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Meet the Adriatic » Architectural heritage - Insight into the history of life

Archaeology is the systematic study of past human life and culture by the recovery and examination of remaining material evidence. Many archaeologists on their quest for eternal truth in time give up, while not being able to find the valuable sites and many spend their whole life on such quests. Some of them experience that breath taking moment of secrecy and share that historical treasure with us. We don’t know exactly when was archaeology born, for early discoveries were accidental, and the professional concept such as layering and determining the site according to its content was completely neglected. Excavating antique monuments and artefacts has captured our interest for thousands of years. It was priests who showed first interest for marking the sites and describing them. However the priests were not aware of the value of some artefacts, but anyway thanks to them, we know of some archaeological sites which have in the mean time completely disappeared. Involvement of other sciences (geology, anthropology, ethnology, linguistics...) helped reconstruct the way ancient inhabitants lived, their social relations and its development within a certain era. They also explored cultural artefacts of certain towns, districts and nations. These artefacts were products such as weapons, tools, jewellery and provided significant insight into the history of arts and crafts as well as documentary insight significant for the history of a certain nation. Up to the end of the 19th ct. the only goal of archaeology was representing the material evidence of the past times. In the 20th ct. the sixties bring significant changes in the theoretical approach to archaeology and its methods. Namely, new generations of archaeologists are facing a huge amount of data, which drives them to develop new scientific methods of exploring and new statistical techniques. These representatives of ‘new archaeology’ defined archaeology as exact science, while the traditional archaeologists started from the data towards interpretation, the ‘new ones’ on the other hand set hypothesis and only after that they check it through evidence i.e. findings. The final goal of the modern, contemporary archaeology is detailed and comprehensive study of the human kind and the changes it has been through for the past millions of years. The final goal of archaeology is capturing the clear picture on how the people lived and interacted with their environment, but also to comprehend why they choose that specific way of life and why they developed certain behaviours. The object of new archaeology’s attention is a man therefore it belongs to the humanities. The contemporary archaeology differs from the one fifty or a hundred years ago it has an obligatory bond with other exact sciences. The number of archaeological specializations has increased and these help archaeologists in gaining a wide range of analyses. Geologists, sedimentologists, paleobotanics, archeozoologists play an important part in archaeology. Where does the conternporary archaeology go?...The main problem of archaeology is that the historical colonies have been explored from many different aspects, and Croatia as a country rich in wide range and density of archaeological sites has not been sufficiently explored. Not a single sight has been thoroughly explored, mainly they have been explored only by sondes. Nevertheless, we hope most of the sites are not endangered due to the spreading of modern buildings and facilities. For the past decade the areas of archaeological explorations have surpassed the so far area. The cause is road construction. It is essential to explore any area before covering it by roads and highways. Archaeology, we have to admit, is even today in many ways a destructive science; as lord Sainsbury once said, the moment you start excavating the site it is ruined. Regardless the fact archaeology is dealing with past, as a discipline, it is oriented towards the future: a new era brings methodological approach of greater quality as well as wider range of knowledge and understanding while simultaneously destroying the traces of the past by bringing these into the light. The territory of the Republic of Croatia, from the archaeological perspective belongs to one of the richest European sites due to its impressive archaeological diversity. Almost all the nations that have passed through Europe have set their foot on our territory leaving their traces - graves, settlements. Archaeology is divided in periods, from Prehistory over Antiques all the way to the early Middle Ages. When it comes to archaeological methods the ones we have to mention are comparative and typological method. J. J. Winckelmann, a German archaeologist from the end of the 18th ct. established scientific approach to the classical archaeology. During that period, archaeology was more of an amateur fun. A British explorer Pitt Rivers was noted for his innovations in archaeological methods. He had a chance of exploring antiques in many countries, particularly since Britain was a huge colonial empire. He managed to collect a great number of artefacts from all over the world, placing them all on his property and forming a museum nucleus today situated in Oxford and named after him. He developed typology by working on his personal collection, which was priceless for developing the method of specifying the age even of the archaeology itself. Konstantin Porfirogenet, a Byzantine emperor and writer, back in the 10th ct. wrote about archaeological artefacts on our territory, describing the eastern part ofthe Adriatic coast. The first archaeological museum in Split (The Archbishop’s Museum in Split) was established in the middle ofthe 18th ct. I. L. Garanjin led the first scientific excavations in Salona at the beginning of the 19th ct. The Archaeological Museum in Split founded in 1820 and first explorations of its director C. Lanze arose the interest of the public for archaeology. Explorations in Dalmatia were intensified since 1883 when don Frane Bulic became the curator of the Archeological Museum. He was a Croatian archaeologist, historian and conservator, and worked for more than 50 years as a field explorer influencing archaeology in Dalmatia. His archaeological discoveries provided great contributions to the understanding of early Christian and Croatian history in Dalmatia. The exceptional merit of Stjepan Gunjaca, an archaeologist and historian who kept safe and presented many archaeological artefacts, lies in helping founding the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments Split in 1976 Lujo Marun, a Franciscan archaeologist, with his excavations set grounds for the early Croatian archaeology. Archaeologist Duje Rendic-Miocevic was a founder of a special scientific department within Archaeological Institute and also held the presiding position in the Institute.



Lets start our archaeological trip from the north towards the south part of the Adriatic coast: Pula - we can enjoy the spectacular system of fossil caves Svandalja located just outside the city offering us rich findings in 9 mm thick strata. Sandalja site is one of the leadest archaeological sites in Europe. The remainings of a million years old early man have been found representing the oldest early man in Europe. The site has not withstood the ravages of time. Contemporary Pula has developed from a hill fort, the remainings of the Cyclopean walls are the proof of that. Pula developed later into a Roman city. The name Pola is of Iliryc origin and it refers to a group of hill forts of wich the most important was Nezakcij. Just 12 km north-east from the city in the vicinity of Valtura settlement necropolis has been founded. The most significant monuments of Pula are the temple of Rome and Augusts built in the 2nd ct. BC, the Gate of Hercules, the triumphal Arch of the Sergi, a great amphitheatre (sixth largest surviving Roman arena in the world), which could hold 23 thousand spectators. It was built by the emperor Vespasian in the 1st ct. The latest archaeological finds have been discovered in the city centre, 2.100 roman amphorae, which is the worlds largest source of amphora. Brijuni - antique villa Rustica located in Verige bay, of exquisite beauty, built in the 1st ct. during the reign of Augustus. Completely adjusted to the surrounding terrain and well fitted into the landscape the villa holds features of extroverted panoramic maritime villas with wide array of long ornate porches, with sea-orientation and peristyle courtyards surrounded by cubicula, diaetae, triclinia, exadrae and oecus. It is the most valuable sample of early antique villa architecture on the east coast of the Adriatic sea.



Nin inhabited already in the period of Neolithic, during the roman period was known as Aenona. The floor mosaic showing the gladiator fights inside the monumental temple has been presented. The temple was discovered at the end of the 19th ct. beneath the church of St. Mihovil, which has been registered, but also knocked down in 1912. Another interesting cultural sight is marble statues of roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius. Early Romanic monuments (early Croatian art) are church St. Kri and St. Nikola church in Prahulje. Salona - in the ancient times Salona enjoyed far more glorious reputation than the city of Split situated nearby does today. In the Antique period with approximately fifty thousand inhabitants Salona was the biggest city on the territory of Dalmatia. Antique writers mentioned Salona for the first time in the year of 119 BC as a harbour of Delmata tribe. The city fell before the onslaught of Avars and Slavs in the 7th ct. Don Frane Bulic, archaeologist, directed his activities to the sites in the area of Salona, which has made a great contribution to an array of scientific discoveries, starting from Manastrine, a Christian cemetery where bishops St. Dujam, Prima, Gajan, Simferija and Ezihija were buried, than amphitheatre, forum, terms, city gate, Basilica urbana from the 5th ct. This site has become a world known site. 60% of the Salona area has not been explored, therefore Salona opens up great possibilities for further archaeological discoveries.



Vid near Metkovic - Narona - this city played a significant role for the entire south east Europe by connecting the coast with inland, so already in the 5th ct. BC it was a Greek trade centre. Archaeological excavations started in 1950. Archaeological museum of Split preformed explorations for the purpose of protection which have changed the entire image of that city by bringing it to the centre of attention of the home and world’s archaeology. As many antique cities in Dalmatia decayed in the 6th ct. so did Narona experience the same destiny. A village called Vid has replaced Narona, but 4 km away from the same exact Narona’s spot, only because the river Neretva has changed its flow. The village houses were disabling archaeological excavations up to 1955 when the agreement with their owners was stipulated in order to tear down their houses all for the purpose of performing the excavations. Such activity has brought sensational discovery on the site Plecaseve stale, where 16th extra large roman statues were found. These are the statues of emperors, members of the royal family, respectful citizens and roman gods from the 1st and 2nd ct. Also two votive altars dated 2nd ct. were found dedicated to the goddess Venus together with inscription of roman general Publius Cornelius Dolabella, stating the statute was in honour of the emperor Augustus.