3D digital model of Vače situla
Stična in the Iron Age
This famous situla was excavated at the Reber archaeological site above Klenik near Vače in 1882 by a local man named Janez Grilc in the proximity of the warrior's grave, together with poorly preserved gear. He offered this extraordinary find for sale, and Dragotin Dežman, the curator of the Regional Museum of Carniola (today's National Museum of Slovenia) recognised its value. The warrior's gear and his skull are kept at the Natural History Museum in Vienna.
The situla was crafted at the beginning of the 5th century BC during the Iron Age. It is the third principal period of the three-age system, which ends in our territory with the arrival of the Romans. It begins early in the last millennium BC when people in the territory of modern-day Slovenia learned to produce iron from iron ore and consequently mainly used iron as the material for their tools and weapons as it was harder than the materials previously used. This was an era of fearless warriors and women wearing breath-taking jewellery, as well as the period of the origin of some of the finest and most valuable archaeological finds in the territory of today's Slovenia.
Situla art is the culmination of fine arts created by the Iron Age human. It got its name from the bronze pail-like drinking vessels decorated with various figural motifs. Other bronze objects, such as earrings, helmets and sheaths, bear similar ornaments. The emergence of situla art was influenced by the Mediterranean cultures, which is most obvious in the motifs and the ornamental styles. This art appeared in the hinterland of the Adriatic Sea, from the Apennines in central Italy to the Alps in the north; in our country it is mainly found in the Dolenjska, Zasavje and Posočje regions. It was present in the territory of modern-day Slovenia from the 7th century BC onwards to the arrival of the Celts. Situlas are most often ornamented with the figural designs of wild animals – deer and other forest animals – as well as scenes of people performing different tasks. The scenes depicted suggest a distinct social stratification of the Iron Age society and that the members of the upper social classes liked meeting over food and drink, sport, music competitions and hunting.
The figural motifs from the Vače situla may be noticed on some contemporary objects. They are used as background graphics in the Slovenian passport and the identity card. An enlarged replica can be seen at its excavation site, on Vače near Litija.