The Iron Gates Mesolithic: A brief review of recent developments

Clive Bonsall, Adina Boroneanț

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Iron Gates section of the Lower Danube valley along the border between Romania and Serbia has an unparalleled record of Mesolithic and Early Neolithic settlement spanning the period from ca. 12,700 to 5600 cal BC. Over 50 cave and open-air sites were identified during archaeological surveys in advance of dam construction in the 1960s and 1980s, and follow-up rescue excavations revealed numerous burials and architectural remains and produced rich inventories of faunal material and portable artifacts including artworks and ornaments of bone, shell and stone. Most sites are no longer accessible, submerged beneath the reservoirs created by the Iron Gates I and II dams. Since 1990, new excavations have been conducted at Aria Babi and Vlasac in Serbia, and Schela Cladovei in Romania, while detailed studies of the finds from both new and old excavations have been undertaken by researchers based in Romania, Serbia and the UK fueled by developments in archaeological science. In this paper, we review the main advances in knowledge of the Mesolithic and the transition to farming in the Iron Gates over the past 25 years, and especially the period since 2005. The paper is divided into sections dealing with chronology, mortuary practices, isotopic studies of subsistence and mobility patterns, and the nature and timing of the transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic in the Iron Gates region. The review concludes with a forward look at research in progress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-280
Issue number2
Early online date16 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Iron Gates
  • Mesolithic
  • Neolithic transition
  • Archaeological advances

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