Cucuteni Culture conquers America

The exhibition called ‘The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley between 5000 and 3500 BC opened last month at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at the New York University, gave the U.S. scientists and visitors the opportunity to discover the Neolithic cultures of Romania and the Balkan Peninsula, for the first time, live.

One of the big surprises the exhibition offers the Americans, is the contact with one of the most sophisticated, refined pre-historic culture in Europe and even worldwide, the Culture of Cucuteni, already famous thank to its superb painted pottery and clay figurines, Jurnalul National daily writes.

Long before ancient Greece and Rome’s glory, even long before the first towns and cities of Mesopotamia or the temples on the Nile River’s banks, an advanced people for that time, in fields such as the arts, the technology and the long distance trade used to live in the Lower Danube Valley and at the foot of the Balkan hills, read the article the New York Times daily published right on Dec 1., on Romania’s National Day.

For 1,500 years, starting before 5000 BC they were tilling and farming and building genuine ‘towns’, some of them even numbering 2,000 edifices. They were masters of copper processing, the new technology of that epoch. Their graves sheltered a vast variety of jewelry, like hair fibulas and necklaces, the U.S. daily writes.
The exhibition brings to the United States, for the first time, more than 250 objects recovered by the archaeologists from the graves, towns, and villages of Old Europe, and which are currently exhibited in the museums of Romania, Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova.

One of the organizers of this exquisite international cultural event and the head of the Archeology Department of Romania’s Museum of National History archeologist Dragomir Popovici told the Jurnalul National that the exhibition showed in the United States is mainly focused on some of the most famous pre-historic cultures in the Balkans, most of which have their center of gravity on Romania’s territory, namely the Neolithic cultures of Cucuteni, Boian and Gumelnita.

As many as 186 of the 250 prehistoric artifacts come from Romania’s archeological heritage. Two of these symbols have an extraordinary artistic value. It deals with the two Thinkers exhibited for the first time in the same exhibition, it deals with the clay figurines made by the artists of the Cucuteni Culture, the famous Thinker of Hamangia and the Thinker of Tarpesti, which is less known.

The clay-made Thinkers are usually believed they represent deities part in a pantheon, no longer known, today. Nevertheless, they might be the expression of and art for the beauty’s sake and the figurines should represent ordinary men. One of the best known is the figurine made of burnt clay showing a sitting man with his shoulder bowed and the head leaning on his arms, apparently in meditation.

Named the Thinker, the figurine was found in a grave of the Hamangia Culture today located at Cernavoda (southern Romania). Unlike the European scientists who are very much reserved about accepting the scientific and the historical importance of all these ancient cultures, the U.S. scholars fully acknowledge the culture’a unique place in the history of the civilization.

The exhibition’s catalogue published by Princeton University Press is the first scientific compendium in English about the discoveries of Old Europe and includes essays by British, French, German and U.S. experts as well as by specialists from the countries where these cultures developed long ago. Opened on Nov .10, 2009 the exhibition is shown to the U.S. visitors by April 25, 2010.


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