At The Borders of the Great Steppe. Topography and Archaeology of Iron Age forts in the East – Carpathian Area (5th – 3rd centuries BC)

Financed by: UEFISCDI, contract no.: 108 from 14/08/2020

This project aims to address the issue of topography and archaeology of the Iron Age fortresses dated between the 5th and 3rd centuries BC located between the Carpathian Mountains and the Prut River through an interdisciplinary framework. In this time frame a significant (over 100) number of forts were built in the larger Carpatho-Dniestrian area, some having quite impressive sizes, the result of massive collective efforts. These efforts represented not only a simple answer to the danger represented by the seasonal raids of steppe nomads and endemic inter tribal conflicts, but also the consequence of accumulations that favored the appearance of powerful elites with a prominent identity. Unfortunately, for the fortifications located between the Carpathians and Prut there is little available data till now, only two forts benefiting from dedicated archaeologicall monographies. Most of the forts, even those that benefited from archaeological excavations lack published plans, and the materials resulted from these older investigations still remains to this day unpublished in the collections of various museums and institutions from Iași, Botoșani, Vaslui, Bârlad, Suceava, Bacău and Piatra Neamț. Trough our project, using modern interdisciplinary methods (satellite imagery, aerial photography, LIDAR) we want to produce a modern archaeological repertoire; moreover, we aim to analyse and valorise the old, unpublished archaeological documentation and materials, in order to produce an up-to-date synthesis on the historical and archaeological realities of the area between the Carpathians and Prut between 5th and 3rd centuries BC.


  1. To carry out large-scale field research in the entire area in order to locate, in GPS and Stereo70 coordinate system, the hillforts already known in the literature but also to identify new points of interest. The aim will be to obtain detailed plans for each objective, with careful observations, recorded using standardized sheets.
  2. To re-analyse the results of older archaeological excavations; the scientific evaluation and capitalization of the remaining plans from these excavations as well as of the archaeological materials accessible in various local institutions and museums will be pursued.
  3. Based on the information gathered in the field and from the archives and museum collections, at the end of this approach will result a book – an exhaustive repertoire of all the hillforts in the East Carpathian area, with discussions on the archaeological sites discovered (types of houses, pits, material culture, treasures)