Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica 18(1): 81-91

Iharka Szücs-Csillik, Astronomical Observatory, Cluj-Napoca, .img

Alexandra Comșa, “Vasile Pârvan” Institute of Archaeology, Bucharest, .img


Alignment is a static orientation of some objects, or set of objects, in relation to others. In archaeoastronomy we can separate stone alignments (stone rows) and alignments connected with orientation (e.g. graves, or skeletons orientation). The object of our research is to emphasize the importance of orientation in the Neolithic time, which we can determine by using a magnetic compass. Our collected data led us to conclude that solar observation was the determinant of orientation. More particularly, the rising of the sun above the horizon and possibly, though less frequently, the setting sun, provided the alignment. It was possible to show a close correlation with sunrise, or sunset at feast days, that is, the day on which the venerated God was celebrated, at Easter and on true east, determined by equinoctial sunrise. We consider the orientation of burials in the Neolithic, on the south-eastern Romanian territory. These necropolises (Cernica, Grǎdiştea Ulmilor, etc.) show clearly that the East-West orientation was mostly taken. The Neolithic burials are aligned on that arc of the horizon where the Sun rises between the winter and summer solstices (solar arc) in a year. In the middle of the solar arc, of course, is also the zone within which Easter (spring and autumn equinoxes) falls.We can notice that the idea that we are trying to assign to prehistoric man, that is the sacredness condition, which represents a specific feature and is manifested by voluntary deeds and actions, such as the artistic creation and the funeral phenomenon, was a specific feature of the social life of prehistoric communities. Regarding the so various burial practices, understood as representative for the will of the community members, the social relations between them, a certain state of religiosity and continuity in the prehistoric environments, we try to differentiate between ritual space and sacred space; ritual space cannot be permanently equated, especially for the localizations of its manifestations, to the sacred space. Ritual space has become sacred following the repetition of the manifestations of the collective sacredness (we refer, for instance, to the continuity of the burials in the same place, considered by its effectiveness, observed as repetition of the phenomenon of funeral sacredness); thus, the ritual space of the Paleolithic caves or outside them has become open to sacredness by the attitude of the practitioners, of the initiated, and also, possibly, by the one of a large number of adepts, participants in the respective cult manifestations. During the Upper Paleolithic one notices sometimes the same practices of the funeral behavior, and also particular innovations. Variations appear regarding the deposition and the orientation of the dead and especially of the funeral offerings etc. We consider it is only then that the behavior of the living population creates the possibility of evaluation of the functioning manners of the respective human communities, their organization, mentalities and, last but not least, their beliefs and religious practices.

Autorii prezintă în acest studiu importanţa orientării în neolitic, determinată prin utilizarea unui compas magnetic. Datele obţinute conduc la concluzia că observaţia solară era factorul determinant al orientării.


east-west alignment, neolithic necropolises, archaeoastronomy.


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