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HISTORY – AND BEFORE...

NEW STONE AGE OR NEOLITHIC


When was it? Around 6 000 – 3 000 BC



The last and youngest period of the Stone Age was named after blending two Greek words – neos meaning new and lithos meaning stone. New stone or New Stone Age - what should it mean? In the Neolithic, like in other Stone Ages, people often used stone for making tools and weapons, but after hundred thousands of years they started to use the same material in a different way. While in Old and Middle Stone Ages they cut the stones, in the Neolithic they mastered new techniques of working with stones like scouring and polishing which enabled production of finer tools.

What remains from the Neolithic are found in Žumberak?
Considerate examples of stone axes are found not during archaeological excavations, but completely by chance and on different locations. They are mostly made of andezite or serpentinite (solid volcanic rocks). There are two different types of axes – some are flat and trapezoid, while others look like a hammer and have a hole in the body for setting on a handle. Flat axes, which were bound to handles, were made earlier but also at the time when the ones with holes already existed so it is hard to decipher which were newer among those found in Žumberak. These axes document the process of populating Žumberak and the Samoborsko gorje in the New Stone Age. This tool was frequently used for cutting woods which meant the creation of grassland surfaces essential for raising cattle and cultivating plants for food.

Where can you see the finds?
Original axes are kept in Samobor town museum.
In the exhibition in Eco-centre Budinjak you can see the illustration of their usage.

COPPER AGE OR ENEOLITHIC


When was it? Around 3 500 – 2 200 BC



Words from even two languages are borrowed to compound a new one which describes the Copper Age. Latin word aeneus meaning bronze and Greek word lithos meaning stone are compounded together (bronze stone or bronze-stone age) and do not make sense, but only by appearance. Well, how are bronze and stone connected with copper?
First blacksmiths in the history of mankind started developing metallurgy not before the Eneolithic. Copper processed by forging and casting in moulds started more regularly replacing stone as the material for making tools and weapons. Although the apparition of metal of which some rare items were made even in earlier period of the Neolithic, the Eneolithic was not the period of intense and deep social changes. Still, breeding cattle became dominant over agriculture and trade became more intense as breeding cattle quicker made surpluses. Accumulation of material wealth probably influenced on forming of tightly connected genial and tribal communities.

What remains from the Eneolithic are found in Žumberak?
Some fragments of ceramic containers are found during archaeological excavations in the vicinity of the church in Mrzlo Polje.
About a kilometer farther one inhabitant of the same village found a stone axe while plowing. Expert analysis of these items discovered their mutual origin. Ancient owners of these containers and an axe were the nomads who lived in the area of today northern Croatia in the age of the Eneolithic. They cultivated land, raised cattle and built small lodgings with lower parts dug in soil. We do not know their name, but according to the site of Lasinja on the river Kupa where the most significant traces of their life were found, the culture they made was named Lasinja culture. The items found in Mrzlo Polje are scarce, but obvious proof of their existence in this area. For now, we do not know how long people of Lasinja culture lived in this most beautiful field of central Žumberak.

Where can you see the finds?
Fragments of ceramic containers are kept on Archaeology Department in Philosophy Faculty in Zagreb.
The stone axe is in private ownership.

EARLY IRON AGE


When was it? 8th-5th century BC



The Early Iron Age started in wider area of south-east Europe at the turn of the 9th to 8th centuries BC. It is characteristic of implementation of iron which, as a completely new material, was used for tools, weapons and jewelry. Accelerated development of new metallurgy and trade empowered the economy of the Early Iron Age communities and the consequence was a huge gap in material status of their inhabitants. The highest class of military aristocracy dominated in increasingly stratified population. The most prominent representatives were called princes and their huge and opulently decorated tombs were found all over Europe. They are called tumuli (tumulus = a grave-mound with tombs which is the common example of burial architecture in the Early Iron Age in Europe).

What remains from the Early Iron Age are found in Žumberak?
The Early Iron Age settlement on the top of the hill and a graveyard with 140 tumuli at the foot of the settlement are preserved in Budinjak in central Žumberak. Because of considerate number of tumuli, this site is regarded as one of the biggest in the area of south-east Alps. Archaeological excavations started in 1984 and one fourth of the tombs have been excavated until the present day. Different items, metal weapons and jewelry were found there as well as numerous ceramic pots with food and drink for the deceased to have on the journey to the other world. Diversity of their shapes and decorations testify the richness of the inhabitants of Budinjak as well as mastery of craftsmen. Considerate number of items are shaped and decorated in typical manner of faraway lands like the Italian Peninsula, the Alps, the Danube basin and central Balkans. It is obvious that Budinjak was a settlement with powerful economy which enabled the contacts with faraway lands. In Budinjak graveyard two princes' tumuli have been researched by now.
Each of them consisted of more tombs (in tumulus no. 3 there were ten tombs and in tumulus no. 139 seven tombs). In the middle of each tumulus there was the tomb of a prince. Bronze helmets were found in both of them – very precious and rare finds in Europe from the Early Iron Age. The diameter of circular tumulus no. 139 was 19 meters. In prince's tomb there was a chamber (3 x 2 meters) for two people built of timber for two people – a man and a woman. Precious items were put next to the deceased – parts of their costumes, the man's weapons, equipment for horses and pottery full of things necessary for journey to the other world. The most precious find in the grave was a bronze helmet worn by the prince of Budinjak as a symbol of power and respect. This helmet was named "Budinjak type" as a rare preserved example of helmets typical for the period.

Where can you see the finds?
The finds are kept in Zagreb city museum and Samobor museum.
A replica of the helmet, as well as replicas of several ceramic pots are exhibited in Eco-center Budinjak.
In the area of archaeological site Budinjak there is an archaeological park with educational Trail of Princes.



LATE IRON AGE


When was it? From 4th century BC to 1st century AD



The Late Iron Age is in our lands connected with a new ethnical element – the Celtic tribes which started conquering and colonizing a huge part of Europe from their domicile Central Europe to the south, east and west. By conquering new territories, they brought new culture – the most significant of which is their highly decorative style with ornaments primarily based on vegetal motifs and animal and human masks. In the north-west of Croatia the Celts did not appear before the 3rd century BC.

What remains from the Early Iron Age are found in Žumberak?
In the forest of Jama near Podgrađe at the foot of Okić a man from the village of Klaka found a jug with about 1 600 coins of silver money in 1922. It was coined by the Celts and is the oldest money found in this area. Their coins were the imitations of Greek money so on the front of each coin is the head of the Greek god Apolo, and on the tail is a horse. Because of the quantity of coins, it is supposed that one of Celtic mints was in Samobor. This is why these coins are called "Samobors".

Where can you see the finds?
Some of "Samobors" are kept in Samobor museum and some are in Archaeological museum in Zagreb.
Enlarged photo of one of them can be seen in Eco-centre Budinjak.