The Beginnings of Metallurgy in Europe- Early Smelting activities in the Vinca culture

Miljana Radivojevic1,
Thilo Rehren2,
Ernst Pernicka3,
Dusan Boric4,
Dusan Sljivar5
1Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade, Serbia
2Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK
3Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany and Curt-Engelhorn-Zentrum Archäometrie, C5 Zeughaus, Mannheim, Germany
4Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, UK
5Department of Prehistory, National Museum Belgrade, Serbia

Since metal artifacts are abundant in early cultures of southeast Europe, an independent development of metallurgy in Europe has long been suggested. However, the hypothesis was so far hampered by the lack of indications of smelting. In this paper emphasis is put on the technological study of copper smelting in Belovode, a Vinca culture site in Eastern Serbia. The remains of slag, malachite beads and ores associated with ancient mines in the site's vicinity, and surface finding of a copper ingot, offer insight into organisation and technology of metal production at the end of 6th millennium BC; representing one of the earliest evidence for metal smelting in the Neolithic world. Lead isotope analyses relate the samples to several different ore deposits in the region, including well-known contemporary copper mine at Rudna Glava. This is contemporary with the earliest documented copper smelting in Anatolia.