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The 1982-1986, 1988-1993, 1996 campaigns



In 1982 have started the archaeological investigations on a large bronze age settlement complex belonging to the Monteoru culture. The settlement complex lay on a rocky ridge, called Zănoaga, on the western wing of the limy hill Istriţa. The core of the entire settlement complex is a small plateau, a kind of acropola, conventional called Cetăţuia 1. There between 1982 and 1986 we identified several layers from the second half of the Monteoru culture. To the uppermost level belong, among others things, a pottery category decorated in the so-called "Besenstrich" manner, three sherds of the Tei culture, Fundenii-Doamnei phase, and several casting moulds. That it could put this level in relation with the finale stage of the Monteoru culture in which some Noua elements, for instance the notched shoulder blades, already appear. To the second level, from top to bottom, belongs a vessel-depot with several cups typical for the ceramic style Monteoru Ia-IIa. In the following layer we have discovered the ruins of a surface dwelling. Among these were two casting moulds, belonging perhaps to a single set, for a shafthole axe of Monteoru type. Under these ruins we have uncovered two parallel stone rows mixed with clay. It could be a dry wall belonging to a builded structure like some others discovered from long time in the well-known settlement from Sărata Monteoru. We discovered no sherds in secure connection with these two rows so relating this structure with a distinct ceramic style is still difficult. However, they might relate it with an Ic3 habitat on the Cetăţuia 1. This problem and many others, concerning the settlement from Cetăţuia 1 were still unsolved as the investigation in this point was temporary suspended in 1986.
A trench on the plateau of the second point called Cetăţuia 2, a promontory to the north from the Zănoaga ridge, was made in 1983 and 1985. After that in 1988 we have begun with another trench on the eastern slope of the promontory and have identified an early bronze age layer in situ even laying on a slope. We developed the excavation in the following years 1989-1993 and, after a short interruption, again in 1996. From the stratigraphical point of view the situation is as follows: over the virgin soil there are four layers called, from bottom to top, Zn.Ia, Zn.Ib, Zn.IIa and Zn.IIb, all representing the early bronze age habitat. It follows the level called Zn.III with mixed material - Monteoru Ic4-3/Ic3 pottery, late Monteoru and some sherds from the 4th century A.D.
If it could relate the Zn.IIa-IIb levels to the Monteoru Ic4-1 ceramic style/phase, the first two layers, Zn.Ia-Zn.Ib, together represent a new identified Monteoru stage, the oldest known till today, for which we suggest the name Monteoru-Zănoaga. After some elements of the pottery, for instance the bowls, and after several sherds founded just on the bottom of the Zn.Ia level, the Monteoru-Zănoaga stage might be in relation with some early bronze age archaeological phenomena such as Ezero, Coţofeni and Glina culture. On this base, although we are still expecting the 14C dates for the more than twenty samples already in study, supposing an absolute date for the Monteoru-Zănoaga stage in the first part of the 4th millennium B.C. is possible
The beginning of the Monteoru culture is still a subject of a controversy between different scholars. We think the stratigraphic sequence from the eastern slope of the Cetăţuia 2 supported the disputed stratigraphic sequence from Sărata Monteoru. Then there are no more reasons to sustain the so-called Odaia-Turcului and Năeni-Schneckenberg groups, both being in fact the first one a Monteoru Ic4-1/Ic4-2 layer and the second perhaps an archaeological expression very close to the Monteoru Ic4-2 ceramic style/phase.
We did not identify yet a clear Ic4-2 layer in Zănoaga. Nevertheless, on the surface or in disturbed contexts there are several so-called Schneckenberg sherds and also some corded ware, that open the possibility for such a habitat somewhere in the Zănoaga area.
In the 1993 campaign near the western border of the Cetăţuia 2 plateau it was discovering a grave (No.1) with three skeletons inside. In the filling of the grave-pit we have founded an askos-vessel, some amphora sherds and many big pieces of burnt adobe with traces of poles. Two one-handled small cups represented the funerary inventory with a big two-handled cup, a small vessel so-called pixida and a reused stone axe. After the pottery the grave no.1 belongs to the final stage of the Monteoru culture. We did not found yet other Monteoru burials in the neighboring area.
Not far from the first grave, in the last campaign we discovered a second one (No.2). This time is a cremation grave in an urn. It is made up from a vessel-urn, a broken bowl as the urn lid, two other vessels and other bowl. After the pottery the grave no.2 belongs to the Laténe-period, perhaps to the span time between the 6th and the 5th century B.C.. It is, at least till today, the single discovery of that period in Zănoaga. Several discoveries belonging to the Laténe-period are found on the hill Oratia south of the Fântânele village.
On the Cetăţuia 2 plateau were discovering several pits with stones on the opening as in the filling. Only just a few of the pits had sherds, almost from some wheel-made bowls, made from grey clay, some sherds of late roman amphoras and of handmade pots. All this pottery make possible a date during the period between the 5th and the 4th century A.D.. Concerning the content, the last pit, excavated in 1996 (pit no.29/96), represents an exception in which on the bottom were laying the leg bones, the skull and the jaw, a shoulder blade and two ribs of a horse. Under the horse bones we founded a typical fibula for the 4th century A.D. like the other one founded in the pit no.19/92. Surface researches and rescue interventions in the neighboring area of the Zănoaga complex identified a cremation grave in the point Cătun-Livadă, and two settlements, all belonging to the same period, near the Cătun and Finţeşti villages.
At 1.5 km south of Zănoaga complex we have identified a neolithic settlement on a rocky pick called Şipot that dominates the Tufe village. The settlement, in the most part already destroyed, belongs to the so-called Stoicani-Aldeni group.