The Tartaria tablets and the Lepenski Vir stone
The Tartaria tablets (Fig. 4a,b) initially received a great deal of attention due to a few posited Mesopotamian parallels (chronologically later).
Figure 4. (a,b) Tartaria (Vlassa 1963); (c) Lepenski Vir (Winn 1981); (d,e) actual and regularized composition on the stone; (f) Gradešnica (Nikolov 1970); (g) Tangiru (Berciu, 1961)
However, the Tartaria signs have more precise parallels in shape and usage with signs at other sites of the Vinča culture (Winn 1981: 185-195).
In addition, certain signs on the Tartaria artifacts are found elsewhere in the Vinča culture but not in Mesopotamia. Therefore, no Mesopotamian impact need be postulated at Tartaria.
The discovery of artifacts with greater attention devoted to division of sign groups makes the shape and careful organization of the tablets seem less incongruous within the context of the Vinča culture (Winn 1981:210 ff.). For example, a plaque found at Gradešnica, in northwestern Bulgaria, is carefully divided by horizontal lines into four registers with three or more signs in each register (Fig. 4f). The double and triple vertical lines recall similar incisions on the Tartaria tablets, the Lepenski Vir stone and many Vinča figurines.
Even "blank" tablets (Fig. 4g) display an intentional division which can be considered evidence for a cultural trait for organizing tablet-like objects.
The unusual inscribed stone object found at Lepenski Vir is introduced here for comparative purposes. The spherical stone has a complex organization and neatly incised signs typical of the Vinča culture.
Partial boring of the stone suggests that a staff was inserted so that the stone could be displayed as an object of prestige or easily manipulated in ritual.
The inscription is divided into four rows, three of which have ten columns (Fig. 4c-e).
Irregular demarcating lines indicate intentional efforts to avoid crossing over signs, thus enhancing their importance.
The possible functions of this unique object include usage in divination or for keeping records relating to important cyclical events.
The signs show convincing comparisons with common Vinča signs at other sites. (5)
The Tartaria tablets and the Lepenski Vir stone are included in Table I (column A) as further evidence showing that sign distributions are not random and that the signs on these objects appropriately fit within the sign system of the Vinča culture.
Each of these objects is inscribed with a cluster of signs that appear in sign groups on artifacts found at distant regional sites.
The additional Parţa and Tordos evidence presented herein is consistent with conclusions reached in the author's earlier work.
The "blank" tablets are probably meaningful ritualistic substitutes for the inscribed type that may have been used by someone familiar with the tablets but perhaps not yet with the signs; they even may have been used as a sort of training ritual.
"The Lepenski Vir object may have been modeled after a type of sign-bearing spindle whorl, a weight, or a mace head used by someone of importance, probably in divination.
This artifact seems to indicate that some signs were headings or markers; deliberate effort was made to demarcating the rows and columns without crossing over the signs, thereby suggesting their magical importance. Intentional inclusion of spaces/insertion of blanks may indicate a pause/message divider, etc." (Winn 1990:272-3; for greater detail, see Winn 1981: 258-63). (6)