Vinča / Vincha Archaeological Site

photo Archeo Serbia

Vinča / Vincha Archaeological Site

Vinča is one of the major and the largest prehistoric archaeological sites in Europe that was the heart of the first urban European civilization. From the 6th to the 3rd millennium BC, the so-called “Vinca culture” stretched for hundreds of miles along the Danube river in what is now Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, bearing traces all around the Balkans, parts of Central Europe and Asia Minor, and even Western Europe.

Vinča archaeological site is situated on the right side of the Danube River bank, 11 km east of Belgrade, in the beautiful and fertile Grocka Municipality of Belgrade. It was at the Vincha archaeological site where the early 20th century excavations uncovered the remains of the eight Neolithic villages. The Vinca archaeological site features an excellent overview of the Danube River which has been an artery of communication ever since the times immemorial. Unfortunately, although this exceptional archaeological site has a lot of history underneath, it is faced with a threat of damage from the Danube River floods and also lack of funding to carry on excavations in order to uncover what lies beneath. The sites of the Vinča culture make its eastern edge in the territory of Serbia are the Rudna Glava, Supska, Drenovac and Pločnik who are in some way, the current eastern border of our country, or very close to it.

As an economic and cultural center of Europe, Vinča has lent its name to what is known as the Vincian culture /rectangular homes built at ground level of wood, clay and straw, black and gray ceramic polished and carved with decorative incisions, anthropomorphic figures with decorative engraving or painted red, funeral rites…/. More than 10.000 Vincha sculptures, most likely of the grave character, testify on the religious power of those Vinca people. The necropolis from Bronze and Metal period was discovered on the Vincha archaeological locality as the proof of cultural diversity and influence and the peak of Neolithic farming settled culture in Europe. This well-developed Neolithic culture of Vincha which thrived some 4.500 to 3.200 BC spread over the central Balkans and a part of the Pannonian Plain, famous for its long-lasting peace, when knowledge, creativity, prosperity and mutual tolerance were foremost values. By the territory it covers and its artistic values, the Vinča archaeological site represents one of the most significant issues of the known European civilization. The latest findings show that the Vinča culture was from the very beginning a metallurgical culture. In the field of anthropology the studies of Srboljub Živanović show clear continuity of the peoples of the Lepenski Vir, the Vinca people, the Illyrians, the Sarmatians and the Slavs.

We should keep in mind that during the long Vinca civilization in the Balkans, with constants four class names in use for close and related tribes and dialects – the Serbs, the Rascians, the Wallachians and the Wends-Veneti whom we can later add the Dacian Geti tribe and the small russian guardians Antes. Vinča refers today to the pinnacle of the Neolithic culture of Europe and settlements populated with sedentary inhabitants who were engaged in cattle breeding, and who highly respected the basic virtues of knowledge, creativity and  mutual tolerance and prosperity.

Vinča was first excavated by prof. Miloje M. Vasic, beginning in 1908 who discovered symbols and the whole inscriptions on more than 10000 artifacts, as the testimony on the pre-writing of the Vincha people, 5000 – 3200 BC. Modern excavations begun at Vinča under the auspices of the Serbian Academy of Sciences in 1978, directed by Nikola Tasic, Gordana Vujovic, Milutin Garasanin and Dragoslav Srejovic. Of about 3000 various artifacts excavated at the Vinca Archaeological site, the Great Mother figurine most strikingly represents social relationship which lived in absolute harmony with nature, whose godlike and regenerative cycles are most analogous to women principles. Not surprisingly Vinca people were aware of the fact that love is sense of life, and that the supreme deity or God – is simple love, best recognized and experienced by a woman who delivers a new life. More than 1000 figurines from Vinca Archaeological site symbol the woman principle, that is one of giving a birth, but also a mother who is day and night concerned about her family. Her large eyes represent her vigilance.

Written signs found on various vessels and various Vinca objects is the first scrip ever, as the legacy to the mankind left from the Vinca civilization at its pinnacle. Some scholars believe that the Vinča symbols represent the earliest form of writing and literacy ever found, predating ancient Egyptian and Sumerian writing by thousands of years. All updated conclusions of research of the Vinca script that are fully archaeologically documented testify on the only indicative and indisputable fact: the origin of the overall literacy is the Vinca script, found  at the Vinca site near Belgrade. Since the Vincha inscriptions are all short and appear on objects found in the Vincha burial sites, and the language represented is not determined, but only assumed to have been the ancient Serbian script, it is unlikely they will be soon deciphered…..

The stratigraphy of the Vincha site conducted in 1983 shows that this place was populated since the 7th millennia BC until the present, from the earliest layers dating from the early and middle Neolithic – the Starchevo culture through the late Neolithic Vincha culture with all its phases that are vivid in the powerful 10,5 meters thick cultural layer of the cultures of the Eneolithic, the Bronze age and traces of cultures of the Iron age, the Antiquity and the Byzantine era and the necropolis from the 8th till the 15th century”. Radmila Capin

Likewise the other Indo-European nations, the Slavs paid great attention to the cross-shaped form of the Svastika – Swastika known in the Slavic world as Kolovrat. The Vincha culture that flourished some 8000 years ago in the territory of present Serbia was one of the earliest cultures which used the Svastika in its Symbology and script. For milleniums as the universal magic symbol and the most sacred representation of human race had been used as back as 5-6000 BC, the Swastika was highly powerful symbol which bears positive meanings and majesty of the sun and fire. It was used by many cultures around the world including in China, Japan, India, Africa and southern Europe. Numerous founds confirm that the symbol of Svastika – the symbol of Kolovrat had the extraordinary significance for the early-Slavic cultures that represented the Wheel of Eternal Life. The symbol of Kolovrat symbolizes the Infinity and the cyclic History and the eternal conflict between the Good and the Evil.

The three ceramic tablets from Tartaria of which some feature abstract graphic signs like an alphabet, the other with clear firative signs, were discovered in 1961 by the Romanian archaeologist from Cluj, Nicolae Vlassa. On the locality by the hamlet of Tartaria on the shores of the Mures river which belongs to the Vinca-Turdos Neolithic culture from 5500 BC the sacrificial hole  with ashes and numerous idols – possibly the Shaman grave was found that contained 26 ceramic early-Vincian figurines, two alabaster figures and a bracelet besides the burnt human bones, along with three broken pierced ceramic tablets that were probably worn as medallion around the neck. The first tablet includes figurative drawings – male, goat… without the medallion hole, the other has several stylized drawings that are divided into four parts and features abstract signs.

Two years later, in 1963 the Romanian archaeologist Nicolae Vlassa published his work on this locality. The conclusions were astonishing. The signs engraved on the Tartaria tablets were highly similar, some of the even identical, with the signs of the Sumerian pictographic alphabet of the Uruk IVa phase around 3100 BC and today considered the first human alphabet that preceded the cuneiform writing.  However the dramatic challenge of the Tartarian tablets was part of the fact that those tablets are two thousand years older than the Mesopotamia ceramic tablets! According to some commentators the drawing would represent the symbolic map of the sky with two cardinal axis and constellation symbols.

Soon in Bulgaria in Gradeshnitza a similar ceramic tablet was excavated, aslo dated to around 5500 BC, and later a piece of wood appeared in the Dispilio Lake in Greece known as the Dupya tablet that was engraved in the same way and dated to the same historical period. The symbolism of writing was not invented by the people of the ancient Tartaria – the toponim which designates the Slavic-Aryans. It is obvious that the holders of the Vinca-Turdos culture in the Balkans up to the Carpathians used the symbolic ideograms with probable magic role and representing the particular precedent of writing. The abstract symbols used in the enourmous geographic area of the Vinca civilization which included several main localities. Those are Vinca, Turdos, Varna and Karanovo, out of which every one is characterized by particular features. The record keeps the Vinca culture in the earliest processing, foundry and forging of Copper, Gold was first time processed in Varna, while the first alphabet was created in Turdos.

In pundits circles the Tartaria tablets issue has not been validly clarified despite of the asserted fact that they belong to the early phase of the Vinca culture. The epicenter of this culture was in Vincha site where the earliest excavations were carried out by professor Miloje M. Vasić already in 1908. Since the beginning of his excavations, professor Vasić claimed that signs engraved in the Vincha ceramics might be letters of some unknown alphabet. The Professor Radivoje Pesic provided invaluable contribution to the understanding of the signs of the Vinca culture. By systematization of signs of the Vinca alphabet in 1985 he proved that it is the earliest alphabet in the world, much older than the Egyptian hieroglyphs and the Phoenician cuneiform alphabet’…. ‘Those research prove that the European civilization did not begin with the ancient Greeks, but that there was developed culture of the Old Serbs in the Balkans on which later the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures relied on’. Igor Brusin, Slavic Spirituality

Vinča Sun Calendar, excavated on the Vinca site was created more that 7527 years ago. The Vinca Calendar was made of clay-ceramics in the form of a circular plate. On its top there is the Vinca symbol for time, used by ancient Serbs to determine important events, what became the leading identity symbol of the Serb people through time and history.

Since the Vinca inscriptions are all short and appear on pottery and figurines found in burial sites, and the language represented in the symbols used for religious purposes in a traditional agricultural society is not known, it is highly unlikely they will ever be deciphered. The Vinča artifacts date from between the 7th and 4th millennia BC and those decorated with these symbols are between 8,000 and 6,500 years old. According to researchers the find of the Vincha script is the oldest in Europe. The signs are laid on both sides of a well-preserved ceramic tile. “This plate is a high form of information transmission and is very complex. Thousands of Vinca inscriptions have been discovered in the region of Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. The oldest of the finds, known are the outstanding Tartaria tablets which were discovered in 1961, which feature various symbols like a horned animal, an unclear figure, and a vegetal motif, a branch or tree….. The inscribed tablets were examined by a number of scientists from all across the world and isotope carbon 14 dating revealed they were created at least 6,500 years ago. The tablets covered with photographic writing are extraordinary because they raise the possibility that writing in the Danube basin predated the earliest Sumerian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics.

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