At the moment of speaking, we do not have any knowledge of the existence of a monograph dedicated to the religious manifestations of a European Neolithic population. This constitutes the main novelty of the Cucuteni: Art and Religion project. We do know, however, that “the archaeological remains present a fragmentary and ultimately mutilated vision of the religious life and thought” (Eliade, 1981). Aware of the risks we inherent in any such endeavour, the project aims to rely predominantly on an accurate analysis of the archaeological contexts and on a judicious comparative use of ethnographic religious data.
The project members intend to commence the investigation without any preconceived opinions. We hold the opinion that the researcher must adapt his interpretations according to the archaeological reality and to forget that even the religious practices of contemporary “primitives” are part of a coherent and elevated system of thought, despite the fact that for the modern European, permeated by the Cartesian mindset, such metaphysical logic is absurd and beyond comprehension.
The main objective is to produce a monographic study, as exhaustive as possible, of the religious manifestations as highlighted by the archaeological research undertaken in the Cucuteni-Tripolye area. A series of problems, archaeologically attested yet so far poorly treated in previous investigations, will be addressed: the ritual fragmentations of sacred artifacts, the manipulation of parts of human skeletons and bones, some of which were kept alongside prestige artifacts, gold and copper pieces, hunting trophies, etc. To this purpose, we will also make use of older (Chapman, 2000) or newer works (Champan, Gaydarska, 2007) which have tackled the problem of the deliberate fragmentation of the South-Eastern European prehistoric artifacts.
On the basis of the available anthropomorphic representations we will attempt a reconstruction of the garments, adornments and hairstyle of the Cucuteni-Tripolye tribes. Unlike other archaeological cultures, the evidence offered by the Cucuteni-Tripolye anthropomorphic plastic renditions is very generous. Special consideration will be given to the symbols frequently found on sacred artifacts and we will attempt to clarify whether the Cucuteni-Tripolye civilization employed what has been dubbed the “Danubian Script”. Even though only two minor necropolises have been discovered so far, both tardive, we will attempt to bring light into certain complicated post-mortem issues.
The archaeological discoveries of the last decades have revealed the existence of ritual complexes and painted frescoes interpreted as portrayals of a part of the Pre-Cucuteni pantheon, and the practice of ritual ceremonies in which a myth, probably cosmogonic, was staged. In other chronologically posterior (Cucuteni B phase) cases, complexes were identified consisting of statuettes and vessels which, through their in situ arrangement, signal the existence of cosmogenic beliefs and concepts. This interpretation is likewise supported by other discoveries: the vessel from Poduri with ten human silhouettes depicted inside cartridges, certain painted stylized images and the vessels with anthropomorphic figurines. Most of the aforementioned discoveries have not been published abroad, and are known in the West only due to the recent exhibitions and the concise information accompanying the catalogues. We consider it necessary to make known to the international scientific community these exceptional findings, in all of their details, and the interpretations advanced by the discoverers.