„…what are you doing?„
„…are you up?„
Messenger notifications from my cell phone, on which I had forgotten to turn off the sound, were piercing my ears. It was Lazar, my high school friend, now working on his PhD in history.
„ It is Saturday… 8 AM… I am sleeping… what is the matter?„
„Get up and get ready. I am picking you up in an hour. We are going to Lepenski Vir. I need to dig up some files there for my dissertation.“
„ But, I want to sleep. What am I going to do there?„
„What do you mean? You are going to see the center of one of the most important prehistoric cultures.“
„So, you want to take me to a prehistorical cultural center.“
„Not funny. Trust me, you will have a great time.“
I put my phone next to the bed. Knowing Lazar and how stubborn he is, I had no other choice but to get ready and go in front of my building. What I experienced that day, and the natural beauties I saw, were really worth of getting up that early.
Lepenski Vir – the oldest permanent human settlement ever discovered
„Mate, tell me something about Lepenski Vir. But make it interesting.“
„Seven thousand years before Christ the culture of Lepenski Vir awakens. They were all so cool, everybody is doing something. Some were making houses – also seen for the first time, and some are artists. Life was just perfect. Weather was much warmer after the ice age, they had more room, and they could finally get out of those boring and dark caves where they were stuck in during the ice age. Still, they build housings that resembled cave entrances. I guess they felt safer that way. And they all have the view on Danube. Fish and venison was everywhere, so they didn’t have to worry about lunch, either. But, they were in a need for something new, something wild. Cro-Magnons that lived there were no different than you today.“
„Thank you for noticing, I grow my beard this way so I could look like my great great great grandfather from the cave. Maybe my art would be like his, too.“
„You should really look up to him. Your paintings don’t sell, and their figurines are the epicenter of the European art. That is why I am taking you there. Watch and learn, my son. By the way, did you know that people that lived here were incredible 170 cm high? Compared to European Homo sapiens that were 150 cm, your great grandfather, whom you take your beard after, was a giant. And they lived for amazing 60 years. At the same time, in Europe, you were lucky to reach 30.“
„And? How did they turn into Serbs?“
„Well, how to break this to you gently… They did not.“
„I, I don’t understand? What do you mean they didn’t?“
„ Cro-Magnons made one of the most important figurines in the art world and – disappeared. Some even claim that they were taken by aliens. That is why we are going there now. To gather the evidence. I think I am on a track to something that will change the history.“
We laughed out loud.
Where Danube kisses the sky
The road led us between mountains. In one moment the view opened up and showed us Danube. Big and green like the eyes of a girl I was in love with. I literally forgot to breath in. Like somebody split opened those great and strong Carpathian mountains only so Danube could ripple there.
„Wow! What is this?“
„My friend, that is our Serbia. Look around. What do you see? Mountains, green forests, and this river as our sea.“
„But… but…“, I stuttered, charmed with the scenery.
He stopped the car at the viewpoint. As we stepped out of the car fresh scent of the forest filled my nostrils.
„Listen…“ he said.
I closed my eyes. At first, my ear, used to the city babel, was not able to distinguish the sounds. And then…a whole new world opened up to me. I heard wind wriggling through branches and tickling leaves. Trees laughed rustling. I turned my head and heard gulls cry. I opened my eyes and looked at the sky. An eagle was flying proudly. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw it in natural habitat. I pointed my finger at it, trying not to make a sound, afraid that my voice could brake this magic and make it all disappear.
„Yes, eagles are inhabitants of the Djerdap national park, and so are otters, herons, deer. There are also bears around here.“
„What would you do if a great brown bear came up to us now?“
We laughed. We stood there for about ten minutes and observed nature in its glorious beauty. As I began to relax I realized how city life has alienated me from nature. From myself. I didn’t know what to admire more: this opulent Danube, the nature that was calling me back to my long forgotten roots or these great mountains, carved by heavenly sculptors.
The Foremother from Lepenski Vir
When we arrived in Lepenski Vir, Lazar left to search for his dissertation information and I decided to walk around and learn more about what this unusual civilization left behind. It is interesting that the locality was found by academic Dragoslav Srejovic in 1965. On the floor of the building that shelters the excavations, there were traces of house foundations with a fireplace in the middle. I wondered what they did in the evenings? Did they tell scary tales while children listened to their parents with eyes wide open? Did they even have a language? I had to ask Lazar. I hurried to see the figurine of The Foremother. I was so curious to see it. And I must admit, it is really a different feeling then when you see a picture of it. The oldest sculptures first showed the whole human figure, but only the head is shape – eyebrows, long nose, big mouth. With time their sculptural figure also developed so some have hair curls or patterns. Long time had to pass for them to bring details in sculpturing hands, chest, spine… I looked at the figurine and kept wondering why did they make it this way? Even though at the first glance it seems very unusual, maybe even repulsive, this figurine charmed me. I had so many questions. Did they think that this is some kind of monster from Danube? Maybe that is their impression of the river goddess. Or that was their concept of beauty, in a way.
„Hey, where is your mind wondering? I’ve been calling you for five minutes.“ I didn’t even notice when Lazar approached me.
„I was thinking about these people and their figurines. Have you found what you were looking for?“
„For today, I did. Let’s go home. I am taking you to this restaurant with a surreal view. You are going to love it.“