Archaeological Sites in Serbia: A Journey Through Ancient Civilizations
Did you know that the territory of present-day Serbia was home to ancient civilizations dating back thousands of years? According to many historians, this region was the birthplace of sixteen Roman emperors, including Constantine the Great, who was born in present-day “Niš”. Moreover, modern-day Serbia is home to some of Europe’s oldest archaeological sites such as “Lepenski Vir” which is believed by many to be the cradle of European civilization.
Today, we’re going to take you on a journey through time, and explore ancient civilizations that left a significant mark in Serbia for future generations to witness. So, whether you’re in love with archaeology or just someone looking for an adventure, here are archaeological sites in Serbia you must visit on your Balkan tour.
Near the town of present-day “Požarevac”, once stood the Roman town and military camp called “Viminacium”. The town was established on a strategic spot, with an outlook on the Mlava and Danube confluence, which made it one of the most important Roman military camps in this region.
During the second century, the town was granted the status of a municipium, while in the third century it gained the status of a colony, which was the highest position in the Roman empire. As a colony, Viminacium was allowed to produce its coins, so a large number of coins were found in archaeological sites.
More than 1400 tombs were discovered at Viminacium with inside frescoes typical of late antiquity. Furthermore, this rich ancient town left the remains of an amphitheater, luxurious buildings, a Roman thermae, as well as an aqueduct, and the remains of a sewer system.
Most of the Viminacium artifacts such as marble sculptures, tombstones, sarcophagus, pottery, and jewels can be seen in the national museums in Požarevac and Belgrade. Also, you can find custom tours all year long with experienced guides that will take you through the archaeological site and make your little adventure worth a while. The site itself has been turned into an Archaeological park where you can ride a Roman carriage, or have a meal or drink in a Roman tavern while you listen to stories and legends about this ancient Roman colony.
Did you know that the cultural center of the prehistoric world once existed on the right bank of the Danube river in the Djerdap gorge? Well, it’s a magnificent archaeological site that dates back 8.5 millennia, and its archeological discoveries have forever changed our knowledge about the European stone age.
The paleolithic site revealed traces of exceptionally developed culture, with complex social relations, and therefore was the first society in Europe to organize its settlement in a planned manner.
Archaeological excavations have discovered seven stages in the construction of the settlement with 136 wooden buildings. This first urban settlement in Europe was built facing the Danube, which gave them life and the opportunity to trade obsidian and flourish as a culture.
In the center of the settlement, a large square existed for performing various rituals. All around the habitat large sculptures were found that portray a human head with a strange expression. Later on, the society developed stone sculptures that were shaped like human figures with anthropomorphic shapes that became idols, later on.
This mysterious paleolithic society left behind many artifacts, tools, graves that portray unusual funeral rituals, stone jewelry, and even plates with engraved signs. This all indicates that these hunter-gatherer communities had complex social relations and were part of the Neolithic revolution.
Interestingly, in this part of Serbia, there are still many superstitions and beliefs. But don’t let us tell you everything. Book an Iron Gate private tour and let them take you through the mysterious world of Serbian pagan heritage and Vlah Magic, that has survived to this day.
Located just 14 kilometers from Belgrade, lies one of the largest European prehistoric settlements called “Vinča”. This archaeological site has revealed traces of a human settlement along with artifacts that date between 5300 and 4300 BC and is one of the most breathtaking archaeological sites in Serbia, that you simply must include in your adventure.
The layers of this site, which are over 10 meters high, reveal nine soil horizons with sites of human settlements of different eras. The oldest discoveries confirm that Neolithic people lived in huts.
In other soil horizons, with relics and buildings from later times, the surviving ruins indicate that the house is spacious, square, and made of wood and mud. Observing the various soil layers of Vinča culture, you will notice that buildings and architecture have developed over time.
With favorable conditions for cattle breeding and agriculture, the community prospered and became an important commercial, cultural and religious center of the early Neolithic period, with a significant impact on the culture of all agricultural communities in Central and Southeastern Europe. After the discovery of copper, Vinča lost its importance, leaving only a small settlement in its place and surviving until the beginning of history.
The site will provide you with great insight into what daily life looked like in a prehistoric settlement. Furthermore, you will also get a glimpse at the early cultural history of the Danube basin region, which is closely associated with the Vinča culture.
Now, we’re going to head to Sremska Mitrovica, a city in Northern Serbia that is home to the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Sirmium.
Once an important trading center and one of the capitals of the Roman Empire, Sirmium was the birthplace of five Roman emperors including Traianus Decius, Aurelian, Probus, Maximianus Herculius, and Gratian. The history of Sirmium doesn’t begin with the Romans but with the Illyrian tribe “Amantini” which is estimated to have founded their settlement in the 4th century BC. However, the city reached its peak in the third century AD when it was declared one of the four capitals of the Roman empire.
At the site, you will be thrown back in time when seeing the ruins of the magnificent Roman imperial palace. This monumental complex was built along the Sava River at the end of the 3rd century or the beginning of the 4th century and was protected by special walls. In addition to the government district where the emperor lived and worked, there was also a living area for the emperor and his aides, which was fully excavated and is open to the public to this day. The city also had a horse racing arena, theatre, as well as public baths, and temples. In addition, the only known not excavated Roman Hippodrome in the world is in Sirmium, which makes it a must-see.
The mosaic fragments found on the premises were made from stones brought in from Asia Minor, Malta, Greece, and Italy. The floor mosaics are predominantly floral and geometrical in design, with the only figurative image of the Roman god Mercury. Later on, Sirmium became a Christian stronghold, and the remains of the Christian basilica at the center of the city are a clear sign of Sirmium’s conversion to Christianity.
The above-mentioned archaeological sites in Serbia are just a taste of what this country has to offer. If you’re looking for an adventure that will take you through time and ancient civilizations, then start planning your trip to Serbia in 2022.