and Research, and Industry Committee, on behalf of the Civil Society, Platform Coordinator www.worldwideinvention.com; www.inventatori.ro. Without his constant support and confidence, these findings would not have reached the readers’ interested.
posted on 27-06-2014