40 Years Ago, Oldest Indo-European Calendar Was Discovered in Croatia

By 25 March 2018

ZAGREB, March 25, 2018 - Forty years ago, during an archaeological dig that accompanied the construction of a hotel in the eastern Croatian town of Vinkovci, a team of archaeologists led by Aleksandar Durman from Zagreb's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences unearthed a damaged pot with engraved astrological motifs, dated between 2800 and 2600 BC, and the lead archaeologist has later realised that it is the oldest European and Indo-European calendar, known as the Orion.

"The Orion vessel belongs to the Vučedol culture where the year began on the first day of spring, and that's how it was until Julius Cesar added two months," Durman told Hina.

At the time of the Vučedol culture, the year began at dusk on the first day of spring when the three stars in the Belt of Orion, the dominant winter constellation, sank under the horizon for several months and were symbolically replaced by the Sun. "This is no longer the case because Orion disappears 50 days later due to the change in precession," Durman said.

According to Durman, the engraved ornaments on the Orion vessel represent typical constellations in the night sky over Vinkovci, which lies on the 45th parallel north, in all four seasons.

The vessel was found among other artefacts on the site of the present-day Hotel Slavonija on March 21, 1978, and stayed in a depot until 1985 when another vessel with engraved constellations was found during an archaeological dig at Vucedol, near Vukovar.

"It was only then that I realised what we had actually found in Vinkovci," Durman said, adding that Vinkovci had been settled for over 8,300 years, which made it the oldest settlement in Europe. He said that there was evidence of the first serial production of metal objects dating from 2800 BC and that the Vučedol culture had also produced the first bronze object in the world.