From Nomads to Urban Communities

Emergence of large permanent settlements and abandonment of the non-sedentary lifestyle is a revolution that changed the humanity forever. Constant exchange and interdependency of community members created a fertile ground for the growth of an entirely novel way of life.

This marks the beginning of humanity's urban lifestyle. Co-location resulted in an explosion of creativity and artistic craftsmanship, architectural achievements such as the construction of some of the earliest multi-storey buildings, and major innovations in technology. The world’s earliest known extractive copper metallurgy took place in Vinča.

The dynamic exhange of not only goods, but also ideas all around Europe and beyond, truly makes Vinča the first of the Modern Age.

Vinča Culture is so revolutionary precisely because they formed notions of cooperation, coexistence and community that the world had not seen before.

Vinča Culture is a term that covers a period of the Late Stone Age (5300-4500 BC) that witnessed an immense and unprecedented explosion of creativity, technological progress and population growth across a vast swathe of territory that today includes parts of Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro and the entire Republic of Serbia.

The culture is named after the Vinča district of Belgrade, where evidence of this remarkable culture was first discovered in 1908 by Miloje Vasić. Almost immediately upon its discovery, Vinča Culture was recognized as one of the most significant sites globally in the development of modern human society. What’s more, as modern research technologies became available, several sensational discoveries further served to cement the importance of Vinča Culture in the global story of mankind.

Vinča Culture was the pioneer of urbanism. Unlike the Starčevo culture (6200-5200 BC) before it, which was nomadic and mostly formed around temporary camps, Vinča settlements were permanent. To understand just how transformative this change was, less than 5% of the evolutionary journey of human history takes place within settled communities living in the same area. Vinča therefore marks one of the few known places where this experiment in modern urban living began.

The accumulation of knowledge, labour and social networks allowed communities to control the production of food, transform the very landscape, and change the status of humans from consumer to producer. Specialized crafters could now devote their time and knowledge to perfection of their trade, craftsmenship and technology.

The new way of life demanded different architecture. In most of the Vinča settlements explored so far, the houses have been found very tightly packed together – less than one meter apart – spread over areas of 30 hectares, some even up to 80 hectares.

High-density living can obviously lead to conflict, and Vinča’s longevity over thousands of years points to highly developed social relations and a highly organized social structure. What’s more, there is still no evidence of wealth inequality and class stratification in Vinča society.

That Vinča Belo Brdo facilitated thousand years of coexistence tells us that they resolved conflicts through cooperation and trade, rather than escalating conflict.