Vučedol culture

Vučedol culture

The Vučedol culture was a culture that flourished between 3000 and 2200 BC (the Eneolithic period), centered in eastern Slavonia on the right bank of the Danube river, but possibly spreading throughout the Pannonian plain. Sometimes also called the Vučedol civilization, it was contemporary with the Sumer period in Mesopotamia, the Early Dynastic period in Egypt and the early Troy (I and II).


Following the Baden culture, another wave of Indo-European people came to the banks of the Danube. One of the major places they occupied is present-day Vučedol ("Wolf's Valley"), named after Vučedol, a location six kilometers downstream from the center of the town of Vukovar, Croatia.

The early stages of the culture tenanted locations not far from mountain ranges, where copper deposits were located, because of their main invention: making tools from arsenical copper in series employing reusable, double, two-part moulds.

The center of the culture was Vučedol in modern day Croatia. It is estimated that the site had once been home to about 3000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest and most important centers of its time.

Cultural phases

The vucedol culture developed from two older eneolithic cultures: the Baden culture mainly in the pannonian plain and the Kostolac culture in northern Serbia and western Romania, so the primary region of Vucedol development is eastern Croatia and the Sriem region. The archaeological stratigraphy of the Vucedol culture can be divided into four phases:
*Preclassic period A
*Early classic period B1
*Classic period B2
*Period of expansion with regional types, C:
**East Croatian (slavonic Sirmium type)
**West Bosnian (Hrustovac type)
**South Bosnian (Debelo Brdo type)
**North Serbian (Djurdjevacka Glavica type)
**West Croatian-Slovenian (Ljubljansko Barje type)
**Transdanubian (Pannonian Hungarian type)
**East Austrian-Czeckian typeThe Vucedol culture is the final eneolithic culture of the region because the following characteristics of the culture mark the end of eneolithic in eastern Europe and middle Europe:
*common use of the war axes ( Banniabik form of axes)
*new cults very different from the Neolithic Magna Mater conception (cult of Deer, womb-shaped solar motives, figures of women in clothes without sexual or fertility decoration, symbols of double axes, different form of pottery, new "rich" type of pottery decoration, finds of Vucedol dove)
*massive exploitation of copper
*new forms of settlement that destroy earlier eneolithic settlements and new settlements developed in regions where none were previously
*rise of the hunter-warrior class that dominates in society. This feature is a preview of the changes that will be characteristic for the east and middle European early Bronze Age.

Social organisation

The difference to other earlier and contemporary cultures was diversity in food sources: they were hunters, fishermen and agrarians, with some strong indications that they cultivated certain domesticated animals. Thus culture could better avert food crises.

The community chief was the shaman (medicine man), moulder, the owner of the knowledge of avoiding poisonous arsenic gas (and others, such as understanding the year cycle), which is connected to the technology of coppersmithing. Still, the whole life of moulder/shaman could not pass without biological consequences: slow loss of body movement coordination, and at the same time, stronger sexual potency. "That is why", quoting Aleksandar Durman, "all eneolithic, or later gods of metallurgy are identified with fertility, and also why all gods in almost all early cultures - limp."

It was a society of deep social changes and stratification, what led to the birth of tribe and military aristocracy. Also, Vucedol people had enough time to express their spiritual view of the world.


In modern times, the ceramics became famous worldwide. It has a very characteristic bi-conical shape, typical ornaments which evolved, and in many cases with typical "handles" which were almost unfunctional, but they were key of understanding of ornaments that had symbolic meaning representing term such as "horizon", "mountains", "sky", "underworld", "sun", "constellation of Orion", "Venus", et cetera.

Vucedol dove

One of the most famous pieces is the ritual vessel, called by the speculative attribution of her founder (in 1938) M. Seper - the Vučedol Dove "(vučedolska golubica"). The latest, very deep synthesis and interpretation of many phenomena of the Vucedol culture by Aleksandar Durman from Zagreb, is that the vessel is in the shape of the male partridge - the universal symbol of fertility (and limping, due to the defensive behavior of male partridge against predator attack on a partridge nest on ground). The figure is a remarkable example of artistic creation and religious symbol associated with a cult of the great mother. Made between 2800 and 2500 B.C. it became the symbol of style, culture and new arising European civilization. Vucedol dove is a 19,5 cm high ritual vessel made from baked clay. Three symbols of doubled axes and a necklace were engraved on its neck with lines covering its wings and chest, and an unusual crest on the back of the head. Shape of the crest and carefully lined wings and chest, prove the figure as the domestic thoroughbred dove, raised in Europe 4500 years ago. This, as well, proves European pigeon breeding much older than we used to think. Moreover, Vučedol dove is the oldest dove figure found in Europe so far.

Oldest Indo-European calendar

Among the most famous pieces is what has been alleged to be the oldest Indo-European calendar [ Oldest European calendar 'deciphered'] , based on Orion cycle, shown by precise sequel of constellations on a vessel found in eneolithic tel in the very center of contemporary town of Vinkovci. The climatic conditions corresponding to that latitude brought about four yearly seasons. The simple explanation of Vucedol Calendar is that each of the four lateral bands on the vessel represent the four seasons, starting with spring on the top. Each band is divided into twelve boxes, making up 12 "weeks" for each season. Each of the little boxes contains a picture of what you see when you look at a certain point on the horizon right after twilight. The place of reference on the horizon is the point at which (in those days) Orion's belt disappeared from view at the end of winter, which meant the beginning of a new year. The pictographs in the boxes represent: Orion, the Sun, Cassiopeia, Cygnus, Gemini, Pegasus, and the Pleiades. If the box has nothing in it, it means there was nothing visible at the reference point.

Lifestyle and religion

They lived in dwelling pits covered by branches and canebrake, and did not invent brick as construction material. In Vučedol People lived on hilltops with palisade walls. Houses were half buried, mostly square or circular (they were also combined in mushroom shape), with floor of burned clay and circular fireplace.

The houses found on the Vučedol site were places of birth and burial. A number of skeletons were found in the pits, once serving as food storage pits. Their bodies were placed in a ritual way, with some indications of possible human sacrifice. Also, on foreheads of skulls marks were found that could be attributed to some kind of initiation by a drop of molten copper in an early childhood.Fact|date=May 2008

Connections with other advanced cultures

Some archeologists, researchers of vucedol culture claimed that there was establisheed trade connection between territorial position of vucedol culture and Mycenian civilisation on the south so that some cultural elements found in B2 phase in vucedol culture due it s existence to first period for middle Bronze Age of Helada.

Vučedol site

Archeological site of Vučedol is situated 5 km downstream from Croatian town Vukovar, on the right bank of Danube River. It is one of the most important sites of Eneolithic. Because of the importance of findings in Vucedol, the whole phase of Eneolithic period was named after it - the Vucedol Culture. It was the center of the great and widespread Vučedol culture.

Due to extremely favourable strategic position, Vucedol has always been open to colonization. During the Copper Age, the settlement extended across most of the present-day archaeological site, covering an area of approximately 3 hectares (7.4 acres). The site is considerably larger than contemporary sites which indicates that it must have been a regional economic and social center. Some of the most important archaeological discoveries belonging to the Vučedol culture have been made at this site.

The highest part of the site at Vučedol was separated from the rest of the settlement by two parallel ditches. These ditches enclosed a large rectangular structure that was considerably larger than the houses located in surrounding residential areas, and this area also produced the only evidence of copper smelting on the site. Some scholars had argued that this part of the settlement may have been occupied by a local elite that exercised control not only over Vučedol but also over the production and exchange of precious goods and that dominated the smaller settlements in the area. Unfortunately, there is little convincing evidence for the presence of an elite class within that or any other settlement of the Late Copper Age in the area. Thus, while the settlement may have been an economic and ideological center where copper processing occurred, it seems unlikely that it would have been the center of a chiefdom.


The settlement of Vucedol near Vukovar is well known to archaeologists and archaeological excavations are base to cultural stratigraphy for whole culture.Final conclusion about genesis of Vucedol culture population can be that are deffenately indoeuropeans mixed with native eneolithical or even late neolithical European population ( specially in region of Eastern Adriatic coast, Dalmatia and Herzegovina with some parts of Bosnia as well). Today stands open questions about eneolithical process in Dalmatia and Herzegovina because eneolithical process in those regions took place very slowly if we compare it with eneolithic in Eastern Europe, main reason is geological absence of copper very important for Vucedol culture population. Another reason is that Adriatic coast is in one way relative cultural isolate and some neolithical cultural elements elements simply exist with small changes to Early Bronze Age period.


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