Lepenski Vir (Serbia), DNA, fish, and pigs

…8000 years ago.

What do these faces mean? Find out here.

Quartz sandstone sculptures from 6300-5900 B.C.E. on display at the Museum Lepenski Vir.CreditCreditMickey Mystique, via Wikimedia Commons

21 thoughts on “Lepenski Vir (Serbia), DNA, fish, and pigs

  1. Jessica Thorne

    After reading the article, I believe that these faces represent a combining of cultures and lifestyles that not everyone knew how to deal with. With more people in the settlement, it probably meant that not as many people needed to farm or hunt food. This left some of those people with more time on their hands, so like what happens to many other cultures when a part of society has too much free time, a form of art was brought into practice. The artists brought in their beliefs that they might become sturgeons after death as well as the conflicting inner turmoil of having new customs and people around them that were changing their ways of life.

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  2. Michaela Wagner

    The first thing I noticed about these stone faces is how they all look disturbed in a way. The one in the middle on the bottom row reminds me a little bit of a blob fish. They look lifeless, confused, or terrified.

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  3. Emma Gardner

    I feel as though the faces carved into these objects represent some kind of benevolent God. Maybe even some kind of way to ward off a creature. It reminds me of how in the UK people used to put shoes in their roofs to ward off evil spirits. These could also represent possibly some kind of ritual that is used when hunting for fish.

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  4. J. Helton

    At first glance, I agree with an above comment about how these faces have a sense of worry to them. However, the face on the bottom left doesn’t look worrisome to me. To me it has a slight happiness to it because the mouth is turned upwards instead of downwards in the other faces. The picture on the top right however, just by looking at it isn’t a face. Sure the photographer could have only been showing the back of a piece but if you let your mind wonder and say that there isn’t anything on the other side, my first thought was it was a brain. If it isn’t a brain (which it probably isn’t) it is amazing that the artist decided to put that much detail into something as simple as this mound of clay. The detail on these pieces have a pattern to them and it is done in such an elegant way.

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  5. katlyn wolfe

    after reading the article I found it very interesting. it was interesting to hear that archeologists and dna investigators do not always agree, I find that interesting because you would think that they would use each other to help each other out. apparently that is not the case because they do not always come to agreements.” It’s a little bit like being a trained musician. You’re able to hear things the untrained person wouldn’t.”I also found this quote interesting because they have a special insight. Thats how I feel in class sometimes because we look so in depth into the art work its almost like we are able to connect with them and speak to them.

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  6. Elizabeth Rybarczyk

    It’s fascinating that these figures were traced to the meeting of farmers and hunter-gatherers. Decades ago, we wouldn’t have been able to figure out what we can with today’s technology. It truly is amazing that how we look into the past improves as we go into the future.

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  7. John Tyler Funkhouser

    I agree with the interpretation that faces on the sculptures recovered from Lepenski burial icons. I disagree the idea that they are meant to pose exisential questions. However, I do agree with the idea they suggest some form of reincarnation. That the essence of a person travels to animals after they pass. and the process is not pleasant.

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  8. Lindsay Tucker

    I believe these faces are early representations of different human emotions and how they are expressed through the face. I think it is remarkable how the creators were able to communicate these emotions through such little detail, just using prominent features such as they eyes and lips. In the one bust that appears to be happy, the eyes are tilted upwards and closed, while the center of the forehead is still relaxed, showing that the face is being pushed up by a smile.

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  9. Lindsay Tucker

    I believe these faces are early representations of different human emotions and how they are expressed through the face. I think it is remarkable how the creators were able to communicate these emotions through such little detail, just using prominent features such as they eyes and lips. In the one bust that appears to be happy, the eyes are tilted upwards and closed, while the center of the forehead is still relaxed, showing that the face is being pushed up by a smile.

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  10. Amanda Tringale

    Upon seeing these caved faces, I believe that they represent human emotions. They all look sad or distraught, so perhaps there was some kind of terrible event that occurred when these were made. What I find interesting though is that the bottom left face doesn’t look as saddened as the others, it actually looks quite amused or happy. These could also have been used as some kind of totem to ward off evil spirits or some kind of offering to a God or Goddess, and perhaps these figures told some kind of expressive story.

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  11. Margaret Neafsey

    The emotions captured on the sculptures appear to be horror. There is a lingering look of sadness on them as well; as if they are observing some sort of horrific event. The sculptures may have been seen as an example of how human expression should be portrayed in art, at the time.

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  12. Blake Johnson

    After reading the article, I feel as though the faces are a representation of the emotions that these people were feeling if they were going through a hard time. They seem to be either, sad, shocked, or horrified about something. Them carving these faces/emotions could have been a way for them to cope with the situation or express what they were feeling in a different way then outright saying how they feel.

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  13. Jordan hadler

    I think the faces are in fact sculptures of fish in just a sort of sad, more emotional way. They might have been for children to play with as toys or some sort of decoration of fish. The creator also could’ve worshiped the meat of the fish, honoring them for feeding their families. The scales of the sculpture also very prominent well.

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  14. Andrew Martine

    All of these faces look like they are disturbed by something. It is very cool how much emotion can be portrayed in such simple pieces of art. The pieces look horrified but I wonder, at what?

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  15. Katelyn Brawner

    It is interesting that the face depict so much emotion. It is apparent that these objects appear disturbed. It is intriguing to me that archaeologist believe that the head are a mixture of human and fish features.

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  16. Meghan McLees

    Before reading the article, I would have said these faces just look like they were shocked for disappointed, they were posed to look like that. After reading the article, the part about the archaeologists describing the heads to look like a mix of humans and fish features, I saw it like that instead. This is because, the two cultures were known for being hunter and gathers, fishing could have been their main food supply during those times. The two cultures could have decided to combine because both groups needed to learn other skills and one of them could have been fishing. An sculptor at the time, because fishing could have been their everyday life, creating faces that have features of a fish could have been symbolism towards their way of life.

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  17. Caroline Tinsley

    After looking at these faces for a few minutes I can’t help but notice how scared or disturbed they all look like these faces were sculpted capturing someone in agony or pain. It’s honestly a bit unsettling, I know if I saw these in a museum looking right back at me I would walk the other way.

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  18. Michaela Steinbauer

    As I observed each face, I noticed that all of them look disturbed. It was noted in the article that these faces were a combination of human and fish-like features, which is very odd to combine. The artists on these banks would carve out these faces and it gives insight on what was important to them. Fish could have been sacred to them at the time and they probably sustained the civilization for a while.

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  19. Elena Streeter

    To be honest, I didn’t quite know what to think when I first read this article. The writer suggests that the faces are “haunting”, but something about them tells me otherwise. I can see how one could see the faces as frowning, but part of me wonders if there is a different meaning behind them. It is also suggested that they represent ancestors, so in that case, should they be a positive sort of memorial?

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  20. Stephanie Cruz

    I believe the emotions expressed in the sculptures could be a way of them expressing themselves or as mentioned in the article a way of expressions from the ancestors. Their idea of mixing animal and human characteristics is impressive. Their world was around nature so It explains why they would do that. I also believe that nature and wildlife animals could have seemed like gods to them because they supported their basic needs, so their purpose of making these mixes in between art could kind of explain it.

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  21. Adara MacDonnell

    These faces display so much emotion. I think that the emotions most prevalent are shock and horror. All these faces display those emotions differently but still convey the same message. We as humans all display emotions differently, but we can also tell which emotion is being displayed. Some people show anger in their eyes, while others show it in the way they hold their jaw.

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