5000 years ago in Europe

The Danube is the Europe’s greatest river, and it flows through 4 capital cities. In the pre-historic times (the Eneolithic period of earliest copper-smithing), there were three highly advanced civilizations – Mesopotamia – with the capital of Asia, Egypt – with the capital of Africa, and – Vučedol culture – with the capital of Europe.

I’ll talk about the main archaeological site, where almost all the information we have about the Vučedol culture was found. These lands are beautiful, and there are many affordable restaurants with delicious river fish and great wine there. This is a must-visit point, on any trip between Zagreb and Belgrade. This is a perfect stop, a place to stay one day and one night, or more if you like it a lot. Feel the history, embrace the future, that’s what the Vučedol Culture Museum staff likes to say.

Vučedol Culture Museum is the top archeological and architectural project located at the far East of the Republic of Croatia. Its newly opened exhibition presents cultural phenomena of the five thousand years old civilization established 5 km south from Vukovar, on the banks of the Danube river. The exhibition focuses on the everyday life of Vučedol culture and on its spiritual, intellectual and revolutionary technological achievements.

Beautiful lands of Vucedol, an important archaeological site
Panoramic View over the Museum

If you want to see archaeologists working on-site, the best time of the year to come here is during September. The excavations are done yearly, and there is still a lot of space to be “opened”. Only about 20% of the site has been excavated so far. I feel that there will be material for much more blog posts and posts series *smile*

Excavations on the Vucedol culture site
Working on site
Excavations on the Vucedol site
The Museum is situated right on the archaeological site

The Danube and Vučedol

During several centuries, the Vučedol culture was spreading across the lands of Danube, in Syrmia and Slavonia, Western Balkans and also Pannonian plain. The main settlement was found at the archeological site situated next to the city of Vukovar, on the right bank of Danube. The first excavations were made as early as in the late XIX century (in 1897), while the Museum was inaugurated in June 2015.

Let’s go to the point. I recently made a trip to Finland. When I reached the Lapland region, above the Arctic circle, I told my readers the facts about the population on those lands – a village with 300 inhabitants is considered a big village. People on the Arctic lands live a very traditional way of life, but they are quite well supported by contemporary technologies.

Now, let’s imagine the time about 5000 years ago, the time when Stonehenge was built. How many people lived on Earth in that time? It’s hard to estimate. But we are sure about one simple fact, the fact that there was a place counting as much as 2000 inhabitants – in that time!

We can’t call it a village, we’ll rather call it a metropolis. It was a real capital of Europe, as I already said 🙂

The prehistoric times are all about cultures, according to the historical/archaeological science jargon. There was a Baden culture, next to this one. There were cultures before, culture after. The difference between these cultures is mostly viewable in the decorative patterns on ceramic items, while we can also notice differences in ways how tools and arms were created. However, what made these cultures evolve was the way how people learned to shape the metals.

Vučedol Culture Museum
Metal processing was particularly important for the development of the early civilizations.

One of the 3 Great Civilizations

The lands where these civilization developed in the prehistory have passed through difficult times in the recent history. The lands of Mesopotamia are today Iraq and Iran. The Egypt is – contemporary Egypt. We all know the situation. Vučedol is situated near Vukovar, a town which is, historically and psychologically, directly related to the Croatian independence and statehood. In the recent Yugoslavian Civil War, which resulted in the Croatian Homeland War (Domovinski rat). Vukovar is also situated on the banks of the Danube, right on the Serbian border; the other side of the river is Serbia. Vukovar was occupied and taken by the Serbian Army, there was a tough battle, terribly destroyed with lots of pieces of heritage destroyed. However, the town has been rebuilt and even historical buildings restored.

Today, the zone of Vučedol culture is perfectly safe to visit, which is not the case on the lands of Mesopotamia and Egypt. I’m a kind of saddened with that fact, but I feel good that at least Vučedol, situated about 500 km away from my hometown, became a peaceful zone. In the Vučedol Culture Museum, there are no war stories. Only archaeology 🙂

The way modern Central European cities are situated on the banks of Danube, the Vučedol culture developed their advanced civilization on the same place.

The Museum provides you with a unique experience of going with a flow; while walking through the exhibition rooms, you go up and up, sometimes without even noticing that you are “climbing”. It’s like a river. That way the building was designed by the architect and was even awarded on some contests.

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

There are no staircases in the museum. When reaching the top, you can go outside and go down, through the outdoor passage, and you’ll be back to the entrance, after having a lot of fun in the museum. As the building is situated right in front of the Danube, having a walk along the Danube’s promenade is an excellent idea…

The hills of Vučedol and the Danube In front of the Danube in Vucedol near Vukovar

Untold Stories from European Archaeology

This is the first episode of the Untold Stories from European Archaeology post series. The post series is made in cooperation with the Museum itself and their partners from the Vukovar City Museum. Follow our Facebook page, Twitter, and subscribe to our newsletter, and don’t miss the next stories and ideas for culture & heritage travel.

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