The prehistory of the mountain-ringed Transylvanian basin cannot be separated that of the surrounding regions. Since time immemorial, traders and migrants have made their way along the valleys of the Szamos, Maros, and Olt rivers. The high mountain ranges did not deter men from seeking out rich mineral deposits, whereas some less imposing mountains have served as boundaries between proximate cultures even in prehistory: such is the case of the Csík-Háromszék basin, which was sheltered by the Hargita and the Barót mountains, or of the Barcaság and the adjoining high plateau of Fogaras. Because of recurrent migration into the region, and because of its distinctive topography, periods of cultural and ethnic homogeneity have been more the exception than the rule.

The first human settlement of Transylvania occurred relatively late. Although the hand axe unearthed at Kiskapus is considered representative of the Acheulian culture and formally classed with other finds from the penultimate (Riss) glaciation period, the lack of stratigraphic data makes this purely conjectural. The chopper found in the Olt valley at Rakovica, south of Nagyszeben, also gives scant guidance. To be sure, similar large pebble tools (?) have been found in the Dîrjov and the Argyas valleys, along with — though not in the same sites as — fauna from Pleistocene period. Until it is linked to evidence of settlements, the Rakovica find remains simply a pebble with a sharp edge.

The earliest authentic vestiges of human activity date from the Middle Palaeolithic period. At the beginning the last (Würm 1) glaciation, palaeoanthropoids sheltered in caves of the Middle Maros region, at Ponorohába, Csoklovina, and Nándor. There is evidence in some of these sites of links with more of less contemporary {1-18.} cave settlements in the Western Balkans. The tools — cutterscrapers, bores, and tips — are all fashioned of quartz, and they evoke techniques similar to those identified in Italy and the south of France. A distinctive feature is that while these people, who belonged to the so-called Charente, hunted young cave bears at their open-field settlement in Érd, Hungary, somewhat later, others in the Hátszeg region hunted mainly wild horses.

The caves were heated by fires that were seldom allowed to go out. At the Bordul Mare cave in Ponorohába, three fireplaces were found, one of them double and enclosed by flat stones. They contained traces of ash, charcoal and carbonized animal bones; the latter were probably used to keep the fire going. This site yielded the first human remnants: three fragments of finger bones.

Traces of Charentian culture were found not just in the Hátszeg region but throughout the south Carpathian region, at the Pestera site in the Törcsvár pass as well as at Baia de Fier on the southern flank of the mountain range. Interestingly enough, evidence from some sites in the proximate Banat indicates that quartzite culture survived until the Epipalaeolithic period.

The other Middle Palaeolithical finds in Transylvania, at Csoklovina and in the Torda Gap, are so atypical that few conclusions can be drawn from them. This uncertainty extends to the widespread traces of a so-called Moustier culture, some of which, at Vizakna, belong to the Late Palaeolithic period.

Judging from evidence found at the cave in Nándor-Felső, groups that made fully-worked flint implements appeared in Transylvania at the end of the Middle Palaeolithic period; they are commonly linked with the broadly-defined Szeleta culture, which produced leaf-shaped instruments. There is no evidence that they had any direct contact with earlier local cultures, and the two-faced tips in late Charentian finds can at best be attributed to their influence. With regard to the Aurignac culture, the implements found in Transylvania date from its later phase, during the second cold period {1-19.} of the last Ice Age (Würm 2); a few temporary cave dwellings (at Csoklovina, Ponorohába-Bordul Mare, and Barcarozsnyó) indicate the presence of Aurignacians, who gradually took the place of the leaf-blade-using bear hunters in the interglacial period between Würm 1 and 2. The richest sites were at Pestera, and at Szitabodza-Cremenea, the only place where an open-air tool workshop was uncovered; the implements found include not only the characteristic blades, but also scraper-like objects. What is missing everywhere, except at the Aurignac hill at Baia de Fier, is this culture's short-lived innovation, the polished bone tip. The fire sites at Csoklovina indicate cave-bear hunters who, judging from a skull fragment, might have belonged to the Protonordic anthropological group (Predmost race).

In the Würm 2/3 period, the mammoth and reindeer hunters of the eastern Gravettian culture apparently skirted the southeastern Carpathian region. Only two cave sites near the source of the Dîmboviţa, at Barcarozsnyó-Ödweg and Pestera, testify to the passage of hunters from the plains. Szitabodza (Cremenea), where evidence of implement production was found, is also on Transylvania's periphery.

After the retreat of the ice sheet covering the Carpathians, the repopulation of the Transylvanian basin proceeded very slowly. Epigravette-Tardenois sites have been discovered only in southeastern Transylvania, along the upper reaches of the Bodza, at Szitabodza-Cremenea and Gîlma. The former is situated on the lower terrace of the river, while the latter is on a mountain peak. Besides tiny blades, tips, and scrapers, the characteristically trapezoid tools of the Epigravette-Tardenoisian culture are also present. At the same time, in the southwestern Carpathians and at the Iron Gates, Romanello-Azilian protoeuropids began to domesticate dogs and experiment with grain cultivation and pig husbandry (Schela Cladovei, Cuina Turcului, Icoana, Ostrovul Banului, Vlasac, Lepenski Vir). There is no evidence of similar activity in {1-20.} the Southeastern Carpathians, where only workshop sites have been uncovered so far. On the other hand, farther east, along the Dniester River, groups that made Epigravette-Tardenois tools were breeding pigs and cattle around 5500 B.C. (!), and it is conceivable that their western cousins did likewise.

The Epipalaeolithical groups' moves toward food production were interrupted by the arrival of people who belonged to the Starčevo-Körös culture of the southern Balkans. The latter brought from their homeland the practices, assimilated from Anatolian migrants, of wheat and barley cultivation and goat and sheep husbandry. The cultivation of millet and the domestication of cattle may have been their own 'invention'.

Their settlements, found on the banks and lower terraces of rivers, had above-ground dwellings constructed of posts, and wattle and daub (Bedeháza, Lécfalva), as well as dugout huts (Lécfalva, Maroscsapó). They buried their dead within the settlements (Sepsiszentgyörgy, Bedeháza, Kolozsvár-Bácstorok). Whereas the Epipalaeolithical Cro-Magnons buried their dead in a supine position, the people of the Starčevo-Körös culture laid the dead on their side, with knees bent, and did not usually put other objects in the grave.

The excavations reveal a varying but clear pattern of food production. At some sites, there is evidence in equal measure of hunted and domesticated animals; at others, the ratio of domesticated to hunted animals is better than six to one. Although goats and sheep were the first to be domesticated, the breeding of cattle became more prevalent; at some sites, there is evidence of a large number of pigs, while at others there is no trace of this animal. Such variations (based on data extrapolated to Transylvania) may owe to chronology, but they could also be explained by environmental factors.

Due to the scarcity of data, such variations can only be surmised in the case of cultivated and gathered foodstuffs. Grinding stones found at some Transylvanian sites were evidently used for {1-21.} grinding seeds, but these could have been other than cereal grain. Few of the stone tools have the short blade, with one corner polished to a dull shine, that would indicate a sickle. The Starčevo-Körös communities were nevertheless food-producers, even if they continued to hunt and scavenge. It also appears that some of the groups in Transylvania specialized in processing minerals; this would explain why they settled in certain caves that had remained unoccupied since the Late Pleistocene period (Ponorohába, Csoklovina).

The Starčevo-Körös people probably came to Transylvania from the Banat. Their earliest known settlement is at Kolozsvár (Bácstorok). By this time, around 5500 B.C., they were crafting spherical vessels, with a red coating sometimes decorated with white spots. Some of them moved down the Szamos valley and settled in the Great Hungarian Plain, there to mix with the local Epipalaeolithical population; this may explain the discovery at Bácstorok of both Alpine and Cro-Magnon types, buried, according to the custom of the age, within and between the dwellings.

Around 5000 B.C., new migrants reached Transylvania, probably along the Maros valley. Their material culture, traces of which are also found in the southern part of the Great Hungarian Plain, dominates the archaeological finds from this period in Transylvania. Their earliest trace is the settlement at Szászhermány, where, besides coarse vessels made of clay mixed with chaff, finer bowls were bound bearing the white-spotted, red coating seen in the earlier period. Such painting is as rare in the Transylvanian settlements as it is in the southern part of the Great Hungarian Plain. Another exception is the Lécfalva site, where evidence of multicoloured painting was found. The finds of the early period show strong Bulgarian traits; the end of their settlement coincided with the final stage of the Starčevo-Körös culture.

During a brief, transitional period, southern Transylvania was inhabited by people of the Dudeşti culture, whose settlements had spread in western Wallachia; their presence is attested by finds in {1-22.} the lower stratum of Tordos IV and at Kőhalom. Then, in the Middle Neolithic period, the unity that had characterized the Early Neolithic disintegrated, and new groups migrated into Transylvania from many directions. The Vinča-Tordos culture appeared in the central reaches of the Maros River, between the southern Carpathians and the Érc Mountains, and in the east as far as Fogaras; other immigrants, identified by ceramics bearing linear decoration, moved from Moldavia into southeastern Transylvania, and in the northwest as far as the Mezőség. Traces of the Szakálhát group, which was present in the southeastern part of the Great Hungarian Plain, are found along the Szamos River (St Mihály cathedral, Kolozsvár), while farther north lived groups, known for painted ceramics, that were related to people of the northeastern Great Plain.

The Middle Neolithic pattern of population in Transylvania remained dominant until the end of the Copper Age. First to leave their Transylvanian home were a majority of the best-known, Vinča-Tordos people. When people from the central regions of the Balkans chose to settle around the Érc Mountains, they must have been drawn by the region's mineral riches; early copper tools were unearthed at Balomir and Radnót, and one of the oldest gold mines is in nearby Zalatna. They grew wheat and kept many animals, mainly cattle; domesticated animals provided some 70% of the meat consumed. Their raised, clay-floored dwellings were constructed of logs or wattle and daub. Their vessels include graceful cups, mostly with a red coating; spaces between the meandering incised lines have been indented with small sticks. Their culture is exceptionally rich in anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptures; these small clay figures may well have played a part in a fertility cult.

Of particular interest are small pictographic tablets, found at Tărtăria (Alsó-Tatárlaka) in 1961, which bear a remarkable resemblance to Protoelamite and Protosumerian objects. Given the distance {1-23.} in space as well as time — at least a millennium — between such finds in Transylvania and in Mesopotamia, it is questionable whether any contact might have existed between the two regions; early linear-geometric scripts bore common features even when they were developed in isolation. However, the inscribed tablets of Tărtăria reinforce the supposition that some of the signs on the clay products of the Vinča-Tordos culture were a form of writing. Thus, significantly, attempts at writing occurred in the Maros valley around 4000 B.C.; this implies the existence in the region of a quasi-state, focused on some simple shrine, and with a division of labour among the communities. Such a development would be scarcely conceivable if certain groups had not begun to use local metal ores and come to depend on others for grain and meat.

The attempt in Transylvania to construct a productive society marked by the central distribution of goods ultimately failed. New migrations interrupted this process. In the southeast, where the line-decorated ceramic culture had predominated, with people who practised primitive agriculture and animal husbandry (hunted animals accounted for at least 50 per cent of their consumption), the newcomers were people of the sheep- and goat-breeding, Boian culture in Moldavia and eastern Wallachia. Coming from the Olt valley, some smaller groups got as far as the middle reaches of the Maros, where their large pots and plates, decorated with excised triangular patterns and bunched lines, have been found in settlements of the Vinča-Tordos culture.

However, the major break came with the migration of painted-ceramics groups from the Szamos region in northern Transylvania, southward along the Maros valley. Their white or orange vessels, bearing red, and at times black, painted decoration, make an early appearance in the top layer of the Vinča-Tordos settlements, indicating a mingling of the two populations. Since finds of a later date show little evidence of this integration, it is likely that the majority of the Vinča-Tordos people fled or simply migrated along the Maros.

{1-24.} Thus, for a brief period at the beginning of the Late Neolithic age, most of Transylvania was inhabited by a uniform population, while the people of the Boian culture lived on in the southeastern highlands. Communities of the Petreşti culture, which had emerged from the painted pottery groups, occupied southern and some of central Transylvania for a long period. Their dwellings, constructed on a wood foundation in wattle and daub, were situated on river terraces and hills; some were built on stilts on dry land (Nagylak, Hermány). Their access to metal ore led them to forge contacts with distant peoples, in Wallachia, Dobrudja, and perhaps even farther south. Their pots, baked to produce a metallic ring, were painted with curved and spiral designs in black, red, and brown colours. Dishes, shouldered mugs, and cylindrical underplates indicate a capacity to melt metals, and copper finds support this. Originals and copies of laminated gold jewellery, found as far as Bulgaria, Greece, and, in the north, the Kassa basin, suggest exploitation of the local gold deposits. The smaller number of finds relating to agriculture and animal husbandry may be explained by the spread of metallurgy.

The Petreşti culture continued to evolve until the end of the Copper Age, but only in the territories formerly inhabited by the Vinča-Tordos people. Sweeping across the eastern Carpathians from the Pontic steppes, mounted Protoeuropids, who were cattle-breeders, occupied the settlements of the painted pottery people in the Szamos region (Magyarpalatka). Departing from earlier Neolithic custom, they buried their dead in large cemeteries at some distance from their dwellings (Marosdécse, Melegföldvár), laying the bodies supine, with knees slightly bent; the graves also hold large Pontic stone knives, bulbous-headed stone maces (Vizakna, Gredistye), and simple cups. In keeping with eastern custom, they put red and ochre paint alongside the corpse.

At about the same time, people of the Cucuteni-Tripolje (Erősd) culture arrived to settle in area of the Boian culture, in {1-25.} southeastern Transylvania. Migrations in led to recurrent alteration in the character of the populations in the eastern half of the Carpathian Basin; the newcomers mixed with the earlier inhabitants, changing lifestyles and material culture.

This latest incursion gave rise to the Tiszapolgár culture, which became established in the Tisza region, northern Transylvania, and the Banat; some of its bearers reached southeastern Transylvania (Bögöz), others spread out from the Banat to the middle reaches of the Maros River (Szászsebes, Maroskarna, Déva). The primitive hut settlements (Kalota) of these cattle-herding, agricultural peoples consisting of simple huts and the villages of the Cucuteni-Tripolje culture ringed the region inhabited by people of the Petreşti culture; if the latter survived peacefully in this turbulent era, it was probably thanks to the surrounding peoples' dependence on their metal craftsmen.

The Petreşti people passed on skills in painting vessels to their new neighbours of the Cucuteni-Tripolje culture. One of the most important finds of these vessels, which were decorated in two or three colours (black, white, and red) prior to firing, was at a mountain settlement at Erősd-Tyiszk, in a layer over four meters deep. The dwellings were constructed of posts and wattle and daub and had rimmed open fireplaces made of clay. The inhabitants of Erősd were partially dependent on agriculture for their sustenance; their main crop was wheat, sown in single rows. Although they raised livestock, mainly cattle, much of their meat came from hunting. Most of their tools, such as axes and hoes, were made of stone and bone; copper was used only for awls and jewels. Small clay figurines and clay seals used for body-painting evoke their rites and clan structure.

The Cucuteni-Tripolje culture extended to the upper reaches of the Maros, where it came into contact with the Tiszapolgár culture. The latter's settlement area was subsequently occupied by the Bodrogkeresztúr culture, whose bearers sometimes settled in their {1-26.} predecessors' villages (Déva, Marosgezse). Since conditions for intensive agriculture and animal husbandry were more favourable in the Banat and on the Hungarian Great Plain, the extension of the Bodrogkeresztúr culture to Transylvania can only be explained by the lure of the region's mineral deposits. It is significant that the incidence of copper tools grows rapidly as one moves from Transylvania towards the central area of the Bodrogkeresztúr culture. Long and short axes as well as 'double-edged' pickaxes from the copper-mining districts made their way to the Great Plain, and small pieces of gold jewellery are commonly found in the burial places of the Tisza region. It is therefore not surprising that only one of these small gold objects was found in Transylvania, in a Bodrogkeresztúr site at Marosvásárhely.

In other respects, Bodrogkeresztúr finds in Transylvania are similar to those in the Great Plain. Their tombs contain bodies lying on their side, with bent knees, and surrounded by double-handled or flowerpot shaped jugs and by shallow bowls. They villages probably consisted of dwellings constructed at ground-level; one group, which settled among Cucuteni-Tripolje people erected small, wooden-floored, wattle and daub houses (Réty).

By the time the Bodrogkeresztúr people reached the Háromszék basin, a peculiar process of integration was emerging in Transylvania. Mixed elements of the Bodrogkeresztúr, Petreşti and Cucuteni-Tripolje cultures start appearing on the eastern fringe of the Mezőség (Somkerék, Dedrád), while, around the middle reaches of the Maros, the mix involves the Bodrogkeresztúr and Petreşti cultures. At the end of this process of amalgamation, one finds the material remains of a culture that was the common legacy of southwestern Transylvanian and Oltenian tribes (Băile Herculane-Cheile Turzi group).

Some elements of the Transylvanian cultural mix reached the Great Plain (Hunyadihalom group), whilst others — obviously following the Szamos River — reached Ruthenia and eastern Slovakia, {1-27.} where their material culture became more simplified and, at a later time, cremation became the practice (Lažnany group).

The Băile Herculane-Cheile Turzi group frequently lived in caves (Herkulesfürdő, Nándor, Torda Gap). These regions were more suited to hunting than to grain cultivation cattle-breeding. Farmers, animal breeders, metal workers, and gold dealers did not freely choose to withdraw to the isolation of bleak caves. The impulse came from shepherds from the eastern steppes, descendants of the Srednii Stog culture, who by this time were grazing their flocks in Wallachia and Moldavia (Herkulesfürdő II/b); their bands stormed over the Carpathians and scattered the local communities, driving the people of the Băile Herculane-Cheile Turzi culture into the mountains, caves, and distant regions. Although the local population seems to have managed to cohabit with the first wave of invaders (Herkulesfürdő, Băile Herculane III, Lažnany), the succeeding waves of eastern shepherds drove them first into the highlands, and then beyond.

Thus began a new era in the history of Transylvania, and indeed of East Central Europe. On the lower reaches of the Danube, the newcomers from the east blend with the local population, as do arrivals from the southern Balkans and perhaps also from Anatolia. Bearers of the evolving new culture (Cernavoda III) settle as far as the middle reaches of the Maros (Péterfalva,Tărtăria- Alsó- Tatárlaka, Baráthely-Paratély). Judging from the layout of the settlements, they were no longer entirely dependent on animal husbandry, and traces of their log-based dwellings indicate a protracted period of residence. They raised cattle, along with sheep, goats, and pigs. Of the cattle bones uncovered, most belong to old males, and a large number of oxen is a common sign of cultivation by plough, whether of the wooden or horn type.

A similar mixture is found in other spheres of material culture. These people made pots, adorned with ribs, out of clay mixed with sand or crushed shells; they also produced shiny grey mugs with {1-28.} channel decoration. Their axes and rhomboid swords are fashioned from copper or bronze; evidence of their faith includes both clay statuettes of Caucasian derivation, representing stylized sitting figures, and idol-like objects peculiar to the earlier inhabitants.

The slow emergence of this culture is abruptly halted around 2000 B.C., when a new wave of migration once again transforms Transylvania's population: groups of shepherds from the Macedonian and Bulgarian highlands move into southeastern Carpathian region. Their settlements appear first in Oltenia (Coţofeni I culture), southwestern Transylvania (Karácsonfalva, Tărtăria-Alsó Tatárlaka); later, during the Early Bronze Age, they spread over the entire territory of Transylvania (Coţofeni II, Kolozskorpád I). Evidence of their settlement can be found virtually everywhere, from the highlands to alluvial grasslands, and often in mountain caves. They were the first in Transylvania to cremate the dead, although skeletons — often powdered in ochre — have been found in the lower levels of their early burial grounds; they may have borrowed the latter custom from their eastern neighbours (Folteşti II culture), although it is equally conceivable that they were preserving their own, essentially East European traditions. The environment and nature of their numerous, scattered dwellings, fit the lifestyle of a semi-nomadic shepherd population. Signs of rudimentary agriculture appear only at a later time, together with a change in the structure of their dwellings: there is evidence at Kolozskorpád that one of their later communities used wattle and daub over a log foundation or log floor.

Although these people originated in an environment similar to that of the Cernavoda III culture, their pottery is radically different. In the early period (Coţofeni I), their large-handled, splayed water scoops, spherical jugs, and urns are decorated with short incised lines and striated indentations; a similar ornamentation and some similar vessels were also used in the Cernavoda III culture. Later (Coţofeni II), the decoration was elaborated with the addition of {1-29.} lentil-shaped designs. Another decorative innovation, mainly within Transylvania, is a line of small indentations designed for the encrustation of lime.

In the period of the Coţofeni II-Kolozskorpád culture, shepherd tribes from beyond the Carpathians flooded into southeastern Transylvania. People of the Folteşti III-Zăbala culture spread from the Háromszék Basin (Zabola) and the Brassó area (Gesprengberg) to the middle reaches of the Maros (Vládháza, Nándor). Little is known of their settlements. Their dead were buried on their side, with their legs pulled up, sometimes in simple pits, at other times in stone chests covered by mounds of earth. Their spherical, two-handled vessels, tall, barrel-like amphorae, and ribbed coarse pots evoke not only the east, but also the west, where similar pieces have been found in the middle reaches of the Tisza River (Hatvan culture). Since these finds are sometimes mixed with those of the Coţofeni culture, it is possible that in some localities the two populations had merged.

Towards the middle of the Early Bronze Age, the people of the Folteşti III-Zăbala culture were supplanted in southeastern Transylvania (and throughout Wallachia) by a new wave of immigrants: the people of the Glina III-Schneckenberg culture. The new settlers built their villages on hills. There were fireplaces inside their small dwellings, and some had a stone bench next to the wall. Their domestic animals included many sheep, and primitive ploughs fashioned from antlers indicate that they ploughed the land.

The clay model of a chariot found at Kucsuláta signals the beginnings of beast-drawn vehicles. They had curved stone knives and polished stone axe-adzes, but only a few copper tools have been found: awls, chisels, flat axes, and swords. Their coarser vessels were made of clay mixed with sand and ground shells, whilst the surface of their single and double handled mugs and small, handled cups was worked smooth. Their dead were buried lying on {1-30.} their side in a crouched position in stone coffers, with, in rare cases, their personal effects.

While the region along the Olt River was settled by people of the Glina III-Schneckenberg culture, the other parts of Transylvania remained populated by the Coţofeni people. In this late period, their vessels' principal form of ornamentation is the stab and drag decoration (Cîlnic culture), while the lentil shape becomes less common or disappears. By now, as a consequence of a more settled way of life, their wattle and daub houses (Kelnek) have two rooms as well as a fireplace and oven. There may well be a link between their longer residence in one location and the fact that the Cîlnic culture's densest network of settlements is in the area of the Érc Mountains (Muntii Apuseni). The so-called eastern copper axes — precursors of which date from the Cernavoda III period — are common finds in the region (Sáromberke). To be sure, this weapon, widely used throughout East Central Europe, was not produced solely in the Cîlnic area; it is nevertheless significant that a major 'treasure,' consisting of over forty axes, was unearthed in this region, at Bányabükk.

Towards the end of the Early Bronze Age, when the Glina III-Schneckenberg and Cîlnic cultures were fading away, a group that decorated ceramics mainly with a cord pattern appeared in the eastern and northeastern parts of Transylvania. The artifacts of those who settled in the Csík Basin (Jigodin culture) had much in common with those of the Glina III-Schneckenberg culture, as well as some similarities with vessels produced by people who lived in the same period around Hungary's north-central mountains (Hatvan culture).

On the eve of the Middle Bronze Age, groups from Moldavia began to settle in the Háromszék Basin of southeast Transylvania. This Ciomortan culture was related to the Monteoru and Costişa cultures. Their settlement on the Várdomb [Castle Hill] at Csík-csomortány was fortified with earthworks. A few of their two-handled {1-31.} jugs, spherical dishes, and cups have been found in graves, where the dead were buried on their side, their legs pulled up.

They did not survive long in their few fortified settlements. Unable to halt the influx of new waves of people of the Monteoru culture, they were forced to move to the more westerly parts of Transylvania. Their vessels' typical decoration of scratched-in triangles and pairs of lines filled with dots, as well as their broad mugs are found again in the later Wietenberg culture.

The Wietenberg culture — the most significant legacy of Transylvania's population in the Middle Bronze Age — can be found all over the mountain-ringed basin. The most important sources of this culture are believed to be the Coţofeni (Cîlnic) people, along with a contribution from people of the Tei culture, who came from Wallachia to invade the Barcaság. However, the earliest remnants of the Wietenberg culture were found far to the north, beyond boundary of Transylvania at Derzsida. The earlier remnants found within Transylvania have much in common with the Early Bronze Age Ottomány culture east of the Tisza, and only later objects (Wietenberg II) show influence of the Ciomortan and Tei cultures. The people of the Ottomány culture cremated their dead just as the Middle Bronze Age population of Transylvania had done, whereas the latter's neighbours on the Great Plain and elsewhere outside the Carpathian Basin buried them. Evidence found at Dés, as well as at Bágyon on the Aranyos River, suggests that at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age, people coming from east of the Tisza invaded Transylvania; there they intermingled with people of the Ciomortan culture and, farther south, of the Tei culture. It is thus possible, but most unlikely that Cîlnic people contributed to the formation of this new population of Transylvania.

The Wietenberg culture encompassed virtually all of Transylvania, expelling or absorbing groups of the Tei culture in southern Transylvania. Only the region beyond the Hargita remained beyond their reach; the Háromszék Basin was won by the {1-32.} Monteoru people, who had managed to displace the people of the Ciomortan culture.

Wietenberg settlements were situated on the lower terraces of rivers, on plateaux, and on easily defended hilltops. Their dwellings were of wood beams or on wooden foundations, although sunken dwellings have also been found (Radnót). Little evidence remains of their agricultural activity, but hunting and animal husbandry, mainly of cattle, played an important role. Since they had exclusive control over Transylvania's metal ores, they must have traded gold for their neighbours' grain.

Wietenberg settlements have yielded finds of all the types of bronze objects and gold jewellery known in East Central Europe at the time, but only rarely as part of a hidden treasure. Yet their territory is ringed by treasure-troves. This fact, along with their 'citadels', leads to the conclusion the Wietenberg people had a numerically strong and militant aristocracy. Their weapons included not only eastern-type bronze axes and double axes, but also rapiers identical in form with those favoured by the Mycenaean Achaeans (Sáromberke, Énlaka, Gyulafehérvár, etc.). The latter were not a customary weapon in Eastern Europe, and it is also noteworthy that, in contrast to the neighbouring regions, there is no evidence in Transylvania of horseback riding; then again, long rapiers were ill-suited to mounted combat.

Since there are other apparent links between the Wietenberg and the Mycenaean cultures (the prevalence of spiral decoration is often cited) it is conceivable that, in the 15th and 16th centuries B.C., warriors from the south had come to rule over the population of Transylvania. This aristocracy grew wealthy thanks to the spreading exploitation of mineral deposits and the sale of metal products. The latter are found most often outside the settlement area of the Wietenberg culture, where their traders could easily have fallen prey to treasure-seeking foreigners. This may explain the hoard of gold axes, disks and other jewellery found at Cófalva, {1-33.} in the area of the Monteoru culture), and the gold swords and rapiers unearthed at Perşinari, in Wallachia, where the Tei culture prevailed, as well as other, similar finds on the periphery of the Wietenberg culture's domain.

The prosperity induced by gold was apparent in all aspects of life. Women, dispensed of agricultural labour, engaged in decorative household crafts; the principal evidence consists of richly decorated clay vessels. Their spherical pots, shallow, handled bowls, and dishes were decorated with impressed and incised, wavy and spiral designs. Ascoi, mixing bowls with multiple openings, and chariot models were produced to serve in their diversified rituals. The main feature of their religious buildings was the decorated, sacred fireplace, such as the one found near Segesvár, at Wietenberg — the place that gave its name to their culture.

At the end of the 14th century B.C., the Carpathian Basin was invaded from the north by Central European tribes of shepherds. The invasion set off a chain reaction of migrations, and these destabilized — directly or indirectly — the economy of the Transylvanian goldsmiths, merchants, and warriors. Familiar trading routes were now overrun with strangers. When groups of the latter seek refuge in Transylvania, local people bury their valuables (Igenpataka, Déva, Somogyom). Moving along the Maros on the heels of the fleeing locals, people of the Tumulus (Hügelgraber) culture occupied the entire area of southern Transylvania, as attested by finds near Nagyszeben (Hermány), in the Mezőség (Mezőbánd, Malomfalva), and even beyond the Hargita (Kézdiszentlélek). They, together with former inhabitants of the Great Hungarian Plain, settle also in southwestern Transylvania (Déva, Vajdahunyad). Some of the Wietenberg people withdrew to the mountains (their cave settlements date from this period), but most of them move northward. There, along the Szamos, in Máramaros and Ruthenia, they joined forces with people of the Gyulavarsánd culture resist the pressure of the Tumulus (Hügelgraber) people and {1-34.} others who had joined the latter. Elsewhere, communities were shattered into small remnants that survived in much-reduced material circumstances.

Due to the turbulence and social disintegration, Transylvania at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age became easy prey for shepherds of the eastern steppes. There are no treasure finds to indicate the resulting movement of peoples, presumably because by then locals had little treasure left to conceal. The new occupiers, people of the Noua culture, reached Transylvania through the Carpathian mountain passes and spread as far as the middle reaches of the Szamos River in the north and the Érc Mountains in the west. Some followed the Szamos all the way to the eastern Great Plain, where they were absorbed into an already mixed population, the Berkesz-Demecser group.

Little is known about the settlements of this cattle- and sheep- breeding people. Their dwellings were presumably similar to the light, wooden constructions they had erected in Moldavia. Burial grounds (Brassó, Keresztényfalva, Hermány, Tövis, etc.) reveal their dead lying on their side, legs drawn up, or the remains of cremation. Most of their simple, rib-decorated pots and two-handled jugs were produced by assimilated groups from Monteoru culture. Their three-edged bone arrowheads, triple-pierced bridle links made of bone, knobbed bronze pins, and sickles with hooked handles all evoke a distant eastern culture, that of Sabatinovka people, who lived between the Dnieper and Dniester rivers. These Protoeuropids (Alpine and Mediterranean anthropological types were also present in Transylvania) probably spoke Ancient Iranian, and thus settlement of the Noua people in Carpathian Basin represents the first appearance of Iranian groups in the region.

It is noteworthy that most of the metal tools identified with the newcomers were found beyond their area of settlement, in the territory of the Felsőszőcs culture. The weapons and tools of the conquerors appear to have been produced by the Late Bronze Age {1-35.} descendants of the Wietenberg culture. The relationship between the two peoples was peculiarly symbiotic in some places: the tumuli of Oláhlápos contain objects from both the Felsőszőcs and the Noua cultures.

Sometime around 1000 B.C., the inhabitants of Transylvania and the Szamos-Tisza region were driven to bury their accumulated treasures (Felőr, Domahida, Ópályi). It was, however, mainly the people of the Felsőszőcs culture who hid their valuables, as seen at Felőr and Domahida. To escape servitude, most of the Noua people fled eastward.

The new conquerors, groups of people of the Gáva culture, occupied the Küküllő region (Medgyes), then the Olt valley (Réty), the Mezőség, and the Szamos region (Oláhlápos). Some of their dwellings were built of wood beams or on wooden foundations, others were oval or square, sunken huts with a central, plastered fireplace; some of their settlements were fortified. They bred mainly cattle but also kept many horses. Although many bronze sickles have been found, agriculture was not a major activity, and they obtained much of their meat by hunting.

Their arrival sparked off a renaissance of bronze craft in the region of the Érc Mountains. Almost all of their implements, weapons, and jewellery was fashioned from bronze; huge stores of axes, sickles, swords, lances, belts, pins, and vessels have been unearthed at Ispánlaka, Felsőmarosújvár, Nagysink and Marosfelfalu (Cincu-Suseni 'horizon').

By the end of the Late Bronze Age, the people of the Gáva culture, who buried cremated remains in urns, and related groups had expanded their domain. Their settlements and burial places are found not only in Transylvania, but also in the Banat, in areas east of the Tisza, and, east of the Carpathians, in Galicia and Bessarabia (Holihrad and Kisinyov cultures). Some of their groups travelled across the wooded steppes as far as the Dnieper River. Judging from the material evidence, peoples who lived at this time south of {1-36.} the Carpathians, in Wallachia and northern Bulgaria, spoke a language related to that of the Gáva culture (Babadag and Pšeničevo cultures). This region is roughly contiguous with the subsequent settlement areas of the Dacians, Gaetians, and Mysians.

Between the end of the Late Bronze Age and the first mention of these peoples in ancient sources, there were no migrations significant enough to radically alter the composition of the population. It is therefore likely that the finds from the Gáva culture and related groups are the legacy of ancestors of Dacians, Gaetians and Mysians. Their origins are clear: the indigenous communities of Middle Bronze Age people and conquerors bearing the Tumulus culture had coalesced by the end of the Late Bronze Age into a group of peoples speaking identical or related languages. The stability of this pattern is reinforced by the organizing skills of an equestrian group that arrived from the east in the middle of the Late Bronze Age. To be sure, the latter's rule was short-lived; well before the end of the Late Bronze Age, they were driven to hide their characteristic harness pieces and Caucasian axes — not only in Transylvania, but also in Transdanubia and in the region between the Drava and Sava rivers (Felsőmarosújvár, Ispánlaka, Karánsebes, Kőfarka). The first evidence of iron tools seems to coincide with their appearance in the region (Oláhlápos, Bogda, Babadag). There followed an extended period of peace in Transylvania; storehouses dating from the end of the Late Bronze Age (Mojgrád, Pusztatóti, etc.) reveal that blacksmiths produced mainly axes and sickles. Although such tools could be used in battle, their primary purpose was cultivation.

The peaceful life of miners and merchants was disrupted at the end of the Late Bronze Age. Once again, horsemen from Asia broke into the Danubian region and the Carpathian Basin. This culturally mixed group, given to much infighting, sowed chaos, devastating villages and depopulating entire regions. When the resulting waves of forced migration subside, small and, for the most part, {1-37.} culturally-mixed communities appear along the Danube (Balta Verde, Bosut, Dálya, Mezőcsát groups). On the territories of the Gáva culture and its related groups, new populations emerge. The majority of Transylvania's Late Bronze Age inhabitants thus left the region, most probably for destinations beyond the Carpathians. Their deserted villages were occupied by newcomers as well as by settlers from the Lower Danube and a smaller number of migrants southern Transdanubia.

The people of the Basarab culture settled initially along the middle reaches of the Maros (Gyulafehérvár, Tărtăria- Alsó-Tatárlaka), and then throughout the Transylvanian Basin (Marosvásárhely, Maroscsapó, Kolozsmonostor). Their settlements in Transylvania, unlike those in Wallachia, were occupied for a considerable period of time, and many were fortified. They erected wattle and daub dwellings as well as some light, above-ground structures, and lived mainly off animal husbandry. A significant part of the population must have been involved in metalworking; significantly, finds in the border regions contain bronze objects that were seldom if ever used by Transylvanians, but which were commonly used in the surrounding areas (Marosportus, Alvinc, Vajdéj).

The Basarabi culture was marked by advanced ironworking; iron objects include not only weapons and tools, but also a growing number of harness pieces and clothing accessories. The newcomers soon shed their former bronze objects; the earlier bronze bridle links and bits (Maroscsapó) soon give way to replicas made of iron (Maroscsapó, Maroskeresztúr). Their weapons — swords and "Scythian" daggers — often resemble the swords with open, ringed hilts of the Late Bronze Age (Aldoboly, Maroscsapó). Single-edged, curved daggers have also been unearthed, bearing T-shaped hilts similar to those found on the typical weapons of the neighbouring Balta Verde group (Miriszló, Borosbenedek).

{1-38.} Although little has transpired about their ability to work gold, it is not unlikely that they produced many of the gold objects found in the Carpathians. A case in point is the early treasure unearthed at Mihályfalva; it includes counterparts of a bracelet found at Dálya and a winged pearl find from the Michałkowo hoard. Since gold objects appear infrequently even in later finds, it can be surmised that the Basarabi goldsmiths produced mainly for 'export'.

The burial rituals of the time are uniform throughout Transylvania. The dead were interred flat on their back, with their heads pointing east or west, along with their weapons and tools as well as jewels and clothing. The graves contained food, principally beef, and, judging from the vessels, drink. According to a strict ritual, only three types of vessels were placed next to the corpse: urns, cups with handles, and bowls with narrowed openings. In the early period of settlement, shortly after the end of the Late Bronze Age, there is evidence of interment in burial mounts, complete with the deceased's horse (Maroscsapó, Nagyenyed), but the vessels in these graves are similar to the later ones. At a time when wheel pottery became common in the Great Hungarian Plain and along the Lower Danube, the Transylvanian peoples continued to inter vessels of the earlier type.

There is no doubt that this early Iron Age people, with its strict rituals, was related to the Scythians. Herodotus, writing at the end of the 5th century B.C. (but using information recorded by Hecataeus at the end of the 6th century B.C.), claims that the Maros passed through the land of the Agathyrsi before joining the Danube;[1]1. Herodotus, IV, 48. and the Agathyrsi were neighbours of the Neuri,[2]2. Herodotus, IV, 125. who, however, lived along the Bug, hear the source of the Tyras (Dniester) River.[3]3. Herodotus, IV, 17, 51. Thus this information may have a bearing not only on Transylvania, but also on the eastern half, or indeed the whole of the Carpathian Basin.

When, at the end of the 6th century B.C., the Persian King Darius waged war in Europe against the Scythians, the Agathyrsi {1-39.} turned against the latter. This suggests a link, possibly an 'alliance' between Persians and Agathyrsi, and lends added significance to the epigraph of Darius found in Transylvania, at Szamosújvár.

According to Herodotus (or Hecataeus), the Agathyrsi were refined people who wore gold jewellery and practised polyandry (or, in a less likely interpretation, group marriage).[4]4. Herodotus, IV, 104. In any case, Hecataeus' information can hardly apply to the majority of Transylvanian cemeteries (Csombord type) that belong to the late period; it must refer to the earlier periods.

The Agathyrsi of Transylvania were still extending their domain around 500 B.C., and their characteristic products have been found in the eastern half of the Great Plain (Ártánd). When, at the beginning of the 5th century B.C., Wallachian (Ferigile culture) and mid-Balkan groups moved into the region, the Agathyrsi evacuate the Great Plain but live on peacefully in their Transylvanian settlements. Finds of metallic objects within and beyond the Carpathian Basin (mirrors, akinakai, quiver closures, etc.) indicate that they continued to supply Scythian objects to neighbouring and even distant regions.

However, the Greeks lose track of the Agathyrsi. Herodotus does mention one of their kings, Spargapeithes, who ruled around the middle of the 5th century B.C.,[5]5. Herodotus, IV, 78. but last to name them is Alexander the Great's teacher, Aristotle: he observes that they were law-abiding people who chanted their laws.[6]6. Aristotle, Problemata 19, 28. The Agathyrsi were still present in Transylvania around the middle of the 4th century B.C. Then, according to archaeological evidence, they cease to bury their dead in Agathyrsi cemeteries and disappear without a trace. Their emigration was prompted by the arrival of the Celts. The latter had appeared on the eastern flanks of the Balkan mountain range at the end of the 4th century B.C. It is known that the Celts sent peace emissaries to Alexander the Great in 335 B.C., and that subsequently Cassandros repelled their attacks in the Balkan mountains.

{1-40.} A depopulated Transylvania attracted Celtic groups in search of a new home. Archaeological evidence of their settlement dates mainly from the beginning of the 3rd century B.C.; the few earlier traces are the graves of warriors who had fought in the Balkans (?Oláhszilvás). Among the La Tène finds in Transylvania, those few objects that can be considered authentically Celtic were unearthed near the Érc Mountains (Nagyenyed, ?Oláhszilvás) and in the Sajó and Nagy-Szamos regions (Újős — if it really belongs here —, Erked, Csépán). Within the population of the Transylvanian part of future Dacia, only one group is of probably Celtic origin, the Kothinoi/Kothensioi.[7]7. Ptolemy, III, 8.3; ILS 8965. The other part of this tribe settled in the western part of the Hungarian North-Central mountain-range and, according to Tacitus, was engaged in the shameful activity of extracting iron ore.[8]8. Tacitus, Germania 43. Correlations between the data allow us to speculate that the Kothinoi of Dacia were descendants of the Celts who had settled in the 3rd century B.C. The latter formed a small if significant minority in Transylvania's population of the Celtic era.

Most of the new settlers were Dacians who came from the Great Plain (Vekerzug group). Despite the predominance of Celtic 'fashion', the earlier characteristics of the Dacians' material culture remain discernible in the widely disseminated, monochrome handicrafts — large pots, single-handled jugs, and small, curved knives. Most of the Late Iron Age cemeteries in Transylvania hold Dacian remains. The burial rites were as varied as in the Great Plain: some of the bodies were entombed, while others were cremated, their ashes being scattered in the bottom of the grave or buried in urns (Nagyenyed, Dipsa, Apahida, Újős).

The spread of wheel pottery, and of iron implements destined for agricultural use and household crafts, indicates the emergence of full-time craftsmen, who conceivably belonged to a distinct ethnic group such as Kothinoi. The presence of weapons, of numerous harnesses, and of war chariots in some settlements (Székelykeresztúr, Prázsmár) and the absence of arms in others (Apahida) {1-41.} suggests the existence of a ruling warrior aristocracy. Such a social structure indicates the production of a significant surplus, which, in turn, invited replacement of the barter system by monetary instruments of exchange in Transylvania and the adjoining regions.

The first 'eastern Celtic', or 'Dacian' coins to be minted were based on the tetradrachmas of Philip II and Alexander the Great; initially, both the original coins of the Macedonian kings and the imitations were in circulation. Minting is a faithful mirror of political change, for when, around 80 B.C., Burebista became ruler, the minting of copies of the Macedonian coins stopped. However, the contact between Transylvania and the 'Celtic world' had been severed earlier; the coins (scypathi) produced by local mints after 150 B.C. were seldom if ever used beyond the Carpathians and the Great Hungarian Plain.

From this point, and until the advent of the Dacian kingdom, the material culture of the Transylvanian Basin's population underwent a gradual transformation. Although striped, painted vessels were placed in graves as late as the 1st century B.C. (Baráthely-Paratély), and the traditions of ironworking endure, a new cultural dimension appears in the Pontus-type finds of 'Dacian forts' and 'Dacian silver hoards'. It seems that an important factor in this development was immigration from Wallachia and Moldavia, although it is still unclear whether the movement occurred within Burebista's kingdom or was a prelude to the establishment of that kingdom. In any case, evidence showing the union of Dacians and Getae under a single ruler belongs to the history of the Dacian kingdom, as does the close contact forged with Greek cities on the Black Sea.