Innovation is not just a modern, fashionable word. In reality, it exists for as long as the humankind. But how did it started happening? Here is a story about some the most ancient innovation we know.
In my previous article about ancient innovation, I described how ancient Romans had a great admiration for the Greek style in architecture, while at the same time they innovated. Firstly there were columns, then there were arches. Centuries later, European architects were reinventing that wheel.
However, these processes were simple and required no overthinking from their creators. They only needed to resolve the problems. If the problem was the lack of beautiful interior spaces, they would make it possible to create them.
Similarly, people from Vučedol made some breakthrough innovations, just centuries before the Greeks and Romans.
Read also: My 2016 article about Vučedol Culture Museum
The Capital of Europe
5000 years ago in Europe, there was a big metropolis. In other words, it was the capital of Europe. During their most glorious days, they made the inventions that would later define our civilisation.
They were the Vučedol culture, and they resided through the central-east Europe. But their capital was on a particular location on the banks of the Danube river. Nowadays, we can still observe its archaeological site near Vukovar in Croatia.
It might not be the most ancient innovation, but it is surely one of them.
“Look at a starry sky” is a romantic-sounding phrase. But we don’t know if there was such a thing as a romance 5000 years ago. All we know is that people of Vučedol loved star gazing.
As a result, they found many important discoveries. One of their notable findings is the calendar. You got it right, the very first calendar in Europe was created in Vučedol.
Further, they had something we could call a national holiday. It was the 21st of March, the they when the spring starts and the day and night last equally.
Long before the abundance of disposable cheap textiles we have today, producing clothes and shoes was a learned process. Understanding that the humans come in so many shapes and sizes was the challenge for anyone who wanted to create cool and creative clothes. Most noteworthy, creativity was responding to the needs.
Meanwhile, some shoemakers from Vučedol realised that shoes could serve the wearer better if adjusted to left and right foot. That is to say, the first place in the world where shoes were created differently for left and right foot is – the Vučedol Culture. So, it was surely one of the most ancient innovation examples.
Read also: Ancient Colours and the colourful world
Is storytelling a word you hear on conferences and seminars, especially if your work in the fields of marketing and communication? If yes, you might think it is again a kind of modern slang. Wrong.
In reality, many prehistoric and ancient people were talented storytellers. Telling stories is quite a basic activity. Even when mother read fairytales to their children before bedtime, they tell them stories. Above all, the adapt the intonation of their speech, make it creative and appealing to these young, unexperienced human beings.
People of Vučedol were likely Indo-European speakers. But they had no script yet. In other words, they did not read or write, as far as we know. Instead, the patterns in ceramics were their language. From finding ceramics with these patterns, archaeologists discovered Vučedol settlements in as much as 14 contemporary countries. In conclusion, they were leaving their mark thousands of kilometres away from their metropolis, the capital city where 3000 of them lived.
In the same vein, we can say that they told easy-to-understand stories. Their stories were visuals, technical, artistic, as they made some archaeologists believe that certain Greek myths originate in the trade between Vučedol and early Hellenic cultures.
The most ancient innovation in… industry?
Again, I come up with a “modern” word, how do I dare? Because I simply have to. So, let’s move to the point.
Firstly, people of Vučedol were hunters and fishermen. Their first settlement were established on place where they could easily get food. But then they decided to innovate. While living in the copper age, one generation decided to find new technique of producing much necessary metal tools and weapons. As a result, they created one of earliest kinds of bronze. In other words, they had some serious industry!
Meanwhile, their spiritual leaders were shamans, who decided to take care of metal workers safety. They carefully researched about the impact of these metals on human health. So they came to another innovation – work safety! It is yet another “modern phrase”.
Vučedol Culture Museum
This article cannot be complete without featuring the time machine. Above all, Vučedol innovation goes on. This museum is truly innovative and offers you a feeling of being a part of a 5000 years old metropolis.
The museums will take you to a slow, meaningful trip. During your visit, you will joyful cruise through the knowledge about agriculture, metal work, fashion, and star gazing.
Last but not least, the most famous item from Vučedol culture is the so-called Vučedol Dove, also considered to represent partridge and not dove. However, that outstanding work of copper age art is not in the on-site museum. It is on display at the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb. It would be specially innovative if the original objects would be kept on their original location, but it’s still beyond our times.
Some easily accessible sources:
- The Vučedol Culture: The Rise of an Iconic Copper Age culture in Croatia, by Wu Mingren for Ancient Origins, accessed on June 23, 2020.
- Vučedolski Orion and the oldest European calendar, accessed on June 23, 2020
- Vučedol Culture Museum Official Website, accessed on June 24, 2020