Natural environment and resources, and the long life of the Neolithic settlement at Vinča, southeast Europe

  • Dragana Filipović
  • Miroslav Marić
  • Dana Challinor
  • Jelena Bulatović
  • Nenad Tasić
Original Paper


The Neolithic settlement in Vinča near Belgrade, Serbia, was occupied for more than a millennium (c. 5600–4500 cal BC); from about 5200 cal BC the occupation, associated with the regional Vinča culture phenomenon, was uninterrupted. After gradual horizontal expansion in the beginning, the Vinča culture settlement grew vertically. A number of successive occupation levels composed of large, dense agglomerations of buildings formed an artificial mound of more than 10 ha in extent. The long and continuous life in a fixed location was likely facilitated by favourable natural environment offering a range of subsistence options and pathways. This paper reviews previous, and presents more recent, archaeological (i.e. artefactual) and palaeoenvironmental (geological, hydrological, palaeobotanical, faunal) evidence for the Vinča site and uses it to identify natural resources available in the settlement’s surroundings as well as those found in more distant areas. Using the on-and off-site data, it indirectly evaluates economic potential of the different environmental zones around Neolithic Vinča. The impression is that the resources available locally were remarkably diverse, offered a wide spectrum of food and raw materials, and were exploitable throughout the duration of the settlement. In addition to the apparently marked profusion and variety of opportunities in the vicinity of the site, the subsistence behaviour and the nature of landscape use were likely such that they did not have a great impact on the natural environment.


Neolithic Vinča Environment Natural resources Economic potential 



The majority of results presented or referred to here have been produced within the following research projects: the ERC-funded ‘Times of Their Lives’ project (Ref. 295412; PIs Alasdair Whittle and Alexandra Bayliss) and two projects funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia ‘Society, spiritual and material culture and communications in prehistory and early history of the Balkans’ (Ref. 177012; PI Nenad Tasić) and ‘Bioarchaeology of ancient Europe – humans, animals and plants in the prehistory of Serbia’ (Ref. III47001; PI Sofija Stefanović). We are very grateful to the anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions improved the manuscript; we take full responsibility for any errors and omissions.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Balkan StudiesSerbian Academy of Sciences and ArtsBelgradeSerbia
  2. 2.School of ArchaeologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Laboratory for Bioarchaeology, Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia
  4. 4.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia

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