Pločnik archaeological site
Pločnik is the Neolithic archaeological site located in southern Serbia, in the village of the same name, at the bank of Toplica River, close to Prokuplje, 12 km away from Kursumlija. The archaeological complex of Pločnik is part of the Vinca culture. The Vinca culture flourished from 5500 to 4000 BC on the territories of what is now Bosnia, Serbia, Romania and Macedonia. Pločnik archaeological site dates from the Early Neolithic period from 5500 to 4700 BC. Pločnik archaeological site spreads on 120 hectares that included several parts between courses of three rivers. The unnamed tribe who lived between 5400 and 4700 BC in the 120-hectare site at what is now Pločnik site, knew about trade, handcrafts, art and metallurgy what testify on the metropolis with a great degree of sophistication and a taste for art and fashion. They were engaged in agriculture and stone was the main material for making their tools. They pursued beauty and produced 60 different forms of wonderful pottery and figurines, not only to represent deities, but also out of pure enjoyment. Within the archaeological complex of Pločnik numerous wonderful clay pottery and lots of stone and copper objects were found.
The Pločnik archaeological site was uncovered accidentally in 1927 by Miodrag Grbic, curator of The National Museum in Belgrade when the then Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was building a rail line from the southern city of Nis to the province of Kosovo. Pločnik archaeological site has been actively investigated with great interest since 1996 by Serbian and international experts. In Pločnik archaeological site experts found a “copper chisel and stone ax in which the foundation has proven to be 7,500 years old, leading us to believe that it was one of the first places in which metal weapons and tools were made in prehistoric times.”Archaeologists hope that the find in southern Serbia of Pločnik will prove the theory that the metal age began a lot earlier than it was believed to have. This finding along with 40 similarly valuable ones before it among which there were more parts of metal tools and weapons, as well as a smelter and furnace, prove that people inhabiting this territory began working with metal more than 5000 years before the new era. Houses had stoves, there were special holes for rubbish and the dead were buried in a tidy necropolis. The community of what today is Pločnik was especially fond of children. Artifacts found of Pločnik site include toys such as animals and rattles made of clay, and small, clumsily crafted pots apparently created by children at playtime. Men worked a furnace melting metal for tools. An ox pulled a load of ore, passing by an art workshop and a group of young women in short skirts. “They knew how to find minerals, to transport them and melt them into tools, which is fascinating find for evidence of early human activity”. The metal workshop in Pločnik was a room of some 25 square meters, with walls built out of wood coated with clay. The furnace, built on the outside of the room, featured earthen pipe-like air vents with hundreds of tiny holes in them and a proto-type chimney to ensure air goes into the furnace to feed the fire and smoke comes out safely. The early metal workers very likely experimented with colorful minerals that caught their eye – blue azurite, bright green malachite and red cuprite, all containing copper – as evidenced by malachite traces found on the inside of a pot. Archaeological excavations from the first decade of the 21st century lead us to believe that it was one of the first places in which metal weapons and tools were made in the prehistoric times. Recent excavations at the Plocnik site – part of the Vinca culture which was Europe’s biggest prehistoric civilization – point to a metropolis with a great degree of sophistication and a taste for art and fashion. Prokuplje Museum archaeologist Julka Kuzmanović-Cvetković said that the Pločnik site “shows that the people who lived on our territory started civilization that presented the basics of the technological revolution.” Julka Kuzmanovic-Cvetkovic has come up with some rather surprising observations as to how members of an as yet unknown people may have dressed. “If the figurines found in an ancient European settlement are any guide, women have been dressing to impress for at least 7,500 years. According to the figurines we found, young women were beautifully dressed, like today’s girls in short tops and mini skirts, and wore bracelets around their arms,” Recent excavations at the site – part of the Vinca culture which was Europe’s biggest prehistoric civilization – point to a metropolis with a great degree of sophistication and a taste for art and fashion. They pursued beauty and produced 60 different forms of wonderful pottery and figurines, not only to represent deities, but also out of pure enjoyment”. Copper Age is significant because it marks the first stage of human use of metal. The Pločnik site has possibly been destroyed in large fire at the beginning of the 5th Millennia BC.
At site in Plocnik discovered in 1927 archaeologists found furnace and melting pots laced with copper. “All this undeniably proves that human civilization in this area produced metal in the 5th millennium BC,” said archaeologist Dusan Sljivar. Previously it was thought that the Copper Age started around the 4th millennium BC in southeastern Europe and the Middle East.
Plocnik is part of thew Vinca culture which is Europe’s biggest prehistoric civilization that flourished in present day Serbia between 6th and 3rd millennium BC. The settlement of Plocnik was destroyed at some point, probably in the first part of the fifth millennium BC, by a huge fire. Recently the construction and reconstruction of the uniquely interesting Plocnik neolithic settlement was completed which includes five neolithic houses made of authentic material – wood and earth providing outstanding insight of the Neolithic way of life. Thanks to the exceptionally interesting way of presentation of the Neolithic life at the Pločnik site by local and international researches and professional and skilled guides, like copper melting in traditional way or weaving and other authentic activities, as well as numerous nearby cultural-historical monuments and natural beauties, this part of Serbia provides rich and unique experiences to visitors.