Research of the site of Vrbjanska Chuka

Vrbjanska Chuka is located in Pelagonia, in the vicinity of the villages Slavej and Vrbjani in the municipality of Krivogashtani. It has been researched since 2016 within the international project of the Centre for Prehistoric Research, the Museum and the Institute for cultural heritage protection from Prilep, the University of Southern Bohemia and the Institute for ancient Slavic culture. The goal of the research is to determine the character of this settlement through various archaeological and multidisciplinary methods, which, so far, has yielded many new results and insights.

This site is a tell typical of the region of Pelagonia, originating from the Neolithic. It was also used later during the antiquity, while it served as a necropolis in the Middle Age. The research is focused on definition of Neolithic dwelling structures. Moreover, two houses were registered where ovens, hearths and platforms for cereal processing were found. Therefore, archaeobotanical analyses were performed, which confirmed that the population consummated wheat, barley, lentils and peas, but also used to eat lots of fish. The research team found many vessels for cooking and food preservation, and especially many high quality dishes used for serving. Apart from these, numerous tools, altars and anthropomorphic house models and figurines were found, reflecting the dynamic economical and spiritual life of this settlement.

The tell is also being researched with digital topographic modeling, geo-magnetic scanning and 3D technology. The digital topographic modeling has given the first exact data for such a prehistoric site, thus, we certainly know that the tell was 4 meters high, its diameter being approximately 130 meters. The geo-magnetic scanning showed a deep trench surrounding the settlement, but also revealed the disposition of about 25 architectonic objects. Therefore, we assume that around 150 to 200 people lived in this Neolithic settlement. Based on the geo-magnetic scanning and the archaeological excavations, we made a 3D reconstruction of the Neolithic village demonstrating its appearance and the distribution of houses.

Considering the significance and the size of this site within the northern half of Pelagonia, we also made a survey of the surrounding sites in order to establish the relation of this settlement with the synchronous villages, but also to the ones that were established later. One of these sites, Tumba-Borotino, was also geo-magnetically scanned, confirming a unique feature in Macedonia. According to the results of this superficial and non-destructive research, two smaller tells composed the site, one of which contained three concentric trenches around an empty central space, while the other hosted a necropolis or a settlement whose dwellings could not be clearly determined.

The results, which were already published in Patrimonium, confirmed that Vrbjanska CHuka was a specific Neolithic settlement and that it had a key role regarding agriculture and its development in this part of Macedonia. Moreover, the results gave insight of economy, social life and beliefs of the first cultivators in this region. It enticed the scientific team to continue the research this year as well, whereas besides the already used methods, geological, zooarchaeological and paleontological analyses will be performed, and the settlement will be dated by using C14 and AMS methods.

Resulting from the intense research of the site of Vrbjanska Chuka, multiple video materials were made during its survey. Some of them were deliberately edited into a promotional video which in only a couple of minutes transects the character of the site and its appearance. Viewers can get acquainted with the Neolithic settlement, but also the ancient and medieval remains over it. The video was made by Hristijan Talevski, and the music is by Goce Naumov. The video can be found on the following link:

3D animation of Building 2: