Archeologists from the University of Tübingen, together with colleagues from the Serbian Archeological Institute in Belgrade, funded by the Thyssen Foundation, are organizing one of the most amazing exhibitions of Early Neolithic culture ever presented.
Although artifacts dating back to 6,000 BCE from the Belica site in Serbia have been arriving at the Regional Museum in Jagodina since 1991 thanks to Života Milanović, it has taken almost two decades for orthodox archaeologists to become aware of the importance of this site.
Belica, now known to have been a spiritual center of the Proto-Starčevo culture, was recently confirmed by German experts from the University of Tübingen and the Heidelberg Institute of Geology to be the oldest sacred site in all of Europe.
Geophysical prospecting allowed experts to determine that the spiritual center belonging to the Proto-Starčevo culture was originally characterized by a circular ditch with a diameter of 75 metres, and composed of other monumental architectural structures of circular, trapezoidal, and triangular shapes.
Among the numerous archaeological findings are anthropomorphic figurines that resemble Palaeolithic fertility goddesses, sacrificial altars, conical objects (pintadera), axe figurines, and other artifacts almost 8,000 years old.
Based on both symbolic and naturalistic representations of female and male sexual organs, these figurines, archaeologists conclude, were religious objects dedicated to the cult of the Great Mother, or "the Goddess." According to Professor Milorad Stojić, it was only recently that archaeologists realized that these stone objects are highly original, and that they represent the biggest collection of anthropomorphic objects in the world.
After more than 20 years, the works of Milorad Stojić, as well as religious treasures from Belica, glorified for their beauty, symbolism, and originality, have not yet found their place in archaeological literature. But things are finally changing. German experts, who called the Belica site "an archaeological sensation of the 21st century", are working on a monograph to be published in both German and Serbian.
Photographs: archaeological treasures of Europe's oldest spiritual center (credits: Nebojsa Boric)
The treasures of Old European religious art will be displayed for the first time at the Tübingen University Museum, November 2013 through March 2014.