Cultures have always succeeded one another, therefore the space that is now Romania is no exception, with layers of civilization still being uncovered by archaeologists.
The layering of cultures is a reality that is not always reflected by chronicles or artefacts, but is still an element of what makes up today's world.
Romania has many layers of civilization and culture, from Neolithic cultures, to Greek colonies, to Scythian migrants, to Dacians and Romans, the dozens of migratory people from the Christian era, they all contributed to today's culture. Romania's National History Museum has an exhibition dedicated to this concept, called “Romanian, Superimposed Civilizations”.
Archaeologist Oana Bors, curator of the exhibition, told us about the objects on display: “We cover all the historical periods, from the Palaeolithic to pre-modernity, from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, to the Dacian and Roman period, to the Middle Ages to pre-modernity. As an archaeologist, I deal with the prehistoric period, and I am passionate about that period. The treasures of the Neolithic period have not been on display in Romania for over a decade and a half. Among the artefacts uncovered by both Romanian and foreign archaeologists are, for instance, the two municipal tablets of Troesmis, major historical documents. Each artefact has a unique significance, beyond aesthetics and money value. Each tells a tale about the past.”
The objects on display in museum casings seem frail and insignificant at first sight for today's viewer. However, they are extremely valuable, and not only for their beauty. Their uniqueness speaks to the skill and spirit of the people who created them. The main exhibit is the collection of Cucuteni ceramics, unique in Europe, with some striking similarities with Chinese Neolithic pottery. The typical decoration is the spiral pattern, with many variations and combinations, which also adorn flat feminine figures.
Oana Bors once again: “The ceramics of the transition period between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age is very different from the Cucuteni and Gumelnita cultures. We have a late Bronze Age gold treasure, the Sarasau treasure, which the Ministry of Culture is about to purchase for the History Museum. The Troemis tablets, which we have mentioned above, complement the Medieval collection. I would say that it is a unique opportunity to see precious metal artefacts, mostly silver, dating from the 11th to the 14th centuries.”
This exhibition was created by the conjoined efforts of historians and archaeologists, as well as architects. These artefacts of layered cultures are mostly created by forgotten artists and craftsmen.
Oana Bors: “The exhibition was designed by architect Andrei Campeanu, starting from the concept of layered civilizations, with four areas: prehistory, antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the pre-modern era. However, it was conceived as a fluid space, with no clear separations, it is a return to history. Each visitor can pick the order in which they see the exhibits. Today's Romania is a layered civilization, with influences running from east to west, from south to north. Of course, the important ancient civilizations have had a major influence on the entire Romanian spaces, mainly the Roman Empire.”
The concept of layered civilization urges a reflective thinking on the past, in which quality and excellence are not assigned to any given civilization. Cultures borrow from one another, are dynamic, and the Romanian space has plenty of layers to boast.