Copper Age began earlier than believed, scientists say
Serbian archaeologists say a 7,500-year-old copper axe found at a Balkan site shows the metal was used in the Balkans hundreds of years earlier than previously thought, reported dpa.
The find near the Serbian town of Prokuplje shifts the timeline of the Copper Age and the Stone Age's neolithic period, archaeologist Julka Kuzmanovic-Cvetkovic told the independent Beta news agency.
"Until now, experts said that only stone was used in the Stone Age and that the Copper Age came a bit later. Our finds, however, confirm that metal was used some 500 to 800 years earlier," she said.
The Copper Age marks the first stage of humans' use of metal. It is thought to have started in about the 4th millennium BC in southeastern Europe and earlier in the Middle East.
Archaeologists at the Plocnik site also found furnace and melting pots with traces of copper, suggesting the site may have been an important metal age center of the Balkans.
"All this undeniably proves that human civilization in this area produced metal in the 5th millennium BC," archaeologist Dusan Sljivar told Beta.
The Plocnik site was discovered in 1927 and first excavations began a year later when first neolithic items were found. It is part of the Vinca culture, Europe's biggest prehistoric civilization.
Vinca culture flourished from 6th to 3rd millennium BC in present-day Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia. Its name came from the village Vinca on the Danube river, some 14 kilometers downstream from Belgrade.
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