Participation | Luminita Bejenaru and Dan Monah: Worked astragali in ritual contexts of the Cucuteni Civilisation

Luminita Bejenaru & Dan Monah

Worked astragali in ritual contexts of the Cucuteni Civilisation [poster]

9th Meeting of the International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ) Worked Bone Research Goup (ICAZ), April 14–19, 2013, Zhengzhou, Henan, China

In the deposits of various Chalcolithic settlements in Romania we notice the discovery of numerous astragals coming from different animals. Rather few of them have usc traces, being polished, perforated or incised. Nevertheless, the astragals used in ritualistic contexts are really rare.

In the Cucuteni A level of the Tell from Poduri–Dealul Ghindaru (Bacau County, Romania) a deposit of astragals was found below the clay platform of a house: 21 of cattle. three of red deer and one of sheep/goat. The astragals were more or less altered, 13 of them have traces of polishing (blunting) on the anterior face. We mention obvious traces of red ochre on astragals, and the contact of certain pieces with copper artefacts may be suggested by the specific coloration (greenish) identified m the case of four astragals.

A deposit consisting of 497 sheep/goat and pig astragals was found in the Cucuteni B site from Ghelaiesti–Nedeia(Neamt County, Romania), in a large pot of found in a sanctuary. Some of the aslragals were polished, and some were incised.

Two hypotheses, use in divination and use in ritualistic games, could be valid for the Chalcolithic astragals. The astragals found in ritual deposits together with another deposit having cultic character seem to support their interpretation as objects loaded with supernatural powers permitting one to read the future and having a beneficent effect on their users and for the constructions in which were included.