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International Research Experiences for Students (IRES): Collaboration and Mentorship between US, Hungarian, and Greek Researchers in Studies of the Origins and Development of Prehistoric European Villages

Location: Vésztő, Hungary

June 1, 2014 to June 30, 2014

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Program Type

Field school


Field Museum, Chicago, Ohio State University, and the Hungaruian National Museum

Project Director:

William A. Parkinson, Richard W. Yerkes, and Attila Gyucha

Project Description

Program: International Multidisciplinary Research Project, June 1 - 30, 2014 in Hungary

Major Field: Anthropological Archaeology

Locations: Field work in Hungary: June 1 – June 30, 2014; lab projects may be continued in Hungary, Greece, and USA in summer and autumn, 2014. Part of a collaborative, multi-disciplinary, international research project between scientists and students at European and American Universities and Museums.

Program Description: Airfafre, room and board, and research expenses will be provided  for five outstanding undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers in Anthropological Archaeology - particularly qualified minorities and members of other underrepresented groups – who will join an international, multidisciplinary, research team studying prehistoric European agricultural villages on the Great Hungarian Plain occupied between 5500 and 4500 BC (cal.). This research, training, and mentoring program includes investigations at Neolithic tells and flat sites, laboratory analysis, publication, and dissemination of the results to a wide audience. Five applicants will be selected to 1) join our archaeological project in eastern Hungary, 2) design an independent research project, and 3) catalog and analyze data from field sites. After the season in June, they may 4) work with scientists and mentors at laboratories in Hungary, Greece, and the USA, 5) continue to analyze and interpret their data, 6) present their results at international conferences, 7) publish their results in peer-reviewed journals, and 8) dissementate their findings via webpages and other media.

The independent research projects are: 1) Analysis of anomalies identified during magnetic surveys. Anomalies have “signatures” associated with certain features. 2) Classifying and documenting artifacts. Artifact will be photographed, measured and classified. Artifact distribution patterns will be used to identify structures and activity areas. 3) Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon dates will be analyzed to refine the chronology of Neolithic settlements. 4) Reconstruction of paleoenvironmental contexts with geomorphological data. The configuration of ancient landforms can be reconstructed from topography, while pollen, microfossils, and macrofossils found in soil cores can be used as proxies for past environments. 5) Microstratigraphic analysis of tell levels. Features, burned layers, and artifact concentrations in tell levels will be sampled to obtain materials that will be used for dating, to reconstruct building methods, and examine depositional and weathering processes. 6) Functional analysis of lithic artifacts. Diagnostic wear traces on the edges of flaked and ground stone tools will be identified and compared to the microwear on stone tool replicas to learn how the ancient tools were used. 7) Elemental and petrographic analysis of ceramics. Sources of clay and temper used to produce pottery will be identified and firing temperatures will be estimated. The results will be used to study ceramic technology and exchange. 8) Identification and analysis of animal remains. Domestic and wild species can be identified, species abundance estimated, and butchering and disposal practices can be documented. 9) Identification of materials from flotation samples. Animal and plant remains can be identified and used to reconstruct past diets, seasonality, and land use practices. 10) Stylistic analyses of ceramics. Pottery styles can be identified and used to examine interaction between kin groups within sites and with other societies on the Great Hungarian Plain and beyond.

These research projects employ state-of-the-art analytical methods and will be carried out in the field and in archaeological laboratories in Europe and the USA supervised by our international staff members.

Period(s) of Occupation: Neolithic

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: entire season

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
Applicants with prior archaeological field experience (e.g., field schools or field training) are preferred. We hope to attract students from diverse backgrounds, from small colleges as well as large universities, but student applicants should have completed a course in archaeological theory and methods. Courses in European prehistory are recommended. Each independent research project may require additional course work. Applicants must be prepared for the rigors of field and lab work and should have acquired some of the skills needed to begin their independent analytical research projects overseas or in the USA.

Room and Board Arrangements

IRES participants will enjoy an international cultural experience as they live and work in the small farm town of Vésztő (population ca. 6,000). Vésztő is located in Békés County in southeastern Hungary, about 25 km from the Romanian border. The prehistoric tell site of Vésztő-Mágor (Hegedűs and Makkay 1987), part of the Hungarian National Park system, is located just outside of the village. Railroads link Vésztő with Budapest (where the international airport is located), and other cities in Hungary. All of the IRES participants must be enrolled in health insurance plans at their home institutions. If this proposal is funded, additional Emergency Evacuation Health Insurance for participants will be arranged through the Ohio State Office of International Affairs. American participants will undergo check-ups and health screenings before departing for Hungary. During field seasons in Hungary our office, laboratory, and lodgings will be in the Vésztő Elementary School or the Musli Panzió hostel. A kitchen, electricity, showers, and sleeping quarters are provided, along with bedding and linens. Marika Csóti, a caterer in Vésztő, will prepare a light breakfast before departure for the field sites each morning, and a wholesome dinner each evening. Lunch will be eaten at the Varietas, a family restaurant in Vésztő. The people of Vésztő are known for their hospitality, and American students will be able to learn about life in Hungary today from the villagers and from the Hungarian participants. Bus and train transportation within Hungary is reliable and inexpensive. While in Hungary, the participants will interact with faculty, staff, and visiting specialists to learn how research is planned and executed in the field and in the lab. They will also make arrangements for travel to facilities in Hungary and Greece to continue their analysis. They will gain valuable hands-on experience in archaeological field methods and analysis. Most importantly, the participants will be given the opportunity to become full-fledged members of the international research team, and provided with the tools necessary to compete as scientists at the global scale.

Only incidental expenses, airfare and room and board covered

Academic Credit

Number of credits offered can be arranged
Financial Support: Funds from a National Science Foundation OISE International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) grant will cover airfares, food, and lodging for participants during field and lab work and residence at European and American research facilities, and emergency travel insurance (they must maintain their standard health care coverage). This will ease the financial burden for minorities and other under-represented groups. Five selected applicants will take on the responsibilities of independent research, and gain confidence in their abilities to work as full-fledged members of international scientific teams. This is a physically and mentally demanding program, but it will prepare IRES participants for productive scientific careers in an increasingly interconnected world. We seek participants who will do well in a co-educational collaborative group research project, who are enthusiastic about our program


Contact Information
Prof. Richard W. Yerkes
Dept. Anthropology, Ohio State University
Recommended Bibliography: 

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Bogucki, Peter. 1987. "The Establishment of Agrarian Communities on the North European Plain." Current Anthropology 28(1):1-24.

Bogucki, Peter, and Ryszard Grygiel. 1993. "The First Farmers of Central Europe: A Survey Article." Journal of Field Archaeology 20(4):399-426.

Childe, V. Gordon. 1929. The Danube in Prehistory. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

_____. 1939. "The Orient and Europe." American Journal of Archaeology 43(1):10-26.

Duffy, Paul R., William A. Parkinson, Attila Gyucha, and Richard W. Yerkes. 2013. "Coming Together, Falling Apart: A Multi-Scalar Approach to Prehistoric Aggregation and Interaction on the Great Hungarian Plain." In From Prehistoric Villages to Cities: Settlement Aggregation and Community Transformation, edited by J. Birch, pp. 44-62. Routledge, London.

Giblin, Julia. 2009. "Strontium Isotope Analysis of Neolithic and Copper Age Populations on the Great Hungarian Plain." Journal of Archaeological Science 36:491-497.

Giblin, Julia, Kelly J. Knudson, Zsolt Bereczki, György Pálfi, and Ildikó Pap. 2013. "Strontium isotope analysis and human mobility during the Neolithic and Copper Age: a case study from the Great Hungarian Plain." Journal of Archaeological Science 40:227-239.

Gyucha, Attila, Gabor Bácsmegi, Otto Fogas, and William A. Parkinson. 2006. "House Construction and Settlement Patterns on an Early Copper Age site in the Great Hungarian Plain." Communicationes Archaeologicae Hungariae 2006:5-28.

Gyucha, Attila, Paul Duffy, and Tod Frolking. 2011. "The Körös Basin from the Neolithic to the Habsburgs: Linking Settlement Distributions with Pre-Regulation Hydrology through Multiple Data Set Overlay." Geoarchaeology 26: 392-419.

Gyucha, Attila, and William A. Parkinson. 2013. "Archaeological “Cultures” and the Study of Social Interaction: The Emergence of the Early Copper Age Tiszapolgar Culture." In Moments in Time: Papers Presented to Pál Raczky on his 60th Birthdayedited by Alexandra Anders and Gabriella Kulcsar, pp. 521-538. Ősregeszeti Tarsasag/Prehistoric Society, Eotvos Lorand University, L’Harmattan, Budapest.

Gyucha, Attila, William A. Parkinson, and Richard W. Yerkes. 2009. "A Multi-Scalar Approach to Settlement Pattern Analysis: The Transition from the Late Neolithic to the Early Copper Age on the Great Hungarian Plain." In Reimagining Regional Analysis: The Archaeology of Spatial and Social Dynamics, edited by Tina Thurston and Roderick Salisbury, pp. 100-129. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne.      

Hertelendi, Ede and Ferenc Horváth. 1992. "Radiocarbon Chronology of Late Neolithic Settlements in the Tisza-Maros Region, Hungary." Radiocarbon 34:859-866.

Hertelendi, Ede, Nador Kalicz, Pál Raczky, Ferenc Horváth, M. Veres, Éva Svingor, I. Futó and László Bartosiewicz. 1995. "Re-evaluation of the Neolithic in Eastern Hungary based on calibrated dates." Radiocarbon 37:239-245.

Hertelendi, Ede, Éva Svingor, Pál Raczky, Ferenc Horváth, I. Futó and László Bartosiewicz. 1998. "Duration of tell settlements at four prehistoric sites in Hungary." Radiocarbon 40(2):659–65.

Hoekman-Sites, Hanneke, and Julia I. Giblin. 2012. "Prehistoric animal use on the Great Hungarian Plain: A synthesis of isotope and residue analysis from the Neolithic and Copper Age." Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 31:515-527.

Milisauskas, Sarunas (ed.). 2002. European Prehistory. A Survey. Springer, New York.

Parkinson, William A. 1999. The Social Organization of Early Copper Age Tribes on the Great Hungarian Plain. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan. University Microfilms, Ann Arbor.

Parkinson, William A. 2002. "Integration, Interaction, and Tribal 'Cycling': The Transition to the Copper Age on the Great Hungarian Plain." In The Archaeology of Tribal Societies, edited by William A. Parkinson, pp. 391-438. International Monographs in Prehistory, Archaeological Series 15, Ann Arbor.

Parkinson, William A. 2006a "Tribal Boundaries: Stylistic Variability and Social Boundary Maintenance During the Transition to the Copper Age on the Great Hungarian Plain." Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 25:33-58.

Parkinson, William A. 2006b. The Social Organization of Early Copper Age Tribes on the Great Hungarian Plain. B.A.R. International Series 1573. B.A.R., Archaeopress, Oxford.

Parkinson, William A., Attila Gyucha, and Richard W. Yerkes. 2002. "The Neolithic-Copper Age Transition on the Great Hungarian Plain: Recent Excavations at the Tiszapolgár Culture Settlement of Vésztő-Bikeri." Antiquity 76:619-620.

Parkinson, William A., Richard W. Yerkes, and Attila Gyucha. 2004a. "The Transition to the Copper Age on the Great Hungarian Plain: The Körös Regional Archaeological Project Excavations at Vésztő-Bikeri and Körösladány-Bikeri, Hungary, 2000-2002."  Journal of Field Archaeology 29:101-121.

Parkinson, William A., Attila Gyucha, Richard W. Yerkes, Apostolos Sarris, Meredith Hardy, and Margaret Morris. 2004b. "Settlement Reorganization at the End of the Neolithic in Central Europe: Recent Research in the Körös River Valley, Southeastern Hungary." Journal of Eurasian Prehistory 2:57-74.

Parkinson, William A., Richard W. Yerkes, Attila Gyucha, Apostolos Sarris, Margaret Morris, and Roderick Salisbury. 2010. "Early Copper Age Settlements in the Körös Region of the Great Hungarian Plain." Journal of Field Archaeology 35:164-183.

Sarris, Apostolos, Michael Galaty, Richard Yerkes, William Parkinson, Attila Gyucha, Doc Billingsley and Robert Tate. 2002. "Geophysical Prospection and Soil Chemistry at the Early Copper Age Settlement of Vésztő-Bikeri, Southeastern Hungary." Journal of Archaeological Science 31:927-939.

Sarris, Apostolos, Nikos Papadopoulous, Athos Agapiou, Maria Christina Salvi, Diofantos G. Hajimitisis, William Parkinson, Richard Yerkes, Attila Gyucha, and Paul R. Duffy. 2013. "Fusion of geophysical surveys, ground hyperspectral measurements, aerial and satellite imagery for archaeological prospection of Neolithic sites: the case study of Vésztő-Mágor Tell, Hungary." Journal of Archaeological Science 40:1454-1470.

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Yerkes, Richard W. 2008. "Integrating Archaeological Survey and Remote Sensing in a Study of the Neolithic-Copper Age Transition on the Great Hungarian Plain." In Archaeology and History in Roman, Medieval and Post-Medieval Greece: Studies on Method and Meaning in Honor of Timothy E. Gregory, edited by W. Caraher, L.J. Hall, and R. S. Moore, pp. 85-107. Ashgate Publishing, London.

Yerkes, Richard W., Attila Gyucha, and William A. Parkinson. 2009. "A Multi-Scalar Approach to Modeling the End of the Neolithic on the Great Hungarian Plain Using Calibrated Radiocarbon Dates." Radiocarbon 51: 890-932.

Yerkes, Richard W., Apostolos Sarris, Tod Frolking, William A. Parkinson, Attila Gyucha, Meredith Hardy, and Luigi Catanoso. 2007. "Geophysical and Geochemical Investigations at two Early Copper Age Settlements in the Körös River Valley, southeastern Hungary." Geoarchaeology 22(8):845–71.