Lepenski vir Archaeological site

Lepenski vir Archaeological site Lepen Whirlpool

Lepenski Vir is spectacular archaeological site on the Danube River shore in East Serbia which is the “Cradle of Europe” where the imposing remains of ancient architecture and lifestyle were discovered dating from the early Mesolithic period – from 9500 BC to 7500 BC (Proto Lepenski Vir); late Mesolithic, from 6300 BC to 5900 BC (Lepenski Vir Ia-e, Lepenski Vir II) and early Neolithic, 5900 BC to 5500 BC (Lepenski Vir IIIa-b). The Lepenski Vir site includes finds as houses or sanctuaries – necropolis /by some scholars/, hearths coated with stone and concrete, streets, square, massive walls and foundations of houses, parts of the house floors constructed from concrete that are 10000 years old, or trapezoid-base sancuaries where special burial rituals were practiced, monumental sculptures carved in quartz sandstone…... Next to hearths and beneath the house doorsteps were found human sceletons buried here along the same funeral rituals as the Serbs used to be buried. The Lepenski Vir refers to the large whirlpool in the middle of the Danube River by the Djerdap Gorge known as the Iron Gate Gorge. It has been created by the curvy course of the powerful and speed river coming through the southern slopes of the Carpathians.

Within the general exploration of the right banks of the Danube River, in distant 1960 the Institute of Archaeology in Belgrade carried out highly comprehensive archaeological excavations and research in order to maximally investigate the existing and discover the new archaeological sites prior to the construction of the Djerdap dam. Director of the archaeological research in the first phase of excavations and dicovery of the Lepenski Vir civilization was dr Dušanka Vučković Todorović, professional associate of the Institute of Archaeology in Belgrade. Among her team was famous archeologist Obrad Kujović who was the most deserving in discovery of the ceramics and the site location. The archaeologist Obrad Kujovic and architecture engineer Ivica Kostic took part in the second phase of research of the Lepenski Vir site that began in August 1960. The third phase of excavations lasted from August 1965 till 1968 and was conducted by archaeologist Dragoslav Srejović. The imposing remains of the ancient architecture and the famous sculptures were found in the third phase of the excavations. After completion of the third phase in 1971 the part of the archaeological site was removed when the original location was submerged due to construction of the Hydro Power Plant of Djerdap I. Actually there at that time were flooded more than 40 localities that belong to the earliest and the most valuable localities of Europe. Those localities date from the Mesolithic era, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, till the early Middle Ages”. Marjan Jovanović Madža

Lepenski Vir archaeological site was discovered, researched and explored by prof Dragoslav Srejovic in the 1960s as part of the project of rescue excavations undertaken due to the creation of the artificial Djardap lake upstream of the exit of the Danube River from the Iron Gates gorges. “Today the Sarmatians, Dalmatians, Panonians and Tribali tribes are reluctantly and fearfully considered as the Proto-Serbs of which the Sarmatians live around the Danube, while the others live beneath the Danube and the Sava Rivers”. Dragoslav Srejovic

The Iron Gates represent an exceptional natural environment with a special micro-climate where the mighty Danube had cut a narrow and winding route through the southern fringes of the Carpathian Mountains. Even precipitation rate, mild transition between seasons, relative atmospheric humidity, absence of strong air currents or sharp temperature changes, lime-based ground preserving warmth, and secure food sources, enabled the Mesolithic people of Lepenski Vir to create an imposing culture whose rich and original contents can hardly be paralleled with any other of the same period, or even later. On these terraces on both sides of the Danube we find the settlements of the Lepenski Vir culture. On the Romanian side, the important sites are Ostrovul Mare, Ostrovul Corbului, Schela Cladovei, Ostrovul Banului, Răzvrata, Icoana, Veterani-terrace and Veterani Cave, Climente I and II, Băile Herculane, Cuina Turcului, Vodneac, Ilişova, Izlaz, Sviniţa, Vîrtop, Alibeg and Privod; on the Serbian side, we find the eponymous place Lepenski Vir and furthermore, Padina, Stubica, Vlasac, Hajdučka Vodenica, Velesnica and Kula. Lepenski Vir is also the name of the great whirlpool in the middle of the Danube river by Djerdap, the Iron Gates Gorge. Djerdap Gorge with its Iron Gate is a center of Đerdap National Park which is on tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage.

Lepenski Vir was the settlement of first Danubian settled farmers who were “the Children of the Sun” and lived just opposite to the Treskavac stone summit /of trapezoid shape/, on the other shore of the Danube River, in the present day Romania. With the newly built protective cover of the Visitor Center of the Lepenski Vir archaeological site, the insight to the Treskavac cliff on the left side of the Danube in Romania has been opened, towards which the whole settlements was oriented, having cult significance for inhabitants of the Lepenski Vir. The Lepenski Vir site is nowadays famous for the fantastically preserved Mesolithic buildings, burials and structures of the human settlements, and intricate sandstone sculptures found on site. Lepenski Vir is the Mesolithic site some 15 km north from the city of Donji Milanovac, the sensational Middle stone age complex settled some 8 000 years B.C. after the ice had begun to melt from the glaciers which covered so much of the Northern Hemisphere, and the time when the climate became significantly warmer. The mild climate on terraces of the Danube attracted inhabitants of Lepenski Vir. People who lived for many generations in the settlement of Lepenski Vir used to build unusual and unique trapezoid-shaped huts whose entrance was turned towards the Danube with rectangular fireplaces built of stone blocks and small sanctuaries within their homes. The central position towards the East was given to the fire place and the fire, that emphasized connection with formation of warmth and rising of the Sun. House meant stability and security while the bones of ancestors enhanced this stability and made the connection with the/our history.

Lepenski Vir is best known for its perfectly carved stone figures of humans with large eyes and fish-like mouths, probably idols of hunters and fishermen whose lives depended on mighty Danube River that are the earliest examples of the stone sculptures and the first monumental art created after the Ice Age. The latest researches document that the area of the Danube was inhabited 30000 years BC. Lepenski Vir was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia. In Lepenski Vir open-air Archaeological Site fine examples of jewelry and tools made of bone and stone and tablets with curved letter-like symbols /abstract arabesques/ were found. Those objects and carved symbols are considered to be probably the basic Mankind Alphabet /Vincha alphabet/. Visit to Lepenski Vir is very attractive and strongly recommended to everyone but especially to travelers who visit Serbia !

“By boulders which »arise« and »live« in the large river besides the settlement, all community members are during their lives and after death connected with the main and eternal elements of their habitat – water and stone. Placement of those boulders aside the hearth, those elements assigned fire and through it – joined with warmth and Sun shine. The main motifs which are represented on boulders are also for sure the main ingredients of the existing myth. It was possibly believed that from boulders as like from the large primordial egg, rises everything alive, in the first place fish-like entities (primordial human race) and the most hunted animals (fish, red deer). Main elements of the myth are simultaneously symbols of the main elements of non-productive economy (water, stone, fire, fish, game). Thus those boulders – sculptures and this myth permanently assured safety of all belongings, both social and economic, and prevented their destruction or arbitrary utilization”.  Dragoslav Srejović, Kulture starijeg i srednjeg kamenog doba na tlu Srbije

The early European civilizations with their epicenter in the Middle Danube Basin, Lepenski Vir people expanded their circle towards the south and the north, but always along the vertical line tending towards the east-west, being in complete concordance with the natural movement direction due to the order of harmonious rhythm of spiritual mechanism from which they stemmed and through which they lasted or even have been lasting ever since, unperceived by the eye of the modern technology and spiritual instrumentation.

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