This research project seeked to carry out a comprehensive study of ceramic products from the prehistoric settlement of Iarcuri (Romania) based primarily on chemical analysis of ceramics. The study aimed to shed light on questions concerning the centralized/decentralized production, distribution and influence of ceramics.
Since 2007 fieldwork (excavation, geophysics and fieldwork) has been conducted at the Late Bronze Age fortification Corneşti-Iarcuri in the Romanian Banat, within a cooperation between the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, the Muzeul Naţional al Banatului in Timişoara and the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main. Since 2013 the project has been funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and from 2012 to 2018 two side projects were carried out within the Topoi research group (A-6) Economic Space.
Iarcuri is situated in Western Romania at the Eastern edge of the pannonian plain approx. 30 km south to the River Mureş, which takes its way out of the Carpatians to the West. The fortification contains four ramparts with a total length of more than 33 km encompassing an area of more than 17,6 km². Therefore it is the largest and one of the most complex Bronze Age Sites in Europe. Excavations have been undertaken inside the settlement and at three of the four ramparts. According to radiocarbon dating the ramparts and settlement structures date into the Southeast European Late Bronze Age (15th to 12th century BC). The finds from excavations and surveys can be linked to the Cruceni-Belegiş Culture (Phases I-III). The site was later abandoned and in parts destroyed by huge fires with no signs for an intensive Iron Age occupation.
Within Topoi two lines of research were pursued: chemical analyses (pXRF, WD-XRFand MGR) of the ceramic found in Iarcuri and eight more contemporary sites from the Romanian Banat have been carried out by Małgorzata Daszkiewicz and Gerwulf Schneider. The chemical analyses of the ceramic show three groups of different origins. One seems to be local from Iarcuri, a second seems to be regional and can also be found on other analyzed sites in the Banat. A third is probably imported ceramic from a longer distance. Another focus lied on the possible chemical and technical differences between ceramic out of the settlements and out of necropolises.
Moritz Nykamp investigated the landscape development and human-environment interactions around the site within his dissertation. The landscape analysis concentrated on the Late Bronze Age environs, landscape reconstructions and e.g. the impact of wind-driven soil erosion of a loess-like sediment and the link of hydrological anomalies to archaeological evidences.
Results have been presented in numerous publications, e.g.
Alexandru Szentmiklosi, Bernhard Heeb, Julia Heeb, Anthony Harding, Rüdiger Krause and Helmut Becker, “Corneşti-Iarcuri – a Bronze Age town in the Romanian Banat?”, in: Antiquity, 85 (2011), 819-203
Moritz Nykamp, Philipp R. Hoelzmann, Bernhard Heeb, Alexandru Szentmiklosi and Brigitta Schütt, “Holocene sediment dynamics in the environs of the fortification enclosure of Corneşti-Iarcuri in the Romanian Banat”, in: Climate change in the Balkan-Carpathian region during Late Pleistocene and Holocene, Quaternary International, 415 (2016)
Michael Meyer, Malgorzata Daszkiewicz, Gerwulf Schneider, Reinhard Bernbeck, Bernhard Heeb, Morten Hegewisch, Kay Kohlmeyer, Claudia Näser, Silvia Polla, Erdmute Schultze, Fleur Schweigart and David Warburton, “Economic Space. On the Analysis and Interpretation of Pottery Production and Distribution”, in: Space and Knowledge. Topoi Research Group Articles, eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies, Special Volume 6 (2016), 190–219
Moritz Nykamp, Daniel Knitter, Bernhard Heeb, Alexandru Szentmiklosi, Rüdiger Krause and Brigitta Schütt, “A Landscape Archaeological Approach to Link Human Activities to Past Landscape Change in the Built-up Area of the Late Bronze Age Enclosure Corneşti-Iarcuri, Western Romania”, in: eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies, Volume 6 (2017), 1–15