The archaeological site at Sultana comprises seven main areas of paramount importance, not only for Boian and Gumelnița cultures on the Lower Danube, but for the very history of the European Neolithic and Chalcolithic:
1. The flat settlement, Boian culture (5000 – 4500 cal. BC) at the Western limit of lake Mostiștea’s terrace.
2. The tell settlement, Gumelnița culture (4500 – 3900 cal. BC), located at the eastern end of the lake’s terrace. Most of the research has been conducted here.
3. Cemetery I (5000 – 4300 cal. BC), appearing to have been used by the inhabitants of both Boian and Gumelnița settlements for more than 8000 years.
4. The off-tell settlement (4500 – 4300 cal. BC), identified in 2014 at the periphery of Cemetery I. It consists of a series of large house structures (ca. 10×16 m) located across the tell at the eastern limit of Cemetery I.
5. Cemetery II (4500 – 4000 cal. BC), which was accidentally identified in the 1970’s is placed at approximately 300 m South of the tell and comprises a few Gumelnița burials.
6. Cemetery III (4600 – 4500 cal. BC) was identified in 2014 at approximately 280 m N-N-W from the Boian settlement and ca. 600 m NW from tell. Three burials were excavated which yielded artefacts specific for the Boian-Gumelnița transition phase.
7. Valea Orbului Cemetery (5300 – 4500 cal. BC) is located about 1.5 km (<1 mi) Northwest of the village of Sultana. Discovered in 1972 and opened two years later by Done Șerbănescu and George Trohani, the necropolis underwent 13 archaeological campaigns until 2007 and yielded 253 Boian graves, only 121 of which had funerary inventory. Unfortunately, the published data is scarce, so this area currently lacks any plans of the excavation.
Furthermore, complexes belonging to both settlements and burial grounds were identified and associated to the final phase of the Chalcolithic (Cernavodă I and II), the Bronze Age period (Tei culture) and the Iron Age (Basarabi culture). Also, features dating back to 4th, 6th-7th centuries AD and Dridu culture (10th century AD) complete the archaeological context of the surroundings of Sultana village.
The oldest settlement in this area is Sultana-Ghețărie belonging to the Boian culture, Vidra Phase which reveals 14C dates between 5000 and 4500 cal BC. Evidence strongly suggests that these groups also created Cemetery I and the tell settlement. The latter was vaguely documented as a result of field walking sessions. Due to the natural erosion and anthropogenic interference, the site is degrading at a worrying speed, which led to both rescue and systematic excavations. There are eight medium-to-large sized features attributed to Boian, Vidra phase. They present rich archaeological information consisting in ceramic, knapped flint and loom weights. Also, significant quantities of charcoal, shells and animal bones contribute to the impressive record in this area.
The most intensely studied area is the Gumelnița tell settlement (ca. 4500- 3900 cal. BC). The culture belongs to the wider Kodjadermen-Gumelnița-Karanovo VI cultural complex, spreading from the Black Sea coast, across Bulgaria and southeastern Romania. The settlement is located on top of a terrace next to a natural water source. Stratigraphically, the habitation level is approximately 4.3 m thick.
As a result of excavation evidence revealed that repair work and delimitation of the area was conducted from the first phase of occupation onwards. Three stages of building consisting of three external ditches and two palisades connected to the ditches, can be observed. The post holes of the palisades are generally very similar in dimensions and filling which show that antler and bone axes would have been used to dig.
The residential area seems to have been very well organized. Houses here are rectangular ca. 3×4 m in size and are oriented on a North – South axis. Larger two room house structures between 7×4 m and 10×4.5 m have also been revealed by excavation.
The material used for building is clay in the form of adobe which dresses the main wooden frame with a result loosely resembling the wattle and daub technique. The interior walls, floors and hearths would have been plastered repeatedly as evidence has shown. Also, a high degree of housekeeping is evident. The abundance of artifacts recovered here comprising amazing ceramic vessels for everyday use, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic ceramic objects and also flint, bone and antler tools demonstrate the importance of this site in the European prehistory. Furthermore, the adornment objects made of bone, shell and pure gold add great significance of evidence in the archaeological record. The rubbish deposition areas add a great amount of information to the evidence through the remains of organic matter such as fish and mammalian bones, shells, coprolites and wood.
The Cemetery I is situated at about 150 m west of the tell itself and ca. 320 m east from the Sultana-Ghețărie. Results of analyses show dates between 5000-4300 cal. BC.
So far, Cemetery I has yielded 95 graves that can be categorized as primary burials. Here, single individuals in generally articulated crouched position were recovered. The secondary inhumations represent an individual that was moved from its initial burial place. The orientation axis in the case of primary burials was generally with the head towards east. Also, consequent spatial analysis revealed a tendency of parallel distribution of the inhumations. These characteristics are common for the Chalcolithic burials in the Balkan area but also of the Boian culture which suggest the presence of patterns becoming traditions, emphasizing continuity in the funerary practices.
Secondary burials, on the other hand, are puzzling. Generally, the bones belong to a single individual, with one exception where two individuals were identified in a single tomb. The patterns of deposition can be divided in two categories the ones that show clear intentional bone selection and the apparently randomly picked. Another point to emphasize is the post burial bone removal where skulls and other bones were displaced from the grave. In some of these cases, the archaeologists were able to stratigraphically identify the extraction marks. It has been taken into consideration their use as part of an ancestors’ cult or ceremonially as part of various rituals.
A small number of burials present grave goods such as ceramic vessels and flint blades but also polished stone axes and adornment objects. Among them, one grave stood out due to the outstanding amount of beads. Counting well above 10,000, the beads had been crafted from almost all materials available at the time, including bone, shell and various types of rocks.