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Lecture | Louwe Kooijmans lecture

Worlds of clay and worlds of timber: The roots of the Early Neolithic in Central Europe

  • Prof.dr.dr.h.c. Eszter Bánffy (Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts)
Wednesday 9 May 2018
National Museum of Antiquities
Rapenburg 28
2311 EW Leiden

World of clay

Important cultural changes for the development of the European Early Neolithic took place in the northern marginal zones of the Balkan. This area, the southern part of the Carpathian basin, is part of ‘the world of clay’ as clay makes up for much of its architecture and material expression. In this ‘clayscape’ countless elements, environmental and cognitive, make their appearance and ultimately lead to its decline during the mid-sixth millennium cal BC.

Timber and stones

The end of this period gave birth to a no less stunning world constructed more of timber and stones, accompanied by transformations in subsistence, material culture and rituals. A world inextricably bound up with the formation of the first farmers’ communities of Central Europe. These colonised the entire European loess region, to which they brought previously unknown concepts of subsistence, landscape perception, architecture and cognition.

Frontier zone developments

The marginal ecological position in the Balkans therefore brought on a crisis, but simultaneously triggered crucial changes in mental patterns and ritual activities. Emblematic for this is the newly identified Early Neolithic monumental figurine type: an embodiment of the last instance among the South-East European communities of clay used as a fundamental building block of their lives. However, changes in depiction clearly reflect the transformation of lifestyles. Presented here is one possible narrative of these important frontier zone developments.


Please register on the website of the National Museum of Antiquities before Monday May 7th.

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