Published September 2, 2018 | Version v1
Conference paper Open

A String of Marine Shells from the Neolithic site of Vršnik (Ovce polje, Republic of Macedonia)

  • 1. Department for archaeology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade; BioSense Institute, University of Novi Sad
  • 2. Center for Prehistoric Research , Goce Delcev University, Macedonia


A string of marine shell beads from the Neolithic site of Vegnik (Ovce polje, Republic of Macedonia) Beads made of Spondylus gaederopus, Antalis vulgaris and Cyclope neritea, most likely forming a single string, are found in an anthropomorphic vessel at the Neolithic site of Vrgnik (Ovce polje, Republic of Macedonia). The discovery was made in the course of the excavations of the Neolithic settlement, conducted by Milutin and Draga Garaganin (1961). In the excavation report, the anthropomorphic vessel has been illustrated, and the find of shell beads just shortly mentioned. Later, this find has been forgotten and omitted on the maps of Spondylus/marine shells findings in the prehistoric Europe. Majority of beads are made of Spondylus and Antalis shells. Being that these two molluscs have shells of very different morphology and structure, beads are unexpectedly similar in size, shape and color. Assumption is imposed that exactly that was the intention of the beads' producer, to make the like out of unlike row material. 
The use of Cyclope shells on one side, and Spondylus beads on the other, point to interweaving of Mesolithic tradition and adoption of new, Neolithic trends in ornament production and exchange. At any rate, this find represents an important datum for the European Spondylus exchange network in the Neolithic period. Also, it adds to the appreciation of Antalis items' share in the exchange network, which might be underestimated because of the difficulties of scaphopod identification. Putting this find back in focus is also a motive to undertake mapping of items made of marine shells, in Pelagonia, the valley of the river Vardar and Ovce polje in Macedonia, the region previously poorly researched in this respect. 


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BIRTH – Births, mothers and babies: prehistoric fertility in the Balkans between 10000 – 5000 BC 640557
European Commission