SECTION II – Pottery references


            SECTION II is dedicated to the pottery references, which does not mean “analogies”, but the “corpus” of pottery that might have had a role in the genesis of the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti Culture, or that could have had an influence of any kind in the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti milieu. The term „Corpus” here does not mean “all of it”, but some important “control groups” used as terms of comparison. For comparison on consider an historical perspective (pottery older than the half of the fifth Century, from Wallachia) and a geographic perspective (pottery from neighboured territories, from V to VII Centuries).


Chapter 4 takes a historical perspective, analysing the so-called Daco-Roman pottery[1] from the time of Roman province of Dacia and pottery made in the Roman tradition. The brief presentations bring into the discussion elements such as the techniques of manufacture and the relationships between firing, decorative types, statistics concerning function, typical and average dimensions, relative analogies (see above, chapter 1). We may summarise the results as follows:

            In the Chilia-Militari Culture[2] (BICHIR 1984) one may point out the complete separation of morphological groups comprised by wheel-made ceramics and hand-made ceramics, the relatively close match with the Roman capacities system, the relative lack of matches with the typologies constructed for Roman Oltenia (western Wallachia; see POPILIAN 1976), the high frequency of miniature vessels (a character that seems to be inherited in the sixth century); the analogies with sixth-century forms are few (p. 58-60).

            The Dacian pottery from the Locusteni necropolis[3] also has few analogies in the rest of the „control groups” (only 30% of the morphological types have relative analogies with other types from database), but they are interesting, one in Roman Oltenia (showing the process of the mixing of forms), but the others are from further away, at Târgşor (see Map 2, on plate XII), Bacău (see Map 1, on plate XI) and even from Slovakia. Similar, the Dacian pottery from Soporu de Câmpie necropolis (central Transylvania) has distant connections, in space and time, proving the role of Dacian culture in the formation of the culture of this part of Europe (p. 60-61).

            Hand-made pottery from east-Carpathian area (BICHIR 1967), a tradition to be linked with the Carpi, has a distinctive character: it is the tallest shape in this part of Europe. This character will be inherited too, and will be recognized easily, including in Muntenia (Wallachia), three or four centuries later (p. 61).

            The pottery of the Sarmatian control-group comes from Basarabia and south Ukraine (GROSU 1995) and, in spite of the early chronology (first and second centuries AD), it is well integrated with the rest of the “control groups” (almost half of the Sarmatian morphological types has an analogy). The Sarmatian pottery’s main election (= the most common analogy) goes for Penkovka culture (in the same geographical area, but five centuries later!). On the other hand, there was an obvious difference between this control-group and what is considered to be Sarmatian pottery in southern-eastern Romania, the former has no foot, which is extremely characteristic for the latter. Pottery specialists for the Roman period seem to have a new problem to solve (p. 62).

            The early Roman pottery control-group from Oltenia (POPILIAN 1967) has the best integration in the database, 85% of shapes having analogies in other cultures. The fact confirms in a mathematical manner the parental role of Roman culture in the creation of later European cultures. The most astonishing analogies – at least at first sight – are those that refer to the Slavic world. One fifth of the Roman morphological groups from Oltenia (second to third centuries AD) seem to be related to Slavic groups from VI-VIII centuries, one of them being the most frequent shape in Slovakia. Without a control group for Middle Danube early Roman pottery, the situation suggests the importance of the connections of Roman Oltenia with the western Roman world (p. 63-64).

            The integration ratio for the Cherniakhov type from Wallachia (more exactly the Mogoşani necropolis, DIACONU G 1969) though less than the Roman ratio mentioned above is nevertheless quite high (65%). One fifth of the morphological groups match early Roman shapes, one tenth could be paralleled in late Roman sites, also, but only one tenth looks similar to Chilia-Militari pottery (that is relatively few). More than half of the forms could be found in sixth century settlements from Wallachia. In the Slavic world there are “addressed” only Penkovka elements, that is pretty normal, but still interesting (p. 65-66).

            With an integration ratio of only 50%, the Cireşanu cultural aspect[4] (TEODORESCU & 1993 and 1993 b) seems to be an isolated society with few descendants. This conclusion may be amended when the important sixth century settlements from Prahova County will be published. The cultural aspect of Cireşanu seems to be different from the Cherniakhov culture, not only in chronological terms, but also by content (p. 67-68).


            Chapter 5 provides a spatial (or geographic) perspective, showing cultures more or less contemporary with the Ipoteşti-Cândeşti pottery, which is our main subject. The material is grouped in several cultural categories: late Roman pottery, vessels from “peripheral areas” (Moldavia and Transylvania), hand-made ceramics from the Roman environment, and, finally, early Slavic pottery.

            The pottery from late Roman cities has faint morphological connections with the ceramic shapes produced on the Romanian Plain at the same time. The possible links – around one sixth of the forms – are due to the common history (i.e. early Roman pottery) and less to active economic exchange. This statistic is similar for the analysis of decoration (p. 69-70).

            The western connections of the Roman enclave in southern Oltenia are confirmed in the late Roman pottery. Sucidava-Celei is only about 100 km west of Iatrus, yet the pottery (especially the decoration) looks quite different. This demonstrates the influential of the administrative affiliation (the former was in Illyricum, the latter in Thracia; p. 70-71).

            The cultural diversity of Bucovina[5] seems to be a case of geographical determinism (which operates in our days too). The analysis proved that things are mixed-up to a degree that is hard to imagine in such a tiny territory (about 200 square km). Every settlement studied is a particular case, and there are five!

            Botoşana (TEODOR D 1984) is a singular case for settlements, where there seems to be a complete cultural split between manufacturing techniques. The wheel-made ceramics are linked to the Roman tradition, not only by technology, but also by form. All hand-made ceramics that have analogies refer to Slavic pottery. However, there are morphological groups for which there are no analogies found, which could represent a local tradition, unknown in the Slavic world (heavily present in the database). The wheel-made ceramics could not be anything else but the products of specialized potters (itinerants, maybe); the hand-made pottery cannot have been produced by anybody but the local inhabitants, apparently Slavs. Nevertheless, there is a third element here: two hand-made pot are incised, on the shoulder, with cross sign (in wet clay). This is unknown in Slavic settlements, but extremely common eastward and southward of the Carpathian Mountains. That will be our first cultural integration model, the Botoşana model (p. 71-73).

            Dolheştii Mari settlement, in despite of the extremely poor number of analyzable shapes (ANDRONIC 1995), gives little space for doubt that we have there a Slavic community, without interferences from ancient local populations. The pottery looks very primitive and couldn’t be dated beyond the sixth century (p. 73).

            In contrast, a site like Suceava-Şipot (TEODOR D 1994 and pots from National Museum of History’s inventory, not published) which has become a veritable paradigm for Slavic populations in northern Moldavia (MATEI M 1959), reveals the most diversified “genetic characters” (Carpic, Sarmatian, Roman), but not Slavic. In fact the pottery makes a case for a model of isolation, autarchy, although the chronology of the settlement in the Slavic migration period is certain (p. 73-74). This diversity of situations will be confirmed in sites from northern Bucovina (Rashkov and Codîn, discussed later, in the context of Slavic culture, as they are usually known).

            From here we travel south along the Siret River in Moldavia. The Izvoare-Bahna settlement (MITREA 1998; for position see the map 1 on plate XI) is another “specific case”. On the one hand there is a settlement level from the beginning of the sixth century (the chronology proposed by the excavator – eighth Century - has been revised), with a such a “Romanized” aspect that is hard to find parallels in central Wallachia; on the other hand, there is another horizon (we are talking here in “horizontal stratigraphy”), extremely different, similar to Dolheştii Mari. This second horizon could be dated to around the end of the sixth century It is interesting to note here that the huts of both horizons are constructed in an identical manner (p. 77). If we accept the hypothesis that the women are the producers of household-made pottery, but the men are the house-builders, than what we have here is not a “military occupation”, but an exchange of matrimonial services, with all its implications, as one kind or another of military and political integration (federalization). This would be only one of the possibilities. In fact, we have no direct proof that the Slavs made the migration with their homeland families.

            Going further south, in central Moldavia, we find the Bacău settlement (MITREA 1980). The pottery from Bacău is an outstanding testimony of the resistance of the local Carpic groups to all foreign influences, both Roman as well as Slavic (p. 78).

            Compared with Moldavia, Transylvania (inside the arc of the Carpathian Mountains!) looks peaceful and conservative, so far as it is possible to understand anything from three sites. The inhumation cemetery from Noşlac (RUSU 1962) represents another case for an ethno-cultural splitting; each major pottery type comes from a different culture: one is a very well known Gepidic ceramic type (relatively fine, grey, with a very low body diameter); a second one is a relic from the Sântana de Mureş-Cherniakhov culture (grey, sandy, Roman shape); the third type (the less numerous) shows a Roman experience, through well formed shape. Despite the problems with the morphology of these vessels, this third type has been considered Slavic without any explanation, only because the pots had been made by hand (p. 79). It is worth recalling the fact that there is not a single Slavic necropolis, big or little, inside the Carpathian mountains, dated to the sixth century or the most part of the next.

            The main archaeological problem in the First Settlement at Bratei (BÂRZU 1995) is the changing of cultural horizon between levels B and C (somewhere in the second part of sixth century), understood by the author of the monographic paper as a replacement of population (the C population would be a migratory one, with a low material culture). The fact may be kept as a plausible hypothesis, but I think that the alteration of life standards is due to other factors: the first is a cooling of the climate, which forced the construction of sunken-floored huts (the phenomena can be observed over wide areas in the fifth to sixth centuries AD); the second is the decline of Gepidic authority and the end of the organized production of Germanic pottery, at least in southern Transylvania. What can be seen in the field is the disappearance of grey pots and a rapid decline in the ratio between wheel-made and hand-made pottery, right at the time when – “strange” coincidence! – this disease was spreading almost everywhere in Europe (p. 79-80). There is however no difference in the handmade pottery from phases B and C of the settlement.

            The Second Settlement at Bratei (ZAHARIA 1995) begins its life around the final part of the sixth century and functions, episodically, about one century. This is one of the very few settlements that show the process of adopting the slow wheel, after a complete but short decline in the standards of pottery manufacture. The interference of some Slavic groups, at the end of the sixth century, can’t be excluded, but the arguments are very thin. What is for sure is that pots of the second part of the seventh century, saw the return of well designed shapes, as in the best days of Justinian, but now made on the slow wheel (p. 81). The nearest Slavic settlement known lies on the Someş Plain, more then 300 km to the north-west (STANCIU 1999).

            In Roman territory the changes in the pottery reflect the changing world. We see strange objects appearing: hand-made pots or vessels turned on a slow wheel, all of them ugly and distorted. There are two cases, in the same area, in the Lower Danube.

            The first case is the Roman fortress of Capidava, from which came, recently, a significant assemblage of hand-made pots (two of them possibly made sloppily by slow-wheel), with a very secure context, dated to the sixth decade of the sixth century (OPRIŞ 2000). The cultural distribution of shapes reflects the heterogeneous structure of the Roman army at that time, nevertheless – statistically - the local tradition and Roman forms predominate. The use of archaic methods for forming ceramics in a Roman garrison (the vessels were found in a military storeroom) does not reveal the barbarization or the Roman army (that happened two centuries earlier), but a deep financial crisis of the Empire, unable to feed the soldiers (p. 81-82). That was the beginning of the end.

            After the collapse, other people became the rulers of the Roman land. The second case is the Garvăn-Popina cultural group, developed mainly by new-comers, the Slavs. Bulgarian archaeologist proclaimed, so many times, that the Slavic archaeological remains dated from the end of the sixth century (for ex. VĂŽAROVA 1965, 1986). A new study by a Bulgarian archaeologist, taking as a starting point exactly the morphological arguments (the RUSANOVA “school”), contests the identity of this material as the pottery of the Slavic “homeland”, and proposes a chronology after the middle of the seventh century (KOLEVA 1992). The conclusions of the younger Bulgarian scientist are closer to reality. The formal analyses indicate local influences, a Roman inheritance, analogies with Wallachia, but three morphological types were isolated as a foreign experience, and they could have a very exactly homeland address: the stronghold Chotomel, in northern Ukraine. The chronology of the Garvăn-Popina group could be lowered to the first half of the seventh century. I see the metamorphose of Slavic pottery into a kind of (bad) Roman pottery being possible in a shorter time, because it was not made by the Slavs but by a submitted hand of work, originated to the Lower Danube (p. 83).

            The early Slavic pottery is the subject of a large sub-chapter (§ 5.3.). This contains studies of pottery groups from Bohemia, Slovakia, south Poland, settlements in northern Bucovina (Rashkov and Kodîn) and material of the Penkovka cultural group. Objections could be raised about the “national” structure of the material; the modern nations are however the products of their own geography, of deeper and ancient connections, not only of modern events. The analysis showed that each territory has its own well defined profile. The Slavic morphology sequence (see Appendices, section V, D.1.) is a unique classification of all early Slavic territories (or those considered as most likely to have been early Slavic) providing a direct comparison between all shapes recorded in the database. The “singularity ratio” (meaning morphological groups that can’t be found in other territories; see Appendices, section V, D.2., table 1, column 4) is high on the periphery of the Slavic world (Bohemia, Ukraine, Penkovka group, figures upper than 40%) and low (less than 5%) or null in the central territories like Slovakia and south Poland (p. 85).

            This geographical determinism means that usually neighbouring territories have a closer morphological connection. Not always, of course. The Bohemian pot shapes (BORKOWSKI 1940) seem more related to southern Poland than western Slovakia (an interesting hint for historians). But the whole western part of the Slavic area is dominated by one single morphological group (named CSV_08A, in our classification; see Appendices, section V, D.1., sixth row), constituting more than a quarter of all material. This shape has good analogies in early Roman Empire pottery (see the drawing of the average ratios of this group), and makes the common denominator for all Slavic western territories (!). Other extremely diverse influences, like German or Penkovka, are present too (p. 85-86).

            Slovakia (FUSEK 1994) seems to be the centre of the Roman influence. The CSV_08A group (named also “the western Slavic pot”) here made up 37% of all pots. The relationship between Slavic territories and the western (Roman) world can be expressed in simple mathematical terms; for instance, the rim angle averages for all pots before year 600 are as follows: 94o for Ukraine, 96o for Poland, 98o for Slovakia and Bohemia. Therefore, to speak about a “Prague culture” in generic terms, extending from Ukraine to Bohemia, means to lose sight of the specific regional traits, to fail in decoding historical processes if the starting point is a raw definition like “all hand-made pottery is the Prague type”. Slovakia is also the place where, in the last third of the sixth century, vessel formation with the slow wheel begins process that is growing up to generalization in the second half of seventh century, one century earlier than in Poland and two centuries earlier than in Ukraine. The Middle Danube is the territory from which the slow wheel technique spreads also to the Roman land, in Illyricum. At the same time with this technological “revolution”, the shapes are refined, taking as “target” the same Roman pot, which is the single true “model” to follow. In the second part of the seventh century, in the Slovakian sites, the rim angle average rises up to 115o, that is quite a “Roman” character. At this time, the earlier ethnic patterns are going to be removed by a new “European” culture (p. 87).

            The morphological domination of Roman-like pottery in Slovakia is a fact that does not lead to the conclusion that the population was not quite Slavic, at least for seventh century, but emphasizes both the importance of the historical background (Celtic, Dacian, Roman, German) and the cultural environment.

            From Poland (PARCZEWSKI 1993) two areas are selected for study: the South Polish Area (Krakow and its hinterland) and the southeastern area of Poland (Lublin and the San valley). The north half of Poland is excluded from comparison, to avoiding the mixed-up Slavic-Germanic ceramics. The most evident links of the shapes of Polish vessels are with the pottery from western Slovakia and Bohemia (in this order), but references to Penkovka morphological groups are frequent too. The analogies for central Ukraine are far weaker. Here we came to a theoretical problem: the ethnogenesis of the Slavic has to be pushed back several centuries, because a single “origin centre” can’t be indicated for the fifth to sixth centuries. We have to presume an older “antecedent” for both Polish and Ukraine vessels, if any, speaking here strictly from pottery perspective (p. 90)[6]. The incidence of central Ukraine (Korchak type) influence is more obvious in southeastern Poland, as expected. The analysis delivered clear morphological comparative definitions for a “Polish type” (“Krakow”) and Korchak type, so that they can’t be confused. The difference is made by the height of the body diameter, taller for Korchak type (p. 91; see graph 17 from Appendices, section IV, J.5.).

            Even if Ukraine could be the homeland of the Slavic forefathers (GIMBUTAS 1971), its position in the sixth century is rather marginal, and not only on the map, but in the Slavic ceramic morphology sequence too. A quarter of the vessels of Korchak type (RUSANOVA 1973, all from sixth- seventh centuries) have no analogies in the rest of the Slavic world, and without the help of the Rashkov settlements – this result would be much worst. The analogies for South-Poland stops to 16% from shapes, and those with the Penkovka culture (so near-by in geographical terms) falls to 8% (p. 92). The pottery from central and north Ukraine is unusually homogenous, that means, in historical terms, a closed environment, far from great population movements[7]. The morphological characters of early shapes are very precise: poor angles (rim, shoulder, tangents), modestly modulated shapes, a wide aperture and a very tall belly diameter (p. 93).

            The best analogies of the Korchak pot type are connected with the Rashkov settlements from northern Bucovina (BARAN 1988). It is interesting to note that the vice-versa is not true. The paradox is due to an increased diversity in the sites from the upper Dniestr. The most frequent analogies for Rashkov (“Raşcov” in Romanian orthography) relate to the neighbouring Slavic areas of southeastern Poland (36,8%), and then, in order of decreasing similarity, western Slovakia, central Ukraine, Bohemia, Penkovka area and, at the end, the nearby site of Codîn (5,3%, p. 94). Rashkov is the most cosmopolitan (or, simply, culturally blended) social environment from the entire Slavic world, as much as studied. Its affiliation to the primordial Slavic culture seems pretty certain, but the facies is absolutely original, with a background where the Carpi-population, and probably Sarmatians had an important place. The pottery of Rashkov has its own specific character in the Slavic world. On the one hand, the structure of the foot of the vessel (frequently present, short, with an enlarged lower part), that is nowhere found in the same manner (see Appendices, section IV, K.8., graph 5). On the other hand, the average vessel capacity is lower than in all the Slavic world, matching instead the figures for settlements from Moldavia and Wallachia; that figure (2.342 litres, see Appendices, section IV, K.9, table)[8] is 58% of the average capacity of vessels from south Poland and only 52% of vessels of Korchak type (p. 94).

            The capacity system seems to be the only similarity between the Rashkov and Codîn settlements (RUSANOVA & 1984). In spite the relatively small distance between them (less than 100 km), the two groups of settlements are quite different; there is nothing here comparable to Rashkov’s “cosmopolitan” shapes. Codîn is a dead-end for the main stream of migration, aside, hidden in the hills, closed and conservative. Codîn area inherited the traditions of the Carpathian Barrows Culture and maintains a strong local tradition that can be seen in spite of the degradation of pottery-make skills. The analogies are connected almost only to the original Carpathian Barrows Culture area, 39% of the shapes been met in Poland (both areas with the same figure). Only 11% of the shapes could be found in Rashkov too, and the rest of Slavic world is just absent (p. 96)[9]. I included the Codîn settlements in the Slavic morphology sequence only because other scholars do so. In fact, we should talk about Codîn cultural aspect, as a successor of the culture of the ancient populations from that area.

            The Rashkov and Codîn settlements complete the amazing mosaic-like cultural landscape of Bucovina, where all sites are so very different. Bucovina is a cultural diversity paradigm, thus we had to develop to subject much more than first thought.

            The Slavic morphology sequence is ended by another cultural horizon that interacted with the Slavic world, but it is doubtful whether it was a Slavic culture. This Penkovka culture (RUSANOVA 1976, 1978) is usually attributed to the Antes tribes, that is – beyond the simple name – a large nomadic confederation that could have had Slavic elements too, north of the Black See (TEODOR D 1994; CORMAN 1996). The integration ratio in Slavic morphology sequence is only 42%[10], which speaks for itself. The cultural group originated (at least its pottery did) in primitive elements from the Cherniakhov culture substratum (mostly Sarmatian, p. 98). This common term (Cherniakhov) with outside eastern and southern Carpathian Mountains cultures makes pot-by-pot comparison inoperative for non-biconical forms (the usual, but not exclusive form for Penkovka ceramics). By the way, the pot-by-pot comparison is generally not a recommended method for studying shapes.


further – Section III

back to the Summary index

the Romanian version general index

the Romanian version for Section II

back to the National Museum Publications

back to the National Museum index


[1] Basic, that is a pottery made in Dacian tradition, with influences from Roman potters practice.

[2] Central Wallachia, II-III C. AD

[3] Roman Oltenia, II-III C; in the incineration necropolis one can find Roman ceramics mixed with Dacian ceramics.

[4] An isolated cultural group from northern Muntenia, in the time of the Hunic Empire.

[5] This is in north-western part of Moldavia, near the Carpathian Mountains, western from Siret river, from Suceava river in South to Nistru in North.

[6] After I concluded this work I red a book appeared approximately in the same time (CURTA 2001). According to this, there is less a “material history” together than the spreading of a “lingua franca” (Old Slavic) in Barbaricum; this hypothesis explains better the mismatching morphology between western and eastern areas of presumable Slav ethnicity emergence.

[7] And everyone could continue: how could this population be a significant part of the great invasions from Lower Danube?

[8] The first table, of the „Average dimensions”; from left to right, the columns are: (1) the lot; (2) Capacity (only entire shapes); (3) upper capacity (upper belly diameter); (4) ratio upper capacity/ total capacity; (5) deduced capacity (all entire- and half- pots); (6) rim diameter; (7) base diameter; (8) height

[9] In the analysis have been considered only the pots related with dwellings dated by author at the and of fifth and in the sixth century. The seventh and eighth centuries pottery gets closer and closer by what is generally considered as Slavic pottery. The goal of this study was to establish if the Codîn community/ communities was/ were already Slav (as pottery tradition) in the time of great invasions.

[10] The figure is complementary of that of the last row, fourth column.