Archeological locality Rudna Glava

.Archeology - Archaeometallurgy

This is the view of Rudna Glava settlement. The area indicated by the rectangle is the area of the pre-historic mine located on the hill of Choka Oknji.

Wider areas of Central Balkan with particular mines of Timok's eruptive basin and basin of Rudnik and Kopaonik, are some of the few richest archeometalurgic provinces of Old Continent. Leaving the primary farming period behind metallurgy and mining were implementing Balkan development, development that testifies about the cultural independence of both Balkan and Europe, in opposition to influences spreading from Near East. Civilisation of Metal Age Europe started the unrestainable progress on the heights by the Danube banks.

Eneolithic mines shafts with access platforms on Rudna Glava mine

Early  Eneolithic mine Rudna Glava near Majdanpek (5000 year B.C.) is an example of the oldest known technology of copper acquiring. It was under  researches in the period from 1968. to 1989. as a part of the "Old Mining and Metallurgy of the Central Balkan" project, led by Borislav Jovanovic (Archeological Institute SANU) and Ilija Jankovic (Museum of Mining and Metallurgy in Bor). Only three decades after this discovery Rudna Glava was accepted as one of the basis items of European civilisation.

Sacrificial altar made for farmer's gods found in Rudna Glava shafts

Old Europe was colonized by population of eldest farmers which had moved from the South of Balkan toward Central Europe, during the 7th and   6th millennium of Old Era. Neolithic farmers worshipped Great Goddess - Great Mother, life giver, ancient one. They celebrated life renewal of plants, in the constant change of seasons.
Usage of original metals-copper and gold opened portals of unknown underworld, world so rich, but hidden that only Gods could show the way through it. New Gods were bolt throwers, great blacksmiths or smelters. Deep in the silent shadows of the first mining shafts, natural ore canals, through which the ore was flowing toward the surface of Earth, for the first and the last time farmers Gods met new, strong and young Gods. They ruled over the powers unlimited, which forced matery to miraculous  metamorphosis from shapeless ore blocks - new dazzling metal emerges.
In the deepness of Earth Transformation of the circle flow of nature into the linear historical time occurred. At the same time parallel forms, of natural and technological appeared. Consequences  of this turnover can be understood perhaps now a days.

Oldest miner's tools, mallets - round pebbles with horizontal gutter

The oldest mining technology known from  Rudna Glava solved many mysteries of the origin of primary mining and mineralogical knowledge indicating hard and long way-way of new, inspiring technology. Developed skills of Rudna Glava miners ore are indicated by the emptiness of the shafts no less than 20m deep.
Long string of stone mallets, bigger river stones made from volcanic rock, gives evidence  of the higher specialization of primitive tools for different and various productive purposes. As for the chopping of the pieces different types of wedges were used, while the tools made from deer horns were used for gathering the ore already chopped.
When the ore vein was discovered,  the access platform was built round its flooding canal. Afterwards the hard ore mass was broken into pieces by circle hits of stone mallets, hanged either on a rope or leather belt. In the depths, technique of sudden warming and cooling was used. Dishes from ceramic pantries of bigger volume were used for pouring the water over the hot ore blocks. Cracked, blocks were further smashed and broken into pieces.
The ore obtained was taken to the surface in bags, and it was distributed further to the settlements near by. Further metallurgic processes are considered to be a part of technological circle of handworks in that early period of metal usage.
Union with the experience of stone tools production is very obvious in copying the most successful forms into new material - metal. Creation of native metallurgy and copper mining expires from the fact of relation between the old and new technologies, which in unbroken chain spring from each other.
Knowledge acquired from Rudna Glava as much as from Ai-Bunar prehistoric mine placed in Bulgarian Trachia had altered completely developing and hronologic chart of eldest metal industry in European pre-history. An opinion that original knowledge on field of metallurgy was spreading from highly developed centers of Near East, over the Greek coasts and walleyes of Vardar and Morava toward Panonian plains and upper flow of the river Danube was supported for the long period of time. Apparently, mining areas emerged from the areas of Central and East Balkans as the original focuses of independent development of copper metallurgy.
Arise of the new technologies determined the influence of the very same legalities believed to be discoveries of modern time: increased demand for raw materials, gathering of mineralogical knowledge in the field of developed industry of stone and flint tools, richness of visible and accessible ore, increased activities of using new metal tools, constant increase of metal demand, and finally production of increased quantities of metal in circulation (gold and copper). The last can be entitled (If modern aspects of production process allows) original metal market.

Pickaxe - rake made from deer horns, from the bottom of the shaft at Rudna Glava

Rudna Glava near Majdanpek is not the biggest mine of primitive copper metallurgy but the archeometalurgic monument which shafts keep evidence of the eldest technology of copper mining.
The original mallets-rock made from deer horns long and massive bone awls, or punches, pantries for ceramic dishes were found on the spot, stopped in the course of time.
When the carbonate minerals of the copper (malachite and azurite) accessible to technology they had used  were exploited, Vinchan's miners of early eneolith left the mine. By the long hand of coincidence nearby bearings of Majdanpek and Bor became exclusive destinations of miners from Copper and Iron Age, which automatically left Rudna Glava aside. This modest Iron and Copper ore  bearing (magnetite and halcopiryt) was used once more in Roman times - during the 3rd century A. D. That's why the script of eldest mining remained in Rudna Glava legible and understandable. As one of the sort preserved in the changes of Eras, it made this place a spring of knowledge about the genesis of the eldest copper metallurgy in pre-historic Europe.

Rudna Glava, eneolithic copper mine although damaged by works on the surface excavation site of modern magnetite mine, have preserved all information needed for the complete reconstruction of eldest technology of acquiring carbonate and oxide ore of copper. Essential value of the mosaic - gathered in one - is crystal survey of native home crafts and experience. Some as vivid engravements of ancient artists - Vincha's miners emerged from past so distant it seemed lost, on this locality. They were inhabited in the area from Northern Macedonia over the plains of Southern Panonia, during the period of 4th millennium B. C. Tools and ceramic works made from local raw materials springed according to style and form from distant traditions of Younger Stone Age (neolith), show no evidence of foreign influence.

Amphora from ceramic pantry on the excavation site

The ways of developing this eldest skill of ore smelting and metal acquiring are dim and vague, lost in opaque mists of primeval dusks.
Nevertheless Rudna Glava has marked the beginning of primary mining and metalurgy representing it as common knowledge of Vincha's populations inserted in earning of every village. Ore was pulled out in times favourable spring or summer months, it was cleared and prepared for proccessing and taken away toward villages. String of technologic proccessing became developed in small manual smelteries and blacksmith shops - from the forging of native copper to casting of the shorter strings of massive copper tools and weapons. Quantities of the metal used for copper objects designing were preserved in many smelteries of Plochnik (smelter pantries). This village of Vincha's culture in Toplica, testifies that tehnological improvement of the primary copper metallurgy was exceptional.
Improvements of copper casting acquired by constant attempts  to developed metal harder than copper (by adding arsenic, lead and finally tin) brought to creation of bronze alloy which exquisite qualities preserved its value till modern times, at the end of 4th millennium B.C.

dr Borisilav Jovanović

mr Aleksandar Petrović

[Text was taken from the prospect published by
Institution for schoolbooks and educational means
of Republic of Serbia,
Belgrade, 1998]






Bronze age - The time in the development of any human culture, before the introduction of iron, when most tools and weapons were made of bronze. Chronologically, the term is of strictly local value, for bronze came into use, and was again

The Archaeology of Europe: Later Prehistory - The first European metallurgy: the Balkans The beginnings of metallurgy in Europe The Balkan Copper Age c.4500-3500 BC: Karanovo VI or Gumelnitsa (Bulgaria), Vinca C/D (Serbia), Tisza (Hungary), Cucuteni/Tripolye (Ukraine). The traditional thesis


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