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10. 03. 2016.  - Autor: pressonline


MILJANA RADIVOJEVIC’S PLAGIARISM IN HER PHD THESIS (Completely taken over from „Starinar“ archaeological journal)


foto: Miljana Radivojević

Archaeological Institute of Belgrade Volume LXV/2015





National Museum, Belgrade







903.4"634" (497.11)(049.2)

DOI> 10.2298/STA1565229S

email: d.sljivar@narodnimuzej.rs

Received: 25th February 2015

Accepted: 29th May 2015

Abstract: - Archaeological research of Belovode and Pločnik, Vinča culture sites, has been underway for many years. Past exploration of the sites has yielded indicative archaeological circumstances and diverse material. Framework stratigraphic and chronological dating has been determined along with successive pottery forming which should indicate Vinča culture development stages and its peculiarities on both sites. The most intriguing items were represented by archaeometallurgical findings, partially within the defined contexts, which were indicative of early metallurgy emerging and developing within Vinča culture. This aspect was the primary goal of past researches and expert interpretations. Metallographic and chemical analyses were agreed with and completed by UCL, Great Britain, which confirmed basic assumptions published by the authors who conducted such investigations.


In the course of archaeological work, several other elements important for understanding the metallurgical process have been defined. The raw materials, oxide copper ores, were transported to the settlements, where further forming was carried out in primary stages. Layers of coal, underneath and were found around Belovode settlements evidencing their use as fuel.

Metallurgical melting installations were partially reconstructed according to later analogy with Bronze Age findings in Cyprus.


It is inarguable that this is a good starting ground for further exploration of the entire production process, from the mining works to finished products. These facts also served as the base for the critical review of Radivojević-Kuzmanović, published in the previous edition of Starinar. Two types of objections are raised against their publication. Scientific objections, for numerous manipulations of circumstances and findings recorded in archaeological papers accompanied by inaccurate technical descriptions and quotes from published works, while ethical objections deal with inappropriate violations of copyrights and failure to comply with agreements reached with colleagues.


Key words. – Vinča culture, Belovode, Pločnik, malachite, copper, beads.


The paper published in the previous edition of Starinar (Miljana Radivojević, Julka Kuzmanović-Cvetković – Copper minerals and archaeometallurgical materials from Vinča culture sites of Belovode and Pločnik: overview of evidence and new data, Starinar LXIV/2014, 7-30) is a two-chapter long PhD dissertation of M. Radivojević defended in 2012 at UCL in Great Britain. Detailed review and comparison of the texts is impossible since the dissertation is not available to professional public and which, according to statement issued by the UCL, will be "under lock" for the next four years!

The National Museum of Belgrade is the investor of the Archaeaometallurgy of Vinča Culture Project which proposes to carry out exploration of Belovode and Pločnik sites through systematic probing of the ground. Associates in the investigation works on Belovode site are the National Museum from Požarevac and Native Museum from Petrovac na Mlavi and the associate in the investigation of Pločnik site is the National Museum of Toplice from Prokuplje. Investigation of Belovode site has been carried out under the management of D. Šljivar and D. Jacanović since 1993 and the investigation of Pločnik site has been under the leadership of D. Šljivar and J. Kuzmanović-Cvetković. As long-term site investigation leader on both sites, I am professionally obliged to draw the attention of the public to erroneous archaeological interpretations, manipulations of published works and ethically inappropriate actions taken by the authors of that paper.

After several introductory campaigns, when finding interesting and important items in Belovode and Pločnik became certain, the managers leading the investigations organised several interdisciplinary studies on various findings, which were divided among colleagues (geophysics – prof. B. Sretenović and V. Miletić, paleobotany – prof. R. Jančić, osteology – prof. M. Savić, chemical analyses – M. Stojanović, M. Gajić-Kvašev, V. Andrić). In this sense, an arrangement was made with Dr. Thilo Rehren and Miljana Radivojević from UCL in Great Britain. On two occasions, they used mobile XRF to examine the samples located within the depot of the National Museum, and forwarded approximately 500 of those samples to London for more detailed analyses. It was agreed that the results obtained may be used "solely" for the preparation of PhD dissertation of M. Radivojević. For this purpose, Belovode probe III technical documentation was also added to serve as the illustrated archaeological appendix to her dissertation. The text publish in Starinar is a clear evidence of her inobservance of the arrangement agreed between us as colleagues and professionals!

It goes without saying that all authors use and quote published works. However, while visiting Belovode site, Miss Radivojević copied the entire documentation relevant for this site without informing the site manager about this and subsequently used the documentation in her paper. This abuse is visible in the segments of the texts which cite the findings of probe III and IX and give reference to the paper published by J. Živković and M. Arsenijević which do not contain any data about probe IX. The original paper, published by these authors, deals only with the findings of probe III. Likewise, it is uncommon to list the title of the summary in English within the Bibliography section in addition to the original title, as was the case at the time. Probe IX was the subject of investigation only six years later. The report which states only the probe dimensions was cited as relevant for its stratigraphy and material analyses. The layers' positions and cultural horizons were provided by quoting the paper published by B. Jovanović in 1994, which dealt with another topic, and quotes analogies with the pottery investigated by Probe IX which, let it be said, was never seen by the authors themselves.

Claiming the ownership of colleagues statements is also inappropriate. Academic community quotes the source of information even for such data. On page 9 of the relevant paper, the authors write about Starčevo horizon without any insight into the very context and relevant material. The authors were verbally informed of the specific stratigraphic position of the Belovode settlement, and they were also told that a paper is being prepared on this topic.

The paper often claims the ownership of published statements of other authors without providing the quotes and attributes the ownership of statements to other authors. For example, the concluding discussion quotes the partial clarification of specific decorations on the anthropomorphic plastic of Vinča culture, claiming the ownership over key attitudes or attributing them to other authors. These partial solutions were evident in notes 17 and 18.

Throughout the entire paper, the findings and circumstances are combined with inaccurate quotes. Here we give some of the most obvious. Page 19 provides further data regarding copper artefacts pantry in Pločnik. When describing "group I", authors provide reference to non-existing statements. M. Grbić provides no mention about the pantry I. Therefore, the context for the findings is invented, starting from the furnace up to the depth of 0.80 -1.00m. The context for the "group II" is also quoted inaccurately. Grbić writes that traces of furnace and ash deposits are evident in section IV. Eight ceramic masses, 13 copper artefacts and five magnesite axes were found in this area. Only the final sentences within the conclusion provide information that the pantry was found in the pit. Both sites and buildings have little resemblance with the metal melting vessels (furnace) as stated by the authors. Likewise, only portion of the pantry was presented in Fig. 14. Data regarding "group III" are also added. She continously sites only relative depth of the findings without providing close conditions and context.

On page 12, authors claim the findings of two stone hammers from the "workshops" by Probe I and VII in Belovode and provide reference to a paper which does not contain such data. One of the buildings is a surface finding" Page 15 and 16 contain arbitrary interpretation of "lead bannock" within the 18th layer of Probe IX.  It is classified into Belovode B1 stage and the author quotes the paper which does not contain this chronological comment. Also, the quantity of malachite is also cited erraneously (2.5 kg instead of 800g) found in probe VII and not in probe XII. This is also classified in to Belovode B1 stage while quoting the paper which contains no such text. Identical erros were made when citing the probes in which "furnaces" were found at Pločnik and when providing their chronological determination. Beside erraneous quotes, the context for copper findings in Pločnik are also defined arbitrarily. Three findings from Probe XX are positioned near the "furnace" which is incorrect, followed by a quote from the paper which does not mention it. Accordingly, in the conclusive discussions this finding is wrongly attributed to probe XX, one meter from the furnace and the entire situation is declared to be "workshop for melting and repair of copper artefacts"!

The paper abounds in technical and technological errors. Surface finding of stone hammer cannot be unearthed and, knowing the Belovode settlement stratigraphy, it is even less possible to attribute such finding to the most recent layers of Vinča settlement and workshop! The paper mentions "building horizons" in several places. The authors, for sure, are unaware of the technical meaning of this term. Therefore all assessments of material classified in this way are also wrong. And then, the surface of the head of antropomorphic figurine (Fig. 15) is said to have been painted and repainted! This is an arbitrary technological description as the grey-umber colour of the surface is the result of its baking under specific conditions i.e. the use of the process identical to "black-topped" pottery technique.

Improvisations are also evident when providing typical and stylistic features of pottery material from some stages, particularly in Belovode, which are arbitrarily combined with C-14 dating for both sites. J. Živković and M. Arsenijević performed an approximate stylistic and tipological analsys of pottery solely for probe III. Other claims, published in several quoted papers referred to by the authors, are preliminary and approximate assessments. They should be familiar with the specific nature of pottery material of Vinča culture at each site individually as well as with the facts on pottery findings of younger prehistoric epochs on both sites – particularly because they know the date of probe VI at Belovode, which they quoted elsewhere, which is clearly indicative of the burial with the findings of Baden-Kostolac culture.

The authors failed to be cautions when using existing C-14 dating. Based on ten samples taken from three probes on each site by using AMS method approximate apsolute dates were obtained for Belovode and Pločnik  i.e. the start and the end of life in these settlements. All internal chronological correlation, particularly in probes not included by these dates, without specifying their position relative to other movable material and situation, are arbitrary interpretations. For example, on page 15, the finding of "lead bannock" from the 18th unearthed layer dates back from 5200 year and on page 18, the Gradac stage is placed in the period from 5.040 to 4.860 and so on.

Particular problem is presented by the definition of situations in which the said archaeological samples were found and the adaption of their context to fit the desired interpretation (Tables 1 and 2). The findings from Belovode, which are presented in the form of a table in the "Context: findings" section are arbitrarily and incorrectly attributed to situations which mainly were not recorded in archaeological papers. Twenty nine samples, of which eight from probe III were published, are classified into "homestead, homestead with workshop, homestead with the pit and the pit"! Identical situation is evident in the contexts for Pločnik where the findings from seven probes were placed into context of "stone structures, homestead and workshop"? The first issue is encountered with the use of the term "homestead" and how can it be used fro the probe of 25m2 and in the settlement area of 100 hectars? The authors overlooked all relevant possibilities and situations which must be taken into account in order to define the context more truthfully – starting from the size of the settlement, different processes of layering for each Vinča site, horizontal distribution of hypothetical buildings and their vertical relationship. The second issue is encountered with the term "workshop"and the manipulation of the findings from different contexts in order to justify the existence of such metallurgical installation. On page 12, hammers from probes I and VII are placed in the workshop context, though one of them was found on the surface. In the second case, the crushed malachite and pottery fragment with a glued malachite on it is a workshop within the homestead!

The same goes for the undefined buldings which were formally, based on their appearance, and conditionally called furnace by the site managers. The most indicative case was mentioned by these authors in the conclusive discussion on page 23. They mention the finding of the fragment of tin bronze foil within the undisturbed context. It refers to the building and square "furnace"- declared to be workshop! This finding was previously published. Detailed explanation of this many times disputed findind was given by D. Šljivar and D. Borić. Undefined surface area of the building with the left overs from intensive burning, fire, dispersed various materials, findings and the remanants of structure which resembles the furnace only by shape is declared an undisturbed context! And naturally, the place the copper workshop on this surface! This claim is corroborated by the finding of a fragment of tin foil one meter from the very "furnace. The authors disregarded the fact that the incriminated  piece of foil was found in the earth excavatedfrom the 5th level of the excavation layer. In terms of function, this piece of foil was classified as a pottery vessel wrapper! Trully an innovative idea which has not yet been recorded in the archaeological material and literature. It is accompanied by an assumption, proposed by authors in the conclusion section of the paper published in Starinar, that the "workshop" from probe XX is used to repair the damaged copper tools in Pločnik.

Such improvisations are present throughout the text, accompanied by approximate observatiosn in conclusive discussion, withouth quoting the authors who dealt with this problem for decades and who, more or less, and from different standpoints, pointed to the metallurgical aspects of Vinča culture. Despite violations of copyrigths due to manipulation of findings and due to numerous technical errors, this work is a compilation of already published papers on the metallurgy of the Vinča culture and illustrated appendixes.




The conclusion of this critical review can be summarised in several sentences. First, it is now clear why the PhD dissertation of M. Radivojević is made unavailable to the public. Then, relevant archaeometallurgical data are interpreted as samples of green malachite used for mechanical manufacture of beads and that umber malachite, with manganese admixture, was used for thermal processing. And finally and most importantly, the oldest site of metallurgical processing of copper and tin bronze in the world was discovered in this way.

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