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Bronze Age funeral discoveries in Pietricica (county Prahova); 


       About fifteen years ago a peasant had discovered by accident a slab-cist grave on a hill north of the village Pietricica, com. Lapoş, Prahova county . In 1991 two members of the archaeological staff from Năeni-Zanoaga had made a surface research which confirmed the discovery of at least four slab-cist graves, unfortunately already disturbed by the villagers. Other finds and information claimed about other similar founds on the hills around the village. In year 2002 the county Museum from Ploiesti organized a small campaign to clarify the situation.
     During a couple of days in August 2002 was made a short archaeological research on the place named La mesteceni, at about 2 km north of the village, where had been discovered by the villagers the slab-cist graves.. The spot is placed on a top-hill at about 650 m above the sea level. Years ago the place has been worked by plough. To day is a large pasture surrounded by a forest on the eastern and southern sides the western limit being a precipice. Toward the North the pasture is going up on a bigger hill to the place called Fântâna hoţilor. The border between Prahova and Buzău counties is crossing the place.
    Actually the research was a small excavation due to the lack of time On the surface the place of the grave discovered by the villagers was easy to recognize. The archaeological trench "cut" the place on the direction N-S. Just under the vegetal soil, laying in a brownish soil, at about - 0.10-0.15 m depth were discovered several stones without an apparent order. Other skeleton grave was discovered under this assemblage of stone, at a depth of 0.38 m. The grave pit was surrounded by limestone blocks, one being standing on the edge. The skeleton, in a poor state of preservation lay on the left side with the skull toward WNW. No funeral inventory was found. At about 1 m toward NW was discovered at - 0.29 m a limestone slab over stones, some of them standing on the edge, the whole structure seemed to be an other grave, this time in a stone cist. The second grave due to its position was not researched. The both objects were covered by stones but it's difficult to say if there was a barrow or not. A little farther toward East at the depth of - 0.40 m laid a group of sherds. At about this level under the whole stone ensemble on the ground was observable an area of black soil of a circular form with a diameter about 3 m. Three others groups of sherds were discovered on this area at 0.40-0.65 m, one of them near the skeleton grave. The black soil spot was actually a large pit dug in the yellowish soil (loess). Due to the same lack of neither time nor this pit was researched so nothing can be said about its function ( Fig. 1).
    The sherds were in an extremely poor state of preservation so a little can be said about the pottery. First of all due to their stratigraphic position the sherds have not a relation with the tombs. They belong to the black pit. Some the potsherds come from bowls with two little handles on the belly, some others from big vessels. The general aspect of the potsherds - forms and some elements of decoration such as incised lines and points - could indicate a late Neolithic tradition for the time being not very clear.
    The grave no. 1 and possible no. 2, after the ritual - the tomb's structure and the position of the skeleton - together with the destroyed graves could belong to a bigger group of such discoveries in the hilly region of northeastern Walachia, group which belong to the Bronze Age and was connected to the beginning of Monteoru culture .. Very interesting in this case became the settlement identified 5 km to the north on the place Fântâna hotilor. In this place on the surface were founded several potsherds, some of them with decoration close to the Monteoru and Schneckenberg pottery.
    According to the information we have in the area around villages Pietricica and Lapos some others discoveries like these from La mesteceni were made years ago. This way the region ( Fig. 2) became of major interest for the study of the diffusion on the beginning of Bronze Age of the slab-cist mortuary fashion and for the relation between this funeral practice of an old tradition and the appearance of Monteoru culture.