FOFOLLOWING MORE THAN A CENTURY OF FOLLOWING MORE than a century of study, scientists are uncovering the fascinating world of the middle to late Neolithic period. And on the territory of Serbia alone there are more than 600 settlements belonging to this culture, in which trade, innovation and a completely new and previously unseen formof social organisation simply flourished. at’s why the Vinča culture is dubbed the first modern age. What made the people of Vinča so unique? - When Professor Miloje Vasić defined a new culture at the beginning of the 20th century, whichwas characterised by top artistic and craft artefacts, he couldn’t have even dreamt about how significant his discovery would prove to be. Speaking back in the 1970s, Professor Lord Colin Renfrew, one of the most prominent living archaeologists, said that themost important answers about prehistoric Europe would be revealedwith the disentangling of the secrets of the Vinča culture. Following more than a century of study, we have uncovered, and continue to uncover, the fascinating world of themiddle and late Neolithic period. How did such a transformation occur and result in the development of crafts, trade and art? - Early Neolithic communities were mostly smaller, while the first farmers in the Balkans, members of the Starčevo culture, were fairly mobile. Around 5,300 BC., somewhere in the central Balkans, a huge transformation took place and settlements covering huge areas appeared, representing real proto-cities, with hundreds of houses, streets, squares etc. is change marked the arrival of a new shining phase in the development of human societies – the Vinča culture! Along with a drastic change in lifestyle, there was an explosion of creativity and innovation, as a result of the networking of a huge number of people who lived in one place, but also remote communities networked through the flourishing of trade. e Vinča culture became something similar to the proto social network, while the Vinča White Hill site, which is located near the confluences of several of the most important corridors and rivers in Eurasia (the Danube, Sava, Tisa and Morava), then became a kind of parallel to the Frankfurt Airport of Neolithic Europe. It was a place where ideas and goods were exchanged, but also a place of top craftsmanship. Research has shown that the first smelting of metals took place in Vinča? Did this lay the foundations for all future industrial revolutions? - e Vinča people were pioneers of innovation, and that was one of the greatest innovations in human history – the mastering of metallurgy and the turning of rock intometal. Research conducted at numerous sites, including Vinča White Hill, have provided irrefutable evidence that the earliest extractive metallurgy in the world - the first smelting of metals - appeared in Vinča. at triggereda revolutionary surge and changed theworld forever. At the beginning of this year, the Government of Serbia declared the project to research, protect and present the White Hill site in Vinča as a capital project of exceptional importance. As the manager of this project, what is your vision for the development of the site? - Government support will enable us not only to solve some acute problems, such as the rehabilitation of the active landslide area below the site and the problem of illegal construction, but also to restore Vinča’s status as a centre – this time of research and presenting the Neolithic period and prehistory, which is my vision. Vinča will be much more than just an ordinary cultural attraction. It will become a centre for the promotion of science and research that will inspire the next generation of innovators. We are also hopeful of a technological revolution like the one that occurred in the same place some seven and a half thousand years ago. Serbia creates » Srbija stvara | 25 DR MI ROSLAV KOČIĆ, ARCHA OLOGI ST Vinča’s people changed the world forever Located on the outskirts of the Serbian capital is one of the most important archeological sites in Europe – theWhite Hill of Vinča, after which the entire late Neolithic culture of the Balkans was named. The wonderful Vinča culture.