Between trash and trove. Archaeological research in northeast Serbia
This spring the archaeologists of the University of Cologne and geoscientist from the RWTH Aachen University of the CRC 806 B1 project travelled to the town of Vršac in Northeastern Serbia. The aim was to relocate and examine previously known early Upper Palaeolithic (UP) open-air sites.
During sand mining activities in the 1970s, workers found Aurignacian stone artefacts and local scholars documented the majority of these findings. Yet, despite their effort, it is almost impossible to relocate the find spots today, with the exception of "At". In 1984, an archaeological team of the University of Belgrade excavated at the sand pit called "At II" and discovered a handful of artefacts in sandy layers.
In 2014, the CRC 806 team excavated again at "At II" in cooperation with Dušan Milhailović of the University of Belgrade. The excavation was not as one would call a walk in the park. Since the excavations in 1984, locals have turned the old sand pit into ad hoc landfills. In order to cut a trench, heaps of trash and huge amounts of sediment had to be removed. Yet, two days before returning to Germany, the team found a nosed endscraper, a diagnostic tool for the Aurignacian. Because it showed few traces of fluvial transport, the original site may not be too far away. The "At" locality probably belongs to an early UP site cluster concentrated around an extended Last Glacial river system. Therefore, the Vršac region provides an important adding to the UP contextual area in the Banat.
The old sand mining pit At I.
Photo: Wei Chu
| The nosed endscraper from the At I excavation.
Photo: Ine Leonard