(CN) – Mega-structures dotted across Eastern Europe most likely served as political and economic public spaces for the ancient Tripolye culture, scientists announced in a study released Wednesday.
The study, published in the journal PLOS One, examined the archaeological giant settlement of Maidanetske in Ukraine. Scientists, led by Robert Hofmann of Kiel University in Germany, compared the structures of Maidanetske to more than 100 others from 19 other ancient settlements.
The archaeologists concluded that these mega-structures were used as public spaces, due to their locations and the lack of evidence of permanent habitation within. The massive buildings were likely used as community facilities for religious, political or economic needs.
The Tripolye culture, also known as the Cucuteni-Trypillia, dates to around 5500 B.C. to 2750 B.C. and had a reach of about 140,000 square miles. The culture is noted for the periodic destruction of its settlements, several of which were then rebuilt on top of the ruins.
“The eldest proto-urban megasites of Europe collapsed after some generations around 3700 B.C., during which time they flourished with up to 10,000 inhabitants and attracted surrounding communities in the Northpontic forest steppe with their extremely fertile black soils,” Hofmann said in a statement. “Now our interdisciplinary study detected one reason for their collapse: a social imbalance in decision processes led to an increased centralization of power structures. These did not allow the management of the city-like settlements any longer.
“In consequence, these Tripolye megasites are an example how humans should not govern. Nevertheless, in consequence urbanism developed much later in Europe than in the Near East.”