• Peştera cu Oase de la Steierdorf - „Plopa - Ponor"
  • Steierdorf


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      • The cave called “La Hoţu” (“Peştera Hoţilor”) is a cave located in the same karstic system as the cave “Peştera cu Oase”, which yielded Europe’s earliest modern humans, directly dated to 34,950/+990/-890 (OxA-11711/GrA-6165). “La Hoţu” was selected for testing (2004 and 2005 - 2006), under the expectation that it might provide the cultural context for the modern human remains recovered in the latter, which came from a purely paleontological context. The assumption was that the cultural affinities of that people could be revealed by the identification of contemporary habitation levels from sites nearby, even if no artifacts were to be found in direct association with the human remains themselves. In the first season, testing revealed a Holocene sequence with a final Aeneolithic layers/transition to the Bronze Age (Coţofeni and Baden Cultures) hearth overlying an extensive, early Neolithic (Starčevo-Criş) ash and charcoal lens, which lay directly on top of large boulders. The charcoal in this Starčevo-Criş context was entirely made up of thin branches of Fagus sylvatica, whence a sample submitted to the Lisbon radiocarbon lab yielded a conventional date of 6710±80 BP (Sac-2001). In 2005, an adjacent area extending towards the interior was open under the expectation that those blocks would correspond to an eboulis cone related to a lateral entrance and, thus, that the overlying stratigraphic sequence would become thicker as one moved away from that lateral entrance, and possibly include Pleistocene levels. This inference is supported by the fact that, sedimentologically, there is a marked stratigraphic discontinuity, between the base of the Neolithic deposits and the top of the red clays containing the uppermost hearth. The uppermost lens, 280-285 cm below datum, yielded two charcoal samples: one, collected in squares 4A-4B and in association with a microlithic backed point, was entirely made up of charcoal from a single xylomorphological type, either Fagus or Prunus; the second, collected from the entire thickness of the hearth in square 4B, was also made up of a single xylomorphological type belonging to a species of Quercus. Conventional dates: 7590±100 BP (Sac-2104) & 7610±60 BP (OxA-15067). At an elevation of 311-330 cm below datum, a thin, extensive charcoal scatter was identified in square 4A, in grey sediments some 25 cm below the base of the Mesolithic layers; however, no diagnostic artifacts were associated with it (only bones fragments with post depositional mechanical traces). The charcoal has been identified as Pinus, with features suggestive of the group P. cemba/P. peuce/P. strobus. Conventional date: 13710±60 BP (OxA-15992). In 2006, we identified another layer at almost 1 meter below the Late Upper Palaeolithic layers, at 420-428 cm below datum, in grey-yellow fine sediment, which contains a few fragments of flint pieces, bones and charcoal. Two samples of charcoal were collected and are waiting to be analyzed in 14C Lab. In conclusion, the stratigraphical sequence provided by “La Hoţu” Cave is very important for understanding the human presence in Miniş karstic system in prehistory and this is the reason for us to continue the multidisciplinary archaeological approach in this area.


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