Faith or Knowledge? Both.

I’m publishing this post on March 1. This is the time when days become longer, and spring is almost here. Astronomically it comes on March 21, and even Vučedol people knew about it, 5000 years ago.

This is the fourth episode of the post series “7 Untold Stories From European Archaeology“, and it’s presenting the ways how beliefs coincided with wisdom in the Vučedol Culture. In the capital city of Europe of that time, the most important citizens were shamans. The shamanism was the official authority, combining faith and knowledge, intuition and sense.

The Orion and other Constellations

Orion patterns on ceramic

Related article: Mechanical device explains seasons, and why the polar regions experience polar days and nights.

Spring is coming, that’s a good news, hehe. According to the shamans of Vučedol, this is the time when the Orion constellation is replaced by the Sun. By observing the winter sky, they mapped it and defined several constellations such as Gemini, Pleiades, Cassiopeia and Cygnus. While the Orion, their main point of interest and cultural symbol, was visible on the winter sky, they noticed the day when it disappears bellow horizon before sunrise, followed by day when the daylight and the night had the same length, starting the periods of longer days afterwards – on March 21.

Here is the fact – the oldest European – Indo-European calendar was made precisely here in Vučedol. They even figured out the actual number of days in the annual orbit of the Earth around the Sun. Do we know much more about astronomy than they did? Maybe not. They did not understand galaxies, okay.

Exhibition Design - Vucedol Culture Museum, Croatia
The calendar of Vučedol was based on observing the winter sky.

Orion, as a cultural symbol was reflected on the characteristic Vučedol culture pattern, found on metals and ceramic, and probably even on clothes and footwear, which means that Vučedol had quite elegant fashion, or at least I think so because I loved to see how it could look like, when I visited this museum. Probably it’s because of the way this museum presents the entire story.

There is the scientific evidence about an event on the winter sky, which occurred exactly on the data shown on the picture bellow. This moment provoked imagination amongst shamans and gave inspiration for a certain myth believed later by the Greeks and Romans. I’ll write more about this in the next episode.

Moment on the winter sky, Prehistory

In the Vučedol Culture Museum, you’ll find an interactive device designed to research the sky and constellations.

Even if you have never been much interested in the topic, you’ll have a lot of fun while touching on the screens and viewing the forms of each constellation observed by the Vučedolians, as well as their actual appearance on the sky. After playing with that, I tried to look up at night and recognise some of those forms. So far I haven’t been successful, also because this winter has been damn rainy over here 😀

Vučedol Dove – The Partridge


This dark picture shows the famous Vučedol Dove. Every Croatian and ex-Yugoslavian kid learned about it at school. Found in 1938,  according to the newest analysis it’s not even likely to be a domesticated dove, but rather a partridge.

The Vučedol Dove was a ritual vessel used for ceremonial needs, serving as a symbol of safety and fertility. As a symbol of faith, it also reflects great craftsmanship. When you go to Croatia, you’ll see that it also appears on the banknotes of 20 Croatian kuna (HRK). However, the original object is not here, as at the time when it was found there were no institutions to hold it in this region. The Dove is in the Archeological Museum in Zagreb.

The Europe’s earliest Metallurgy

Look back at the time I’m talking about. Imagine that there is need for something like:

The next big thing.

In these days of the 21st century, we are looking for something like this in the tech companies, startups, medical research or environmentally friendly practices. The Vučedol culture was innovative in terms of knowledge and fulfilled with faith, a characteristic form os shamanism, where the altered state of conscience led to the creation of a completely new worldview.

That way, the shamans became responsible for the earliest bronze production in the world, after discovering the two metals, tin and copper, can make a great combination, today known as bronze. But before the real bronze, there was such a thing named arsenic bronze.

The shamans of Vučedol had hard times keeping people away from metallurgic furnaces, knowing that arsenic gases might be dangerous! 

Furnaces for metal production Axes

These axes were found literally in someone’s courtyard, but the discovery gave a perfect result – this was the world’s first serial production of metal. Serial production, yes. Something like industry or maybe commerce.

So did they believe? Or did they rather researched? Both. Knowledge and Faith. Something incredible 😀

Related article: Fake Branded Fashion in a Museum

Vučedol is cool.

This poster looks so friendly. Find more interesting graphics and curiosities about Vučedol on their Facebook page.

Your #Vucedol.

Keep Calm and Love Vucedol

The entire post series about the Vučedol Culture Museum has been created in partnership with the Museum itself. Opinions are my own, and I only collaborate with great museums, the ones that are really fun 🙂

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