Just 25 kilometres from downtown Belgrade is the archaeological site of Vinča, the largest-known Neolithic settlement in Europe, and the prehistoric hub of the remarkable 7500 year old Vinča culture. One of the first urban civilizations in Europe, Vinča culture spread over hundreds of kilometers along the Danube River, covering areas of modern Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia.
The Vinča site at Belo Brdo outside Belgrade is internationally recognised for its exceptional size (over ten hectares), its duration (over 1000 years of almost continuous human occupation), its rich art and symbolism (hundreds of figurines and decorative objects) as well as its highly developed architecture, economy and trade/ exchange.
• Vinča was civilization in its own right, already established in the 6th millennium BC, three millennia before Dynastic Egypt.
• Vinča is one of the first recorded urban settlements in Europe – a typical town consisted of houses with complex architectural layouts and several rooms, built of wood that was covered in mud that sat along streets.
• Vinča was the largest-known Neolithic settlement in Europe; it is believed to have been considerably larger than other city in contemporary European culture.
• Vinča produced the first known European examples of a ‘proto’-script. Vinča symbols may in fact represent the earliest known form of writing in the world.
• Vinča people were the first known in the world known to smelt copper. They were Europe’s first metal culture via Europe’s oldest mine at the nearby Mlava river.
• Vinča was among the first known civilizations to develop copper tools, advanced architecture, including two-story houses, design and production of furniture, and a writing system, as well as unprecedented skills like art production, weaving, leather processing and clothes and jewelry manufacture.
• The large number of identical artistic and cultural objects found in Vinča indicates that production was already standardized in the late Stone Age
The Neolithic site of Vinča is therefore a place of immense historic and archaeological importance, not only for Serbia, but for the whole of Europe and indeed the World.
However, in spite of the irreplaceable archaeological value of the site, it is highly vulnerable due to its proximity to the river; if the riverbank collapses, the context of the archaeological site would be lost. The government is therefore assessing ways to protect the site as well as to provide conditions for more efficient (year round) archaeological excavation.
Further, responsibility of Vinča has traditionally been spread across different agencies including the State, the City, the City Museum, the Faculty of Philosophy and others. Stakeholders are currently working together to find ways to streamline and improve the management of the site.
The team is also looking at improving the marketing of the site to develop its full tourism potential and to build local economic opportunities for today’s Vinča community. Neolithic / Cultural tourism could potentially include recreations, festivals, art & crafts, culinary activities and hands-on experiences. Internationally this is already big business; over 1.555 million visitors visited Stonehenge in the UK in 2018, for example, and 3300 people visit the Lascaux IV cave art replica in France every single day.
Vinča marks the zenith of Neolithic culture in Europe, where knowledge, creativity, mutual tolerance and prosperity were basic values. This creative heritage is reflected in modern Serbia’s new brand platform, Serbia Creates. Serbia Creates promote the notion that the country’s greatest attributes are creativity, innovation and inventiveness, that creative Serbians are the country’s greatest competitive advantage, and that the creativity that Serbians bring to their work and life is the value-add of any project, investment, trade, tour or educational course undertaken in the country.