The Pyramids of Bosnia

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Butmir Cultur

Butmir is the oldest and best-known late Stone Age archaeological site in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was discovered in 1893 and represents the entire cultural group of the late Neolithic in central Bosnia as “the Butmir culture” (Butmir gruppe, Butmir group). The original spiritual culture of its inhabitants places archaeology of Bosnia and Herzegovina on a par with archaeology in Europe. On the basis of absolute chronology, the assumption is that the settlement was inhabited from 5500 to 4500 BC. The basis of the prehistoric economy of Butmir was agriculture and animal husbandry .Hunting and fishing ,as well as gathering wild plant foods ,were still an important part of daily life, however. Every activity associated with food processing, using well established processes, was imbued with religious content. The most pronounced manifestation of the religious beliefs of agricultural communities world-wide is fertility cult. Figurines, predominantly female, and decorative designs on pottery vessels, are clear evidence of the presence of this cult in Butmir. During the time of the classic Butmir culture (Butmir II ), a specific artistic style evolved as regards the shape and decoration of pottery vessels, in which spiral and banded designs are particularly distinctive, while sculpting of figurines reached a high level of artistry. Here, at a particular point in time, in evolution of culture, a nexus of powerful aesthetic and religious sentiment reveal itself. 

The Visoko Basin is situated 40 km northwest of Sarajevo. It has a size of 110 sq. km and represents a typical landscape of the “Polje”-type (fig. 1). The basin is crossed by the river Bosna and is 400–410 m above sea level. It is formed by Pleistocene river terraces and Para brown soils. The basin is encircled by Miocene mountains of up to 1000 m height. Its Middle Neolithic occupation is represented by the Kakanj group, and the Late Neolithic occupation by the Butmir group 2. Their typological ceramic sequence and the absolute chronology of this period is basically known thanks to the Bosnian-American excavations at the sites Obre I and II situated 10 km farther to the north (Benac 1973a; Benac 1973b; Gimbutas 1974; Sterud/Sterud 1974). Within the Visoko Basin and its lateral valleys about 15 Middle and Late Neolithic sites are known by surveys and earlier excavations (Perić 1995).

The settlement mound of Okolište is located on a Pleistocene river terrace in the northern part of the Visoko Basin. Surveys at several Butmir sites like Obre, Donje Moštre, Zagrebnice and Butmir have shown that Okolište is by far the largest site in the Visoko Basin as well as among the whole of the Butmir group. The settlement measures approximately 7.5 ha, the thickness of the settlement strata amounts to up to 3 m. Other Butmir sites typically do not exceed a size of 3.5 ha. These differences in size seem to indicate a hierarchical settlement system in the Visoko Basin of the Late Neolithic and probably also hint at the development towards a more complex society.   (Quelle: Z. Kujundžič-Vejzagič, J. Müller,K. Rassmann, T. Schüler)


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