Diversity and Wealth of the Municipality of Novi Bečej: Geographic Monograph with Overview of Natural Characteristics, Population, Economy, and Settlements

Explore the deeply rooted natural charms and economic potentials of the Municipality of Novi Bečej through a comprehensive geographical monograph. Familiarize yourself with fascinating aspects of the terrain, geology, climate, water bodies, flora, and fauna, while simultaneously delving into vibrant settlements and diverse industries. This informative book provides valuable insights into the richness of this unique Vojvodina region, offering a broad spectrum of information useful for education, regional planning, and preserving local identity.

A brief historical overview of settlements and population development

Based on detailed and multi-year archaeological research, it has been established that Banat, like the entire Pannonian Plain, was inhabited since prehistoric times. Throughout historical periods, various peoples settled in the territory of Banat. Some notable ones include Romans, Goths, Gepids, Huns, Avars, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Tatars, Turks, and many others. Among Slavic peoples, Serbs and Croats, and later other Slavic peoples of the Balkan Peninsula, also settled in the Banat region. Some of these peoples stayed longer, while others for a shorter time. Many have long since migrated, while some have disappeared, assimilated by other nations. Of all the mentioned peoples whose members now live in the Novi Becej sub-region, Serbs and Hungarians can be considered indigenous ethnic groups, while all others inhabiting the present territory of the municipality are considered newcomers who settled here after the expulsion of the Turks from these regions.

The first traces of human settlements in this area date back to the late Stone and Bronze Ages, several thousand years ago. This is confirmed by the remains of material culture found at two of the oldest and best-explored archaeological sites—Matejski Brod and Bordjos.

The archaeological site Matejski Brod is located northeast of Novi Becej. Only one site has been found here, dating from the period 3000–1000 BCE. Through detailed research, traces of semi-subterranean structures with square-shaped layouts have been discovered, with house corners oriented towards the cardinal points. In addition to the remains of seven such structures, other significant archaeological materials were found, including fired pottery of Vinča and Tisza types with various ornaments, tools made of clay and bone, remnants of furnaces, hearths, and a grave. All of this indicates the existence of a culturally developed primitive agriculture group in this area several thousand years ago—the Vinča group. This is further confirmed by the archaeological site Bordjos.

The archaeological site Bordjos is located southwest of the current center of the municipality. This site has two locations. The first location reveals a mixture of Tisza and Vinča-Bordjos cultural groups, dating back to around 2500 BCE.

The second location of the Bordjos site dates back to the Bronze and early Iron Ages, around 1500–1000 BCE. Several bronze objects and a cemetery with urns were found here. The discovered urns suggest religious rituals of the ancient inhabitants who cremated their dead and placed their ashes in special vessels.

Both archaeological sites reliably indicate that the current territory of the Novi Becej sub-region was partially inhabited several thousand years ago, and the inhabitants engaged in hunting, fishing, and primitive animal husbandry and agriculture. With the gradual shift from a hunting-gathering lifestyle, a new division of labor emerged, leading to the development of social relations, the establishment of permanent human settlements, and the beginnings of various economic activities.

Moving beyond the oldest periods in which humans lived in this area, further study relies on the remains of material culture from the Roman period. Although archaeological remains from this period are relatively scarce, incomplete, and insufficiently examined, it is known that this region was briefly part of a Roman province. This occurred during the rule of Emperor Trajan until the end of the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270–275 CE). During this time, the present part of Banat represented a crucial strategic point on the northern border of the Roman Empire in Europe, with main fortifications for defense against barbarian invasions built on the left banks of the Mureș, Tisza, and Danube rivers.

According to somewhat unreliable data from this period, there was a settlement of a former military camp in the present municipality of Novi Becej. This settlement was located in the area of present-day Garajevac, on the left side of the road towards Bašaid.

With the influx of barbarian invasions from Eastern Europe after the rule of Emperor Aurelian, the defensive power of the Roman Empire began to decline rapidly. This led to the westward shift of its borders and the withdrawal of Romans from this area. Afterward, this part of present-day Vojvodina experienced significant ethnic changes, a complete alteration of the population structure, and the onset of an immigration process, i.e., the settlement of new inhabitants. This marked a new chapter in the ethnic movement and settlement of the Novi Becej sub-region.

During the transitional period from the shift of the Roman Empire to the west to the mass settlement of Slavs in Potisje, temporary residents are mentioned in these areas. Among the most well-known tribes are the Agatirci. Subsequently, the Huns, Gepids, Sarmatians, Avars crossed this territory without long stays. Concurrently with the movement of these tribes, a period of gradual settlement of southern Slavs began.

The main mass of Slavs moved along the Tisza Valley, partially settling in Potisje and the entire Vojvodina. The remaining Slavic tribes continued their southward movement, settling in other parts of the Balkan Peninsula. Since the southern Slavs were the most massive tribes that settled in these areas, they have remained in this territory to this day. All other tribes left this territory, or assimilated into the mass of the Slavic population.

In the late 9th century, in 895 CE, the Hungarians invaded these regions. After defeating the Bulgarians and Byzantium, they established their rule over this part of the Pannonian Plain and settled here.

This was followed by the Ottoman Turks' invasion through the Balkan Peninsula towards the north. After their victory at Mohács, they continued their invasion towards Central Europe. During their rule, they also settled Banat with Serbian inhabitants from Serbia, who predominantly stayed in these areas even after 1718 when the Turks, after their second defeat in the battle with Austria, had to withdraw from these regions.

In the 18th century, there was a renewed settlement of Hungarians in these areas and the first settlement of Germans. Subsequently, migrations and emigrations of the population occurred after the First and Second World Wars, contributing to the ethnic diversity of the Novi Becej sub-region. More details about population movements in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries will be discussed when examining the population of each locality in the municipality individually, in a separate part of this study.

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