• Site: Banjica, Usek
  • Period: Prehistory
  • Date: 5th millenium BC
  • Culture: Vinča
  • Material: baked clay
  • Technique: incision
  • Dimensions: h: 7 cm
  • Inventory number: AP 1941

There is almost no Neolithic site in the territory of Anatolia, Thrace, Macedonia, central Serbia and the Danubian valley which has not yielded a number of altars. They differ in size, ornaments and number of legs, but their function was the same everywhere – they were used as ritual objects in sacrificial offerings. This small altar from Banjica differs from the other Vinča altars, which stand on three or four legs. This one rests on two massive legs connected by an arch, which gives it a special significance. It is ellipsoid in form and has a deep recepient with an animal head at either side. It is supposed that the sacrificial rites of the community were performed in the centre of the settlement on large altars such as those found at Divostin, Vinča and Banjica. Small altars, on the other hand, were probably used by individual families in their homes. The large number of altars indicates that magic and religion had an important role in the life of the people of that time. The diversity of their forms allows us to trace the way magic gradually grew into religion. This is particularly evident in the altars with an opening and with the representation of a kneeling figure in the posture of prayer. It is very likely that the seated figurine and the altar were fused into a single form, symbolizing the existence of a particular person who performed religious rites. It is difficult to determine what kinds of sacrifices were offered by these people, or to what supernatural power were they offered, but they were certainly associated in some way with farming and stock-raising as the basic human activities of the time.

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