Category Archives: SERBIA

Archaeology team discovers a 7,000-year-old settlement in Serbia

Archaeology team discovers a 7,000-year-old settlement in Serbia

Results of the geophysical survey of the previously unknown site of Jarkovac (Serbia). The settlement, whose surface material points to both the Vinča culture and the Banat culture (5400-4400 BCE), has a surface area of up to 13 ha and is surrounded by four to six ditches. The deep black angular anomalies indicate a large number of burnt houses.

Together with cooperation partners from the Museum of Vojvodina in Novi Sad (Serbia), the National Museum Zrenjanin and the National Museum Pančevo, a team from the ROOTS Cluster of Excellence has discovered a previously unknown Late Neolithic settlement near the Tamiš River in Northeast Serbia.

“This discovery is of outstanding importance, as hardly any larger Late Neolithic settlements are known in the Serbian Banat region,” says team leader Professor Dr. Martin Furholt from the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at Kiel University.

Geophysics reveals a 13-hectare settlement structure

The newly discovered settlement is located near the modern village of Jarkovac in the province of Vojvodina. With the help of geophysical methods, the team was able to fully map its extent in March of this year. It covers an area of 11 to 13 hectares and is surrounded by four to six ditches.

“A settlement of this size is spectacular. The geophysical data also gives us a clear idea of the structure of the site 7,000 years ago,” says ROOTS doctoral student and co-team leader Fynn Wilkes.

Parallel to the geophysical investigations, the German-Serbian research team also systematically surveyed the surfaces of the surrounding area for artifacts. This surface material indicates that the settlement represents a residential site of the Vinča culture, which is dated to between 5400 and 4400 BCE.

However, there are also strong influences from the regional Banat culture. “This is also remarkable, as only a few settlements with material from the Banat culture are known from what is now Serbia,” explains Wilkes.

A wheel model from the site of Szilvás (Hungary), which can be assigned to the Vučedol culture (3000/2900–2500/2400 BCE).

Investigation of circular enclosures in Hungary

During the same two-week research campaign, the team from the Cluster of Excellence also investigated several Late Neolithic circular features in Hungary together with partners from the Janus Pannonius Museum in Pécs.

These so-called “rondels” are attributed to the Lengyel culture (5000/4900–4500/4400 BCE). The researchers also used both geophysical technologies and systematic walking surveys of the surrounding area.

Thanks to the combination of both methods, the researchers were able to differentiate the eras represented at the individual sites more clearly than before.

“This enabled us to re-evaluate some of the already known sites in Hungary. For example, sites that were previously categorized as Late Neolithic circular ditches turned out to be much younger structures,” explains co-team leader Kata Furholt from the Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology at Kiel University.

New insights into the distribution of wealth and knowledge in the Neolithic period

Map of the sites that were surveyed as part of the 2024 spring campaign.

The highlights of the short but intensive fieldwork in Hungary included the re-evaluation of a settlement previously dated to the Late Neolithic period, which is very likely to belong to the Late Copper Age and Early Bronze Age Vučedol culture (3000/2900–2500/2400 BCE), as well as the complete documentation of a Late Neolithic circular ditch in the village of Vokány.

“Southeast Europe is a very important region in order to answer the question how knowledge and technologies spread in early periods of human history and how this was related to social inequalities. This is where new technologies and knowledge, such as metalworking, first appeared in Europe.

With the newly discovered and reclassified sites, we are collecting important data for a better understanding of social inequality and knowledge transfer,” says Professor Martin Furholt.

The results are being incorporated into the interdisciplinary project Inequality of Wealth and Knowledge of the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS, which is focusing on these issues. The analyses are still ongoing.

Oldest Fortresses in the World Discovered in Siberia

Oldest Fortresses in the World Discovered in Siberia

Oldest Fortresses in the World Discovered in Siberia

Archaeologists from Freie Universität Berlin together with an international team have uncovered fortified prehistoric settlements in a remote region of Siberia.

The results of their research reveal that hunter-gatherers in Siberia constructed complex defense structures around their settlements already 8000 years ago.

This discovery reshapes our understanding of early human societies, challenging the notion that people only began to build permanent settlements with monumental architecture and complex social structures with the advent of agriculture.

The investigation centered on the fortified settlement of Amnya, acknowledged as the northernmost Stone Age fort in Eurasia, where the team of researchers conducted fieldwork in 2019.

The group was led by Professor Henny Piezonka, an archaeologist at Freie Universität Berlin, and Dr. Natalia Chairkina, an archaeologist in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Among the team’s members were German and Russian researchers from Berlin, Kiel, and Yekaterinburg.

Tanja Schreiber, an archaeologist at the Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology in Berlin and co-author of the study explains, “Through detailed archaeological examinations at Amnya, we collected samples for radiocarbon dating, confirming the prehistoric age of the site and establishing it as the world’s oldest-known fort.

Our new palaeobotanical and stratigraphical examinations reveal that inhabitants of Western Siberia led a sophisticated lifestyle based on the abundant resources of the taiga environment.”

The prehistoric inhabitants caught fish from the Amnya River and hunted elk and reindeer using bone and stone-tipped spears. To preserve their surplus of fish oil and meat, they crafted elaborately decorated pottery.

Top: aerial view of the Amnya river and promontory; bottom: general plan of Amnya I and II, showing location of excavation trenches and features visible in the surface relief.

Approximately ten Stone Age fortified sites are known to date, with pit houses and surrounded by earthen walls and wooden palisades, suggesting advanced architectural and defensive capabilities. This discovery challenges the traditional view that permanent settlements, accompanied by defensive structures, only emerged with farming societies, thus disproving the notion that agriculture and animal husbandry were prerequisites for societal complexity.

The Siberian findings, along with other global examples like Gobekli Tepe in Anatolia, contribute to a broader reassessment of evolutionist notions that suggest a linear development of societies from simple to complex.

In various parts of the world, from the Korean peninsula to Scandinavia, hunter-gatherer communities developed large settlements by drawing on aquatic resources.

The abundance of natural resources in the Siberian taiga, such as annual fish runs and migrating herds, probably played a crucial role in the emergence of the hunter-gatherer forts.

The fortified settlements overlooking rivers may have served as strategic locations to control and exploit productive fishing spots. The competitive nature arising from the storage of resources and increased populations is evident in these prehistoric constructions, overturning previous assumptions that competition and conflict were absent in hunter-gatherer societies.

The findings underscore the diversity of pathways that led to complex societal organizations, reflected in the emergence of monumental constructions such as the Siberian forts. They also highlight the significance of local environmental conditions in shaping the trajectories of human societies.

Research results were published in the scientific journal “Antiquity.”

‘Magical’ Roman wind chime with a phallus, believed to ward off the evil eye, unearthed in Serbia

‘Magical’ Roman wind chime with phallus, believed to ward off evil eye, unearthed in Serbia

The “tintinnabulum” wind chime was found In debris from a large home in the ruins of the civilian city at the vast Viminacium archaeological site in the east of Serbia.

Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman wind chime called a tintinnabulum — featuring a prominent phallus — at an archaeological site in eastern Serbia.

Such objects, which were hung near the doorways of houses and shops, were believed to serve as magical protection for the premises. This one was discovered on the porch of a large home on a main street in Viminacium, an ancient Roman city,  the extensive ruins of which now lie near the Serbian town of Kostolac, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Belgrade.

“The building was destroyed in a fire, during which the porch collapsed and fell to the ground,” Ilija Danković, an archaeologist at the Institute of Archaeology in Belgrade, told the Serbian-language website Sve o arheologiji.

'Magical' Roman wind chime with phallus, believed to ward off evil eye, unearthed in Serbia
Tintinnabulums usually featured phalluses, which were a symbol of good luck for the Romans. This tintinnabulum of a phallus with wings and legs was found in Prague.

Tintinnabulums were designed to catch the wind, supposedly so their noise and unusual appearance would frighten off evil spirits and ward off the curse of the evil eye, which was greatly feared in antiquity.

Viminacium was the civil and military capital of Rome’s Upper Moesia province from the first to fifth centuries until it was sacked by the Huns under Attila in 441. The city was rebuilt under the Byzantine emperor Justinian, but it was finally destroyed by invading Slavs in about 535.

Magical phallus

Like many tintinnabulums, this one featured a portrayal of an outsized phallus with wings and legs. They were supposed to frighten off evil spirits with their unusual appearance and the noise they made in the wind.

This is the second tintinnabulum found in the ruins, Danković told Live Science. The first is now in a private collection in Austria; nothing is known about its discovery, he said.

However, the newly discovered tintinnabulum was discovered in its full archaeological context. “As soon as we started uncovering it, we knew immediately what we had discovered,” he said.

Archaeologists say the discovery of the tintinnabulum at Viminacium shows the social elites of the provincial city shared the same beliefs as people in the heart of the empire in Rome and had money to spend on imported objects.

The latest tintinnabulum from Viminacium is made of bronze, but it is being kept surrounded by soil until it can be properly restored. As a result, its exact configuration isn’t known. But it is centered on a “fascinum” — a portrayal of a magical phallus — with two legs, wings and a tail, he said.

“Judging by what can be seen … it had four bells and the chain from which it hung,” Danković said, adding that there also seemed to be other elements to the design not seen on other tintinnabulums.

Roman beliefs

Viminacium was the military and civil capital of the Roman province of Upper Moesia from the first until the fifth centuries, when it was destroyed by invading Slavs. It is now one of the most important Roman sites in Europe.

The symbol of a phallus wasn’t always erotic or obscene for the ancient Romans, Danković said. “It was a bringer of good fortune and happiness, and an efficient weapon to combat the evil eye,” he said. “For this reason, phalluses can be seen everywhere in the Roman world, from wine cups to the amulets worn by children.”

He added that the symbol was often publicly displayed to summon prosperity and deter thieves. The discovery of the tintinnabulum is evidence that Viminacium was “in every sense a part of the Roman world,” Danković said.

Not only did its people share many Roman beliefs, he said, but it’s likely that the tintinnabulum was imported from elsewhere in the empire, showing that there were social elites at Viminacium who were willing to pay a significant amount of money for such an object.

At its height, Viminacium was home to up to 40,000 people, including legions of the Roman Army. This model at the site shows how it looked after the third century A.D., with an amphitheater, temples, public baths, and other buildings.

Ken Dark, an archaeologist and historian at King’s College London who wasn’t involved in the discovery, said the Viminacium tintinnabulum was a type of “apotropaic” amulet that was designed to ward off evil influences and give protection to people or their property.

Such amulets “were common in the Roman world, and these sometimes took forms that would seem very strange—or even comical—to us today,” he told Live Science in an email.

Burial Mounds in Serbia reveal skeletons of 5,000-year-old painted men

Burial Mounds in Serbia reveal skeletons of 5,000-year-old painted men

Archaeologists have discovered dye-coloured bones dating back around 5,000 years at a burial site in southeastern Europe where unusually tall men were laid to rest.

Burial Mounds in Serbia reveal skeletons of 5,000-year-old painted men
A reconstruction of the tomb and one of the immigrants from the northeast steppes was found in the sacred burial mounds on the plains of Serbia.

The burial site, located in Vojvodina in northern Serbia, was excavated by researchers between 2016 and 2018. However, only recently was expert analysis carried out.

The burial site consisted of two large mounds 131 feet across and between 10 and 13 feet tall.

Inside, the researchers found that some bones were marked with red colouring, thought to be due to “the use of ochre on the bodies of the dead,” according to Piotr Włodarczak from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, one of the excavation supervisors, in a statement to the government-affiliated Science in Poland public information service.

Ochre is a type of earth that has been coloured by iron oxide. This can give it a red hue and it has been used as a colouring pigment. Red in particular was considered sacred by some, Włodarczak said.

Another thing the researchers noticed about the remains is that the deceased men were over 1.8 meters tall, or around 5 ft. 11 in. This would have been an above-average height for the time—it’s thought that the men were buried around 3,000 BCE, and men living in this part of Europe then would usually have been about 1.6 meters or 5 ft. 3 in. tall, according to Science in Poland.

The height of the men, as well as the use of ochre, led the researchers to believe that they were newcomers to the region and had probably come there from the steppes of what would be south Russia or Ukraine today.

Genetic analysis of the remains suggested the men had themselves come from this region or were immediate descendants of people who did.

The influx of nomads from eastern to more western parts of Europe in this period would have had a significant impact on the culture of Europe, Włodarczak said.


It’s not the only significant archaeological finding to be reported recently. In the United Kingdom last week, a Roman mosaic hidden beneath the streets of London for more than 1,500 years was discovered.

The 26-foot-long mosaic was found at a construction site near the capital’s largest building, The Shard. It’s set to be transported for preservation later this year and there are hopes it will be publicly displayed in future. It’s thought that the mosaic may have been part of a large dining room called a triclinium.

Archaeologists also recently unearthed a 4,000-year-old board game from the Bronze Age in Oman.

A stock photo shows an archaeologist using a brush to carefully examine something in the ground. Archaeologists in Serbia have found burial sites of people who are thought to have travelled there thousands of years BCE.

Newcomers from Eastern Europe settled in today’s Serbia almost 5,000 years ago

Newcomers from Eastern Europe settled in today’s Serbia almost 5,000 years ago

Bones of tall men covered with a red dye, discovered by researchers including Polish archaeologists in two burial mounds in Vojvodina (northern Serbia) probably belonged to people who had come there almost 5 thousand years ago from the steppes of today’s South Russia or Ukraine.

The targets of research were two large mounds with a diameter of 40 m and a height of 3-4 m located in the region Šajkaška (in the autonomous district of Vojvodina) on the lower Tisa, at the western edge of the Eurasian steppe. In each of them, there were two spacious, wooden tomb chambers.

Both mounds were built in two stages. Initially, when the first deceased was buried approx. 3-2.9 thousand years BCE, they were much smaller. After some 100-200 years, during the second burial, their diameters and heights were significantly increased.

The mound ‘Medisova humka’ during research.

‘The graves we discovered were not spectacularly equipped, but we noticed the red colouring of some bones. This was due to the use of ochre on the bodies of the dead’, says Dr. Piotr Włodarczak from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, one of the supervisors of excavations. According to the expert, during that period it was a ‘sacred colour’ used during the funeral rituals. The remains belonged to tall man, over 1.8 m.

‘Both the use of ochre and above-average height of the deceased (men living in this part of Europe at the turn of the fourth and third millennium BCE were usually approx. 1.6 m tall) indicate that they were newcomers.

The ritual involving the use of ochre and burial in large mounds it is associated with communities living in Eastern European steppes’, the scientist explains.

Reconstruction of the Yamnaya culture burial from the mound in Žabalj.

The researchers managed to dot the ‘i”. Genetic analysis of the remains shows that they the deceased either came from the East themselves, or were the immediate descendants of the newcomers. Samples for isotopic analyses were also taken from the bone to determine the diet, among other things.

‘It was not a surprise that their diet contained a lot of meat, because these communities were animal breeders’, adds Dr. Włodarczak.

Excavations took place in 2016-2018, but only now scientists concluded a series of expert analyses. The project was financed by the Polish National Science Centre. It was carried out in cooperation with the Museum of Vojvodina in Novi Sad.

According to Dr. Włodarczak, at the turn of the IV and III millennium BCE, Europe saw an influx of nomads from the southern steppes of today’s Russia and Ukraine, whose traces of archaeologists describe as the Yamnaya culture (from Russian, Pit Grave culture). It significantly changed Europe’s cultural situation.

‘The Bronze Age proto-state centres and elites began to emerge, as evidenced by huge mounds, under which individual people were buried’, he adds. Archaeologists believe they were community leaders.

Some of the graves were very richly equipped with weapons, ornaments and decorated dishes. The mounds discovered in Vojvodina is the westernmost tombs of the nomadic community of Yamnaya culture.

The new population also reached the areas of contemporary Poland. Archaeologists recorded a cultural change in the third millennium BCE – funeral rituals and method of making ceramic vessels changed.

Based on evidence in the form of genetic analyses, researchers believe that the community referred to as the Corded Ware culture also consisted of descendants of steppe nomads.

10-foot-tall Bronze Age geoglyph of a bull found in Siberia Is A First

10-foot-tall Bronze Age geoglyph of bull found in Siberia Is A First

A geoglyph of a bull discovered in Siberia dates back more than 4,000 years, making it twice as old as the famed Nazca lines of Peru and millennia older than Uffington’s chalk-lined White Horse.

Geoglyphs, which often have spiritual or religious meaning, are large designs made in the ground that can typically only be seen from the air.  The bull, which measures 10 feet tall by 13 feet long, is formed from carefully arranged pebbles and sandstone.

It was part of a larger Early Bronze Age burial site uncovered near Khondergey, a village in southwest Tuva close to Russia’s border with Mongolia.

Archaeologists in Siberia have discovered a bull geoglyph they believe is more than 4,000 years old—a millennia older than Uffington’s White Horse and twice as old as the famed Nazca lines of Peru
The bull, which measures 10 feet tall by 13 feet long, is formed from carefully arranged pebbles and sandstone.

This is the first animal geoglyph found in this part of Central Asia, according to archaeologists at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of the History of Material Culture, who participated in the discovery.

‘The bull motif is very typical for the Central Asia cultures of the Early Bronze Era,’ Marina Kilunovskaya, head of Tuva Archaeological Expedition, told The Siberian Times. ‘Later in the Scythian era, bulls were replaced by deers.’ 

Kilunovskaya said petroglyphs, or rock carvings, of bulls, have been discovered in Tuva and the surrounding regions before but this is the first animal geoglyph.

‘We didn’t previously find such stone compositions.’ she told the Times.

Only the back half of the bovine remains—its front was destroyed by road construction in the 1940s. Members of the expedition hope the bull’s rear will be better preserved.

10-foot-tall Bronze Age geoglyph of bull found in Siberia Is A First
A graphic indicating what the bull would have looked like when it was made. Its front end was unknowingly destroyed during road construction in the 1940s

Geoglyphs have been discovered in diverse corners of the world: In addition to the Nazca Lines in Peru and Uffington’s White Horse in England, the Blythe Intaglios are a group of gigantic figures carved into the ground in the Colorado Desert near Blythe, California, that have been radiocarbon-dated to between 900 and 1200 BC.

The Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset, England, is a 180-foot tall nude male figure with a prominent erection and large club. The phallic figure’s outline was made by digging two-foot deep trenches into the ground and filling it with crushed chalk. 

Dates for when it was carved have ranged from the Middle Ages to the 17th century, but using optically stimulated luminescence,  scientists have placed it much further back, somewhere between  700 1110 AD.

The oldest known geoglyph is also in Russia, though some 1,100 miles away from the Tuva bull: An enormous moose only clearly visible from the sky in Chelyabinsk dates to about 6,000 years ago.

The moose, sometimes labelled an elk, was incised on the Zyuratkul Mountains. It stretches for about 902 feet and depicts an animal with four legs, antlers, and a long muzzle.

Only discovered in 2011 using satellite imaging, the moose is also the largest-known figurative geoglyph, as opposed to an abstract or geometric design.

Stone tools uncovered by archaeologists at the site show indicate were made to fit the hands of children, who partook in the glyph’s creation.

The Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset, England, is a 180-foot tall nude male figure with a prominent erection and large Club.

‘But it was not a kind of slave labour of children,’ Stanislav Grigoryev, a senior researcher from the Chelyabinsk History and Archaeology Institute, told The Siberian Times. ‘They were involved to share common values, to join something important to all the people.’

In 2014, dozens of 50 geoglyphs of various shapes and sizes, including a massive swastika, were discovered across northern Kazakhstan.

The impressive Roman military base found in Cornfield in Serbia

The impressive Roman military base found in Cornfield in Serbia

The well-maintained ruins of the headquarters of a Roman legion, hidden under a Serbian cornfield near the coal mines, are excavated by archaeologists, who say that its rural location makes it exceptional.

Covering an estimated 3,500 square meters, the headquarters – or principium – belonged to the VII Claudia Legion. Its location was deduced in the spring during a survey.

There are over 100 recorded principiums across the territory of the Roman empire, but almost all are buried under modern cities, said Miomir Korac, lead archaeologist of digs there and at the Roman provincial capital Viminacium that the compound served.

Miomir Korac, the lead archaeologist, poses for a picture at the remains of Roman legion’s headquarters at the ancient city of Viminacium, near Kostolac, Serbia.

“A very small number of principiums are explored completely (and) … so we can say (preservation of) this one is unique as it is undisturbed.”

The compound, which lies east of Belgrade and around one metre (3 ft) under the surface, had 40 rooms with heated walls, a treasury, a shrine, parade grounds and a fountain.

So far only a quarter has been explored, with excavations scheduled to resume next spring.

Inside one room, archaeologists found 120 silver coins that “must have been lost during an emergency” such as an invasion or a natural disaster, said the principium’s lead archaeologist Nemanja Mrdjic.

Buried under a Serbian cornfield, Roman military headquarters slowly sheds its secrets

“The distribution of coins from a corner to the door, … suggests they (coins) spilled while someone was fleeing.”

The VII Claudia Legion was active between 2nd and 5th centuries AD, and its walled camp and principium were separated from the rest of Viminacium, which had its own fortifications.

Excavations of Viminacium have been ongoing since 1882 and finds there include a Roman ship, golden tiles, jade sculptures, mosaics and frescos, along with 14,000 tombs and the remains of three mammoths.

The impressive Roman military base found in Cornfield in Serbia

Archaeologists estimate that they have only uncovered 4% of the site, which they say it’s bigger than New York’s Central Park.