Institute of Archaeology

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View from the trenches: Serbia I

5 August 2013

A view of the Belovode excavations

Institute staff, together with colleagues from the UK and Serbia have recently completed their second and final season of excavations at Belovode, Serbia as part of the AHRC-funded Rise of Metallurgy in Eurasia project.

Dig Diary 2013

In 2012, Miljana Radivojević and Benjamin Roberts (University of Durham) began excavations in collaboration with Miroslav Marić (Institute of Balkan Studies, Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, Belgrade) and Duško Šljivar (National Museum of Belgrade, Serbia) at the Vinča culture site of Belovode, Serbia. This site had previously yielded the earliest known evidence for copper smelting dating to c. 5000 BC. The 2012 season opened a 5m x 5m trench which revealed a settlement dwelling structure and a large range of pits.

Site photography at Belovode

The 2013 season expanded and continued from the previous year. Further pits were encountered, many of which were densely packed with pottery (including the remains of kiln floors), figurines, animal bone, flint and polished stone tools, obsidian and a seemingly endless stream of malachite fragments. The discovery of an ash-filled hole with lined with a large ceramic pot represents a potentially exciting ‘metallurgical’ feature but this will require further investigation to see if it lives up to this initial impression. The natural soil underlying the archaeology was reached at the end of the excavation season so that a complete sequence of the site of Belovode can now be studied. Thanks to the expertise and hard work of the excavation and post-excavation teams, the fieldwork and finds processing was completed on time.

In preparation for the copper smelting experiments in early September, there were several visits to ancient mining sites to collect copper ores. The smelting experiments will be based on the earlier archaeometallurgical analyses of Vinča culture metallurgical debris to explore the technology, sequences and raw materials in the creation of the earliest copper and tin-bronze. 

In addition to the excavations at Belovode, Patrick Quinn spent a week with Silvia Amicone exploring the geology surrounding Belovode for potential clay sources used in manufacturing the vast quantities of pottery found at the site.

The excavations received significant regional and national media attention and also features in a new museum exhibition at the local museum of Petrovac.

The Rise of Metallurgy in Eurasia fieldwork programme continues in early August-early September with the second and final season at Pločnik, Serbia.

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Fieldwork gallery

  • A view of the Belovode excavations
  • The collaborative team excavating at Belovode
  • Archaeological team visiting modern copper mines for comparative analyses
  • Belovode excavations 2013
  • Belovode excavations 2013
  • Collecting ores for smelting in Majdanpek
  • Interview on the Belovode excavations for Serbian national television
  • Pottery documentation
  • Site photography at Belovode

Other 'Views from the trenches'