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Ion Motzoi-Chicideanu



The so called Verbicioara culture, in spite of its importance for the Bronze Age between Carpathians and Danube, is still one of the most problematic archaeological phenomenons of the southern Romania. Even till today are not enough clear the origin and the definition of each of the „phases I-V”. Also is not clear the span of time for this archaeological group. So we have to work with the old conclusions of D. Berciu, which are shared with religious respect by the most part of the oltenian scholars.

Other important problem of this group is that of the mortuary practices. We can dealing today with 16 discoveries, most of them not at all sure from the point of view of the archaeological conditions and published in not at all professional conditions. The most part of these discoveries are concentrated in the southern part of Oltenia, such finds missing in the eastern part (Fig. 1) in spite of a large number of settlements. The presumed Visag cemetery, situated in Banat far away from Oltenia, does not belong any more to the Verbicioara “culture”, now some scholars considering it as a Balta Sărată funerary discovery. The cinerary grave from Râmnicu Vâlcea, concerning the type of the vessel and the ornamentation, belongs to the Govora group defined in late 70's by B. Hänsel. From the point of view of the character of research about 69% burials are due to systematic excavations (Fig. 2) but the available information are just a few or sometimes published in a nonprofessional way. In the same time the archaeological context of this burials show us that the most part are single graves, probable due to some small communities or to the fragmentation of the funerary area corresponding to the smaller subunits of communities.

For the small group of graves from Padea we have only an extremely short mention, not at all useful. The discoveries from the Cincioarei cave near the village Godeanu are also only mentioned. At Korbovo was founded an isolated pot covered by a lid but without burnt bones, reason for what the whole feature is considered a „cenotaph”. Three tombs were discovered in the eponym settlement of the „Verbicioara culture”. The first one is a skeleton grave, with a so called „Cypriot” bronze pin and a lock ring from the same alloy but the exact place and the real conditions of the discovery are still unknown, very probable being a casual one without any other elements to be sure that the tomb is a Verbicioare one or not. The others two burials were cinerary tombs with the burnt bones in pots, only one with a lid, with typical forms and decoration for the early Verbicioara pottery style, both discovered in the area of the settlement. In the Gârla Mare cinerary cemetery from Cârna-Ostrovogania during the 1992campaign was discovered a burial (Grave no. 63) in which the burnt bones were covered with shards, one of which having some analogies in the so called Verbicioara III pottery style, but this shard is not a sufficient prove to consider this tomb as a genuine Verbicioara grave. The tombs from Gruia seems to belong to a small but a genuine cemetery even the archaeological situation is not yet very clear. Unfortunately the single graves from Crivina, Mărăcinele, Tismana and Sălcuţa are not at all useful for a broad discussion and in Săpata we are dealing with just an isolated pot, a find which very hard could be considered a funerary one.

However, we can say that one of the peculiarities of the real Verbicioara burials is that these are only flat totally different from the barrow-tombs well known in Oltenia but a little earlier in time. In the same time the custom to burn the deceased persons is also a new element of the Bronze Age in Oltenia. The origin of this mortuary custom seems to be of a western origin, from the late Zók area, as evince the discoveries from Bratei inside the Carpathian bow or from northern Oltenia – i.e. Runcuri – or Muntenia – i.e. Teţcoiu -. In this respect a very useful find could be that from Vârtopu, in the hilly region of the county Gorj, with eight cinerary burials under earth barrows, but the improper manner of the research and publication impede a further discussion. In this way we have to expect some new and good finds before to try to find solutions to the problem of Verbicioara mortuary customs.