The multi-phase site at Alsónyék-Bátaszék in south-west Hungary was excavated in advance of motorway construction, under the direction of Anett Osztás, Krisztina Somogyi and István Zalai-Gaál. This revealed one of the largest settlement and burial sites currently known from the Lengyel culture, which begins in the early fifth millennium cal BC. The remains of at least 118 post-built longhouses, associated pits and around 2360 burials were recovered, alongside features of earlier cultural groupings (the Starčevo, LBK and Sopot cultures). The mostly individual Lengyel burials are located in groups, from tens to over a hundred graves, close to houses, and appear to be found more or less across the whole settlement. Many of them were richly furnished with pottery, shell and copper ornaments, polished stone tools, animal skulls and many other items. The excavators are part of a team of researchers working on the site, based on the Institute of Archaeology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, and led by Professor Eszter Bánffy.
The existing dating framework for the Lengyel culture relies mostly on pottery and polished stone tool typologies and the seriation of cemetery graves, developed by István Zalai-Gaál. With a site of this size, it will be possible to use these as ‘prior information’ in Bayesian models. The aims are to refine estimates of the timing and duration of the site, and particularly to assess if different areas were used sequentially, or if this was the settlement of an exceptionally large community. In addition, key problems such as the relationship between the Sopot and Lengyel cultures can be investigated. Particular attention will also be given to the early use of copper items and the date when these became more widely available.
Local Partners: Anett Osztás, István Zalai-Gaál, János Jakucs, Kitti Köhler, Tibor Marton, Éva Nyerges, Krisztián Oross, and Eszter Bánffy (Institute of Archaeology, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest) and Krisztina Somogyi (ÁSATÁRS Ltd)
UK Team: Derek Hamilton, Dani Hofmann, Nancy Beavan, Alex Bayliss, and Alasdair Whittle