Regional Center for Banat Heritage – Concordia

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Kremenjak Site in Potporanj

 Commercial Centre from Neolithic Period

 For several years already, the Vršac City Museum has been performing archaeological explorations of one of the largest settlements from the Neolithic Period located in the village of Potporanj, near Vršac. An extraordinary abundance of discoveries, particularly those of some exquisite raw materials, rank this site among one of the most important settlements of what is known as the Vinča Culture.

 ‘The area of Vršac and its surroundings were at the crossroads of important routes the creation of which started in the Neolithic Period, when the need for specific products and rare raw materials conditioned the creation of ties with remote areas,’ said Head of Operations Ms Ivana Pantović, Senior Curator of Vršac City Museum. One of the precious materials used in that period was obsidian (volcanic glass), which was used for making various kinds of blades owing to its extraordinary firmness and sharpness. Ms Ivana Pantović pointed out that it was actually at the Kremenjak site in Potporanj, of all the territories of the Vinča Culture, where the largest quantities of this precious raw material were discovered, and it was established that it originated from the Slovakian Carpathians. ‘Taking into account that the Vinča Culture used to spread over a huge area (it involved the territory of the present-day Serbia and the border areas of the surrounding countries), the abundance of obsidian, as a valuable raw material, indicates that there was an important trade settlement in Potporanj,’ Ms Ivana Pantović, Senior Curator pointed out.

 During our interview with Ms Ivana Pantović, we learned that precise age-estimation analyses determined that the oldest settlement at this site originated back to 5,200 BC. It was established in the early stages of the Vinča Culture. According to the preliminary research, the settlement used to cover about 100 hectares, which makes it one of the largest settlements of the Late Neolithic in Europe. The houses were built above the ground and were made of adobe and rammed earth, like many of the houses which we can find in villages of Vojvodina even today. Since 19th Century, when Feliks Mileker started exploring the site in Potporanj, thousands of artefacts made of ceramics, bone and stone have been collected which were part of daily life of the Vinča Culture people.

 The fact that collaboration on this particular project has been established with the University College London, headed by Dr Marc Vander Linden, indicates that this is a discovery site of particular importance. Since 2014, wildlife discoveries from our site of Kremenjak have been studied as part of the EUROFARM University Project, which studies the Late Neolithic Period in the Balkans. The analyses of herbal fossils are performed by Anne de Vareilles, while Jane Sanford Gaastra is engaged in analysing animal bones. Accordingly, it has been established that inhabitants of this Vinča settlement used lentils, which was incidentally the first cultivated and farmed pulse. At the same time, the analyses of animal fossils revealed that all breeds of domestic animals which are bread today were bred then as well. In addition, the presence of wild horses was also determined. The scientists have not determined yet if the horses were used as food or possibly for work.

 ‘The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia and the Municipality of Vršac have been financing this long-term project. Owing to the support provided by the Republic and the Municipality, we have the chance to enrich the City Museum collection with new cultural assets and expand our knowledge of the Vinča Culture and of this particularly important settlement. We would also like to emphasise that the remarkably good cooperation with the local community in Potporanj has contributed a great deal to the undisturbed execution of the entire exploration’ said archaeologist Ivana Pantović for Vršačka Kula.

 Upon the completion of the works in the field and after the completion of all analyses, the Vršac City Museum is going to prepare an exhibition and a publication dedicated to this discovery site of great importance for our history and culture.