Archaeologists have recently made an extraordinary discovery in Central Europe – a network of codependent communities that were the largest prehistoric constructions ever seen before the Iron Age. This finding came as a result of a study conducted by researchers from University College Dublin, in collaboration with colleagues from Serbia and Slovenia. By analyzing satellite imagery and aerial photography, the team identified over 100 previously unknown sites that belonged to a complex society in the landscape of Central Europe’s south Carpathian Basin.
The majority of these sites were established between 1600 and 1450 BC, and they were all abandoned en masse around 1200 BC. The researchers confirmed the accuracy of their findings through ground surveys, excavation, and geophysical prospection. These sites were used as defensible enclosures by early societies, which later served as an inspiration for the construction of hillforts in Europe during the Bronze Age. Some of the larger known sites, such as Gradište Iđoš, Csanádpalota, Sântana, and Corneşti Iarcuri, were found to be part of a larger network of communities that could have possibly numbered in the tens of thousands.
The paper published in the journal PLOS ONE revealed that these communities, collectively referred to as the Tisza Site Group (TSG), played a significant role as a center of innovation in prehistoric Europe. The TSG sites were found in the hinterlands of the Tisza river, with a majority located within 5km of each other. This suggests a cooperative network of closely related communities. During the peak periods of the Mycenaeans, Hittites, and New Kingdom Egypt (around 1500-1200 BC), the TSG served as a central network hub.
This discovery provides new insights into the interconnections within Europe during the 2nd millennium BC, a crucial turning point in European prehistory. The decline of the TSG around 1200 BC resulted in the spread of their sophisticated military techniques and earthwork technologies throughout Europe. This can be seen in the dissemination of their material culture and iconography.
The study led by University College Dublin has challenged previous assumptions and expanded our understanding of European prehistory. The researchers were able to map the entire settled landscape of the TSG, including the size, layout, and even the locations of people’s homes within the sites. This unprecedented view offers valuable insights into how Bronze Age people lived and interacted with one another and their neighboring communities.