Skip to main content Accesibility Help

The end of the affair: formal chronological modelling for the top of the Neolithic tell of Vinča-Belo Brdo

  • Nenad Tasić (a1), Miroslav Marić (a2), Kristina Penezić (a1), Dragana Filipović (a2), Ksenija Borojević (a3), Nicola Russell (a4), Paula Reimer (a5), Alistair Barclay (a6), Alex Bayliss (a7), Dušan Borić (a8), Bisserka Gaydarska (a8) and Alasdair Whittle (a8)...

Bayesian statistical frameworks have been used to calculate explicit, quantified estimates for site chronologies, and have been especially useful for resolving the complex probability distributions of calibrated radiocarbon dates to the level of individual prehistoric lifetimes and generations. Here the technique is applied to the Neolithic tell of Vinča-Belo Brdo in order to answer long-standing questions about the timing and circumstances of its demise. Modelled date estimates place the end of the site in the second half of the forty-sixth century cal BC. Two successive horizons of closely spaced houses each suffered extensive burning; the interval between them was placed at a maximum of 25 years, with the last house probably used for less than 15 years. The evidence suggests that these house burnings were deliberate, and opens new considerations for the causes of the end of the tell-based system in south-east Europe.

Hide All
Bailey, D.W. 1990. The living house: signifying continuity, in Samson, R. (ed.) The social archaeology of houses: 1948. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Bayliss, A., van der Plicht, J., Bronk Ramsey, C., McCormac, G., Healy, F. & Whittle, A.. 2011. Towards generational timescales: a quantitative interpretation of archaeological chronologies, in Whittle, A., Healy, F. & Bayliss, A. (ed.) Gathering time: dating the early Neolithic enclosures of southern Britain and Ireland: 1759. Oxford: Oxbow.
Bayliss, A., Farid, S. & Higham, T.. 2014. Time will tell: practising Bayesian chronological modelling on the East Mound, in Hodder, I. (ed.) Çatalhöyük excavations: the 2000–2008 seasons: 5390. Los Angeles (CA): Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.
Borić, D. 2008. First households and ‘house societies’ in European prehistory, in Jones, A. (ed.) Prehistoric Europe: theory and practice: 109–42. Oxford: Blackwell.
Borić, D. 2009. Absolute dating of metallurgical innovations in the Vinča culture of the Balkans, in Kienlin, T.L. & Roberts, B.W. (ed.) Metals and societies: studies in honour of Barbara S. Ottaway: 191245. Bonn: Habelt.
Borić, D. In press. The end of the Vinča world: modelling Late Neolithic to Copper Age culture change and the notion of archaeological culture, in Hansen, S., Raczky, P., Anders, A. & Reingruber, A. (ed.) Neolithic and Copper Age between the Carpathians and the Aegean Sea: chronologies and technologies from the 6th to 4th millennia BCE: 157217. Bonn: Marie Leidorf.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 2009. Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon 51: 3760.
Chapman, J. 1981. The Vinča culture of south-east Europe: studies in chronology, economy and society (British Archaeological Reports international series 117). Oxford: Hedges.
Chapman, J. 1999. Burning the ancestors: deliberate housefiring in Balkan prehistory, in Gustafsson, A. & Karlsson, H. (ed.) Glyfer och arkeologiska rum—en vanbok till Jarl Nordbladh: 113–26. Gothenburg: Institute of Archaeology.
Chapman, J. 2000. Fragmentation in archaeology: people, places and broken objects in the prehistory of south-eastern Europe. London: Routledge.
Childe, V.G. 1929. The Danube in prehistory. Oxford: Clarendon.
Crnobrnja, A., Simić, A. & Janković, M.. 2010. Late Vinča culture settlement at Crkvine in Stubline. Starinar 59: 925.
Garašanin, M. 1951. Hronologija vinčanske grupe. Ljubljana: Arheološki Seminar, Univerza v Ljubljani.
Garašanin, M. 1979. Centralno-balkanska zona, in Benac, A. (ed.) Praistrija jugoslavenskih zemalja II, neolitsko doba: 79212. Sarajevo: Akademija Nauka i Umjetmosti Bosne i Hercegovine.
Higham, T., Chapman, J., Slavchev, V., Gaydarska, B., Honch, N., Yordanov, Y. & Dimitrova, B.. 2007. New perspectives on the Varna cemetery (Bulgaria)—AMS dates and social implications. Antiquity 81: 640–54.
Hofmann, D. & Smyth, J. (ed.). 2012. Tracking the Neolithic house: sedentism, architecture and practice. New York: Springer.
Kaiser, T. & Voytek, B.. 1983. Sedentism and economic change in the Balkan Neolithic. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 2: 323–53.
Korošec, J. 1953. Delitev vinčanske kulturne plasti. Arheološki Vestnik 4: 546.
Link, T. 2006. Das Ende der neolithischen Tellsiedlungen. Ein kulturgeschichtliches Phänomen des 5. Jahrtausends v. Chr. im Karpatenbecken. Bonn: Habelt.
Marjanović-Vujović, G. 1984. Starosrpska nekropola, in Ćelić, S. (ed.) Vinča u praistoriji i srednjem veku: 131–36. Beograd: Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti.
Milojčić, V. 1949. Chronologie der jüngeren Steinzeit Mittel- und Südosteuropas. Berlin: Archäologisches Institut.
Orton, D. 2010. Both subject and object: herding, inalienability and sentient property in prehistory. World Archaeology 42: 188200.
Orton, D. 2012. Herding, settlement, and chronology in the Balkan Neolithic. European Journal of Archaeology 15: 540.
Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit n.d. Available at: (accessed 23 June 2015).
Parzinger, H. 1993. Studien zur Chronologie und Kulturgeschichte der Jungstein-, Kupfer- und Frühbronzezeit zwischen Karpaten und Taurus. Mainz: von Zabern.
Reimer, P.J., Bard, E., Bayliss, A., Beck, J.W., Blackwell, P.G., Bronk Ramsey, C., Buck, C.E., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., Friedrich, M., Grootes, P.M., Guilderson, T.P., Haflidason, H., Hajdas, I., Hatté, C., Heaton, T.J., Hoffmann, D.L., Hogg, A.G., Hughen, K.A., Kaiser, K.F., Kromer, B., Manning, S.W., Niu, M., Reimer, R.W., Richards, D.A., Scott, E.M., Southon, J.R., Staff, R.A., Turney, C.S.M. & van der Plicht, J.. 2013. IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55: 1869–87.
Schier, W. 1996. The relative and absolute chronology of Vinča: new evidence from the type site, in Draşovean, F. (ed.) The Vinča culture, its role and cultural connections: 141–62. Timişoara: The Museum of Banat.
Schulting, R. & Fibiger, L.. 2014. Violence in Neolithic north-west Europe: a population perspective, in Whittle, A. & Bickle, P. (ed.) Early farmers: the view from archaeology and science (Proceedings of the British Academy 198): 281306. Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy.
Stalio, B. 1984. Naselje vinčanske culture—naselje i stan, in Ćelić, S. (ed.) Vinča u praistoriji i srednjem veku: 3441. Beograd: Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti.
Stevanović, M. 2002. Burned houses in the Neolithic of southeast Europe, in Gheorghiu, D. (ed.) Fire in archaeology: papers from a session held at the European Association of Archaeologists sixth Annual Meeting in Lisbon, 2000 (British Archaeological Reports international series 1089): 5562. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Stevanović, M. & Jovanović, B.. 1996. Revisiting Vinča-Belo Brdo. Starinar 47: 193204.
Tasić, N. 1984. Naselja i grobovi iz bakarnog doba, in Ćelić, S. (ed.) Vinča u praistoriji i srednjem veku: 6975. Beograd: Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti.
Tasić, N. 2005. Vinča—the third glance (excavations 1998–2002), in Nikolova, L., Fritz, J. & Higgins, J. (ed.) Prehistoric archaeology and anthropological theory and education: 18. Salt Lake City (UT) and Karlovo: International Institute of Anthropology.
Tasić, N., Srejović, D. & Stojanović, B.. 1990. Vinča—centre of the Neolithic culture of the Danubian region. Belgrade: Centre for Archaeological Research, Faculty of Philosophy.
Tasić, N. 2007. Ritual pottery set from Vinča. Glasnik Srpskog Arheološkog Društva 23: 203–10.
Tasić, N.N. & Ignjatović, M.. 2008. Od tradicionalne do moderne metodologije. Istraživanja u Vinči 1978–2008, in Nikolić, D. (ed.) Vinča—praistorijska metropola, istraživanja 1908–2008: 87119. Beograd: Vizartis.
Tasić, N.N., Vukadinović, M. & Kapuran, A.. 2006. Komparativna arheološka i geofizička ispitivanja na lokalitetu Vinča-Belo Brdo, metodom geoelektričnog skeniranja. Arheologija i prirodne nauke 3: 718.
Tringham, R. 1991. Households with faces: the challenge of gender in prehistoric architectural remains, in Gero, J. & Conkey, M. (ed.) Engendering archaeology: women and prehistory: 93131. Oxford: Blackwell.
Tringham, R. 2005. Weaving house life and death into places: a blueprint for a hypermedia narrative, in Bailey, D., Whittle, A. & Cummings, V. (ed.) (un)Settling the Neolithic: 98111. Oxford: Oxbow.
Tringham, R. & Krstić, D.. 1990. Selevac and the transformation of southeast European prehistory, in Tringham, R. & Krstić, D. (ed.) Selevac: a Neolithic village in Yugoslavia: 567616. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Tringham, R., Brukner, B. & Voytek, B.. 1985. The Opovo Project: a study of socioeconomic change in the Balkan Neolithic. Journal of Field Archaeology 12: 425–44.
Vasić, M. 1936. Preistoriska Vinča III: Plastika. Beograd: Državna Štamparija Kraljevine Jugoslavije.
Ward, G.K. & Wilson, S.R.. 1978. Procedures for comparing and combining radiocarbon age determinations: a critique. Archaeometry 20: 1931. tb00208.x
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Tasić supplementary material
Tasić supplementary material 1

 PDF (92 KB)
92 KB
Supplementary materials

Tasić supplementary material
Figure S1

 Unknown (993 KB)
993 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed