Neolithic settelment Tumba Madzari

The location is in the current neighbourhood of Čento and it is the most significant Neolithic settlement in Skopje valley. It was discovered in 1961/2 in the course of the archaeological trial excavations related to the construction of the motorway. It is difficult to spot it nowadays because two thirds of the area is covered by houses built in the late sixties and seventies of 20th century. In the years before, it dominated the surrounding flat land. Nearby, to the north and west there is a low hill which stretches to the east and north-east from Gazi Baba and Kamnik. The settlement of Tumba lies under it in the fertile field. Its location is very favourable. On one side, the hill provides the necessary security, first of all from the potential water rise of Katlanovo lake, and on the other it has everything that such a natural morphology can provide: wood, pastures, possible hunting, and it has fertile fields on the slopes turned towards the sun. In a way, the settlement has a central position in Skopje valley. Tumba Madžari was an economic and first of all a cultural centre in the micro-cosmos of the Neolithic man of this region. The settlement has an irregular circular shape with a 220 m in diameter and 3 m in height.

The first archaeological excavations were conducted in 1978 by the Museum of Macedonia, under the leadership of Voislav Sanev. There were three trial probes opened. The results showed that it was a Neolithic settlement, in three stages of life. The stratigraphy of the settlement has a cultural layer with 2.40 m in thickness, and 2.80 m with the pits. The life here was continuously taking place in the period between year 6000 and 4300 bc.
This settlement had its economic and cultural peak in the period of 5800-5200 year bc, that is inAnzabegovo-Vršnik II-IV.

The settlement of Tumba Madžari is a protogenic core of today’s Skopje.
The first house was discovered in 1981, and it was identified as a sanctuary. The house was built in the traditional technique of piles stuck in the ground, often flanked with stones/mills. The house construction shows that big chopped beams were built in the walls, and their prints are still visible. The walls are decorated with fingers from the outside, in spirals that end as primitive volutes. The area of the house if 8x8m, with a square shape. The roof is on two layers, made of straw placed on a wooden construction that is carried by thick piles on the outside, placed on the frontal and back side. The interior of the house is divided by a thin irregular parapet. It separates the two facilities built next to it. Another facility has been discovered in the north-east part of house 1. In accordance with the thesis that house 1 was a sanctuary, these facilities have been explained as sacrificial altars for cults, where food was treated. The later research on this locations, as well as on other locations show that in their shape, these facilities are similar to the semi-spherical furnaces in Zelenikovo, Govrlevo, Mramori, Stenče, and thus they were used as furnaces.

For the first time in Macedonia, painted amphorae have been discovered; according to their shape, texture, decorations with painted stylized floral ornaments found on one spot, they have been made by an excellent craftsman.

In this sanctuary-house 45 whole pots and many fragments have been discovered. These are various earthenware pots, pythoses with barbotine decorations, big frutaria with clay ribs on the inside of the rim, plates, cups, a small pyxis with a clay work relief on the bottom as a pintadera and various small vessels. With its perfect simple shape, askoses give a special character toTumba Madžari and Upper Vardar region. They remind of marsh birds, and they are decorated with feathery barbotine, with four handles on the stomach and one on the back. They have been made in various sizes – small to 1 l and big to 7-8 l. All of this material has been exhibited in the permanent exhibition of the Museum of Macedonia.

In 2002, a new “tub” made of clay with nicely smoothened walls and floor was discovered in the southern part of D1 block, with salt crystals underneath. Such a facility was also found in the Neolithic settlement of Tumba Stenče near Tetovo.
What makes Tumba Madžari and this house well known is the terracotta representation of the Great Mother, discovered for the first time. With its impressive dimensions of 0.39 m in height, a classical calm posture of emerging from the house and protecting her house and peace, this terracotta is exclusive. It is the main string that connects the spirit of man from Anzabegovo-Vršnik cultural group.
In the later research, other fragments of cylinders and house with various dimensions and hair styles have been discovered. The hair styles in general indicate the extraordinarily rich fashion of the Neolithic woman. A strikingly made head of man in natural shape is especially interesting. The anthropomorphic clay work is numerous and diverse in Tumba.

An accidental find in Tumba is a ceramic representation of a head of a ram (bull)-bukranion with dimensions of 32-33-27 cm, dated to the early Neolithic. It indicated the cult of ram-bull. It was most probably applied on the facade of a house.

Goat and centaur with recipients on his back are also interesting zoomorphic representations.

As far as tools are concerned, weights for a vertical loom, fishing nets biconal weights (reels), many bone spatulas with standard shapes, awls and needles have been discovered atTumba Madžari. The flint stone industry is also present with various flint stone knives, cutters, stone mortars and mills.
The analysis of the animal and bird bones from Madžari indicates that the Neolithic man, as far as providing meat was concerned, was absolutely dependent on his herds, with very little hunting and fishing.

In 2007 and 2008. for the first time are revealed several systems of immovable sqaure and circular objects whose purpose still can’t be found. It is assumed to be part of a commercial facility of the settlement. With the latest research from 2007 are managed by Elena Stojanova Kanzurova.

From previous archaeological research we can concluded that the houses were built of timber, cane, straw and mud with the Neolithic traditions, except that they are massive, harder and quite comfortable. Have sqaure or rectangular base with an area which ranges from 60 to 80 m2. The houses were raised close to each other, separated with narrow alleys and small yards surfaces. Although a small number of objects are discovered from their schedule and the resulting plan,a devised organization can be noticed, closely linked to the importance and role of the shrine.

Organization of the inner space of the house was under individual personal needs and desires and not as a general builders rule.

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