Institute of Archaeology


Project Fieldwork

Miljana Radivojević and Ben Roberts surveying at Belovode © Rise of Metallurgy in Eurasia project


The site of Belovode lies on a windy plateau with the eponymous spring running through the settlement, located near the village of Veliko Laole, c. 140 km southeast of Belgrade.

Belovode has been excavated since 1993 by the National Museum of Belgrade and the Museum in Požarevac (Šljivar & Jacanović 1997; Šljivar & Jacanović 1996a; Šljivar & Jacanović 1996b; Jacanović & Šljivar 2003; Šljivar et al. 2006). Within an estimated 100 hectares covered by up to 3m of cultural layers, four building horizons were recognized (Belovode A-D), correlating with the entire Vinča culture sequence (Jovanović 1994;Šljivar 1993-2009; Šljivar & Jacanović 1996b).

The first field season of the AHRC project at Belovode ran for a month from early July to early August 2012. 

Copper minerals and beads from Belovode ©Duško Šljivar

We opened a 5m x 5m trench (Trench 18) adjacent to an earlier trench (Trench 17) which had yielded metallurgical remains. The excavations revealed a substantial structure, several associated pits, clay altar and figurine fragments, a substantial quantity of pottery and plenty of copper ore fragments. 

In November 2012, the geophysical survey team led by Dr Knut Rassmann and Patrick Merkl of the Roman-Germanic Commission worked on the sites of Belovode and Pločnik. The team was ably assisted by Jugoslav Pendic and Aleksandar Jablanovic.


The site of Pločnik is situated underneath the eponymous modern village, 19 km away from the town of Prokuplje, south Serbia and 300 km away from the capital, at c. 300 m asl. It is set on the left bank of the Toplica river, whose shifted bed presently erodes away the c. 3.60 m thick cultural layer of this site (Stalio 1960: 34; 1962: 21)

The estimated size of the Vinča village in Pločnik is c. 100 ha, which refers to the size of the top cultural layer (Šljivar & Kuzmanović-Cvetković 1998b: 80). Pločnik is surrounded by good quality agricultural land and thermal springs, but also with good communication routes along Toplica, the major river stream in this part of Serbia.

Archaeological settlement Pločnik was identified in 1926, when the first group of metal artefacts was discovered during the building of the Yugoslav railway. Excavation campaigns commenced in 1927, and then continued 1960-1978, under the jurisdiction of M. Grbić and B. Stalio respectively, both of the National Museum Belgrade (Grbić 1929Stalio 1960; 1962; 1964; 1973). 

Most recently, field excavation resumed in 1996 under the joint supervision of D. Šljivar (National Museum, Belgrade) and J. Kuzmanović- Cvetković (Museum of Toplica, Prokuplje) (Šljivar 1996; Šljivar 1999; Šljivar 2006; Šljivar et al. 2006; Šljivar & Kuzmanović-Cvetković 1997; Šljivar & Kuzmanović-Cvetković 1998a; Šljivar & Kuzmanović-Cvetković 1998bKuzmanović-Cvetković 1998), and are still ongoing.

Aleksandar Jablanovic wet sieving excavated soil samples © Rise of Metallurgy in Eurasia project


The site of Pločnik recently received the first AMS dates (Borić 2009: 211-215). The probability distribution for the start of the Vinča culture occupation in Pločnik was 5290-5140 BC, with the highest probability around 5200 BC. As for the boundary end, the highest probability is at c. 4650 BC, suggesting the use of settlement for c. 600 years (Borić 2009: 212).

The first field season of the AHRC project at Pločnik ran for a month from mid-September to mid October 2012. We opened a 5m x 5m trench (Trench 24) adjacent to an earlier trench (Trench 20) which had yielded metallurgical remains. We expanded our trench as the excavations revealed a substantial structure. In addition, there were several associated pits, clay altar and figurine fragments, a substantial quantity of pottery, a copper ring and extensive copper ore fragments. 

Our activities attracted plenty of media attention and we received strong support from local people and politicians. 


Jarmovac is a complex of ancient mines first mentioned by Davies (1937), who identified Vinča culture sherds in one of the shafts. The Majdan (shaft 1) is where Davies (1937) found a grooved mining tool, which in shape resembled those unearthed at the Vinča culture mines Rudna Glava and Mali Šturac.

Since 2003, two mining shafts and an aassociated settlement with a late Vinča culture sequence have been excavated by the Homeland Museum of Priboj under Savo Derikonjić (Bunardžić et al., 2008: 86Derikonjić, 2010).

The Majdan miners were presumably following a rich copper vein, which besides distinctive presence of malachite also contained native copper.

In March-April 2013, Savo Derikonjić of the Homeland Museum of Priboj was joined at Jarmovac by a mining survey team from the German Mining Museum, Bochum (Peter Thomas and Fabian Schapals) and the geophysical survey team of the Roman-Germanic Commission. They were ably assisted by Jugoslav Pendic and Aleksandar Jablanovic. 

Gornja Tuzla

Gornja Tuzla is a prehistoric settlement located on the terrace of the Jala river, which runs through the modern city of Tuzla, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The site and the modern city built above it spread across the slopes of Majevica mountain, facing the frontiers of hilly landscapes of Bosnian Dinarides and Pannonia. Tuzla is today one of the main suppliers of salt in the region, which is exploited in the nearby salt mines; this very important aspect for economy of the region is believed to be the reason for various populations to settle here from the Neolithic (Čović 1961).

The settlement was identified in 1949, during the modern building activities which disturbed the upper cultural layer of this settlement (c. 0.6-0.9 m thick). First excavations commenced in 1955 with a small test-trench 1 x 4 m, and a 3 x 4 m in the following year (Čović 1961). In 1957 and 1958 a total of 70 m2 was uncovered, revealing several prehistoric cultures that spanned across 5.5 m thick cultural layer, and within an estimated size of 12-15 ha. Cultural deposits of this tell-type site mainly belonged to the Vinča and Vinča cultures, with shorter occupations during the Late Chalcolithic, Bronze and Iron Age (Čović 1961: 80). The 1958 excavations (Trench II/1) unearthed large collection of archaeometallurgical materials belonging to the later phases of the Vinča culture (Vinča C-D), selected for this project.