Vinča Belo Brdo, located 12 km from Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is one of the largest examples of a typical East European tell site. It is over 9 m high, and recent survey indicates that it is at least 15 ha in extent. It comprises the remains of predominantly domestic features and material like house rubble, pottery, and tools but contains also some burials, ceremonial paraphernalia and personal ornaments. Its vertical stratigraphy has long attracted the research interest of generations of archaeologists. The tell has been excavated in three major campaigns: from 1908–1934 (with interruptions) by Miloje Vasić, from 1978–1986 by Nikola Tasić and Dragoslav Srejović, and from 1998–2012 by Nenad Tasić. These studies have revealed settlements and occupational phases from the Early Neolithic to early modern times.
The current project focuses on the main Neolithic occupation of the tell – the time of the iconic Vinča culture. The sixth and the fifth millennia cal BC in the Balkans formed an exciting time of tradition and innovation that gave rise to various subsistence strategies, the first metalworking and the creation of material worlds unparalleled in the rest of Europe at that time. The precise dating of the Vinča tell will provide an important insight into the timing of these processes and the spread of mature Neolithic lifeways.
Provisional models based on the existing chronology of the Vinča tell by Wolfram Schier and others, and in consultation with Professor Nenad Tasić and his team in the University of Belgrade, have been generated during an initial visit to Belgrade in June 2012. These results, based on existing radiocarbon dates and simulated dates for the Vinča tell, suggest that the potential to produce a more precise chronology is very promising. Discussions with the current principal investigator of the site, Professor Tasić, and an initial assessment of the archive have identified three possible strands of sample collection: animal bone, human bone and other organic remains (such as short-life plant remains and rush matting) from the excavations in the 2000s; bone artefacts from Vasić’s excavations in the beginning of the century; and finally animal bone and other organic remains from the excavation of a finite section of the tell threatened by a landslip in 2012–13. The first strand is expected to provide a detailed chronology for Vinča D, while the other three phases (from A to C) are covered by the second strand of samples. The third strand of samples will complete and enhance the existing sequence by providing data from all four classic Vinča culture phases of the tell. The submission of samples from the Vasić collection and from the excavations in the 2000s has already begun.
Local Partners:Nenad Tasić (University of Belgrade), Miroslav Marić (Institute for Balkan Studies), Dragana Filipović (University of Oxford), Kristina Penezić (University of Heidelberg), Vuk Koldžić (University of Belgrade)
UK Team: Dušan Borić, Bisserka Gaydarska, Alistair Barclay, Alex Bayliss, and Alasdair Whittle