The medieval settlement in the Petrova niva locality, Sboryanovo archaeological reserve
Keywords:Middle Ages, 9th – 10th c., settlement, Medieval economy, Sboryanovo Archaeological Reserve
This paper summarizes the results of studies in the Petrova Niva Locality within the Sboryanovo Archaeological Reserve. It refers to the previous research on the study area and briefly comments on its environmental conditions and natural resources. The available data on earlier habitation in the area from the Neolithic, Hellenistic and Late Roman periods are also presented.
This study’s focus is on the Medieval structures in the Locality. These are placed into three individual phases based on stratigraphic observations and a set of repeating features. The first phase includes dug-in dwellings whose pits are disturbed by other negative structures. The second phase comprises dwellings that disturb earlier Medieval houses. The last phase consists of mainly above-ground structures that overlie dwellings from the previous two phases. Some specific features of the different construction periods are outlined, like the wooden structure characteristic of the first period, the significant use of stone and the presence of stone ovens and food storage pits during the second, and the above-ground structures with a stone socle and perishable upper wall courses in the third.
Arguments for the three phases’ dating are based mainly on metal artifacts, specifically jewelry. Altogether, the Locality’s Medieval structures have been dated to the second half of the 9th – 10th c. based on the observations described here.
Archaeological evidence from the Locality’s Medieval habitation points to an economy focused mostly on agriculture (cereal and leguminous crops) and animal husbandry (small ruminants and support animals including cattle, horses, donkeys, and dogs). Evidence for a number of crafts suggests their practice in a household environment. Data pointing to iron processing is also discussed.
Data on settlement organization during the first two phases of habitation in the Petrova Niva Locality points to a community of free peasants and suggests collective ownership of resources (probably including the land), shared responsibility, and the fair distribution of goods within the community. In contrast, the preserved structures from the latest phase of Medieval habitation attest to a feudal estate with its separate territory and inhabited and served by a relatively limited number of people with specific skills and occupations.
The change to this economic model is dated in the 10th c. Archaeological studies searching for a necropolis related to the Locality’s Medieval habitation are briefly discussed here as well. The final section of this study attempts to review the settlement in the Petrova Niva Locality in the context of synchronous settlement sites in the region.
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