Enclosing the Neolithic World: A Vinča Culture Enclosed and Fortified Settlement in the Balkans

Borić, D, Hanks, B, Sljivar, D, Doonan, R, Kocic, M, Bulatovic, J, Griffiths, Seren orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5168-9897 and Jacanovic, D (2018) Enclosing the Neolithic World: A Vinča Culture Enclosed and Fortified Settlement in the Balkans. Current Anthroplogy, 59 (3). ISSN 0011-3204

[thumbnail of Version of Record]
PDF (Version of Record) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1086/697534


Interpretations of prehistoric enclosures worldwide have varied from those that see the primary role of enclosures as defensive features to others that explore the symbolic, ritual, social, and ideological dimensions of separating space into an inside, an outside, and an in-between. Such evidence and interpretative accounts are inevitably linked to wider anthropological discussions on modes of social interaction and reproduction in the past, whether altruistic or predatory, and evolutionary narratives regarding changes in the level of intergroup violence over the course of human history. Growing evidence indicates that many Neolithic settlements in Europe were enclosed by a complex system of ditches, ramparts, and palisades. We present a case study from the central Balkans at the Neolithic Vinča culture site of Oreškovica-Selište in Serbia, dated to the last centuries of the sixth millennium BC, where recent geophysical surveys, stratigraphic excavation, and accelerator mass spectrometry dating document the existence of an early enclosed settlement with multiple enclosure features. We interpret these features as defensive and discuss the social dynamics that led to the founding and abandonment of this short-lived occupation in the context of other contemporaneous settlements in the Balkans.

Repository Staff Only: item control page