Living in the Capital City

Today I’ll talk about a museum situated in a real metropolis. This is the second episode of the post series about unknown stories from archaeology in Europe, about a place that was the “prehistoric London”, according to professor Aleksandar Durman. 

It was 5000 years ago on the banks of the Danube, in Central Europe, when the Vučedol culture reached the peak, in terms of wisdom, technology and creativity. People from Vučedol are considered to be among the first Indo-Europeans, and they also had their dream houses, the way we do today. This attractive position next to the Danube is such a privilege, they knew it. So they built their houses on this specific place. They built the entire city, that counted about 2000 inhabitants. In the times when most of people were living in the nomadic tribes (oh yes, there are neo-nomads today, people who travel, that’s me), it was a big, big city.

The House – A Dream Home

Only a triangle of that city is visible here, after the archaeological team of Vučedol made these extensive excavations. If you look at the picture below, carefully, you notice that these structure are quite deep, and that they needed to do a lot of work before finding this. Before they started this round of investigations, this place was just like anything else around – a green grass field. In the last episode I even mentioned a pieces of data from the statistics – only 20% of all site has been excavated so far.

Prehistoric houses in Vučedol, arcaeological site

These forms visible on picture, these are the houses of Vučedol. Vučedol man lived in type of house that had no prehistoric standard, and he built the house like a large basket. For the entire construction, apart from the roof frame, he needed stakes (most often up to 5 cm thick) which he drove vertically into the ground in a row, at a distance of 25-30 cm apart. He then wove sticks horizontally through them. Due to the integral connectedness of the wattle there could be no corners.

Then onto this construction, on both sides, was thrown sludgy loess (area along the Danube) or clay (area away from the loess terraces) in a layer of up to 20 cm thick. Partitioning walls were built in the same way. The houses were elongated – from 7–8 m long and 4.7–6.1 m wide. The width of the house up to 6 metres was assigned in advance because its saddle roof was covered with a layer of reeds (the length of which was up to 4.5 m).

For me it sounds great! I even heard that houses of this type can hold a comfortable temperature throughout the year. While passing by this part of the museum I said something like, this is a dream house.

A sweet home in the capital city, hehe

Vucedol Culture Museum, Croatia

This is a kind of reconstruction, an idea for how their wicker furniture might have looked like. Some Vučedol houses had 1 room, some had 2 rooms. This example is a luxury home, with a living room, a bedroom and a storage room – 3 in total. If you were wondering what were those holes, visible on site, they served as vessels to store some drinking water.

It’s evident that Vučedol people learned to create highly innovative and creative household items, parts of them can be noticed on ceramics found on-site. I’ll tell you more interesting facts from this in the next episode. Also, when you visit the museum, you’ll have an exclusive opportunity to see the multimedia 3D reconstruction of this metropolis.

The basement of prehistoric houses

The fireplace in a prehistoric house

 

There was a fireplace in the middle, serving for cooking and heating. The though part of this were fires that became uncontrolled. Many of these houses burned down because of a little inobservance. So they were rebuilt, but new stakes could not be placed in the same line where the basements of old ones remained after fires. For that reason, the houses’s basements are somehow misplaces, one above another, as you can see on pictures above. Yet Vučedol people were talented for problem-solving, just like today’s managers 🙂

There were no stones in Vučedol! Oh no, wait…

Vučedol is situated on a hill, much above the river. But this hill has no stones. There are no stones for kilometers around; the entire region of Slavonia is fairly plain. But the archaeologists found grindstones in Vučedol!

Grindstone from the Vucedol archaeological site

The hard working Vučedol man was apparently looking for stones on the nearby mountains. “Nearby” is a relative term, since the distances can be measured in a few hundreds of kilometers-miles. The groups of Vučedolians were bringing these stones to the village, on their backs. Ouch!

Conclusion? Even the agriculture / food production was well organised.

There was a Baden culture in Europe, more or less at the same time. On their sites, there were many ceramic spoons found. They were eating all together from one pot. Vučedol people were different. Various types of dishes were found on place – even many sizes of plates were found! Even salt containers. But there is no any single spoon found on place.

The reason is simple – pieces of ceramic can be easily broken. But if you make a wooden spoon, it will sure last longer. However, wood is not so long-lasting material, so it can’t be found after thousands of years. Broken ceramic items are, on the other hand, persistent because of their materials.

Anyway, Vučedol people has obviously kitchens similar to ours – to our 21st century kitchens 😀

Salt containers from Vucedol

Visiting a metropolis is always a great idea – go for a city break, to the fifth capital city of the Danube. Vučedol culture museum is a place where you could spend an entire day, and it’s a great combination with a lovely castle in the nearby Vukovar. That castle represents the times when the banks of the Danube were again a privileged location, this time for European high aristocracy.

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