The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, also known as Cucuteni culture (from Romanian), Trypillian culture (from Ukrainian) or Tripolye culture (from Russian), is a Neolithic–Eneolithic archaeological culture which existed from approximately 4800 to 3000 BC, from the Carpathian Mountains to the Dniester and Dnieper regions in modern-day Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine, encompassing an area of more than 350,000 km2 (140,000 sq mi). During the Trypillia BII, CI, and CI-II phases, populations belonging to the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture built the largest settlements in Neolithic Europe, some of which contained as many as 1,600 structures. However, the majority of Cucuteni-Trypillian settlements consisted of high-density, small settlements (spaced 3 to 4 kilometers apart), concentrated mainly in the Siret, Prut, and Dniester river valleys. One of the most notable aspects of this culture was the periodic destruction of settlements, with each single-habitation site having a roughly 60 to 80 year lifetime. The purpose of burning these settlements is a subject of debate among scholars; some of the settlements were reconstructed several times on top of earlier habitational levels, preserving the shape and the orientation of the older buildings. One particular location, the Poduri site (Romania), revealed thirteen habitation levels that were constructed on top of each other over many years.


The culture was initially named after the village of Cucuteni in Iaşi County, Romania. In 1884 Teodor T. Burada visited the tell (a hill or mound formed by long-term human occupation) there and found fragments of pottery and terracotta figurines. Burada and other scholars from Iaşi, including the poet Nicolae Beldiceanu and archeologists Grigore Butureanu, Dimitrie C. Butculescu and George Diamandi, subsequently began the first excavations at Cucuteni in the spring of 1885. Their findings were published in 1885 and 1889, and presented in two international conferences in 1889, both in Paris: at the International Congress of Prehistoric Anthropology and Archaeology by Butureanu and at a meeting of the Société d’Anthropologie de Paris by Diamandi.
The first Ukrainian sites ascribed to the culture were discovered by Vicenty Khvoika. The year of his discoveries has been variously claimed as 1893, 1896 and 1887. In any case Khvoika presented his findings at the 11th Congress of Archaeologists in 1897, which is considered the official date of the discovery of the Trypillian culture in Ukraine. In the same year similar artifacts were excavated in the village of Trypillia (Ukrainian: Трипiлля, Russian: Трипольe) in Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine. As a result, this culture became identified in Soviet, Russian, and Ukrainian publications as the 'Tripolie' (or 'Tripolye'), 'Tripolian' or 'Trypillian' culture.
Today the finds from both countries, as well as those from Moldova, are recognized as belonging to the same cultural complex. This is generally known as the Cucuteni culture in Romania and the Trypillian culture (variously romanized) in Ukraine. In English, 'Cucuteni-Tripolye culture' is most commonly used to refer to the whole culture, with the Ukrainian-derived term 'Cucuteni-Tripillian culture' gaining currency following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture flourished in present-day Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. As of 2003, about 3,000 cultural sites have been identified, ranging from small villages to "vast settlements consisting of hundreds of dwellings surrounded by multiple ditches".
The culture extended northeast from the Danube River Basin around the Iron Gates gorge to the Black Sea and Dnieper River, with its historical core around the middle to upper Dniester River. It encompassed the central Carpathian Mountains as well as the plains, steppe and forest steppe on either side of the range. During the Atlantic and Subboreal climatic periods in which the culture flourished, Europe was at its warmest and moistest since the end of the last Ice Age, creating favorable conditions for agriculture in this region.


The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture is known by its distinctive settlements, architecture, intricately decorated pottery and anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines, which are preserved in archaeological remains. At its peak it was one of the most technologically advanced societies in the world at the time, developing new techniques for ceramic production, housing building and agriculture, and producing woven textiles (although these have not survived and are known indirectly).
In terms of overall size, some of Cucuteni-Trypillian sites, such as Talianki (with a population of 15,000 and covering an area of some 335 hectares) in the province of Uman Raion, Ukraine, are as large as (or perhaps even larger than) the more famous city-states of Sumer in the Fertile Crescent, and these Eastern European settlements predate the Sumerian cities by more than half of a millennium.
Archaeologists have uncovered an astonishing wealth of artifacts from these ancient ruins. The largest collections of Cucuteni-Trypillian artifacts are to be found in museums in Russia, Ukraine, and Romania, including the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Archaeology Museum Piatra Neamţ in Romania. However, smaller collections of artifacts are kept in many local museums scattered throughout the region.
These settlements underwent periodical acts of destruction and re-creation, as they were burned and then rebuilt every 60–80 years. Some scholars have theorized that the inhabitants of these settlements believed that every house symbolized an organic, almost living, entity. Each house, including its ceramic vases, ovens, figurines and innumerable objects made of perishable materials, shared the same circle of life, and all of the buildings in the settlement were physically linked together as a larger symbolic entity. As with living beings, the settlements may have been seen as also having a life cycle of death and rebirth.Some Cucuteni-Trypillian homes were two-storeys tall, and evidence shows that the members of this culture sometimes decorated the outsides of their homes with many of the same red-ochre complex swirling designs that are to be found on their pottery. Most houses had thatched roofs and wooden floors covered with clay.


Most Cucuteni-Trypillian pottery was hand coiled from local clay. Long coils of clay were placed in circles to form first the base and then the walls of the vessel. Once the desired shape and height of the finished product was built up the sides would then be smoothed to create a seamless surface. This technique was the earliest form of pottery shaping and the most common in the Neolithic; however, there is some evidence that they also used a primitive type of slow-turning potter's wheel, an innovation that did not become common in Europe until the Iron Age.
Characteristically vessels were elaborately decorated with swirling patterns and intricate designs. Sometimes decorative incisions were added prior to firing, and sometimes these were filled with colored dye to produce a dimensional effect. In the early period, the colors used to decorate pottery were limited to a rusty-red and white. Later, potters added additional colors to their products and experimented with more advanced ceramic techniques. The pigments used to decorate ceramics were based on iron oxide for red hues, calcium carbonate, iron magnetite and manganese Jacobsite ores for black, and calcium silicate for white. The black pigment, which was introduced during the later period of the culture, was a rare commodity: taken from a few sources and circulated (to a limited degree) throughout the region. The probable sources of these pigments were Iacobeni in Romania for the iron magnetite ore and Nikopol in Ukraine for the manganese Jacobsite ore. No traces of the iron magnetite pigment mined in the easternmost limit of the Cucuteni-Trypillian region have been found to be used in ceramics from the western settlements, suggesting exchange throughout the entire cultural area was limited. In addition to mineral sources, pigments derived from organic materials (including bone and wood) were used to create various colors.
In the late period of Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, kilns with a controlled atmosphere were used for pottery production. These kilns were constructed with two separate chambers—the combustion chamber and the filling chamber— separated by a grate. Temparatures in the combustion chamber could reach 1000–1100°C but were usually maintained at around 900°C to achieve a uniform and complete firing of vessels. Toward the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, as copper became more readily available, advances in ceramic technology leveled off as more emphasis was placed on developing metallurgical techniques.


Some Cucuteni-Trypillian communities have been found that contain a special building located in the center of the settlement, which archaeologists have identified as sacred sanctuaries. Artifacts have been found inside these sanctuaries, some of them having been intentionally buried in the ground within the structure, that are clearly of a religious nature, and have provided insights into some of the beliefs, and perhaps some of the rituals and structure, of the members of this society. Additionally, artifacts of an apparent religious nature have also been found within many domestic Cucuteni-Trypillian homes.
Many of these artifacts are clay figurines or statues. Archaeologists have identified many of these as fetishes or totems, which are believed to be imbued with powers that can help and protect the people who look after them. These Cucuteni-Trypillian figurines have become known popularly as Goddesses, however, this term is not necessarily accurate for all female anthropomorphic clay figurines, as the archaeological evidence suggests that different figurines were used for different purposes (such as for protection), and so are not all representative of a Goddess. There have been so many of these figurines discovered in Cucuteni-Trypillian sites that many museums in eastern Europe have a sizeable collection of them, and as a result, they have come to represent one of the more readily identifiable visual markers of this culture to many people.
The noted archaeologist Marija Gimbutas based at least part of her famous Kurgan Hypothesis and Old European culture theories on these Cucuteni-Trypillian clay figurines. Her conclusions, which were always controversial, today are discredited by many scholars, but still there are some scholars who support her theories about how Neolithic societies were matriarchal, non-warlike, and worshipped an "earthy" Mother Goddess, but were subsequently wiped out by invasions of patriarchal Indo-European tribes who burst out of the Steppes of Russia and Kazakhstan beginning around 2500 BC, and who worshiped a warlike Sky God. However, Gimbutas' theories have been partially discredited by more recent discoveries and analyses.[4] Today there are many scholars who disagree with Gimbutas, pointing to new evidence that suggests a much more complex society during the Neolithic era than she had been accounting for.
One of the unanswered questions regarding the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture is the small number of artifacts associated with funerary rites. Although very large settlements have been explored by archaeologists, the evidence for mortuary activity is almost invisible. Making a distinction between the eastern Trypillia and the western Cucuteni regions of the Cucuteni-Trypillian geographical area, American archaeologist Douglass W. Bailey writes: There are no Cucuteni cemeteries and the Trypillia ones that have been discovered are very late.
The discovery of skulls is more frequent than other parts of the body, however because there has not yet been a comprehensive statistical survey done of all of the skeletal remains discovered at Cucuteni-Trypillian sites, precise post excavation analysis of these discoveries cannot be accurately determined at this time. Still, many questions remain concerning these issues, as well as why there seems to have been no male remains found at all. The only definite conclusion that can be drawn from archeological evidence is that in the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, in the vast majority of cases, the bodies were not formally deposited within the settlement area.

Source: Wikipedia