In European prehistory population agglomerations of more than 10,000 inhabitants per site are a seldom phenomenon. A big surprise to the archaeological community was the discovery of Trypillia mega-sites of more than 250 hectares and with remains of more than 2000 houses by a multidisciplinary approach of Soviet and Ukrainian archaeology, including aerial photography, geophysical prospection and excavations nearly 50 years ago. The extraordinary development took place at the border of the North Pontic Forest Steppe and Steppe zone ca. 4100–3400 BCE.
Since then many questions arose which are of main relevance: Why, how and under which environmental conditions did Trypillia mega-sites develop? How long did they last? Were social and/or ecological reasons responsible for this social experiment? Are Trypillia and the similar sized settlement of Uruk two different concepts of social behaviour?
Paradigm change in fieldwork and excavation strategies enabled research teams during the last decade to analyse the mega-sites in their spatial and social complexity. High precision geophysics, target excavations and a new design of systematic field strategies deliver empirical data representative for the large sites. Archaeological research contributed immensely to aspects of anthropogenic induced steppe development and subsistence concepts that did not reach the carrying capacities. Probabilistic models based on 14C-dates made the contemporaneity of the mega-site house structures most probable.
In consequence, Trypillia mega-sites are an independent European phenomenon that contrasts both concepts of urbanism and social stratification that is seen with similar demographic figures in Mesopotamia. The new Trypillia research can be read as the methodological progress in European archaeology.
Table of Contents
Johannes Müller and Knut Rassmann
Framing the Mega-Sites
1 Demography and Social Agglomeration: Trypillia in a European Perspective
2 Research on Different Scales: 120 Years Trypillian Large Sites Research
Mykhailo Videiko and Knut Rassmann
3 The New Challenge for Site Plans and Geophysics: Revealing the Settlement Structure of Giant Settlements by Means of Geomagnetic Survey
Knut Rassmann, Aleksey Korvin-Piotrovskiy, Mykhailo Videiko and Johannes Müller
4 Copper Age Settlements in Moldova: Insights into a Complex Phenomenon from Recent Geomagnetic Surveys
Knut Rassmann, Patrick Mertl, Hans-Ulrich Voss, Veaceslav Bicbaiev and Alexandru Popa and Sergiu Musteaţă
5 Maidanetske: New Facts of a Mega-Site
Johannes Müller and Mykhailo Videiko
6 Nebelivka: From Magnetic Prospection to New Features of Mega-Sites
Nataliia Burdo and Mykhailo Videiko
7 Nebelivka: Assembly Houses, Ditches, and Social Structure
John Chapman, Bisserka Gaydarska and Duncan Hale
8 Chronology and Demography: How Many People Lived in a Mega-Site?
Johannes Müller, Robert Hofmann, Lennart Brandtstätter, ReneìOhlrau and Mykhailo Videiko
Economies, Social Structure and Ideologies
9 The Natural Background: Forest, Forest Steppe or Steppe Environment
Wiebke Kirleis and Stefan Dreibrodt
10 Demography Reloaded
11 Trypillian Subsistence Economy: Animal and Plant Exploitation
Wiebke Kirleis and Marta Dal Corso
12 Living on the Edge? Carrying Capacities of Trypillian Settlements in the Buh-Dnipro Interfluve
Reneì Ohlrau, Marta Dal Corso, Wiebke Kirleis and Johannes Müller
13 Pottery Kilns in Trypillian Settlements. Tracing the Division of Labour and the Social Organization of Copper Age Co
JohannesMuller is Professor and Director at the Institute of Pre-and Protohistoric Archaeology of Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel.