At Vučedol the somewhat separated plateau Gradac was the metal-working and cultic center of the settlement. The Vučedol Culture inherited technological experience in metallurgy from the Baden Culture, which had used a mixed copper ore containing large quantities of arsenic and, more rarely, antimony. The natural combination of copper and arsenic yields arsenical bronze, an alloy notably harder than copper alone. Now metal could have practical uses and no longer served merely for ornament.
Since arsenic has a poisonous vapor, metal work had to be done away from the dwellings in the settlement, and so this plateau was an ideal location for the “Copper Caster’s Megaron”, the largest in area of objects studied at Vučedol.
A Vučedol innovation was two-part and multi-part clay molds, making mass production in metal possible. Dozens of identical two-part molds were produced by imprinting a metal prototype in clay.
In the Vučedol Culture three types of metal furnaces have been discovered: a furnace for smelting ore, a furnace for casting, and a furnace with no cupola. Furnaces without cupola were used to produce the world’s earliest bronze.
Below the Copper Caster’s Megaron four pits have been found. In the first was the grave of a married couple, in the second a deer was buried, in the third were five ceremonially sacrificed children, while the last contained various ceramic objects and a ritual vessel in the shape of a partridge (now known as the Vučedol Dove).
Birds are the only animals represented in Vučedol ceramics; they are connected to metallurgy and shamanistic rituals. The husband in the married couple’s grave is thought to have acted as a metallurgist and shaman for the Vučedol settlement, while the deer and the bird served for his ceremonies. Since metal casters were often lame as a result of inhaling arsenic vapor over long periods, they were associated with partridges (the male bird draws attention away from a threatened nest by pretending to limp).