Thursday Thirteen

1. If someone would ask you about the eldest culture what would you say? Egyptians? Greeks? Romans? Oh well … this TT is about one ancient civilization you probably have never heard before; civilization 3000 years older than ancient Egyptians. Unfortunately for that culture is that is located in Serbia and therefore condemned on existence in the shade of ignorance at least for now (don’t get me wrong, we Serbs are partly guilty as well). I guess this is my small contribution.

2. First I’d like to write something about natural habitat of that ancient culture: the mighty Danube and its breathtaking Đerdap gorge. Đerdap gorge with its Iron Gate (on the photograph) is a center of Đerdap National Park which is on tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage located in the eastern Serbia.

Danube

3. The Đerdap gorge is the longest fissure in Europe and a rare natural phenomenon. There are sections where the vertical cliffs rise 300m above the level of the Danube and the measured depth of the so-called “cauldrons” goes up to 82 m (one of the greatest river depths in the world). 4. Gorge was always a world for itself, almost isolated from its surrounding and that especially in early Holocene when surrounding plain region had become deserted. Big River was the main sculptor in creating this remarkable mountain landscape which is why there are so many changes of altitude in one, relatively small region and therefore there are several ecological zones with many endemic species.

5. That breathtaking landscape was the settlement of civilization whose discovery marked a new chapter in the study of European prehistory: Lepenski Vir. Lepenski Vir is an impressive illustration of the link between man and nature, of the role and significance of the natural environment for husbandry and the organization of life and culture in general. 6. Archaeological site Lepenski Vir in spite the fact that it is place of immeasurable value and significance cannot shine in its full beauty due to its location – Serbia and its quite limited financial support (hopefully that will be changed in the future). It is the center of one of the most important prehistoric culture that had existed 8000-4500 BC.Lepenski Vir

7. First population were tribes of hunters who had stayed on these fertile river banks establishing first settlements. Then around 5300 BC culture of Lepenski Vir had so called “Neolithic Revolution” when they along with fishing and hunting started to domesticate animals. It was beginning of agriculture and cattle breeding.

8. They begun pottery manufacture and making tools and other objects including religious ones as well. It was birth of different beliefs and establishing of the cult of Mother Earth. 9. Therefore they had specific way of burying: in the position of embryo which confirms beliefs of ancient farming cultures that everything is coming from Mother Earth and that everything is going back to her (“dust to dust” sounds familiar?).

10. Figurines founded in the settlements have enormous significance and are representing divinities. Those stone idols are fish-like humanoids and that’s why we’re guessing that divinities are connected with the river.

figurine from Lepenski Vir11. Remains of the “villages” are amazing. Namely in order to use the terrain in the best possible way they’ve had to build houses according to some plan. There is a central building with the empty space turned toward the Danube and that was sort of main square. Other buildings had surrounded the central one framing the square and forming “streets” to the main square or Danube. Thanks to these facts we know that Lepenski Vir is the eldest known urban settlement in Europe.

12. “Houses” have had base in the form of trapezium with tent-like wooden construction above it. In the central part of the house was hearth with the place for sacred figurines. What it is fascinating is that heat from the hearth was spreading equally by the floor thanks to the material and way of building. So it seems they had one of the eldest (if not the eldest) floor heating🙂

13. Life in Lepenski Vir died out 4500 BC when its inhabitants moved in search of bigger arable lands.

This was the story about my prehistoric “compatriots”. I hope you liked it.

Happy T13!

P.S. If you’d like to leave your comment please scroll up and click “Comments” under the title of this TT (and above TT photo with newspaper and coffee). The one which is above this entire post is for the book and not TT. Thanks!