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© Dr.D Gheorghiu
Vadastra: 2004 pictures.
The Chalcolithic megaron house, 5th millennium B.C.
(author: Dr.Dragos Gheorghiu) built in August 2003 (for
the construction details see Gheorghiu, D., 2003b, Building
a ceramic macro-object: The 2003 Vadastra Project experiments,
OPA Vol. 11, No.3, pp. 1-5.) was the first of the buildings
intended to form the replica of a prehistoric settlement
at Vadastra village, south of Romania. Here in the last
five years a series of experiments with prehistoric
pyrotechnologies were carried (see Gibson, A., 2002,
Prehistoric pottery in Britain and Ireland, Tempus,
Charleston; Gheorghiu,D., 2002a, The Vadastra Project:
Experiments with traditional technologies, OPA Vol.10,
No.1, pp.9-10; Gheorghiu, D., 2002b, Fire and air draught::
Experimenting the Chalcolithic pyroinstruments, in Gheorghiu,
D. (ed.), Fire in archaeology, BAR International Series
1089, pp. 83-95; Gheorghiu,D., 2003a, Archaeology and
community: News from the Vadastra project, OPA Vol.11,
No.2, pp. 1-4.)
After plastering all the wooden structure the interior
of the house was decorated with similar patterns using
red oxides and calcite (author: Corina Sarbu, MA).
The exterior of house was decorated in April 2004 with
Chalcolithic patterns and using local calcite, similar
to the decoration of Vadastra ceramics (author: Corina
Among the clay objects built in the August 2004 campaign
was a granary for the deposit of cereals inside the
settlement (authors: MA students Catalin Oancea and
The interior of the Chalcolithic megaron painted in
April 2004 and partially replastered in August 2004
showing the central posts plastered with clay mixed
with dung, the oven (authors: Alexander Chodajev, Bulgaria
and Constantin Liceanu, villager Vadastra), a round
window and a squat wall.
To test how the settlement was defended and how the
fodder and domestic animals were protected; a palisade
was built to surround two sides of the megaron house
(author Dr.Dragos Gheorghiu). Built analogous to the
house, the South Eastern Europe Chalcolithic palisades
used the foundation trenches and the wattle technique
to better fix the structure of the wall.
The replastering of the window, August 2004 (design
Corina Sarbu, MA, performer student Mihaela Tudorita).
The replastering of the main entrance (pattern design
Corina Sarbu, MA, performer student Virginia Toma).
A detail of the megaron house entrance during the process
of replastering with clay mixed with straws and dung,
after one year weathering that faded the colors and
cracked the decorative slip of the façade.
The replastering of the exterior of the megaron house
in August 2004. (pattern design Corina Sarbu, MA, performer
student Stefania Stroe).
The 2004 campaign continued the pyroexperiments with
kilns; this time the experiments were focused to analyze
the pyrotechnology of the medieval horizontal kilns
(author: Szolt Wagner (Hungary), with the help of Peter
Veniger, MA conservationist and ceramist, Art Museum
One of the experiments carried in both August and October
2004 campaigns was the firing of the palisade surrounding
the settlement, to transform it into a ceramic object
and to notice the behavior after firing of a composite
material with voids in it fabric (author: Dr.Dragos
Gheorghiu). One of the goals of the experiment was to
survey the behavior of the built clay object during
the process of accidental firing. I choose as scenario
the combustion of the fodder deposited inside the palisade,
and I filled the corridor between the two walls with
straws and split trunks of wood up to 1.50 m. Additionally
I covered a third of this surface with a “roof”
made of split trunks of acacia, positioned transversally,
to form a sort of shed. Fire was initiated at the entrance,
extended on all the surface of the fuel, and after 20’
extinguished completely. Even if all the thermal energy
was directed upwards and was not absorbed by the walls,
the acacia trunks of the sheds were slightly fired.
of the firing were left on the clay surface of the inner
surface of the walls, and after two months no change
in color of the clay was recorded.
This experiment was repeated with identical results
in October 2004, and led to the conclusion that an open
architectural structure is difficult to be fired accidentally
(for more information see Gheorghiu, 2005, The Chalcolithic
palisade – A macro clay object, OPA)
A feature of a prehistoric tell settlement: the palisade
with a ditch that surround the built nucleus (author:
A stage of the building process of the palisade surrounded
by a ditch (author: Dr. Dragos Gheorghiu).
This year one of the villagers trained by the Vadastra
Project, Mr. Ion Cococi, built a replica of an up-draught
Chalcolithic kiln in his courtyard and is now currently
producing ceramics, fired in reduced atmosphere.
A second experiment on prehistoric architecture was
carried in August 2004 with the construction of a circular
wattle and daub dwelling (copying an Early Chalcolithic
house from Boian culture, 5th millennium B.C.) with
a domed vault and overlapped by a clay anthropomorphic
female figurine (authors: Ileana Raducanu and MA student
Maria-Magdalena Pop). Both artists tested the aesthetical
values of traditional materials. After several hours
of firing the vaulted structure collapsed and the fire
extinguished in time without transforming into ceramics
the walls of the construction (for more information
see Gheorghiu, 2005, The Chalcolithic palisade –
A macro clay object, OPA).
The hole resulted from the extraction of the clay for
the megaron house in summer 2003 was used to build a
semi-subterranean ovoid house (Boian culture, 5th millennium
B.C.) (author: Dr.Dragos Gheorghiu), whose roof made
of wood and twigs was plastered with clay and left like
this to weathering. This covering lasted successfully
to the autumn rains, and the house inspired some urban
people to build ecological summer houses in the region.
A perspective on the prehistoric clay objects built
in the 2003 and 2004 campaigns in Vadastra: in the near
plan a furnace for the smelting of iron and a small
furnace (authors: Dr.Roger Doonan, Sheffield University
and Dr. Andrew Fulton, Bournemouth University), a small
up-draught kiln both for ceramics and metal casting
(author: MA student Catalin Oancea),all protected by
a wattle and daub wind shield, then in a middle plan
a granary (authors: MA students Catalin Oancea and Marius
Stroe). In the foreground on the right one can see the
megaron house and the semisubterranean oval house (author:
Dr.Dragos Gheorghiu), and on the left of the image the
palisade and the (partially collapsed) round house (authors:
Ileana Raducanu and MA student Maria-Magdalena Pop).
Dragos Gheorghiu , Director of Research, Head of the
MA Department, National University of Arts in Bucharest.