List of publications
1. Porčić, M., Blagojević, T. and Stefanović, S., 2016. Demography of the early Neolithic population in central Balkans: population dynamics reconstruction using summed radiocarbon probability distributions. PloS One, 11(8): e0160832. (Demography of the Early Neolithic – PDF)
The Central Balkans region is of great importance for understanding the spread of the Neolithic in Europe but the Early Neolithic population dynamics of the region is unknown. In this study we apply the method of summed calibrated probability distributions to a set of published radiocarbon dates from the Republic of Serbia in order to reconstruct population dynamics in the Early Neolithic in this part of the Central Balkans. The results indicate that there was a significant population growth after ~6200 calBC, when the Neolithic was introduced into the region, followed by a bust at the end of the Early Neolithic phase (~5400 calBC). These results are broadly consistent with the predictions of the Neolithic Demographic Transition theory and the patterns of population booms and busts detected in other regions of Europe. These results suggest that the cultural process that underlies the patterns observed in Central and Western Europe was also in operation in the Central Balkan Neolithic and that the population increase component of this process can be considered as an important factor for the spread of the Neolithic as envisioned in the demic diffusion hypothesis.
2. Dimitrijević V., Živaljević I., and Stefanović S. 2016. Becoming sedentary? The seasonality of food resource exploitation in the Mesolithic-Neolithic Danube Gorges. Documenta Praehistorica XLIII 103-122. (Becoming sedentary – PDF)
In this paper, we investigate whether the Mesolithic – Neolithic sites in the Danube Gorges were occupied seasonally or all year round by looking at animal skeletal remains. The hunting seasons of most important game animals have been determined on the basis of antler and teeth growth, supplemented by looking into the presence of migratory fish and birds. The patterns of food resource exploitation seem to indicate year-round occupation of the settlements, and suggest that a significant degree of sedentism existed in the Danube Gorges prior to, and independently of, the adoption of animal and plant husbandry.
3. Porčić, M. 2016. Paleodemografija: kritički pregled teorije, metoda i istraživanja. Filozofski fakultet, Laboratorija za bioarheologiju: Beograd (Paleodemography: a review of theory, methods and research) (Paleodemografija – PDF)
4. ERC BIRTH project booklet (BIRTH – PDF)
5. Blagojević, T., Porčić, M., Penezić, K. and Stefanović, S., 2017. Early Neolithic population dynamics in the Eastern Balkans and the Great Hungarian Plain.Documenta Praehistorica 44: 18-33. (doi: 10.5281/zenodo.1218367)
In this study, we reconstruct population dynamics in the Early Neolithic of the Eastern Balkans and the Great Hungarian Plain using frequency of radiocarbon dates as a population proxy. The method of summed calibrated radiocarbon probability distributions is applied to a set of dates recently published in Bulgaria and Hungary. The aim is to test the hypothesis of the Neolithic demographic transition (NDT) in these regions and to compare the patterns between these two and neighbouring regions. The results show that episodes of population growth occurred in both regions, which is in partial agreement with the predictions of the NDT theory. Population growth is detected, but it is followed by a bust, rather than stabilisation as predicted for the second phase of the ND.
6. Jovanović, J., Blagojević, T., Živanović, S., Putica, A., Stefanović, S. 2017. Kontekstualna i antropološka analiza ljudskih skeletnih ostataka sa lokaliteta Topole-Bač. Glasnik SAD 33: 255-281. (doi: 10.5281/zenodo.1218369)
The site Topole Bač is one of the rare sites on which human skeletal remains from Early Neolithic period have been discovered. Namely, during the 1970s at this site the Early Neolithic settlement was discovered with remains of pits, remains of rectangular building structures, traces of house mortar, ash; and numerous small finds, such are pottery vessels, clay statuettes, stone tools etc. Within trench 1 three inhumation burials have been found. Burials 1 (female, 20-25 years old) and 2 (male, 40-50 years old) were uncovered beneath floor of irregular rectangular in shape structure, at the same level, in flexed position, lying on their right sides, symmetrically back to back, and with heads in opposite directions, 50 cm apart from each other. In close vicinity to the Burials 1 and 2, the third burial, which belongs to a woman, aged 25-35 years, was also found, in semi-flexed position on her right side, with the lower part of the body lying beneath the flooring. The floor was made from hard burnt clay and filled with the cultural layer which was not different from the rest of the structure. Next to the all burials, fragments of Early Neolithic pottery were found. Based on the small finds the site has been dated to the late phase of Stračevo culture. However, two individuals buried beneath the floor were AMS dated. Calibrated values for Burial 1 are between 6207 – 5923 cal BC, whereas the values for Burial 2 are between 7294 – 6824 cal BC. The first date corresponds with the estimated time for the beginning of the Starčevo culture, but the second date is rather problematic, since it is about 1000 years older than the first one, which places Burial 2 to the Mesolithic period. Beside this, other problematic issues with this structure are concerned with the timing when flooring was built, and from the available literature it is unclear whether the burials were cut in to the flooring, or it was erected after the funeral of Burial 1 and 2.
Since radiocarbon dates are not in accordance with the context of the findings, and given that there are almost no studies dedicated to this unusual situation, the aim of this paper was to do:
a) contextual analysis of all the three skeletons found within the trench 1 in order to reconstruct their mutual relationship and chronological determination.
b) anthropological analysis of skeletal remains in order to obtain valuable information on the life of Early Neolithic people, since the findings of human skeletal remains are very rare in this period.
7. Živaljević, I., Dimitrijević, V., Radmanović, D., Jovanović, J., Balj, L., Pendić, J., Ivošević, B., Stefanović, S. 2017. Hunting, herding and the significance of animals in Golokut: new analysis of faunal remains, Arhaica 5: 2-26. (doi 10.5281/zenodo.1247906)
The domestication of plants and animals, and subsequent the changes that they had triggered om human societies, plays a crucial role in archaeological narratives on processes of Neolithization. Given that Neolithic communities are generally perceived as “pastoral-agricultural”, hunting activities are usually interpreted as sporadic, occasional, seasonal, and even anomalous. In this paper, we argue that subsistence strategies and human-animal interaction were far more diverse, and (micro)regionally and culturally specific. The paper focuses on the site of Golokut-Vizić, which stands out in relation to other Starčevo sites by its specific location within the hilly and forest landscape of the Fruška Gora mountain, as well as by high frequency of wild animals within the faunal sample. By incorporating existing and new results of archaeozoological analyses (namely taxonomic composition and seasonality), stable isotope analyses and archaeological data on settlement patterns (architectural features and artifacts), we examine ecological, economic and social context of animal exploitation at Golokut, and problematise the hunting-stockbreeding dichotomy in the context of the Early Neolithic on the territory of Vojvodina and the Central Balkans.
8. Tripković, A., Porčić, M., Stefanović, S. 2018. Mothers and figurines: representation of pregnancy in the Early Neolithic of Central Balkans,Arhaica 5: 79-88. (doi 10.5281/zenodo.1247938)
In this paper, we analyze Early Neolithic (6200–5300 calBC) Starčevo culture anthropomorphic clay figurines from the Central and Northern Balkan. Our aim is to explore whether figurines were used to represent pregnancy and fertility. We recorded bodily attributes related to pregnancy and birth of the 159 Starčevo culture figurines such the presence of pronounced belly, as well as the presence of primary and secondary sexual characteristics. The results of our analysis show that pregnancy was not unambiguously represented in the Early Neolithic Starčevo figurines, therefore hypotheses about connections between the making of figurines and fertility have no apparent empirical basis.
9. Živaljević, Ivana, Dimitrijević, Vesna, &Stefanović, Sofija. 2017. Faunal remains from Kula, a Mesolithic-Neolithic site at the exit of the Danube Gorges (Serbia). In From Hunter-Gatherers to Farmers: Human Adaptations at the End of the Pleistocene and the First Part of the Holocene. Papers in Honour of Clive Bonsall. (pp. 113–133). Târgovişte: Editura Cetatea de Scaun (doi.org 10.5281/zenodo.1216046)
The paper presents the results of the analysis of faunal (mammal, fish and mollusc) remains from Kula, a Mesolithic-Neolithic site at the exit of the Danube Gorges in Serbia. Although the analysed sample represents only an arbitrarily saved portion of the original assemblage and is therefore biased, it offers important new insights into the variability in subsistence strategies, as well as into the use of animal bone, teeth, antler and shell in bodily decoration and artefact production. A small assemblage of mammal and fish remains includes species previously known from other sites within the Danube Gorges, with the dog as the sole domestic animal. Additional food supply of river clams and land snails is suggested on the basis of specific shell breakage patterns. Osseous artefacts and ornaments found in the assemblage are described, including those found in burial contexts.
10. Filipović, D., Jovanović, J., Rančić, D. 2017. In search of plants in the diet of Mesolithic-Neolithic communities in the Iron Gates. In: From hunter-gatherers to farmers: human adaptations at the end of the Pleistocene and the first part of the Holocene. Papers in honour of Clive Bonsall (eds. M.Margarit, A.Boroneant). 93-111.Targoviste: Cetatea de Sacun (doi 10.5281/zenodo.1218407)
There are now several different plant assemblages originating from the Late Mesolithic, Mesolithic-Neolithic (transitional) and Early(/Middle) Neolithic layers of the sites in the Iron Gates area(c. 7400-5500 BC – Borić 2011). To a varied, but also very limited extent, they can be used to glean the availability of plant food sources and the possible components of plant-based human diets over these periods in the region. The botanical archives are, however, beset by problems such as the small size, unclear archaeological and chronological provenance, complex taphonomy and analytical methodological issues. This paper reviews the, so far available, evidence and highlights the associated problems delimiting the potential for integrating the datasets and the reconstruction of plant-based diets of the Iron Gates Mesolithic and Neolithic communities.
11. Vučinić, S., Petrović, B., Kojić, S., Šipovac, M., Stefanovič, S., Stojanović, S. 2018. Influence of specimen preparation and nanoindentation protocol on the mechanical properties of bovine bone.Proceedings of Papers – 5th International Conference on Electrical, Electronic and Computing Engineering, IcETRAN 2018, Palić, Serbia, June 11 – 14 (eds. D. Popović, V. Katić, N. Jorgovanović). 728-731. Beograd: Akademska Misao (doi 10.5281/zenodo.1479260)
The physical properties of bone tissue have been investigated at different levels, macro, micro and nano scale. The aim of this study was to assess the influence of two specimen preparation techniques and six nanoindentation protocols on modulus and hardness of bovine bone specimens. Embedding in resin do not affect the mechanical properties of bone samples. More precise and repeatable results are obtained using higher indentation forces. Larger number of measurements are required for bone indentation analysis using lower forces.
12. Naumov, G., Mitkoski, A., Talevski, H., Murgoski, A., Dumurđanov, N., Beneš, J., Živaljević, I., Pendić, J., Stojanovski, D., Gibaja, J., Mazzucco, N., Hafner, A., Szidat, S., Dimitrijević, V., Stefanović, S., Budilova, K., Vychronova, M., Majerovičova, T., Bumerl, J. 2018. stražuvanje na lokalitetot Vrbjanska Čuka vo 2017 godina. Balcanoslavica, 47(1), 253–285. Prilep: JNU Institut za staroslovenska kultura (doi 10.5281/zenodo.2540368)
The research of Vrbjanska Čuka in 2017 continued those started the previous season, but resulted in much more significant data regarding stratigraphy, architecture and economy in the Neolithic, Late Classical period and Middle Age. They were enabled by the multidisciplinary approach by implementing archaeobotany, zooarchaeology, geomagnetic scanning, digital topography, geoarchaeology, photogrammetry and 3D modeling of artifacts and the environment, drone orthophotography, isotopic, radiocarbon, lipid and use-wear analyses. All these components of the research of Vrbjanska Čuka enabled a comprehensive understanding of the Neolithic settlement and the community that lived there, that was the primary aim of this project.
In regard to the stratigraphy of site, it has 5 horizons, the Neolithic ones being determined by architectural features and not by material culture. In this context, a further revision of Neolithic horizons is possible, upon extending the archaeological trench and making a detailed insight into the material culture and the architectural features that would arise. Even though ceramic vessels as the most frequent finds do not bear significant differences between Neolithic horizons in Vrbjanska Čuka, still it could be considered that, examined further, they could contribute towards an even more thorough understanding of changes of this settlement, but also within society. In this regard, radiocarbon analyses provide even a more detailed insight into the chronology of the settlement. According to the data obtained by these analyses at the University of Bern, the earliest Neolithic layers could be dated around 5900 BC. So far, this date places the site in the final phases of Early Neolithic, completely corresponding the dating of few other sites in Pelagonia.
Analyzing samples from other Neolithic horizons would determine the chronology of the remaining Neolithic phases of the settlement, which, according to the architectural features, composes of three horizons. Such a stratigraphic condition could potentially be changed, unless there is a significant divergence within material culture and dating of the remaining two horizons. However, according to the current acknowledgment, despite not having an especially high stratigraphy (about 1 meter of the total tell height), this Neolithic settlement was especially dynamic during the 6th millennia BC. The tell was actively used for several hundreds of years during the Early Neolithic, only to be deserted in the next 5 000 years until Late Classical period. According to the material culture found in Horizons IV and V, activities at this site might have continued around the 4th and 5th centuries AD, with recorded activities around the 7th and 8th centuries, and then between the 10th and the 14th centuries.
13. Jovanović, J., de Becdelièvre, C., Stefanović, S., Živaljević, I., Dimitrijević, V., Goude, G. 2018. Last hunters–first farmers: new insight into subsistence strategies in the Central Balkans through multi-isotopic analysis. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. (DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-018-0744-1)
This paper presents new results of stable isotope analysis made on human and animal bones from Mesolithic–Neolithic sites (9500–5200 cal BC) in the Central Balkans. It reconstructs dietary practices in the Mesolithic and documents the development of new subsistence strategies and regional differences during the process of Neolithisation. We achieved these insights into dietary changes by analysing bone collagen δ13C (n = 75), δ15N (n = 75) and δ34S (n = 96) and comparing stable isotope data of Mesolithic–Neolithic communities from the Danube Gorges with the data of the first farmers who lived outside of the Gorges in the Central Balkans. The Bayesian model was employed to evaluate the relative importance of different animal proteins in human diet. Results bring a new overview and highlight important chronological and regional differences. They suggest that Late Mesolithic humans included more anadromous and potamodromous fish in their diet, which is consistent with archaeozoological evidence. On the other hand, differing from archaeozoological data, the model also points to a greater reliance on terrestrial carnivores (dogs) in the Late Mesolithic diet, a pattern that can be also explained by other dietary and environmental factors. In the Transitional and Neolithic period in the Gorges, some individuals have consumed fewer aquatic resources and favoured more terrestrial products. However, one site in the Gorges represents an exception—Ajmana, where we have the earliest farmers in this region since their subsistence economy was mainly oriented toward terrestrial products. Furthermore, results shows that Neolithic individuals inhumated at sites outside of the Danube Gorges in the Balkans had dietary patterns that vary in both terrestrial and freshwater resources, indicating that early farming communities had a diversified diet linked to a local natural environment. Comparative data finally indicates regional differentiations associated with locally available resources but also related to the traditions of prehistoric communities and to specific economic innovations.
13. Jovanović, J., Fremondiere, P., Stefanović, S. 2019. Reconstruction of Two Mother-Infant Dyads and Obstetrical Consequences of the Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition: A Case Study from Lepenski Vir and Vlasac (Serbia). BMSAP. (DOI: http://doi.org/10.3166/bmsap-2018-0042)
The current world population of approximately seven billion people shows that despite the complexities of human birthing, the human species is thriving. Changes in human pelvic morphology resulting from bipedalism and encephalisation, often described as the “obstetric dilemma”, have made the birthing process extremely difficult and risky for both mothers and neonates. The major Mesolithic- Neolithic shift in lifestyle could have had important obstetric consequences. It is often hypothesised that the shift to an agricultural diet, with a lower protein content and higher glycaemic loading than the hunter-gatherer diet, could have led to a decrease in maternal height and an increase in neonatal birth weight, brain size and foetal-pelvic strain, which may have exacerbated the obstetric dilemma. The Mesolithic-Neolithic osteological collection from the Danube Gorges (7400-5500 cal BC, Balkans) provides material (2 pelvises and a neonate skull) to test this hypothesis by virtually reconstructing the fossil dyads and their foetal-pelvic relationship.We compared these dyads with a large obstetrical sample of mother-child dyads with a known birthing history, conducting a lineardiscriminant analysis in order to predict the most probable delivery outcomes for the prehistoric dyads. The results suggest that delivery was dystocic for the Mesolithic motherchild dyad and eutocic for the Neolithic mother-child dyad; obstetrically, the former is notably more efficient. However, due to the small sample size, further research is required with a larger series in order to determine whether the development of obstetrically efficient pelvic bones in the Neolithic was widespread and whether it had an impact on the birthing process and thus potentially contributed to the increasing size of the population.
14. Petrović, B., Kojić, S., Perić, T., Šipovac, M., Lazarević, J., Stefanović, S., Stojanović, G. 2019. Surface characterisation of the raw and cooked bovine cortical metatarsal bone. Acta of Bioengineering and Biomechanics 21(1), 13-21. (DOI: 10.5277/ABB-01197-2018-02)
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to quantify the elastic properties and evaluate microscopical features of raw and boiled metatarsal bovine bone. Methods: The elastic modulus, hardness and microscopic surface of raw and cooked bovine metatarsal bone have been investigated using nanoindentation, SEM/EDX and Panasis microscope. Results: Regarding raw bovine bone, the average elastic modulus was 30.515 ± 6,769 GPa, while the average hardness was 0.5683 ± 0.211 GPa. When it comes to boiled bone corresponding values were 22.298 ± 7.0303 GPa and 0.408 ± 0.199 GPa, respectively. The values for investigated parameters were significantly higher ( p < 0.05) in raw bone specimens. Elastic modulus significantly correlated with hardness ( p < 0.05). EDX analysis revealed significant decrease in wt% of oxygen in boiled samples ( p < 0.05) No significant differences could be observed in SEM images particularly when analysing in smaller magnifications. Using higher magnification, additional branching of the existing voids as well as discrete reorganization and smoother edges of nutrient canals could be observed. The surface of boiled specimens was without the presence of crusts and layering, and no microscopical evidence of structural damage could be observed. Conclusions: This study provides detailed analysis of hardness, elastic modulus of raw and cooked bovine bone and their relation and changes during exposure to temperature. These results of elastic moduli and hardness could be comparable to similar studies of bovine and human bone tissue, but the careful analysis of experimental design, type of the bone as well as limitations of the employed techniques must be carried out before interpolation of the results to other theoretical, clinical, biomaterial and archeological studies.
15. Jovanović, N., Petrović, B., Kojić, S., Šipovac, M., Marković, D., Stefanović, S., Stojanović, G. 2019. Primary Teeth Bite Marks Analysis on Various Materials: A Possible Tool in Children Health Risk Analysis and Safety Assessment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16(13), 1-13. (DOI: 10.3390/ijerph16132434)
Background: All objects put into a child’s mouth could be hazardous in terms of trauma and toxic substance exposure. The aims of this study were to evaluate morphological characteristics of the primary teeth bite marks inflicted on various materials and to assess material wear using experimental model. Methods: Bite marks were analyzed on five materials: rubber, plastic, foil, wood, and silicone. In order to mimic children mouthing behavior an experimental setup has been designed using primary teeth placed in dentures and children’s equipment specimens. Results: Deciduous teeth make visible and recognizable traces when using physiological forces on all investigated materials. The most significant material loss was revealed in silicone samples, but it has been observed in all material groups, while mouthing with incisors using higher mastication forces were identified as significant predictors for material wear. There were no significant differences between type, species, and morphological-morphometric characteristics of the bite marks which are made by incisors, canines, and molars. Conclusions: In the range of physiological bite forces, deciduous teeth lead to wear of material from which toys are made while the analysis of bite marks in children equipment could give some information regarding the risk of trauma and exposure.
16. Penezić, K., Porčić, M., Jovanović, J., Urban, P.K., Wittwer-Backofen, U., Stefanović, S. 2019. Quantifying prehistoric physiological stress using the TCA method: Preliminary results from the Central Balkans. Docmenta Praehistorica 46, 284-295. (DOI: 10.4312/dp.46.17)
The Neolithic way of life was accompanied by an increase in various forms of physiological stress (e.g. disease, malnutrition). Here we use the method of tooth cementum annulation (TCA) analysis in order to detect physiological stress that is probably related to calcium metabolism. The TCA method is applied to a sample of teeth from three Mesolithic and five Neolithic individuals from the Central Balkans. The average number of physiological stress episodes is higher in the Neolithic group – but the statistical significance of this result cannot be evaluated due to the small sample size, therefore these results should be taken as preliminary.
17. Stefanović, S., Petrović, B., Porčić, M., Penezić, K., Pendić, J., Dimitrijević, V., Živaljević, I., Vuković, S., Jovanović, J., Kojić, S., Starović, A., Blagojević, T. 2019. Bone spoons for prehistoric babies: Detection of human teeth marks on the Neolithic artefacts from the site Grad-Starčevo (Serbia). PloS One 14(2), e0225713. (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225713)
The Neolithic way of life was accompanied by an increase in various forms of physiological stress (e.g. disease, malnutrition). Here we use the method of tooth cementum annulation (TCA) analysis in order to detect physiological stress that is probably related to calcium metabolism. The TCA method is applied to a sample of teeth from three Mesolithic and five Neolithic individuals from the Central Balkans. The average number of physiological stress episodes is higher in the Neolithic group – but the statistical significance of this result cannot be evaluated due to the small sample size, therefore these results should be taken as preliminary Around 8000 years ago, throughout the Neolithic world a new type of artefact appeared, small spoons masterly made from cattle bone, usually interpreted as tools, due to their intensive traces of use. Contrary to those interpretations, the small dimensions of spoons and presence of intensive traces of use led us to the assumption that they were used for feeding babies. In order to test that assumption we compared 2230 marks on three spoons from the Neolithic site of Grad-Starčevo in Serbia (5800−5450 cal BC) with 3151 primary teeth marks produced experimentally. This study has shown that some of the marks on spoons were made by primary teeth, which indicate their usage in feeding babies. The production of a new type of artefact to feed babies is probably related to the appearance of a new type of weaning food, and the abundance of spoons indicates that new baby gruels became an important innovation in prehistoric baby-care.
18. Bogosavljević Petrović, V., Penezić, K., Jovanović, J., Stefanović, S. 2019. Human Jaw from the Late Neolithic Pločnik site: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Zbornik Narodnog muzeja u Beogradu 24(1). (DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3606133)
On the Pločnik site in 1978, in Trench VIII A, within an infill with a working title Pit, or Surface ‘West’, a human jaw was found next to pottery and stone findings. During an examination and the temporary move of the depot of the National Museum in Belgrade in 2016, this jaw was ‘re-discovered’ for the second time, together with a hand-written note on the sex and age of the individual, without any data on the person who gave the interpretation. In this paper, we present further analyses and possibilities of interpreting this mandible, as well as the results of bio-archaeological analyses, AMS dating. These newly obtained results, accompanied by the investigations of the indirect archaeological documentation, have provided us with an interpretation of the fieldwork process, as well as the archaeometallurgical aspects, time-frame, and details about this individual member of the Pločnik Late Neolithic community.