The Vučedol Culture

Culture is part and parcel of human existence, it is defined as the way a societies way of life is passed on to the younger generation as well as preserved. Enculturation being part of the maintaining social order is quite diverse as well as social specific. Culture is dynamic hence keeps on changing as it is influenced by social, economic, political, natural and environmental aspects. Culture or civilization is what defines a society; it is the pedestal that enables the society to see the world and also the periscope to which the other communities view it. Throughout human civilization culture has been seen to be ethnocentric and egoistic since it if fully embodied and embraced by a society and is revered and held in high esteem and very close to the heart thus to lose culture is termed as an anomie or even an abomination. Civilizations are born, develop and also die due to absorption or domination.

European civilization underwent different stages ranging from Neolithic to the Eneolithic, many cultures existed as well as some dominating others and leading to the weaker culture being absorbed into the main civilization. Archeological artifacts depict a very dominant culture that existed In Europe and forms a pillar in studying and understanding civilization in Europe. The Vučedol culture was an Indo-European culture that existed between 3000 and 2200BC during the Eneolithic era where copper was the most used mineral for trading, metallurgy and also raw material for products.

The Vučedol culture was famed for its Arsenic copper and is believed to have occupied the region centered at Syrmia and Eastern Slavonia on the right bank of river Danube occupying the region of Pannonia plains and western Balkans. The culture existed at the same time with Mesopotamia, Egypt’s early dynasty and also Troy in Greece. This culture came out of two previous older cultures; The Baden culture from Pannonia and Kostolac culture from western Romania and Northern Serbia.

The Archeological site of the Vučedol culture is a 3 hectare piece of land in the Wolf’s valley and is considered the largest archeological site in Europe. It is 6 kilometers downstream of the town of Vukovar in Croatia with had an estimated population of 3000 people. Arsenic copper was their main trading item and was also the strategic central point of trading with many artifacts having been found in this region.

Artifacts from the site show:

  • Arsenic copper was the main trade item with their community chief Shaman -smith a skilled artisan offering guidance on copper smelting also was well versed with seasonal changes hence developed a calendar portraying 4 seasons with each season having 12 weeks.
  • The shaman -smith health was greatly impacted by the arsenic used in smelting hence had a limping stature and poor body movement.
  • The community was a mix of hunters, fishermen, gatherers, practiced agriculture and also reared domesticated livestock.
  • Traders: Barter exchange was part of their livelihood as the site contains numerous artifacts and also VuAedol artifacts were found in neighboring communities such as the Mycenaean occupying the south.
  • Spiritualism and Rituals: Human sacrifice and child initiation is suspected with newborn babies having a drop of molten copper put on their foreheads. Symbols depicting the constellation, the heavens, women figures point out on rituals and worship.
  • Social Stratification: the culture was organized to form tribal and military aristocracy.
  • Ceramic art: Many artifacts are baked clay vessels having non functional handles and the most famous being the Vučedol Dove.

The Vučedol Dove is the most famous artifact. It was discovered by an archeologist named M. Seper in 1938. This is a baked clay vessel bearing the shape and image of a male Partridge bird on a defensive limp mode probably against a predator. It can be equated to a limping shaman -smith due to arsenic effects on his body. The Vučedol Dove bears a lot of artistic symbols depicting association with cultism of ‘The Great mother’.

The culture dwelled in half dug pits covered with canebrake and branches on the hillsides surrounded by palisades. The half buried houses were mostly rectangular or circular with the floor made of baked clay as well as having mushroom shaped fireplaces. There is evidence to prove the existence of the social Elite who occupied the higher grounds and had ditches dug round their territories separate them from the rest of the community. In course of civilization a blend of VuAedol and Yamna culture formed a newer culture referred to as the Bell Beaker Culture.