Vădastra Project

Vădastra is a small village in Olt County, Oltenia, Romania. During the Late Neolithic the territory of the present-day province Oltenia witnesses a cultural diversity. The area has an abundant hydro-graphic basin which will play an important role in the dynamic of the Neolithic people situated in the southern part of the Carpathians.

Between the Jiu River and the Olt River a complex cultural display can be registered, one can notice settlements belonging to Vădastra culture (6000-3500 BC; first evolution phase surpasses the Olt - including northeastern Bulgaria, in the second phase is restricted only between the two streams). Vădastra culture reached during its evolution a high degree of development, highlighted among other achievements in the field of anthropomorphic art. Representative is the complex pottery excised and heavily encrusted with white substance, of an unprecedented splendor in the Middle Neolithic, highest expression of art of decorative pottery of all European Neo-Eneolithic.

The Vădastra Experimental Archaeology Project, unique to Romania, was initiated in year 2000 by Professor Dr. Dragoş Gheorghiu of the National University of Arts of Bucharest, who is pioneering the research in this field by recreating artifacts and using ancient techniques, but is also re-enacting the use of space, water and fire to reproduce perceptions that are both ancient and inspiring for the new generations. His project is part of a new field in archaeology, often labeled as archaeology / anthropology of perceptions / senses, which merges art, cognitive sciences, archaeology and especially experimental archaeology, anthropology and philosophy, or phenomenology in archaeology. The project was initially supported by the Archaeology Department of the Ministry of Culture.

In Romania the traditional ceramic wasn't studied from the point of experimenting clays and ways of burning like does in European Countries for some years. It is still an unknown domain not only for the Romanian archaeologist but for the foreign ones. The research project initiated by the University of Arts Bucharest is trying to make known the values of prehistoric ceramic art from Romania to Europe, as well as the information about the color, the shape and technology employed. The Vădastra 2000 Project is the first international project in which UAB led the initiative and which involved several important European and American Universities.

The principal method involved was the reconstruction of the technological chains of making and burning the ceramic items, by this meaning the materials analysis and several tests of clay and finally making objects as close to the prehistoric ones as possible. This experimental method is essential for the revival of the traditional ceramic art and also for the experimental archaeology. In Vădastra are developed also a series of pyrotechnic applications and vernacular architecture designed to bring to light and highlight the technologies of the past.

In the archaeological park annually develop new projects and continue the ones initiated in 2000, within an international approach - Dr. Alex Gibson (University of Bradford, United Kingdom), Dr. Richard Carlton (University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK), Dr. George Nash (University of Bristol, UK), Dr. Kevin Andrews, Dr Roger Doonan and Dr. Bruce Induni (Bournemouth University, UK), Dr. Armand Desbat (Center National de la Recherche Scientifique, Lyon), Dr. Ralph Rowlett (University of Missouri - Columbia, USA), Marc van der Linden (Université Libre de Bruxelles). The project is in the database of Prehistoric Ceramic Research Group of United Kingdom, and students from USA, UK, Belgium, France, Finland, Poland, Romania.

Initially, a "World Team" of scientists tried to rediscover the techniques of pottery and ceramics burning practiced about 7,000 years ago - without potter's wheel, in kilns built with technologies and materials available in the Neolithic, using a natural fuel specific to the period. Gradually, were developed experiments of archaeo-metallurgy, eco-design, large ceramic objects, prehistoric architecture, practical lessons for the children from Vişina and Vădastra villages and for students with the purpose of revival the traditional ceramic art.

Photos from here.