The Glasinac cart or Glasinac wheels, artefact from Bosnia and Herzegovina now located in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, is an artifact of the Glasinac culture of the Iron Age and is perhaps one of the most famous items from this period from Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is an object that was most likely used for ritual purposes, on which the presence of a depiction of waterfowl on a cart is particularly interesting, which is not a rare motif in the Iron Age, but the beauty of the object indicates that it is not ordinary and that it belonged to some distinguished person. A copy of this item is in the National Museum in Sarajevo.


Glasinac  cart as a ritual object

A bronze cult cart from the Early Iron Age with representations of waterfowl was found in 1880 in a tumulus on Glasinačko polje dug up during the construction of the Sarajevo-Rogatica-Višegrad road. The wheelbarrow and other finds were handed over to the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna by Lieutenant Johann Lexa, from the first engineering regiment stationed in Goražde, where they are still today.

Religion and spirituality occupy an important aspect in the development of social communities throughout all prehistoric periods. Religious concepts and their material manifestations are part of the cultural identity of prehistoric communities, just like social and natural phenomena, because at that time the religious component was an inseparable part of all daily activities. Although there are many archaeological finds documenting religious beliefs, today it is difficult to interpret them concretely due to insufficient knowledge of their meaning within the framework of local traditions.

” The cult of the dead is the most expressive manifestation in the religious and social life of Bronze and Iron Age communities. The large number of graves, individual or organized burials in necropolises, and the finds in them, more concretely indicate the rite of burial and funeral customs that differed on the basis of hierarchy, i.e. the social position of the individual in the community, among which the princely graves of the Iron Age stand out . says archaeologist Andrijana Pravidur, curator of the National Museum.

Carts of this type with representations of waterfowl are attributed a ritual purpose, and are usually associated with the cult of the sun. Both in terms of motif and style, they rely on the tradition of the previous Late Bronze Age when waterfowl were the dominant symbol of the urn field culture. ” The symbolism of the solar cult is also attributed to finds in the form of points, discs, stylized representations of waterfowl, bulls, horses, and the frequently used motif of the swastika, which was applied to objects in everyday use ,” explains Pravidur, adding that these cult carts were probably made in in the area of ​​the Glasinac plateau, and certain details indicate similarities with carts in the Danube and the Carpathian basin.

” The motif of waterfowl through representations of figures or protomes is common from the very beginning of the Iron Age, and we also encounter it on objects of ritual purpose, ceramic and bronze vessels, decorative objects and parts of costumes as an important religious symbol. This cult cart is a unique example from the Glasinac area and most likely belonged to a prominent person who had a special position and role in society ,” says Pravidur.


Rumor trolley 2

The rich past of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The earliest traces of the activity of modern man in these areas during the older Stone Age (Paleolithic) are documented in different forms of stone and bone tools and weapons. Changes in the organization of economic and social life that followed during the Younger Stone Age (Neolithic) were also reflected in the material remains of cultures characterized by the production of ceramic dishes as well as new techniques in the manufacture of stone products.

The Copper Age (Eneolithic) is characterized by the use of metal, i.e. copper, which increasingly replaced bone and stone in the manufacture of tools and weapons. During the Bronze and Iron Ages, the use of various products made of bronze and iron had far-reaching consequences for the further development of human communities characterized by new forms of material and spiritual culture, the development of mining and metallurgy, and an increasingly pronounced social differentiation.

” Following the traces of material culture, the exhibition Bosnia and Herzegovina in prehistoric times illustrates the everyday life of prehistoric communities – from the culture of housing, economic activities to beliefs and art, reconstructing the time of the formation of society and cultural development in these areas. It testifies to cultural achievements, technology, social contacts, transfer of knowledge and ideas, trade and exchange when this area was intensively involved in the cultural, social and political currents of the known world at that time “, explains Pravidur.


Funeral customs of old societies

However, the Glasinačka trolley is not the only object that attracts curious eyes. The remains of a ship and a skeleton occupy an important place in the display of the National Museum.

The exposed skeletal burial illustrates the burial customs of one of the most significant Iron Age sites in today’s northwestern Bosnia, Donja Dolina near Bosanska Gradiška.

” Burial customs in this locality are characterized by bi-rituality, i.e. the presence of both burial methods, inhumation and incineration, in the same necropolis. The beginnings of the necropolis in Donja Dolina can be associated with the late Bronze Age, while burials continue until the end of the late period, ” says Pravidur, adding that the largest number of burials belong to skeletal burials in flat graves that occur throughout the Iron Age, while burials of cremated dead related to the beginning and end of the burial at the necropolis.

The cremation of the deceased was carried out inside the necropolis, and in some cases jewelry was also burned together with the deceased, so such findings ended up in the graves damaged by the fire. In most cases, jewelry, like ceramic vessels, was placed after cremation, usually in an urn or ash pit. Several skeletal graves in wooden boxes were also found under the houses of the Sojenica settlement.

special phenomenon is represented by double burials with skeletons laid next to each other, burials of a mother and a child, and double burials of a man and a woman with opposite orientations. As in some examples of double graves, it is a matter of simultaneous burial, it is probably a question of the burial of persons close to each other , “adds the curator.

The material discovered in the graves within the necropolis points to similarities with neighboring Iron Age groups, such as the Glasinac cultural complex, but there are also important parallels connecting this area with the Hallstatt groups to the north. The variety and wealth of finds in grave equipment indicates the social status of individuals and the distinction of the aristocracy. The appearance of defensive weapons, such as bronze helmets, bronze and iron shields or axes, indicate the well-known characteristics of the rich warrior and princely graves of the early Iron Age in the western and central Balkans. The extraordinary wealth of finds in a large number of women’s graves, such as luxurious fibulae, necklaces, bracelets or belts, also indicates the special status and position of women in society, which in the context of social differentiation could be acquired during life or inherited at birth.