With National Science Foundation support, Dr. Borojevic in collaboration with a multidisciplinary international team will study plant remains to reveal plant use and vegetation exploitation related to the built-environments at the Vinca site, a type site of the Neolithic culture in Serbia in Southeast Europe. The site provides an exceptional opportunity for the study of economic production and building practices in the fifth millennia BC in the central Balkans, a core area from which settled agricultural communities expanded into the Carpathian Basin in the prehistory. The study will provide the initial data on past vegetation and possible changes in the environment of central Southeast Europe and use of space in the past 7000 years. The project will contribute to the precise determination of the functions of the buildings, their life histories, the overall function of the site and the use of plants and the exploitation of natural vegetation during the late Neolithic.
This research is important because it will help to establish novel techniques and methodology of identifying minute plant remains, an approach which can then be expanded and applied to the study of vegetal matter world-wide, regardless of the period and type of deposit.
Dr Borojevic will develop sample collection/preparation procedures which will serve as a test case for assessing accurate, well-contextualized information produced by combining micromorphological data (thin-sections) with those of bulk flotation of plant remains from similar proveniences. The purpose is to reveal the types of plants used for fuel, construction, fodder, and bedding, and how their use changed spatially (ca. 4500 BC). Together with direct radiocarbon dating, plant remains in thin sections can provide high resolution, contextually controlled views of anthropogenic deposits and post-depositional histories regarding vegetal matter and human activities. The combined information gained from the analyses will enable reconstruction of the ancient vegetation and the ecological conditions around the site in order to understand better the strategies people employ in exploiting the natural vegetation and the choices they make when using diverse plant materials for construction of different features, types of fuel, or fodder.
The project will promote collaboration and cross training amongst scholars and dissemination of the new technique to the graduate and undergraduate students in the USA and Serbia.