Category Archives: CROATIA

Ancient Necropolis Found on Croatian Island

Ancient Necropolis Found on Croatian Island

The protective investigation in the garden of the Radoevi Palace in the town of Hvar on the Croatian island of the same name has been concluded after two months of intensive archaeological labour.

The research, which was spurred by the upcoming construction of the new Hvar City Library and Reading Room, has resulted in a spectacular discovery.

According to preliminary results, a late antiquity necropolis from the second half of the 4th and the beginning of the 5th century was found, as well as the eastern branch of the ramparts of a late antique settlement with a city gate dating to the end of the 5th century.

On an area of 65 square meters, 20 graves with osteological remains of 32 people were discovered.

The basic types of late antiquity tombs included: simple tombs in earthenware, tombs in amphorae, tomb structures made of roof tiles, as well as one masonry tomb in which 12 skeletons were found. 

What particularly emphasises this necropolis is its exceptional preservation, as well as the very valuable and complete grave, finds, Kantharos reported.

Most of the tombs were decorated with one or more ceramic jugs and lamps, glass bottles and vessels, money and other small utensils. 

Preliminary analysis of these findings provided a preliminary dating of the necropolis itself but also hinted at completely new insights into local/regional late antique ceramic production as well as trade links, through documented imports, some of which were first recorded in the Adriatic.

Just before the end of the research, an older ancient wall was found in the deepest layers, which according to the African sigilate is preliminarily dated to the 2nd century.

Of all the traces of late antique life found in Hvar so far, this is really the most significant and richest site, which vividly shows all the archaeological splendour of grave finds and gives us, for now, the most detailed insight into funeral customs of that period, but also new knowledge about urbanism, Dalmacija Danas said.

The expert team consisted of Eduard Viskovic, Joško Barbarić, Marko Bibić, and Jure Tudor, with the scientific assistance of dr. sc. Marina Ugarković, Ph.D. Josip Baraka Perica.

Archaeologists Uncover Evidence of Ancient, Indiscriminate Mass Murder

Why were dozens of people butchered 6,200 years ago and buried in a Neolithic death pit?

According to a fresh examination of the bones, 41 individuals were slaughtered and buried in a mass grave around 6,200 years ago in what is now Croatia, and members of their own community may have murdered them.

Adult men and women were among the dead, but ages in the group ranged from 2 years old to 50 years old, and about half of the skeletons belonged to children. Many of the killing blows were strikes to the skull that landed from behind, and there were no marks on the arm bones that indicated the victims tried to defend themselves from their attackers, scientists reported in a new study. 

Genetic analysis showed that about 70% of the deceased were not closely related to other victims, but all shared common ancestry. Researchers suspect that the massacre may have been prompted by a sudden population boom or shift in climate conditions that depleted resources and led to indiscriminately mass murder.

The grave was discovered in 2007, when a man who lived in a small village in the hills of Potočani, Croatia, was digging a foundation for a garage, and heavy rains exposed a pit holding dozens of skeletons. Archaeologists with the University of Zagreb happened to be conducting a survey nearby, and they were able to start investigating the mass grave on the day it was discovered, said Mario Novak, lead author of the new study and head of the Laboratory for Evolutionary Anthropology and Bioarchaeology at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb, Croatia.

The pit is small, measuring about 6.5 feet (2 meters) in diameter and 3 feet (1 m) deep, and at least 41 bodies had been unceremoniously dumped there. At first, the archaeologists thought that the remains were modern, either from World War II or the Croatian War of Independence in the 1990s, Novak told Live Science.

But there were no contemporary objects in the pit — just fragments of pottery that looked to be prehistoric. And when researchers inspected the victims’ teeth, they found no dental fillings. Radiocarbon dating of bones, soil and pottery fragments confirmed the age of the burial, dating it to around 4200 B.C.

The researchers identified 21 of the victims as children between the ages of 2 years and 17 years old, and 20 as adults between 18 years and 50 years old; 21 of the dead were male and 20 were female.

The Potočani mass burial, with the upper layers of the pit showing numerous commingled skeletons.

“Just random killing”

But how did they end up buried together? For the new study, Novak and his colleagues sampled DNA from remains and analyzed the bones of 38 individuals. When the researchers inspected the bodies, they found that most had at least one traumatic injury at the back of the skull, and some skulls had as many as four punctures.

Mass graves in medieval Europe frequently contained people of all ages and sexes who succumbed to the Black Death, but the victims in the Potočani pit died by violence, not of infectious disease, Novak explained. 

“The only plausible scenario was a massacre,” he said.

Distribution of men and women, and of adults and children, were roughly equal, and there were no wounds to their limbs or faces, so they likely weren’t killed in a skirmish during combat. It is unknown if the victims were restrained or otherwise incapable of defending themselves — “if someone attacks you with a club or a sword, you reflexively raise up your forearm to protect the head,” which would have left at least some remains with cut marks on the arm bones, Novak said. “But we didn’t see any facial injuries, and no defensive injuries whatsoever.”

Three penetrating injuries on the right side of the skull of a young adult female from Potočani.

Genetic data showed that only 11 of the victims were close relatives, so the massacre wasn’t targeting a specific family group. Neither did it look like a planned discriminatory killing, in which foes tended to murder older men while taking women captive. 

“In this case, it was just random killing, without any concern for sex and age,” Novak said.

A Neolithic death pit that was recently described in Spain also held a jumble of skeletons — male and female, young and old. DNA showed that the victims were recent arrivals to the region, so they may have been slaughtered by locals protecting their territory, Live Science previously reported. But genetic evidence from the site in Potočani indicated that even though most of the dead weren’t closely related, they shared common ancestry. This means that they weren’t newcomers; rather, they came from a local population that was homogenous and stable, “so we can exclude that this massacre was associated with the influx of new immigrants,” Novak said.

The most likely explanation is one that archaeologists and climatologists have suggested for other ancient massacre sites in Germany and Austria dating to about 5,000 years ago, in which adults and children were also killed indiscriminately and thrown into shallow mass graves. In those scenarios, prolonged climate change that caused flooding or droughts — perhaps combined with an unexpected population boom — could have led to squabbles over precious resources. 


And in Potočani, one of those struggles turned deadly.

“By studying such ancient massacres, we might try to get a glimpse into the psychology of these people, and maybe try to prevent similar events today,” Novak said. “We have evidence of ancient massacres going back to 10,000 years ago, at least. Today, we also have modern massacres — the only thing that’s changed is we now have more efficient means and weapons to do such things. But I don’t think human nature or human psychology has changed much.”

6,500-Year-Old Oven With Heating, Hot Water System Is Similar to Modern Technology

6,500-Year-Old Oven With Heating, Hot Water System Is Similar to Modern Technology

As many modern homeowners know central heating and cooling Charlottesville systems are a vital component of a building. From fireplaces to hot air systems to cooling vents, there have been many conditioning systems built and utilized over the centuries and many have considered the latter two to be more modern inventions. Though this latest archeological finding may make many historians question this idea.

The 6,500-year-old oven was unearthed in an ancient home during an archeological dig at a Neolithic site in Bapska, a village in eastern Croatia, which experts say is one of the most important in Europe.

6,500-year-old oven with heating and hot water system in Croatia
The 6,500-year-old oven unearthed during an archaeological dig at a Neolithic site in Bapska, Croatia.

Experts say the oven provided cooked food, hot water, and central heating for their dwelling, just like a modern-day Aga.

Just imagine if it had slowly started to decline in its efficiency, or even worse, stopped working? You would be missing out on a lot of services that can help to make a house a home, and it’s not like in this day and age where you can look for a home warranty coverage plan (check here for more info) to add extra protection to the appliances in case they should break or need repairing. It’s very likely that you would be left with nothing, which makes it even more extraordinary to see that it has been discovered all these years later.

Marcel Buric – from the Department of Prehistoric Archaeology at Zagreb’s Faculty of Philosophy – said the find was significant because the kiln was covered to protect the rest of the building from fire.

Mr. Buric said: ‘This discovery is important. Because the houses of this period are made of wattle and daubed with a roof made of hay using an open fireplace was dangerous. But a roofed fireplace, like the one in Bapska, besides being safer, also had other advantages.

‘It was permanently heated all day long and as the residents came home after a day in the fields they ate hot food cooked by the oven, washed in warm water, and went to sleep in a room heated by the same kiln. Just like some kitchen ovens today.’

Archaeologists also found a smelted piece of iron ore by the kiln, thought to date back thousands of years before man learned to smelt and work iron.

Mr. Buric said: ‘It’s not possible to say what it was used for but it is a significant find.’

The 6,500-year-old oven had a covered stone frame and worked in a similar way to an AGA.

But elsewhere in the same prehistoric house, scientists found the scene of a more sinister fire.

The cremated remains of a baby aged around 15 months are believed to be the result of a human sacrifice.

Mr. Buric said: ‘We know that such sacrifices were made to ensure the growth of crops by giving life and putting it back into the earth. The more treasured the life, say a baby, the better the result, or so they thought.’

Earlier excavations on the site had revealed a set of deer antlers on the walls of one home, believed to be the world’s first known hunting trophy.

Mr. Buric said: ‘This whole area was a melting point where different cultures from across Europe met and exchanged ideas.’

3,500-Year-Old Sunken Town Discovered In Croatia

3,500-Year-Old Sunken Town Discovered In Croatia

Mato Ilkić and Mate Parica from the Department of Archeology at the University of Zadar recently discovered a much older port in the western part of the Novigrad Sea, 22 kilometers northeast of Zadar.

Zadarski List writes that numerous ports from the Roman Empire have long been located and partly explored on the northern Dalmatian Coast.

They are distributed along the main maritime route of the time, which, among other things, includes navigation on the Vir Sea, Zadar, and Pašman Channels. But Mato Ilkić and Mate Parica from the Department of Archeology at the University of Zadar recently discovered a much older port.

Divers explore the settlement believed to dating back at least 3500 years 

It is located on a hitherto unknown route that was very navigable in the period before the Roman conquests.

The archeological remains of this port lay in the western part of the Novigrad Sea, opposite Posedarje, 22 kilometers northeast of Zadar. It was built by the Liburnians, and, for now, it is their only port for which the exact location is known.

“Examining aerial photographs, we noticed that along the west coast of the Novigrad Sea not far from Posedarje, and directly next to the huge prehistoric hillfort Budim, there are some dark rectilinear outlines.

We went there to dive and on the seabed, we immediately spotted a structure pointing to an ancient harbor whose archaeological remains are approximately 3 meters deep. For now, it is the oldest port in Liburnia, and perhaps in the entire Croatian part of the Adriatic.

This is evidenced by the radiocarbon analysis of wood from the port structure, a sample of which we sent to Miami for testing. We recently got a result from Florida that made us quite happy, because it indicates an older time than we had assumed. Namely, the so-called C 14 date indicates that the port was built between 371 and 199 BC. Thus, it belongs to the period of the late classical phase and early Hellenism,” Ilkić reveals.

The port is quite large and is not layered with later interventions. It is built partly of large stone blocks and wooden beams. This very demanding and complex construction undertaking at the time could only be carried out by the well-organized and economically very powerful Liburnian community, which was obviously oriented towards maritime and trade, directly or indirectly with very remote overseas regions.

This included North Africa, that is, Carthage, Numidia, and Hellenistic Egypt, from which a great deal of money reached Liburnia through Japodia.

For now, it cannot be argued how the Liburnians and Japodes were enriched, but it is possible to reconstruct the sea routes and land routes that ended up in their hands.

The topography of the finds of numerous and diverse numismatic materials originating from very distant monetary centers suggests that merchant ships sailed into Liburnian waters near Molat. From that island, a route led to the Vir Sea and the Velebit Channel and further through Novsko ždrilo to the Novigrad Sea, where the newly discovered and for now the only Liburnian port from the period before the Roman conquests is located.

The Liburnians developed a trade network that included the Trans-Velebit hinterland. Namely, after the money reached the southern Liburnian coast by sea, its further land flow can be followed even easier. They found their way in the direction of southern Velebit, where they descended to Lika along its edge and over mountain passes.

Here the traffic branched off into two main directions. The northern one led towards the Una river basin and deeper inland towards southwestern Pannonia.

The second traffic route is directed to the northwest and led to the pre-Alpine area. But this trade, in which the Japodes also profited, would not have been possible if the Liburnians had not turned to seafaring, as is now witnessed by their spacious port next to the huge fort of Budim near Posedarje.

It is an extremely important and complex archeological site, which is indicated by the finds of very early amphorae, Liburnian pottery, but also those painted that originated in Italy. In fact, the port near Buda sheds a whole new light on the maritime role of Liburnia.

Archaeologists from the Department of Archeology at the University of Zadar have just begun researching this unique northern Dalmatian underwater site from the pre-Roman period, thanks to donated money from Alan Mandić from Turanj and logistical support from the Municipality of Posedarje.

Their goal, for now, is to get to know the only Liburnian port, and perhaps the oldest on the Croatian coast, as well as possible, and document and protect it for future generations.

The money invested in the research would be returned many times over because by presenting fascinating and valuable archeological remains of the ancient port of Liburnia, the tourist offer could be enriched.

Historic Weapon Unearthed in Croatia

A valuable piece of Croatian warrior heritage found at Krka National Park

LOZOVAC, CROATIA— Archaeology Org reports that an artillery weapon was found in a defensive wall in a tower at the fourteenth-century site of Nečven fortress, which is located in southern Croatia’s Krka National Park.

The bronze object, known as a mačkula, is similar to a mortar and was used to attack fortified settlements. This one is thought to date to the seventeenth or eighteenth century. 

“A mačkula is a weapon that holds a special place in Croatian warrior heritage. During the traditional manifestation Sinjska Alka, every hit „u sridu“ (‘in the middle’) is celebrated by a shot from the mačkula.

Its value is enhanced even more during the ceremony for the winner when several mačkula are shooting from Sinj’s old fortified walls,” Krka NP said in a statement.

The mačkula was found in the defensive wall of the hexagonal tower right from the entrance of the fortress.

Archaeological research of Nečven fortress started back n 2011 and along with archaeological excavations conservation works of the fortress was also carried out. Metal and stone findings were conserved at the Krka NP conservation workshop.

“The mačkula is another valuable finding that will complete the Krka NP archaeological collection and contribute to the valorization of the cultural and historical heritage of our region,“ Nella Slavica, director of the Public Institute of Krka National Park said.

Slavica says that the conservation of the Nečven fortress is a long-lasting project to preserve heritage along with preparatory activities for the future construction of a 462-meter pedestrian suspension bridge over the Krka River connecting Nečven and Trošenj fortresses.

The bridge which will connect the fortresses

The bridge will be a tourist attraction with its fascinating views of the Krka canyon and Nečven and Trošenj Fortresses without causing any burden on the underlying phenomenon.

“Built at the beginning of the 14th century, the Nečven fortress is one of the most valuable monuments of medieval fortification architecture in Dalmatia. It was owned by the Nelipić family for two centuries.

In the 16th century, Nečven was conquered by the Ottomans but a year before the final expulsion of the Ottomans and the liberation of the City of Knin in 1688, Skradin inhabitants took over Nečven fortress and from it guarded the border.

Opposite Nečven fortress above the Krka canyon, the Trošenj fortress has proudly stood for centuries. Both fortresses represent valuable monuments of Croatian cultural heritage.

Nečven and Trošenj fortresses, built and owned by great Croatian families Nelipići and Šubići as part of the medieval defense system, today are valued within Krka National Park,” Krka NP stated.

Nomadic Warriors’ Remains Unearthed in Croatia

Nomadic Warriors’ Remains Unearthed in Croatia

ZAGREB, CROATIA—Archaeology Org reports that the remains of an Avar warrior dating to the late seventh or early eighth century A.D.

Archaeologists have been found in a tomb in eastern Croatia, near the site of the Roman city of Cibalae. The Avars were Eurasian nomads who arrived in Europe in the sixth century A.D.

During archaeological studies at the city cemetery of Vinkovci, which had started before the coronavirus pandemic and resumed these days, and investigating Avar graves, discovered by workers who had been expanding burial plots.

The City museum archeologists have discovered remains of an Avar warrior and a set belt that can be dated to the turn of the 7th to the 8th century, which is, according to Vinkovci city museum archaeologist Anita Rapan-Papesa, a very valuable find.

She said that previously there had been no Avar graves in Vinkovci, but that it was a known fact that there had been Avars in the area.

“When we observe the walled grave we have discovered, it turns out that Avars saw how Romans were buried so they made their own copies of Roman graves,” the archaeologist specializing in the Middle Ages said.

In addition to the walled grave, the archaeologists explored an ordinary earthen grave, where they found a warrior and his horse, with unique bridle ornaments.

Rapan-Papeša underscored that the border of the protected archaeological site in Vinkovci went through the middle of the field where the Avar graves had been unearthed and that they were the westernmost graves in the area of the former Roman city of Cibalae.

There are five more Avar graves to be explored, and as the work on expanding burial plots in the city cemetery in Vinkovci continues, further archaeological research will continue, as well.

2,000-Year-Old Boat Unearthed in Croatia

2,000-Year-Old Boat Unearthed in Croatia

POREČ, CROATIA—According to an Archaeology org report, a 16-foot boat held together with rope and wooden pegs have been uncovered at the waterfront in the city of Poreč, which is located on the western coast of the Istrian Peninsula.

The boat is estimated to date to the first century A.D. “This finding is significant because it is well preserved and has many elements that are very rarely seen,” said archaeologist Bartolić Sirotić of the Regional Museum of Poreč.

The most important archaeological discovery in the last 30 years is that the boat is well preserved and has many rare elements.

At the very end of the Porec waterfront on the Porta de Mar site, at the intersection of the waterfront with Cardo Maximus street close to the former Kompas building the old wooden boat was found

The first of these boats was located in Pula. This is the third such boat found on the mainland in Istria and the first in Poreč. The boat was made by a sewing technique, which was characteristic of the northern Adriatic area.

“It is a Roman sewn ship from the 1st century AD. The technique of sewing the ship is known from earlier periods, from the time of Histra.

One of the oldest boats of this type was found at the site of Zambratija near Umag. This specimen from Poreč is one of three boats found on land that are not part of an underwater archaeological survey,” Bartolić Sirotić, an archaeologist from the Regional Museum of Poreč, told Jutarnji list before adding.

“This finding is significant because it is well preserved and has many elements that are very rarely seen. These are primarily the formwork, ribs, and keel. In years, it will be possible to make a preliminary reconstruction of the vessel.”

The discovered boat is five meters long, although an archeologist revealed to the Jutarnji list that it was in fact a bit longer. It is 1.70 meters wide and had a sail.

It was well preserved because it was at a certain depth in the soil and could not be penetrated by oxygen. Certainly, a significant role in its conservation was played by the sludge with which it was covered.

“All this preserved it and the wood was not destroyed. We are now conducting research. Every stitch that is made is recorded.

The sewing technique is such that we have ropes that are tied with rope and sewn through holes that insert wooden nails called spots. And after that, the ribs, which are connected with this plate by the big wooden nails, are put on,” Bartolić Sirotić adds.

The archaeologist points out that the very context of the findings is very interesting because Poreč was once an ancient colony.

Excavations also show what the waterfront of Poreč once looked like. It was more recessed and lower than the present. The boat was found at an ancient pier.

A study of the unearthed skeletons revealed that the deceased lived nearly 1,500 years ago and were all boys belonging to different cultural groups.

Ancient Alien-Like Heads Discovered in Croatia

Three Ancient Skeletons have been discovered by the archeologists in Croatia, and two of them had pointy, artificially deformed skulls.

Each of those skulls had been melded into a different shape, possibly as a way to show they belonged to a specific cultural group.

Artificial cranial deformation has been practiced in various parts of the world, from Eurasia and Africa to South America.

It is the practice of shaping a person’s skull — such as through using tight headdresses, bandages or rigid tools — while the skull bones are still malleable in infancy.

Ancient cultures had different reasons for the practice, from indicating social status to creating what they thought was a more beautiful skull.

The earliest known instance of this practice occurred 12,000 years ago in ancient China, but it’s unclear if the practice spread from there or if it emerged independently in different parts of the world.

In this case, archeologists found these three skeletons in a burial pit in Croatia’s Hermanov vinograd archeological site in 2013.

Between 2014 and 2017, they analyzed the skeletons using various methods, including DNA analysis and radiographic imaging— a method that involves using radiation to view the inside of an object such as a skull. 

Their analysis revealed that the skeletons were all males who had died between ages 12 and 16. They all showed evidence of malnutrition, but that’s not necessarily how they died.  

They could have had “some kind of disease that killed them quickly and didn’t leave any traces on their bones,” such as plague, said senior author Mario Novak, a bioarchaeologist at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb, Croatia. 

The archaeologists didn’t find artifacts in the burial that could have revealed the boys’ social status, Novak said. 

The burial pit where the individuals were found — Hermanov vinograd site.

The analysis also revealed that the three had lived between A.D. 415 and 560, a time that corresponds to the Great Migration Period, which is “a very turbulent period in Europe’s history.

Right after the fall of the Roman Empire, completely new populations of people and cultures began to arrive in Europe and become the basis for modern European nations. “In other words, this period set the foundations of Europe as we know it today,” Novak said.

Indeed, DNA analysis of the ancient trio revealed that one of them had a West Eurasian ancestry, another a near-Eastern ancestry and the third an East Asian ancestry.

The boy who was of near-Eastern ancestry had a circular-erect type cranial deformation, which means that the frontal bone behind the forehead was flattened and the height of the skull was “significantly increased,” Novak said.

The boy who likely came from West Eurasia didn’t have any skull deformation, and the boy with East Asian ancestry had a skull with an “oblique” deformation, which means the skull was elongated diagonally upward.

“We propose that different skull deformation types in Europe were used as a visual indicator of association with a certain cultural group,” Novak said. As of yet, it’s unclear what cultural groups they belonged to, though the East Asian boy could have been a Hun.

Now, Novak and his team hope to find more samples of cranial deformation from Europe to understand this phenomenon on a larger scale.