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The Paleolithic sites in the territory of Satu Mare County are grouped in the Northern side of the county, in Oaş Depression and on it’s border area with the plains of Someş and Tur. From geographic and cultural point of view, this region is part to the wider Upper Tisa Basin. This point of view makes relevant the proximity of the exceptional Paleolithic site of Korolevo, in the Trans-Carpathian Ukraine, close to the border of the county.
    The first Paleolithic records in Oaş, were discovered in 1928, when the archaeologist Márton Roska made field research around Bixad. The first systematic research, however, was made by C. S. Nicolaescu-Plopşor in 1957, discovering the site from Boineşti–Bélavára (or Coasta Boineştilor). The research was continued by Maria Bitiri between 1960 and 1969, at the Paleolithic sites from Oaş, of which the most important are: Boineşti–Bélavára, Remetea Oaşului–Şomoş I and II, Călineşti Oaş I, II, III and IV, Turulung–Dealul Pustiu (or Pusztahegy). In the following 30 years, no archaeological excavations were made at the Paleolithic sites from Oaş They were restarted during the last years (2005, 2006) at Boineşti and Remetea Oaşului by a team of Romanian and French researchers.
    The Paleolithic sites from Oaş are placed on hills, which, unfortunately, are strongly eroded by rain and wind. Therefore, few of them are where the prehistoric settlements are better preserved. The sediments with Paleolithic evidence has a maximum of 0,70 meters in depth, and in the case of the settlements where there is a succession of cultural horizons, there are no sterile levels between them, therefore, the differentiation of the artifacts was done primarily according to the typological criteria.
    Maria Bitiri identified in Oaş three cultural and chronological horizons of the Paleolithic Age. The first is considered as a final period of the Middle Paleolithic, with some elements suggesting already the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, therefore, it can be dated between 40.000 and 30.000 years before present. The following two stages belong to the Upper Paleolithic (between 30.000 and 10.000 years before present), the most of the sites found in Oaş being dated to this period.
    Lacking the human remains, it is difficult to state who the people are, who populated the Oaş region at the end of the Middle Paleolithic? It is possible to assume that they were the last remnants of the Neanderthal humans, but it can be also assumed that they were the first modern humans passing the Balkans, from the Near East. It is certain, though, that the populations of the Upper Paleolithic belong to the modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens), our direct ancestors.
    The lifestyle of the Paleolithic populations (especially of those of the Upper Paleolithic) can be reconstituted on the basis of the archaeological finds, and through comparison with the modern hunter-gatherer societies. The Paleolithic communities were probably small nomadic groups establishing recurrently in different places suitable for the main activities of the groups. They obtained food by hunting wild animals and by gathering plants and small animals (this explains the name of hunters-gatherers given to this populations). Therefore, it is not at random the fact that the hills like the ones from Boineşti  and Remetea Oaşului  were intensely inhabited during the three stages of the Paleolithic Age present in Oaş, due to the special geographical position that offers a very good view on the Oaş Depression and on the main valleys, as well as probably on the routes of migration of the animal herds.
    As the name of the age implies, the Paleolithic is characterized by using stone tools, more exactly, chopped stone tools (giving the name of Chipped Stone Age). Not all stones are fit for chipping, therefore, the Paleolithic people had to identify and exploit the rock resources with physical properties suitable for knapping. The most important was to control the detachment of the flakes (or blades) from the block of stone (core), through different techniques of percussion.
    The most used rocks within the Paleolithic communities of the Oaş Depression were of local origin, but there were import goods from longer or shorter distance, too. The quality of the latter stones is superior: the obsidian from the Tokaj – Prešov Mountains from Hungary and Slovakia; and the flint from the Upper Basins of Prut and Nistru Rivers. The local rocks vary in quality, but at the same time they reveal a great variety: limnic silicates (or limnic quartzite), jaspers, siliceous sandstones, andesites etc. The sources of the raw materials were the river gravels and the surface quarries, like the quarry of limnic silicates from Racşa.
    Once the right rocks were found, the peoples proceeded to transform them into tools. The remains of the complex activities of chipping the stones made in the same location and the left piles of unused cores, flakes and chopping residues are found in archaeological excavation and they indicate the existence of veritable chipping workshops. Through knapping the core, flakes and blades are resulted, used as blanksl for the tools, but they could have been used as it were too. The tools (from typological point of view) were obtained after modifying the blades and the flakes by retouching their edges. Consequently there were obtained a set of tools, the most important being: the scrapers (side-scrapers and end-scrapers), the chisels (burins), borers and the points. The main activities where these tools were used are: hunting (the points), cutting meat (the flakes, the blades, the scrapers), processing skins and making clothes (the scrapers and the borers), processing bones and horns (the chisels and the borers), as well as many other different actions of cutting, scraping, boring, cleaning etc.
    Certainly, the tools of the Paleolithic man were not made exclusively of chipped stone, but only this type resisted through time. In many Paleolithic sites around the world tools of bones and horns are found. The Oaş Depression is an exception, here the acidity of the soils corroded totally the bones. In addition, it can be assumed that the Paleolithic man used wooden tools, and various vegetal fibres (e.g. for fixing stone tools in the wooden handles).
    The lifestyle of the Paleolithic man was strongly influenced by nature. The climate, the vegetation and the fauna used to be different than nowadays, cold periods (glaciations) alternated with warm periods (interglaciations), therefore the landscape varied from tundra and steppe to coniferous and deciduous forests.
    11.500 years ago, the last glaciation started its complete and very fast withdrawal from the European continent, the climate became warm quickly and forests with small animals took place to the mammoths’ steppe. Human communities adapted to the new landscape, inventing new techniques of subsistence and taking the first steps toward productive economy. This period of major transformation under the impact of climate changes is known in archaeology as the Mesolithic period and in the Carpathian Basin it lasted until the arrival of the first Neolithic farmers about cca. 8.000 years ago. In Satu Mare County there is only one Mesolithic site found in Ciumeşti, but certainly a lot of sites remain unidentified. The Neolithic period changed radically peoples’ lifestyle, the hunters-gatherers become farmers, and the consequence on long term is actually the world we live in today.  

Tarna Mare - Viişoara

Within the field activities from the Phare program: Ukraine 2005, were researched the hills bordering Ukraine, on the side of the village called Viişoara.


County Museum of Satu Mare
Bd. Vasile Lucaciu, Nr. 21
440031, Satu Mare
Tel.: 004 0261 737526
Fax.: 004 0261 768761
Email:[email protected]

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