Institute of Archaeology



Dusan Šljivar showing visitors around the excavated structure © Rise of Metallurgy in Eurasia project

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 1929; Stalio 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 1998b; Kuzmanović-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.