Archaeological discoveries from Sighiştel Valley (Bihor county)
Autor: Victor Sava
Cuvinte cheie: Munţii Bihor, Valea Sighiştelului, prima epocă a fierului, peşteră, ofrandă.
Keywords: Bihor Mountains, Sighiştel Valley, Early Iron Age, cave, votive offerings.
Semnatarul acestui studiu îşi propune să evidenţieze o zonă mai puţin cunoscută în literatura arheologică, Valea Sighiştelului aflată în sud-estul Bihorului, la poalele Munţilor Apuseni. Zona este cunoscută prin cercetările arheologice efectuate de Nicolae Vlassa de la sfârşitul deceniului şase al secolului XX, dar şi datorită concentrării pe o vale de numai 9 km lungime, a peste 150 de peşteri.
În continuare, autorul prezintă materialul arheologic descoperit în două cavităţi naturale de pe Valea Sighiştelului, Peştera „Tunelul Uscat”şi Peştera „Dâmbul Colibii”. Orizontul cronologic al acestor descoperiri este cuprins între finalul HA1/ prima parte a HA2 – HB1 pentru Peştera Tunelul Uscat şi HA1/etapa timpurie a HA2 pentru peştera Dâmbul Colibii.
Faptul că cele două peşteri „Tunelul Uscat” şi „Dâmbul Colibii” se află la mică distanţă una faţă de cealaltă ar putea semnifica o strânsă relaţie cronologică ale descoperirilor.
From an administrative point of view, Sighiştel village belongs to Câmpani town. As geographic location, Sighiştel is placed in the South-East corner of Bihor County, at the foot of Apuseni Mountains, at 27 Km South-East of Beiuş city (Pl. I/1).
Sighiştel Valley (Pl. I/2) is one of the most interesting speological locations from Romania. The concentration on a valley, of only 9 km length, over 150 caves, most of them difficult to reach, is in addition to a national record in terms of endokarstification an attraction for any mountaineers. The entry into this valley is made through a wide “gate”; into the inferior sector the valley turns into a real canyon. The debut of the valley is marked to the left by Ţibocoaia Hill and to the right by Corbeasca Hill.
This area is known in archaeological literature, particularly through the research of N. Vlassa, made at the end of the sixth decade of the XXth century. Archaeological discoveries were made in four caves; particularly the Coţofeni culture is well represented.
Towards the end of 2008, being interested in Early Iron Age pottery from the current radius of the Arad municipium and seeking the artifacts discovered here, I came across, in the Arad Museum collections, with an interesting recipient. The bitronconic vessel contained 10 animal bones, whit a paper record card in which were written the essential dates of the discovery. In March 2009, M. Besesek, the president of Speowest Arad, a speleological association, donated to Arad Museum some ceramic fragments discovered in “Dâmbul Colibii” cave.
Tunelul Uscat Cave, with 3425/129 cadastral number, is located on the right side of the Sighistel Valley at 390 m absolute altitude and 15 m relative altitude. It has a unique, low gallery, beautiful concretioned, with two entries. The gallery has a length of 50 m and a positive out of level of 0,5 m.
The recipient is almost intact (Pl. II/6; III/1), only a part of the rim is missing. More than half the diameter shows a cleft. The rim is everted, with large mouth, short neck, bitronconic body and flat footring. The decoration is placed on the maximum diameter of the body, and it consists in tight channellings. Between these channellings are interposed four vertical knobs. The paste is tempered with sand. Burning is reductant. On the inside the color is brick-red and on the out side is black. On the lower part of the body the recipient is covered with ferrous oxide.
Dimensions: mouth diameter: 21 cm; body diameter: 45 cm; footring diameter: 13,2 cm; height: 33,5 cm; paste thickness: 0,7 cm.
As a first observation, the cave it should not be included in the category of those used as a habitation because of its small size and precarious accessibility, so we must eliminate from the start the fact that this cave was used for habitation. Due to lack of information regarding the character of the discovery, a number of important elements can not be known, such as the exact place of the findings, both the vessel and the animal bones, or if the bones were retained in the vessel or around it.
Taking into consideration all these data, the archaeological findings from this cave can be regarded as offerings. In order to deposit the offering were slaughtered three different animal types, sheep, cattle and bird. Its worth noted that the chunks were extremely poor in meat (Pl. V/1-2).
The bitronconic recipient form, discovered in „Tunelul Uscat” Cave, with everted rim, short neck, bitronconic body, flat footring, has very good annalogies at Şuncuiuş „Peştera Ungurului”. The discoveries from Şuncuiuş are characterized through the spreading of wide and oblique channellings. This ornament marks the end of Igriţa cultural group; from the chronological view this represents the second half of HA1, eventual the first half of HA2.
Both Igriţa group and Gáva discoveries are characterized by the ceramic coloristic differences, red or brick-red on the inside and black on the outside. From the chronological point of view, the both cultural entities, Igriţa and Gáva, fill the gap between BD-HB1. After the end of Gáva culture this type of ceramics almost disappears.
We must mention the fact that the single element of chronological framing of the “Tunelul Uscat” discovery is the bitronconic recipient. This type of recipient is not suitable for a tight chronological framing. Beside form and ornamentation, the brick-red inside and black color on the outside helps us to restrict the chronology; taken this into account the lower limit is HB1. The upper chronological limit represents the Şuncuiuş „Peştera Ungurului” deposit (HA1/HA2); in witch this type of ornament is not known. Given the arguments presented above, we can say that the offering from this cave belongs to the chronological horizon framed between the end of HA1/firs half of HA2 and HB1.
Dâmbul Colibii Cave. At the begining of 2009, M. Besesek found in this cave a few pottery sherds (Pl. II/1-5). On the conditions of the discovery, the pottsherds were found in the cave portal at the ground surface.
Since the appearance of Igriţa group on the archaeological scene, was stressed the chronological link between these findings and those from Susani or Bobda. With the emergence of Igriţa elements at Româneşti and the discovery of bronze deposits from Zăgujeni and Cornuţel, was launched the idea of the genetic links between Igriţa and Susani groups. Thus by the discovery of Cornuţel (first half to middle HA1), M. Gumă saw the link between Valea Timişului II/Susani „Deluţ”/Româneşti chronological horizon and Susani group. With these data available, there was only a step towards assigning to Igriţa group, along with late Balta Sărată elements and pannonic late tumuls elements, a genetic role of Susani group.
One of the common elements of the Igriţa and Susani group is the flat cup, with large mouth, high-drawn strap handle, decorated on the interior with tight channellings disposed in a stat shape. This type of cup can be found in both cultural areas and in the same time represents a well dated element. Star shape interior decoration can be found on a series of cups or bowls at Şuncuiuş „Peştera Ungurului”, Susani „Grămurada lui Ticu”, Debrecen „Nyulas”, Debrecen „Haláppuszta” or Köröm „Rákóczidomb”.
The discoveries from Şuncuiuş „Peştera Ungurului” are representing the final phase of the Igriţa group. It is not surprising that here were found the most numerous exemplars of flat cups. The final phase of Igriţa group is contemporaneous with Susani (the second half of HA1, eventually first half of HA2).
On the basis of star shape decoration (Pl. II/5), of wide and oblique channellings we can associate the discoveries from „Dâmbul Colibii” cave with the one from Şuncuiuş „ Peştera Ungurului”, in chronological terms this horizon express the final half of HA1/first half of HA2. Therefore the final phase of Igriţa group is marked by the findings from „Cioclovina Cave”, Şuncuiuş “Peştera Ungurului” and Şighiştel „Dâmbul Colibii”.