The Cernavoda I Culture

MNIR n° 11651, long. 17 cm
Part of a limestone "scepter" with representation of horse head with harness Cernavoda I culture. This object, probably a symbol of power, brings direct proof of the use of horses by the people of the Pontic steppes (origin : Casimcea, district : Constanta).


Site eponym :
Cernavoda "Dealul Sofia" on the right bank of the Danube in Dobrogea.
Dates : End of the ancient Chacolithic, middle of the fourth millennium, BC.
Geographical Setting : Probably a progressive migratory movement coming from the Pontic steppes. A territory essentially covering Dobrogea, the east of Muntenia and the northeast of Bulgaria.
Habitation : situated on the mountainsides or in the highlands, re-occupying the Gumelnita culture settlements sometimes and often surrounded by ditches.

Material Means : Almost a complete rupture from the previous culture's development. Use of shell chips and clay with rope or cord-style are very characteristic of the pottery and ceramics. Stone scepters. Limited use of copper.
Funeral Rites : Burial and graves under funeral mounds or flattened pits, both isolated and grouped in to a Necropolis.

Through its Eneolithic elements, the Cernavoda I culture completes a major stage of cultural evolution and marks the transition between the Neolithic era and the Bronze Age with its new social and cultural structure. Through an uninterrupted cultural evolution, from new historical transformations, beginning with Cernavoda I and continuing with Cernavoda II and Cernavoda III, we arrive at the foundation of Indo-European culture.
The Cernavoda I culture is diffused throughout an area covering Dobrogea, east of Munténie and North-East of Bulgaria. Its relationships to the other cultures are, however, much more intense notably its contacts with Cucuteni A4 and AB, Usatovo, Foltesti, Maiaki, Salcuta, Bodrogkesrestur, Suplevce, Troia I, Ezero...

MNIR n° 291556, 291557, 291558
Group of ceramics
from the Cernavoda culture (origin : Hârsova).

The Cernavoda culture belongs to a great, relatively homogeneous, group of cultures characterized by ceramics with twisted decoration, the use of ochre, scepters in zoomorphic forms, and burial under grave mounds.
From a chronological point of view 3450 BC - 3000 BC, The Cernavoda I culture is one consistent Neolithic culture yet the tools and technology are indicative of the Eneolithic, if only for what it inherited from the Gumelnita culture.
The infiltration of the Cernavoda I culture seems to have been quite rapid, even violent. The lower Danube region (where Cernavoda and Hârsova are located) is in the center of a vast zone of cultural mixtures and ethnic migrations. The more one moves away from the lower Danube, the more diffused the Cernavoda I elements become, and the more quickly the Cernavoda I tribes were assimilated. The Cernavoda culture follows a evolution parallel to a series of other Eneolithic cultures. It brought "cultural advances" between Troy and the Carpathians and loaned elements of the Gumelnita culture to the territory on which it settled in the lower Danube.