Sites & cities that bear the name of Vinča-Belo Brdo

Vinča-Belo Brdo

Today in : Serbia
First trace of activity : 5,700 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 4,900 B.C.E

Description : Vinča-Belo Brdo (Serbian: Винча-Бело брдо) is an archaeological site in Vinča, a suburb of Belgrade, Serbia. The tell of Belo Brdo ('White Hill') is almost entirely made up of the remains of human settlement, and was occupied several times from the Early Neolithic (c. 5700 BCE) through to the Medieval period. The most substantial archaeological deposits are from the Neolithic-Eneolithic Vinča culture, of which Vinča-Belo Brdo is the type site. Starčevo period, c. 5700–5300 BCE The earliest deposits at Belo Brdo date to around 5700 BCE and belong to the Early Neolithic Starčevo culture. Evidence for this phase of occupation is scant owing to the disruption of the later Vinča settlement, and consists mainly of one large grave containing the remains of eleven males. This collective burial is unusual for Starčevo sites, where individual inhumations are the norm. Otherwise the Starčevo finds at Belo Brdo are unremarkable, and it is only one of several contemporary Starčevo settlements in the vicinity of modern Belgrade. Vinča period, c. 5200–4900 BCE A clay figurine from Vinča-Belo Brdo on display at the British Museum. A century after the abandonment of the Starčevo settlement Belo Brdo was occupied by people of the Vinča culture. A total of thirteen building horizons from this period make up the majority of the tell's stratigraphy, as new buildings were constructed on the debris left by periodic fires. Belo Brdo was a major Vinča centre and, at its peak, one of the largest settlements in Neolithic Europe. However, it was abandoned by 4900 BCE, some five centuries before the wider collapse of the Vinča culture. As in the earlier Starčevo occupation, the Vinča houses at Belo Brdo were constructed primarily from wood and clay, but they also made use of levelled foundations, insulation and decoration with paint and wall coverings. In later phases large (40 x 60 m2) rectangular buildings with internal divisions and fixed furniture (benches, braziers, waterwheels, tables, etc.) appeared alongside the predominant one-roomed dwellings. The Vinča settlement was arranged on straight streets, fenced and considerably larger than that of the Starčevo period. The inhabitants' subsisted based both on the cultivation of grains (einkorn, emmer and barley) and husbandry of domesticated animals (primarily cattle, but also goats, sheep and pigs). These agricultural practices probably continued to be supplemented by hunting and fishing in the surrounding environs. In the Early Vinča phase Belo Brdo seems to have developed into a ritual centre for the entire region. The manufacture of various types of cult objects, including 'mushroom amulet' and 'animal head' jewellery made from semi-precious stones, first appeared there and then spread to other Vinča sites. The raw material for these objects often had to be imported from considerable distance, indicating also that from its earliest phase the site was part of large-scale exchange networks. It is therefore thought that Belo Brdo was a key place in a wider Vinča prestige economy, and an abundance of ritual paraphernalia, especially anthropomorphic figurines, is characteristic of the site. Another ritual innovation of Early Vinča phase Belo Brdo was the bucranium cult, where the painted skulls of cattle were fixed to the interior of houses. It is speculated that this practice may be linked to the wealth of individual households as measured in cattle. Later, however, Belo Brdo was to some degree eclipsed by the nearby site of Vršac, which became the centre of the much more widespread exchange of ornaments made from Spondylus shells. Subsequently, in the Late Vinča phase figurines became less widely circulated, and at the same time more standardised in form (in contrast to the many idiosyncratic styles of the Early Vinča phase). They also began to be inscribed with Vinča symbols, which perhaps indicates that competition and conflict was arising between different groups within Belo Brdo trying to assert control over the flow of ritual goods. Post-Vinča occupations Belo Brdo has been occupied several times since the abandonment of the Vinča settlement, but not on the same scale. From the Copper Age there are four graves belonging to the Bodrogkeresztúr culture, a very small Baden culture settlement and some evidence of visits by people of the Kostolac culture. There was a large but short-lived Bronze Age settlement belonging to the Vatin culture. In the Iron Age the size of the tell made it an attractive location for a significant Celtic hill fort complete with defensive earthworks. The most recent historical use of the site was a substantial Old Serbian necropolis.

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