Prehistoric Romania

Prehistoric Romania

Prehistoric Romania (generally known before the Middle Ages emergence as a state as the region Dacia of the Dacians tribe.huh) is the period in the human occupation (including early hominins) of the geographical area encompassing present-day Romania, which extended through prehistory, and ended when the first written records appeared.

The Palaeolithic

The Romanian paleolithic is divided into five phases: Protopaleolithic, Lower Paleolithic, Middle Paleolithic, Upper Pelolithic and Epipaleolithic.


Some Romanian archaeologists (a small minority) support the theory that the Lower Palaeolithic starts in Romania some time between two million years ago (2 mya) and 700,000 years ago (700 kya). According to this theory, the human occupation in this area is marked by the appearance of the first chipped stone tools, the so-called "Pebble culture" ("Cultură de prund" in Romanian). These tools have been attributed to the "Homo erectus" hominid type as well as "Australoanthropus olteniensis" (according to the theory, a relative of the Australopithicines but more evolved and who used tools - sometimes referred to as Homo olteniensis). Australoanthropus is considered (according to this theory) the first ancestor of the Europeans to arrive in Europe. This theory is based largely on broken chert pebbles found in southern Romania (in Oltenia). The main stream archaeological community in Romania generally does not accept this theory, instead considering it more a form of pseudoarchaeology.

Lower Paleolithic

The Romanian Lower Paleolithic (circa 700,000 - 120,000) is characterised by the appearance of two distinct carved tools: the bi-facial stone axe ("chopping tools"; at first, the Olduwan (a.k.a. "Abbevillian"), later "Clactonian" type), and the stone chip (at first, "Acheulean", later the "Levalloisian" type). These tools were attributed to the Homo erectus (a.k.a. "Pithecantropus erectus") hominid species. Of major importance was the discovery of several fireplaces. This the first ever proof of the hominid's ability to control fire in what today is Romania.

Middle Paleolithic

The Middle Paleolithic in Romania (circa 120,000 - 35,000) is characterised by the persistence of the Mousterian culture. During this time, the stone tools start to differ according to their function, and the first bone tools appear. These products have been attributed to the Neanderthals.

Upper Paleolithic

In 2002, the oldest modern human (Homo sapiens sapiens) remains in Europe, have been discovered in the "Cave With Bones" ("Peştera cu Oase"), near Anina. [ Trinkaus, E., Milota, Ş., Rodrigo, R., Gherase, M., Moldovan, O. (2003), Early Modern Human Cranial remains from the Peştera cu Oase, Romania in "Journal of Human Evolution", 45, pp. 245 –253, [] ] Nicknamed "John of Anina" ("Ion din Anina"), his remains (the lower jaw) are approximately 42,000 years old.

As Europe’s oldest remains of "Homo sapiens", they are likely to represent the first such people to have entered the continent. [ João Zilhão, (2006), Neanderthals and Moderns Mixed and It Matters, in "Evolutionary Anthropology", 15:183–195, p.185 ] According to some researchers, the particular interest of the discovery resides in the fact that it presents a mixture of archaic, early modern human and Neanderthal morphological features, [ Trinkaus, E., Moldovan, O., Milota, Ş., Bîlgăr, A., Sarcina, L., Athreya, S., Bailey, S.E., Rodrigo, R., Gherase, M., Hilgham, T., Bronk Ramsey, C., & Van Der Plicht, J. ( 2003), An early modern human from Peştera cu Oase, Romania. "Proceedings of the National Acadademy of Science U.S.A.", 100(20), pp. 11231–11236 ] indicating considerable Neanderthal/modern human admixture, [ Andrei Soficaru, Adrian Dobo and Erik Trinkaus (2006), Early modern humans from the Peştera Muierii, Baia de Fier, Romania, "Proceedings of the National Acadademy of Science U.S.A.", 103(46), pp. 17196-17201] which in turn suggests that already on their arrival in Europe, modern humans met, intermixed and interbred with Neanderthals. Recent reanalysis of some of these fossils has challenged the view that these remains represent evidence of interbreeding. [ Harvati K, Gunz P, Grigorescu D. Cioclovina (Romania): affinities of an early modern European.J Hum Evol. 2007 Dec;53(6):732-46 ] A second expedition by Erik Trinkaus and Ricardo Rodrigo, discovered further fragments (for example, a skull dated ~36,000, nicknamed "Vasile").

Two human fossil remains, found in the Muierii ("Peştera Muierilor") and the Cioclovina caves, in Romania have been date by the method of radiocarbon, using the technique of the accelerator mass spectrometry to the age of ~ 30,000 years BP.These are among the most ancient dated human fossil remains from Romania, possibly belonging to the upper Paleolithic, the Aurignacian period (see "Human fossil bones from the Muierii Cave and the Cioclovina Cave, Romania").

The first skull, and scapula and tibia remains were found in 1952 in Baia de Fier, in the Muierii Cave, Gorj county in the province Oltenia, by Constantin Nicolaescu-Plopşor.

Another skull was found in Cioclovina Cave, near commune Bosorod, Hunedoara county in Transylvania, found by a worker at the exploitation of phosphate deposits, in the year 1941. The skull arrived at Francisc Rainer, anthropologist, and Ioan Simionescu, geologist, who published a study of this skull.

The work of physical analysis of these fossils started in the summer of the year 2000 by Emilian Alexandrescu, archaeologist at the Institute of Archaeology 'Vasile Parvan' in Bucharest, and Agata Olariu, physicist at the Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering-Horia Hulubei, Bucharest, when samples were taken: one sample of bone from the skull from Cioclovina, and samples from the scapula and tibia remains from Muierii Cave. The work continued at the University of Lund. AMS group, by Göran Skog, Kristina Stenström and Ragnar Hellborg. The samples of bones were dated by radiocarbon method applied at the AMS system of the Lund University and the results are shown in the analysis bulletin [] issued on the date 14 December 2001.The human fossil remains from Muierii Cave, Baia de Fier, have been dated to the age 30,150 ± 800 years BP, and the skull from the Cioclovina Cave has been dated to the age 29,000 ± 700 years BP. [ Olariu A., Alexandrescu E., Skog G., Hellborg R., Stenström K., Faarinen M. and Persson P, Dating of two Paleolithic human fossil bones from Romania by accelerator mass spectrometry, NIPNE Scientific Reports 2001-202, pag. 82 ] [ Olariu A., Skog G., Hellborg R., Stenström K., Faarinen M. and Persson P. and Alexandrescu E., 2003, Dating of two Paleolithic human fossil bones from Romania by accelerator mass spectrometry, ] [ Olariu A., Stenström K. and Hellborg R. (Eds), 2005, Proceedings of International conference on Applications of High Precision Atomic & Nuclear Methods, 2-6 September, 2002, Neptun, Romania, Publishing House of Romanian Academy, Bucharest, ISBN 973-27-1181-7, Dating of two Paleolithic human fossil bones from Romania by accelerator mass spectrometry, 235-239]

* Balkan Transition to the Upper Palaeolithic

The Mesolithic

* Balkan Mesolithic

The Neolithic

4500-4000 BC]

4000-3500 BC]
* Starčevo-Criş culture
* Dudeşti culture
* Cucuteni culture
* Hamangia culture
* Vinča culture
* Tărtăria tablets
* Indo-Europeans


The Bronze Age

The Thracians

From this mix of native neolithic populations, and the invading Indo-Europeans, a new ethnos emergerd, the Thracians.

The Iron Age

By the sixth century BC, the first written sources dealing with this territory appear from Greek sources. By this time, from the Thracian-speaking populations, the Getae (and later the Daci) branched out.


ee also

* Timeline of glaciation
* Neolithic Europe
* Prehistoric Balkans
* Pre-Indo-European
* Indo-European people
* Thracian language

< | History of Romania | Dacia >

References and footnotes

* Alexandru Păunescu, "Evoluţia istorică pe teritoriul României din paleolitic până la inceputul Neoliticului", SCIVA, 31, 1980, 4, p.519-545.

External links

* [ Ion din Anina, primul om din Europa] on
* [ Human fossils set European record] on

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