Study of semiotic components of Neolithic houses and architecture
Around 200 whole or fragmented ceramic objects were found at Neolithic sites in Macedonia in the last fifty years. They were shaped as rather realistic or rather stylized house models. A human head or a female figure is always erected above their roof, most often with clearly marked sexual features. Such objects have not been found with certainty outside Republic of Macedonia so far, which speaks of their specificity for this region exactly.
Even though these anthropomorphic house models are the main motive for initiating this project, its aim will not consist of their study alone. The field of interest is widened to other similar ceramic objects whose shape contains a house, especially the house models placed on four legs found in Macedonia, but also in Neolithic and later Prehistoric cultures from different parts of the Balkan, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Near East. The project foresees a continuation of work on typology of these objects, a search for their synchronic and diachronic analyses focused on discovery of their purpose. Their significance will also be searched for by comparison in its synchronic and diachronic aspect. That would encompass a search for new parallels of the symbolic relation “woman – house/dwelling” within later cultures that are more science approachable. Here, we have in mind the Mediterranean and Near Eastern ancient civilizations, their relics in Christianity, Medieval pagan religions and folklore traditions of European and Asian ethnicities, but also the more distant regions worldwide.
Based on the analysis of the very objects as well as the general symbolical meaning of the house elements and the comparative material, the pre-existing hypotheses regarding the cult purpose of the Neolithic house models from the Republic of Macedonia will be re-examined and determined accurately: (1) as objects used for libation or cremation of certain materials; (2) as objects through which an imitative magic was performed; (3) as objects linked to the burial aspects.
Also foreseen are studies of the hybrid character that the anthropomorphic house models represent which contain the components house and woman i.e. mother integrated in some supernatural entity (mythical character, a demon or divinity) which has several names in the existing cabinet studies: Mother-house, Woman-house, Great Mother, Mother-Earth. The pre-existing hypotheses of the nature of this character and its functions will be re-examined by comparative analyses. Primarily, we have in mind the nature of the deified and personalized house that symbolizes several categories and functions i.e. features imminent to it: the power to give birth, to produce, to protect, to nourish i.e. to sustain life, to gather and organize people, to manage the community and probably to give rebirth – to resurrect the deceased.
Based on the results of the aforementioned domains, grounds for a research of the semiotic aspects of the real Neolithic dwellings in Macedonia will be established with the purpose to discover the specific meaning of their components (floor, wall, angle, roof, column, door window, hearth stove, and grave within the house) based on the remains of the very objects. An attempt for discovering some semiotic aspects of the Neolithic houses dimensions and their orientation regarding the four cardinal directions, but also to the settlement as a whole will be made. Discoveries of such research of Neolithic and later cultures from neighboring regions will be considered.