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Matca, and the Matca River

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cerat pottery cerat pottery


pottery
On the 7th March 2010 the Alexis team were again at Matca, in an area encompassing one square kilometre, far to the north of the stone age site of Cerat, and some Roman pottery fragments were found, just as they had been at the Cerat site, listed on this website as being a mostly stone age site.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe, 7th March 2010




pottery pottery
These discoveries of Roman pottery are important, because here, as well as at the Cerat site, there are no Roman bricks, dressed stone, or anything else from Roman times - except some Roman pottery fragments!

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe, 7th March 2010




pottery pottery
We know from published research that the Romans built villages on ancient stone age sites, so it seems that at both Cerat and at Matca, there were only wooden houses of the ancient Romans, because the distance to the Racari Castrum was very small, and the close presence of the Castrum would provide protection for the Roman inhabitants at these sites.

These slip decorated fragments are typical of Roman pottery.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe, 7th March 2010




pottery
The area was very muddy, with a lot of water on the fields.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe, 7th March 2010









Dr Gheorghe writes, 17.8.2007:

Today I was at Racarii de Sus at the home of Enache Gheorghe "Chiriac". He told me that a man from Racarii de Sus, named Manea Nicolae, age 47, driver of a diesel train, was last year with his cows in the forest, at an area north of Racarii de Sus, where he found a site.

I was in a team formed of myself, Alina, Enache Gheorghe and Manea Nicolae, on a small road starting from the middle of the village Racarii de Sus, passing near the ancient site of Cerat, and then going to the north, at about two kilometres from the centre of the village.

There is a valley in the forest. Through the valley, from north to south there is a very small river named Matca and a spring on the left bank of the Matca river, named Stiubeiul lui Leaptu. (A Stiubei is the capping of a small source of water.)

Just in front of this source of water, but on the right side of it there is a broken hill. From this ground, a few huge pieces of ancient wood have fallen into the river, but some of them are still underground in the hill, at about 1 metre below the surface of the ground.

These pieces are very old (Manea Nicolae told me that even the grandfather of his grandfather does not know about them) and some of them were taken by the people from village for firewood, a few of them are broken into the river, and a huge one is still in the hill, like the beginning of a wooden ancient building, covered by earth, which seems to continue far away to the west from where the hill is broken. I saved a few pieces of wood which Dorel Bondoc said are from an ancient building - a house or a bridge.

Matca River

This photograph shows Manea Nicolae going to an ancient wooden house which he discovered while mustering his cows in the forest. To his right can be seen a spring known as Stiubeiul lui Leaptu on the left bank of the the Matca River.

Matca means branch of a tree, or queen, or river bed in english.



Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River

Here can be seen a few huge pieces of ancient wood coming from the right bank of the Matca River in the waters of the river.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River

Here can be seen a huge piece of ancient wood lying horizontally in the ground of the broken hill, on the right bank of the Matca river.



Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River

Enache Gheorghe (in red) and Manea Nicolae (in blue) are saving pieces of ancient wood from the water of the Matca river.



Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River
Two pieces of ancient wood saved from the Matca river, before starting the project of study of the new site.

The smallest is a piece about 5 kg, with dimensions 100x20x8 centimetres. The huge one is a piece 40 kg in weight, with dimensions 190x33x6 cm. Both pieces were made from a strong wood, hand-made then put in a fire and covered with bitumen, for good resistance from water. The huge one has one end cut like an arrow head and has a hole in it, to attach it to another piece.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River
Hollow ironstone concretions from the Matca River. They may originally have been more rectangular in shape than this rounded form.

The box-like shape of some ironstone concretions can often depend on the way a shale or sandstone bed breaks up into regular blocks of various sizes under the action of weathering. This separation takes place along natural planes of weakness in the rock such as horizontal bedding surfaces and vertical joints (cracks). Before and during this process of separation, ground water soaks in and circulates through the rock, the planes of weakness making it more porous.

In these ironstone concretions, ground water dissolves iron compounds from the inner portion of a block, then deposits them again as insoluble iron oxide-hydroxide in the outer parts, cementing together grains in the original rock to make that zone harder. There is often brown, yellow or red concentric ironstone banding within the block.

This process continues only while the rock is below the ground water level, but when this level drops, drying and oxidation takes place. Finally, concretions may be released from the surrounding softer rock through weathering, and because they are harder and more resistant, will be found as separate objects in the soil or on the ground. Eventually, erosion may wear down edges and corners forming a rounded shape.

Concretions can also form by building up of successive layers of material around a nucleus (sand grain, pebble, mineral crystal or a fossil). Ground water with dissolved iron, silicon, calcium or other chemicals will often drop these as iron oxide, calcium carbonate or silica solids when chemical conditions change, adding them a little at a time as a thin layer. Many such layers may build up, having different concentrations of the compounds, and sometimes showing different colours.

As in this case, some concretions may be hollow, the centre being empty or filled with loose powdery clay or sand, or a detached hard lump resembling a nut. The loose powder shows that iron oxide formerly cementing the grains has been drawn away from the middle and towards the outside, contributing to the hard iron oxide shell. If the centre is empty, cracks have allowed the loose powder or dissolved material to escape.

If a loose 'nut' is present, there has been some internal shrinkage when the concretion dried out. Both outer shell and loose 'nut' may show banding. Sometimes the 'nut' can be heard rattling inside the concretion when it is shaken.

Text: adapted from the Australian Museum site, http://www.austmus.gov.au/factsheets/geodes.htm
Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




It is now believed that the wooden structure was a dam across the river, used for drinking water in the deep forest, fed by a spring, and constructed around the 17th Century.

Matca River

Dr Gheorghe's reconstruction of the dam. The dam was very large, and it is a mystery why such a large dam was made deep in the forest far from habitation more than 200 years ago.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River Matca River

The photo on the left shows a huge horizontal piece of wood at the base of the dam, 342x46x10 cm, which had to be cut into two pieces for removal. On the reconstruction sketch, this is labelled A1 and A2.

The photo on the right shows the piece labelled D on the sketch, 210x17x10 cm, at the base of A1 and A2.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River

The uncovering of A1 and A2

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River
An interesting detail of a piece of wood, showing how it was handmade with an ancient metal tool.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River

Another piece of wood, labelled C on the sketch, 185x30x10 cm was taken from the Matca River, a little further downstream.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River
Two wooden pieces of the dam, labelled on the sketch as parts C and D.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River

A hole in the wood, perhaps to permit the passing of water from the dam to allow men and animals to drink or obtain water in vessels, made in the parts B and C with a diameter of 3 cm about 30 cm from the edge of the wood.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River

An interesting detail in the piece A1 and A2 was perhaps a wooden dowel, a method for fixing it in place.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River

Piece A was so large it had to be cut into two pieces, A1 and A2, so that it could be removed from the forest to the village.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Matca River Matca River
These photos show how the dam was possibly constructed, although there are many pieces which have been taken by local villagers for firewood. However there are still some pieces underground.

Here can be seen also the specialist Cornel Balosu studying the artefacts.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Dr Gheorghe writes:
Today,  25th August 2007 I went again to the Matca River, because there was still one last piece of wood in the water, covered with clay, which I had resolved to uncover.

Matca River

Negut Ionut, a new member of the Alexis project team, uncovering what appeared at the time to be the last wooden piece from the dig at Matca River.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 25th August 2007




Matca River

This is the entire piece of wood discovered, measuring 160x40x10 cm.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 25th August 2007




Matca River

However, during a last search on the right bank of the Matca River, where the dam was found, another huge piece of wood was discovered behind the last one discovered.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 25th August 2007




Matca River

Not only that, but behind this piece was found another wooden piece, shaped like a tube or pipe, on the right side of this photo, surrounded by blue clay.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 25th August 2007




Matca River

Gradually, the tube was uncovered.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 25th August 2007




Matca River

This photograph documents the entire system of pieces of wood behind the dam discovered last time. At this point Dr Gheorghe called Enache Gheorghe 'Chiriac' to help with the project again.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 25th August 2007




Matca River

This is the wooden tube discovered in clay approximately one metre underground.

Notice the blue colour of the clay, which indicates anaerobic conditions. The lack of oxygen means that organic material such as this wood pipe decays extremely slowly, even though it may be wet.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 25th August 2007




Matca River

This photo demonstrates the first attempt at a reconstruction of the system Level II behind Level I, the dam, on flat land a little distance from the dig.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 25th August 2007




Matca River

Behind the tube were found many wooden pieces, like a floor around the pipe.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 25th August 2007




Matca River

Behind Level II was found another large piece of wood under the clay, designated Level III.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 25th August 2007








Dr Gheorghe writes:
At this point we covered Level III with clay until we can return to it, and told the specialist Cornel Balosu from Oltenia Museum about the discovery of Level II and the search for Level III at this dig, in the deep forest about two kilometres north of Racarii de Sus.




Matca River



This is Dr Gheorghe's three dimensional drawing of the wooden construction.

Dr Gheorghe says that Enache Gheorghe believes that this huge construction is an ancient Stiubei, the capping of a small source of water, called a "house of water", behind a wooden tube, from which both people and animals can obtain water.

Dr Gheorghe says that he believes that this huge wooden construction was the main source of water for the lost village of Old Racarii.

It could also be part of a small factory from the 17th Century to provide water for the 'retting' of cânepă (hemp), a process in which the hemp plants were kept under water until most of the organic matter rotted away, leaving the fibres which were then woven into clothing or other textiles.

Hemp fibres always twist in an anticlockwise direction when drying, which helps to distinguish them from flax, which twists in a clockwise direction.

Photo and Artwork: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




Racari Time Line

This map shows the time line for settlement in the Racari area, from the stone age to modern times.

Photo and artwork: Adrian Gheorghe 27th August 2007




Matca Dig Matca Dig

Another structure, Level III has been found behind Level II.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th August 2007




Matca Dig Matca Dig

The new structure found included a second tube like the first, and with a wooden floor or deck around both.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th August 2007




Matca Dig

The youngest member of the Alexis Project Team - Amelia-Maria Negut, aged 4!

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th August 2007




Matca Dig Matca Dig

The entire construction is huge, about 4 x 4 metres in area, 1 metre underground, and formed from about 40 wooden pieces structured on three levels, a dam in front of it, a wooden tube as water source behind the dam and another wooden tube behind the first tube, also a wooden floor or deck around both

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th August 2007




Matca Dig Matca Dig

The Alexis Project Team made a reconstruction of the entire wooden hydraulic construction from Old Racari, at the Matca river point, before sending it to the Oltenia museum for study by specialists.

A piece of pottery presumed to be from the 19th Century, and a few metal pieces, show that the construction dates originally from the 18th Century, but was in use for over one hundred years, and was repaired many times in order for it to maintain its function in the community.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th August 2007




Matca Dig Matca Dig

This piece of pottery may be from the 19th Century.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th August, 10th September 2007






After the success of this venture, during which an important dam across the river was discovered, Dr Gheorghe made an extensive search in the northern part of the Matca valley, about 100 metres north of the wooden dam, looking on both sides of the river.

His inspiration for this search sprang from a book about the Andes Mountains in South America, where the Inca lived. When one of their chiefs or rulers died, they climbed the mountains and buried the leader deep in the forest, in a tomb called a Huaca, although Huaca can also mean many other sacred places in the Inca language. If the Spanish conquerors suspected there was gold inside a Huaca, they might change the course of a river to wash away an adobe burial mound, looking for golden artefacts.

In the Andes now, tomb hunters known as Huaqueros, search in the deep forest for a circle about one to two metres in diameter, bordered by trees, and with the circle dished in the middle. This is an indication of a tomb, so they dig down, and when the ground becomes black and soft, this indicates an old burial, and they have discovered many gold artefacts in this manner.




Using this Huaca model, Dr Gheorghe searched to the north of the Matca dam for the equivalent of the south american Huacas, in an area called by the people from the nearby village "La Gropi" or "La Bordeie", the names of an ancient village in this area.

Matca Dig

In this spot Dr Gheorghe found in the deep forest, a circle bordered by trees, with a diameter of about five or six metres, indicating an old underground house from Old Racari village.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th September 2007




Matca Dig

Another Huaca, with the same plan as the first. There were at least three Huaca on this hill, all about five or six metres in diameter, and all with the same general plan.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th September 2007




Matca Dig

A piece of stone similar to a hand-made one, but in all his searches in this area, Dr Gheorghe did not find any unequivocal artefacts from the old village.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th September 2007




Matca Dig

A piece of salt-stone, put in the forest by people for wild animals to lick. The animals need salt as part of their diet.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th September 2007




Matca Dig

A wooden construction made in the deep forest by people to bring grass and other food to wild animals to eat during winter.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th September 2007




Matca Dig

Alina and Ionut in the forest at another Huaca, found after much effort. This one was about six metres in diameter.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 4th October 2007




Matca Dig

The project for this Huaca was to dig a trench across its perimeter, to the north east, about two metres long, width of forty centimetres and one metre in depth to try to find evidence of an old Middle Ages house.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 4th October 2007




Matca Dig

After a lot of heavy work, nothing had been found indicating the presence of habitation from Old Racari, even though many places in the area has been diligently searched in the area known to locals as the location of an old village called "La Gropi" or "La Bordeie".

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 4th October 2007




Matca Dig

Another search was made in the area where the dam was found, but again nothing new was discovered. Dr Gheorghe had another idea when the team was packing up to go home. The project members went to the Racarii de Sus village, to one of the retired leaders of the forested district, Mr Trusca, to ask him if he had any ideas about the location of Old Racari.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 4th October 2007




Matca Dig

Mr Trusca had a special map, one produced only for forestry specialists, where there is shown a small black area in the middle of the map section, outlining the forest area.

Starting from this point, from the valley containing the dam, and going to the west, after climbing the hill on the right bank of the Matca stream, one is in a field used for agriculture, placed between the area shown in black, the Matca River forest, and an area shown in blue, another forest west of the Matca forest.

This area shown in white, and labelled "Agricol" on the map, is one which Mr Trusca identified as the site of the Old Racari village. Mr Trusca is a very experienced man with great knowledge of this area because of his former job. In addition, many people had confirmed to him that there had been an old village there.

In November, when the fields have been harvested of their vegetables, Dr Gheorghe will go there and search for pottery and other artefacts.

Dr Gheorghe is justifiably proud and happy that there is progress being made in this important project.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 4th October 2007








On a cold, windy and rainy day, 7th October 2007, Dr Gheorghe made yet another effort to find the lost village of Old Racari:

Matca Dig
General view, coming from the south, Racarii de Sus, to the north. As can be seen, far away to the north on the skyline is an oil derrick, and to the left of it, to the west, a forest.

Also to the right, to the east, can be seen another valley and forest, the valley of the Matca River with its ancient dam.

All the fields between these two forests seem to be the area in which Old Racari once was. All the sources available from the village of Racarii de Sus shows that 100 years ago, the entire cleared field visible here was covered with a single old forest, where the lost village of Old Racari might be found.

However, after 1900 the forests were cut down by the local owners, and by about 1950 all the hills were covered with vineyards.

After 1990, all the vines were uprooted, and became agricultural fields, as they remain today. No one can show the Alexis Project Team where the lost village is. However all the stories point to this area as being the location of the Middle Ages village, including the oldest men of Racarii de Sus, and men like Mr Manea and Mr Trusca identified this area as the site.

However all also agree that because of the differing uses of the land and the changes brought about by agriculture mean that it is very difficult to find the right area for what was probably only ever a small village.

Thus, the team strongly believes that this is the area in which the lost village of Old Racari will be found, about two kilometres north west from Racarii de Sus. The only artefact to be found is the wooden dam about one hundred metres east of this field.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 7th October 2007


Matca Dig

Dr Gheorghe expresses his disappointment and frustration with the inability to find Old Racari after a long search on the top of the hill between the two forests.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 7th October 2007




Matca Dig

Alina searching for artefacts while being blasted by wind, rain and cold.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 7th October 2007




Matca Dig

The Alexis Project team searching for artefacts, including a 10 year old recruit.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 7th October 2007




Matca Dig

There was a little success: this pottery was found in the area.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 7th October 2007




Matca Dig

Dr Gheorghe writes:

Today I was with the Alexis team in the valley of Racarii de Jos, near the ghost church, to search again for artefacts to the east of the Matca River.

It is believed there was a brick factory from the 19th century, and a few houses from the 18th century in this general area, around the "Ghost Church".

Here Ionut, Alina, Amelia and Maria-Amelia are walking on the left of the river, coming from the north towards Racarii de Jos, looking for artefacts.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 4th November 2007




Matca Dig

Although the weather was cold and windy, the team searched for artefacts on the fields. At least the sun was shining!

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 4th November 2007




Matca Dig

It was heart warming to see a four year old girl looking for artefacts, perhaps someday to become a noted expert in archaeology from the Oltenia Museum, or an Alexis team leader, or both.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 4th November 2007




Matca Dig

A few artefacts were found in the area of the ghost church, from the last two centuries. Cornel Balosu, the expert from Oltenia Museum, will be able to date them more accurately.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 4th November 2007




Matca Dig

These are some of the artefacts found in this expedition near the Ghost Church of Racarii de Jos.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 4th November 2007








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