A Polish-Croatian team discovered an Ancient Roman Temple under a Croatian 18th Century church
Under an 18th-century church, the Church of St. Daniel in Danilo near Sibenik, Croatia, the foundations of an ancient Roman temple have been found.
Sibenik is the location of the former Roman city of Ridit, though the secret of the ancient temple was previously unknown.
Finding the temple made use of LIDAR aerial scanning technology. Using LIDAR techniques, the Polish-Croatian team found the frame of the temple’s entrance, which is likely all that remains of an old colonnade.
According to archaeologists, the temple once measured 66 feet by 33 feet and had walls that were significantly larger than they are now.
Discovering team, in addition to the church, the team also found a nearby cemetery, which is said to have been in use between the 9th and 15th Centuries.
Polish research leader, Professor Fabian Welc of the Institute of Archaeology of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw said that the temple was most likely part of a larger forum, which would have once been the location of several important public buildings, including courts and offices. He said, “The data we have collected indicate that under today’s church and the adjacent cemetery, there are relics of a temple, which was part of the forum, the most important part of a Roman city.”
He added that the forum was the centre of the social and economic life of the inhabitants of every Roman municipium (city). This forum was located at the intersection of the main communication arteries and was also the central point in the city.
According to scientists, the church was not the only structure built on the ruins of the former temple. The nearby cemetery, which operated from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries, was also partially within its original range.
Some medieval graves were dug directly into Roman bath relics, as was the adjacent massive building with a central courtyard and a portico surrounded by numerous rooms.
Professor Welc said: “This means that the extensive medieval cemetery was founded directly on the relics of Roman buildings.”
Archaeological research has been undertaken in Danilo for the last 70 years. The joint Polish-Croatian project started in 2019.
It is carried out by researchers from the Institute of Archeology of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, the Institute of Archaeology in Zagreb, and the Šibenik City Museum.
The ancient building has massive walls and a rectangular outline (approx. 20 x 10 m). Georadar images show the frame of the entrance, according to scientists most likely in the form of relics of a colonnade.
The foundations were discovered under and next to the Church of St. Daniel in the village of Danilo near Šibenik, the former Roman city of Ridit.
Although archaeologists have been finding numerous architectural elements and decorations from the monumental Roman sacral building until now its location was unknown.
Polish research leader, Professor Fabian Welc from the Institute of Archaeology of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, said: “The data we have collected indicate that under today’s church and the adjacent cemetery there are relics of a temple, which was part of the forum, the most important part of a Roman city.”
He added that the forum was the centre of the social and economic life of the inhabitants of every Roman municipium (city). This forum was located at the intersection of the main communication arteries and was also the central point in the city. In addition to the temple, it was the location of the most important public buildings of cities, such as courts or municipal offices. The forum was additionally decorated with monuments or triumphal arches.
Next year, scientists plan to conduct archaeological research near the church to verify the findings of geophysical surveys. It is known that the current 18th-century church was built on the foundations of an earlier, small Romanesque Christian temple. Under it – according to the latest research – was the oldest, Roman temple.
The LIDAR aerial scanning technology was also helpful in locating the temple. It enables a very thorough analysis of the terrain and makes it possible to detect the remains of former architecture, very weakly outlined on the surface.
According to the scientists, not only the church was built on the ruins of the former temple. The nearby cemetery, which functioned from the 9th to the 15th century, was also partly located within its original range. Next to it were other buildings surrounding the forum.
Some of the medieval graves were dug directly into the relics of the Roman baths along with the adjacent vast building with a central courtyard and a portico surrounded by numerous rooms.
Professor Welc said: “This means that the extensive medieval cemetery was founded directly on the relics of Roman buildings.”
The Croatian project coordinator, Dr. Ana Konestra added that thanks to large-scale geophysical surveying and analysis of the ALS model, a number of other Roman buildings were identified around the modern-day cemetery in Danilo. According to the archaeologists, they were mainly residential and utility buildings.
Even before the recent surveys, there were suspicions concerning the location of the forum within the area of the cemetery, because reused fragments of monumental architectural decorations and a large column were discovered in the stone walls surrounding medieval graves.
Professor Welc said: “The very size of these elements indicated that somewhere near the cemetery there had to be a large, monumental building, which had to be part of a complex of buildings surrounding the city forum. However, previous excavations did not allow us to determine its location.”
Archaeologists have been conducting research in Danilo for over 70 years.
The first extensive work was associated with the construction of the water pipeline. It brought finds in the form of hundreds of Roman inscriptions, some of which mentioned Municipium Riditarum, an enigmatic city founded somewhere in Danilo by the local community of the romanised Ridit tribe.
October 3rd, 2022 – There are frequent archaeological finds all over Croatia, with most of them involving the Roman Empire being discovered in Dalmatia. One such find is yet another in a series of impressive relics which transport us back to the time of Roman rule over Istria.
As Morski writes, an impressive archaeological find was discovered down on the seabed of Barbariga bay in Istria recently. A large Roman pier, almost 60 metres long, where two thousand years ago some of the best olive oils of the Roman Empire were loaded up has been unearthed.
The sea always hides many stories both on the surface and below it, and this one, in particular, is a story that takes us straight back to the time when Istria was ruled by the ancient Romans.
Ida Koncani Uhac, head of the underwater archaeology collection from the Archaeological Museum of Istria, said that they are investigating a Roman jetty in Barbariga bay, and at a depth of a mere three metres, archaeologists found a monumental structure – the aforementioned almost 60-metre-long Roman pier constructed with three rows of stone blocks.
”We as divers are here to help the archaeologists in their work and to take care of the safety of diving because diving needs to be done in pairs. This is the rule in diving,” said Sandra Kamerla Buljic, a local diving instructor. This particular dive takes us back two thousand years, to the times of the mighty Roman Empire, and when the sea level was a full two metres lower than it is today
”Back during that time, one of the largest oil mills in the entire Roman Empire was located on the coast, and there were also impressive villas and a large jetty as part of the commercial port.
There were no roads, and maritime traffic dominated. These ships would dock and load up the olive oil, which Pliny the Elder wrote was the second best in quality in the entire Empire, and it was then transported in amphorae.
These amphorae were produced in Fazana, also in Istria, and they were then transported to the pier. This is where oil was stored and then shipped on, mainly to the Northern Adriatic, to Aquileia, the river port of Aquileia and further inland to supply the Roman army that guarded the borders of Histria,” explained Koncani Uhac.
Discovering a story that was forgotten for thousands of years is the job of archaeologists, and Dolores Matika, an archaeologist, stated that they are interested in whether any seeds and fruits have been preserved.
More will be known after they conduct further research into these findings, but given the fact that they have found olive pits, they expect satisfactory results in this regard.
Remains of amphorae, dishes, glass and ceramics have already been found, and Koncani Uhac has claimed that they also found an interesting bowl that they managed to date to the period 15-25 years after Christ.
The research is being carried out as part of the “Istrian Undersea” project, in which as many as seventeen diving clubs are participating.
All of them are exploring their areas in search of archaeological traces, and ancient remains of Roman ports have been found throughout Istria, as HRT reported.
For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.
4th Century BC Greek Silver Coin Found in Archaeological site on Papuk
September 22, 2022 – Archaeological sensation on Papuk. A Greek silver coin from the end of the 4th century BC was found at an archaeological site near Kaptol. The story doesn’t stop there – it’s only starting to come together. What wealth and power did the people who lived in this area have, and how long did it last?
As RTL reports, a Greek silver coin from the 4th century BC was found after the rain along the forest road on Papuk. It was carved with a depiction of Zeus enthroned with a bird, and on the other side is a depiction of Alexander the Great. Random passers-by found it. They saw pottery and pieces of vessels.
The locality near Kaptol is a well-known archaeological site with the graves of the warrior aristocracy, where prestigious weapons and equipment were found in Europe in the 7th century BC.
This means that the community that lived here had a major significance on the border of three worlds – the Mediterranean, Central Europe and the Danube.
At the Lisičja Jama locality, named after the ceramics that the foxes end up dislocating while digging their dens, archaeologists are excavating a settlement where it is assumed that 500 people lived. Numerous inventions prove this.
“And it certainly speaks of the fact that the people who lived in those areas were extremely advanced and prosperous at the time, and not only that, but they also traded and exchanged things with very distant regions”, said Janja Mavrović Mokos, archaeologist and researcher.
The coin from the 4th century BC is crucial because it shows that the power of these people from Papuk, who lived at the intersection of cultures and trade routes, did not last for a short time but continuously for centuries.
“This shows continuity on the political, economic and cultural scene of over 300 years, which few can boast of today, let alone back then,” said Hrvoje Potrebica, head of archaeological research.
A province is not a place but a state of mind, and Croatia should learn from history, which is the teacher of life, even today. And the plan is for the place of learning to be the Visitor Center of the future Papuk Archaeological Park, where this Greek silver coin will have its special place.
Archaeologist discovers a 6,000-year-old island settlement off the Croatian coast
Croatia, June 24 – Archaeologist Mate Parica was examining satellite images of Croatia’s coastline when he spotted something unusual. “I thought: maybe it is natural, maybe not,” said Parica, a professor at the University of Zadar.
The image showed a large, shallow area on the seabed jutting out from the eastern shore of the island of Korcula.
Parica and a colleague decided to dive at the site and discovered what they believe is a Neolithic settlement from around 4,500 years BC, built on a small piece of land that was connected to the main island by a narrow strip.
The pair found the remains of stone walls which had surrounded the settlement, as well as tools and other objects used by the inhabitants.
“We found some ceramic objects and flint knives,” he said.
Marta Kalebota who runs the archaeological collection in the Korcula town museum said the settlement’s location was highly unusual.
“We are not aware at the moment of a similar finding elsewhere that a Neolithic settlement was built on an islet connected with a narrow strip of land,” she said.
Parica also said the island settlement discovery was atypical and that Neolithic finds were mostly made in caves.
“The fortunate thing is that this area, unlike most parts of the Mediterranean, is safe from big waves as many islands protect the coast.
That certainly helped preserve the site from natural destruction,” he said.
1,800-year-old Roman Chariot with horses found buried in Croatia
In Croatia, archaeologists discovered the fossilized remnants of a Roman chariot that had been buried with two horses as part of a burial ritual.
A large burial chamber for an ‘extremely wealthy family’ was found in which the carriage with what appears to be two horses had lain.
Archaeologists from the City Museum Vinkovci and Institute of Archaeology from Zagreb discovered the Roman carriage on two wheels (known in Latin as a cisium) with horses at the Jankovacka Dubrava site close to the village of Stari Jankovci, near the city of Vinkovci, in eastern Croatia.
The discovery is believed to be an example of how those with extreme wealth were sometimes buried along with their horses.
Curator Boris Kratofil explained to local media that the custom of burial under tumuli (an ancient burial mound) was an exceptional burial ritual during the Roman period in the south of the Pannoinan Basin.
He said: ‘The custom is associated with extremely wealthy families who have played a prominent role in the administrative, social and economic life of the province of Pannonia.’
The discovery is estimated to be from the third century AD but the team of scientists are working to confirm its age.
The director of the Institute of Archaeology Marko Dizdar said that it was a sensational discovery that is unique in Croatia.
He said: ‘After this comes a long process of restoration and conservation of the findings, but also a complete analysis of the findings.
‘In a few years, we will know a little more about the family whose members were buried in this area 1,800 years ago.
‘We are more interested in the horses themselves, that is, whether they were bred here or came from other parts of the empire, which will tell us more about the importance and wealth of this family.
‘We will achieve this through cooperation with domestic as well as numerous European institutions.’
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”