Pločnik archaeological site

Pločnik archaeological site

Pločnik is the Neolithic archaeological site located in southern Serbia, in the village of the same name, at the bank of Toplica River, close to Prokuplje, 12 km away from Kursumlija. The archaeological complex of Pločnik is part of the Vinca culture. The Vinca culture flourished from 5500 to 4000 BC on the territories of what is now Bosnia, Serbia, Romania and Macedonia. Pločnik archaeological site dates from the Early Neolithic period from 5500 to 4700 BC. Pločnik archaeological site spreads on 120 hectares that included several parts between courses of three rivers. The unnamed tribe who lived between 5400 and 4700 BC in the 120-hectare site at what is now Pločnik site, knew about trade, handcrafts, art and metallurgy what testify on the metropolis with a great degree of sophistication and a taste for art and fashion. They were engaged in agriculture and stone was the main material for making their tools. They pursued beauty and produced 60 different forms of wonderful pottery and figurines, not only to represent deities, but also out of pure enjoyment. Within the archaeological complex of Pločnik numerous wonderful clay pottery and lots of stone and copper objects were found.

Pločnik archaeological site1The Pločnik archaeological site was uncovered accidentally in 1927 by Miodrag Grbic, curator of The National Museum in Belgrade when the then Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was building a rail line from the southern city of Nis to the province of Kosovo. Pločnik archaeological site has been actively investigated with great interest since 1996 by Serbian and international experts. In Pločnik archaeological site experts found a “copper chisel and stone ax in which the foundation has proven to be 7,500 years old, leading us to believe that it was one of the first places in which metal weapons and tools were made in prehistoric times.”Archaeologists hope that the find in southern Serbia of Pločnik will prove the theory that the metal age began a lot earlier than it was believed to have. This finding along with 40 similarly valuable ones before it among which there were more parts of metal tools and weapons, as well as a smelter and furnace, prove that people inhabiting this territory began working with metal more than 5000 years before the new era. Houses had stoves, there were special holes for rubbish and the dead were buried in a tidy necropolis. The community of what today is Pločnik was especially fond of children. Artifacts found of Pločnik site include toys such as animals and rattles made of clay, and small, clumsily crafted pots apparently created by children at playtime. Men worked a furnace melting metal for tools. An ox pulled a load of ore, passing by an art workshop and a group of young women in short skirts. “They knew how to find minerals, to transport them and melt them into tools, which is fascinating find for evidence of early human activity”. The metal workshop in Pločnik was a room of some 25 square meters, with walls built out of wood coated with clay. The furnace, built on the outside of the room, featured earthen pipe-like air vents with hundreds of tiny holes in them and a proto-type chimney to ensure air goes into the furnace to feed the fire and smoke comes out safely. The early metal workers very likely experimented with colorful minerals that caught their eye – blue azurite, bright green malachite and red cuprite, all containing copper – as evidenced by malachite traces found on the inside of a pot. Archaeological excavations from the first decade of the 21st century lead us to believe that it was one of the first places in which metal weapons and tools were made in the prehistoric times. Recent excavations at the Plocnik site – part of the Vinca culture which was

Pločnik archaeological site2

Europe’s biggest prehistoric civilization – point to a metropolis with a great degree of sophistication and a taste for art and fashion. Prokuplje Museum archaeologist Julka Kuzmanović-Cvetković said that the Pločnik site “shows that the people who lived on our territory started civilization that presented the basics of the technological revolution.” Julka Kuzmanovic-Cvetkovic has come up with some rather surprising observations as to how members of an as yet unknown people may have dressed. “If the figurines found in an ancient European settlement are any guide, women have been dressing to impress for at least 7,500 years. According to the figurines we found, young women were beautifully dressed, like today’s girls in short tops and mini skirts, and wore bracelets around their arms,” Recent excavations at the site – part of the Vinca culture which was Europe’s biggest prehistoric civilization – point to a metropolis with a great degree of sophistication and a taste for art and fashion. They pursued beauty and produced 60 different forms of wonderful pottery and figurines, not only to represent deities, but also out of pure enjoyment”. Copper Age is significant because it marks the first stage of human use of metal. The Pločnik site has possibly been destroyed in large fire at the beginning of the 5th Millennia BC.

At site in Plocnik discovered in 1927 archaeologists found furnace and melting pots laced with copper. “All this undeniably proves that human civilization in this area produced metal in the 5th millennium BC,” said archaeologist Dusan Sljivar. Previously it was thought that the Copper Age started around the 4th millennium BC in southeastern Europe and the Middle East.

Plocnik is part of thew Vinca culture which is Europe’s biggest prehistoric civilization that flourished in present day Serbia between 6th and 3rd millennium BC. The settlement of Plocnik was destroyed at some point, probably in the first part of the fifth millennium BC, by a huge fire. Recently the construction and reconstruction of the uniquely interesting Plocnik neolithic settlement was completed which includes five neolithic houses made of authentic material – wood and earth providing outstanding insight of the Neolithic way of life. Thanks to the exceptionally interesting way of presentation of the Neolithic life at the Pločnik site by local and international researches and professional and skilled guides, like copper melting in traditional way or weaving and other authentic activities, as well as numerous nearby cultural-historical monuments and natural beauties, this part of Serbia provides rich and unique experiences to visitors.

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Justiniana prima – Southern Serbia

Justiniana prima 2

This Byzantine city of Justiniana prima, in Southern Serbia, was built by the Emperor Justinian I, who had also built the famous Church of the Holy Wisdom, later an imperial mosque, and now the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul.

Justiniana Prima, or “Caričin grad” (eng. Empress’s town), one of the largest and most significant Byzantine cities in the Balkans from the 6th century, lies 7 kilometers from the town of Lebane in Southern Serbia.

Justiniana prima 1The city was built by the Emperor Justinian I, who was born in Southern Serbia and was known for having completed the construction of the famous basilica Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia, today the mosque Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

The Emperor decided to build a city that would glorify his name in his birth place, on the confluence of the Caričina and the Svinjarica rivers, 30 kilometers from the city of Leskovac .

Justiniana Prima was built at the site of Bederiana and these assumptions are supported by the remains of monumental basilica with the authentic Justinian’s monograph and a large Episcopal basilica in acropolis. Aside numerous nonreligious buildings, there are ten basilicas discovered in the city.

The city of Justiniana Prima lies on the gentle slopes which descend from the mountain of Radan towards the Leskovac basin, on the plateau of 42,000 square meters. The city was an important religious, administrative and military center, the seat of the newly established Archdiocese of Justiniana Prima.

The city was surrounded with walls, while the inner walls divided the city into three areas – AcropolisLower and Upper Town. The Acropolis was built on the highest point of the city.

It was the seat of the Church and a large cathedral church with three apses, atrium and baptistery, one of the largest monuments of the Byzantine architecture in the Balkans, was discovered at the Acropolis. Discoveries of imperial seals and glasshouse are truly unique in this region.

The central area of the city was a circular square where all public life took place. The streets were paved with rectangular limestone panels and surrounded by shops with covered porches and arched arcades, where artisans offered their goods.

Justiniana prima 3The remains of fortifications, streets, basilicas, public and private buildings, walls, aqueduct system and a large cistern, as well as floor mosaics in villas, make this archaeological site one of the most important monuments of antique architecture and urbanism. The three-aisled basilica with a crypt was found near the square, as well as the fragments of floor mosaic and frescoes. The third church, cruciform basilica with an atrium was located to the south-east from the forum.

The monuments of religious and profane architecture by their urban setting, mosaic floors and decorative elements fully correspond to the Procopius’s description of Justiniana Prima. After the frequent attacks of Avars and the arrival of Slavs around the year of 615, the city was abandoned by locals. The life in the city got extinguished, probably due to a fire or destruction of the aqueduct.

Justiniana Prima is commonly known as “Caričin Grad” (eng. Empress’s town) as it was believed that the Emperor Justinian had built the city for his wife, the Empress Theodorais one of the best preserved archaeological sites in this region thanks to its isolated position far from frequent roads. The unique location of the city has guarded it from the menace of centuries.

The unique discovery was the interesting corner tower with the cistern where the aqueduct ended and the system of water pipes leading from the tower. The seat of the church with the Episcopal basilica was located in the Acropolis.



How to get to Justiniana prima?

Caričin grad lies in the foothill of Mt. Radan 7km from Lebane and 30km from Leskovac. You can reach this locality only by car or by bus within organized tourist visits.

If you are coming from the direction of Belgrade the road to Leskovac is completely fine on the European highway E-75 which continues on to the local M9 road towards Lebane then over the local road to Prekopčelica, where this locality is located.

When you are already here, don’t miss…

The unique taste of Leskovac grill (the pride of Serbian cuisine), brass music and bustling festival atmosphere at the Leskovac “Roštiljijada” (Grill festival) which is held towards the end of summer.

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