“The truth is down there!” is the motto of Miskolc archaeologists. This statement rings true. The placement and surroundings of objects, buildings, and human remains which have been preserved for thousands of years, paints an image of human life from centuries ago. Based on this information, we know much about our Neolithic ancestors’ activities. However, we know little about the reasons behind their activities. We have learned facts, but we may never discover the truth. Archaeologists face unsolvable mysteries, some of which they share with the visitors.
The dilemma of the clay figures
The lifestyle of humans changed dramatically 8000 years ago in the Neolithic period, which marked the shift from a hunter-gatherer model to an agricultural economy. By raising their own livestock and growing crops, humans had to travel less for food. This allowed the first settlements to pop up. Tasks were completed in a coordinated team effort and communities changed.
In the area of Bükkábrány (where the mountains and the Alföld intersect), this shift occurred around 5500-5300 B.C.E. The new culture also expanded with new elements. A unique memento of this expansion are the clay figures: depictions of the triangle-shape-headed men and animals.
However, we do not know the purpose or the reason behind the shape of these small figures.
The "Where did you come from, where did you go?" dilemma
Archaeological data does not provide a definitive explanation to the development of the Neolithic population of Bükkábrány and the surrounding northern areas. Was it the further expansion by the southern – i.e. the Anatolian-Balkan -- migrants? Or was it the lifestyle change of the local, so-called Mesolithic population? We do not know. We also do not know for sure whether the communities that crafted the triangle-shape-headed, flat-bodied figures embellished with scratch marks were the work of natives or newly arrived migrants.
It is conceivable, however, that this area was inhabited from the beginning of neolithization through the emergence of the Yamnaya culture of the Copper Age (i.e. the second half of the 4th century B.C.E). Could this mean the groups of people who produced the displayed objects in the exhibition were here to begin with? Was it only their objects, houses and customs that changed? Based on the hypotheses, we have used different archaeological nomenclature for these people while they were probably descendants of the same community.
The dilemma of the undecipherable messages
For the people of today, the patterns on the ancient objects are perceived merely as ornamental in nature. However, numerous cases have proven that these patterns contain messages and meaningful pictorial elements and symbols for the former local community! The scratched zigzagged lines occur on everyday objects as well as on specialized objects, too. Thus, we can reasonably assume these patterns had content and conveyed messages of cultural belonging and identity amongst the Bükkalja Neolithic people. We are unable to discern their exact meaning, but the sign/symbolic role of the patterns is indisputable.
One of the displayed objects depicts a human from the neck down. The body and the downward positioned, perpendicularly bent arms of the human figure are decorated with parallel lines and meandering (wavy) patterns. A background is also depicted horizontally at waist-height. We can discern the sight, but not the meaning.