The Copper Age settlement mound of Pietrele (Măgura Gorgana)

The Copper Age settlement mound of Pietrele (Măgura Gorgana) on the lower Danube

The settlement mound of Măgura Gorgana, roughly 7 metres high, lies close to the modern-day village of Pietrele in southern Rumania near the Danube valley. In the 5th millennium Pietrele was part of the northern settlement system in the area of the lower Danube. The Tell is around 150 km from the Black Sea coast and the important burial site at Varna, which dates back to the same period.


The mound’s history of settlement is largely unexamined. It can be assumed, however, that the tell was occupied for about 500 years during the fifth millennium BC. By far the greater portion of the settlement layers belongs to the Copper Age Gumelniţa culture; below this there is a series of strata from the late-Neolithic Boian culture. The aim of the excavations, carried out by the Eurasia Department of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI), is to use the natural sciences to put knowledge about the cultural situation on the lower Danube in the 5th millennium BC on a solid footing. The inclusion of geomagnetic prospection, archaeobotany, archaeozoology, anthropology and archaeometallurgy will make it possible, for the first time, to paint a comprehensive picture of the economic activities in a settlement of this period on the lower Danube.
The task of the DBM is to analyse the metal objects and pottery found at the settlement. The object is to characterize the materials, in order to gain an impression of technology and trade in the 5th millennium BC. To do this, the copper objects found at Pietrele and in other find sites of the same period in Serbia and Bulgaria were first subjected to chemical analysis. The next step was to determine the lead isotope ratios. We then compared this data with already published data on ores from deposits in the Balkan region.
The lead isotope tests and chemical analyses produced the following finding: at least part of the copper used in Pietrele could have been extracted from the ore deposits of Majdanpek in Serbia or Čelopeč and Burgas-Strandža in Bulgaria. Another possible source of raw materials, based on this analysis, is the deposit at Ai Bunar. Further geochemical and lead isotope tests on copper objects from Pietrele are in progress and will help to clarify the origin of the metal.


  • Hansen, S., Toderaş, M., Reingruber, A., Gatsov, I., Georgescu, C., Görsdorf, J., Hoppe, T., Nedelcheva, P., Prange, M., Wahl, J., Wunderlich, J. & Zidarov, P., 2008. Der kupferzeitliche Siedlungshügel Măgura Gorgana bei Pietrele in der Walachei. Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen im Sommer 2007, Eurasia Antiqua 14, 17-98.