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CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL

CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS IN CROATIA Site name: Ulica Domovinskog rata (Homeland War Street) Position: Ulica Domovinskog rata (Homeland War Street), cadastral plot 10024/45 and 10024/24 cadastral municipality Split, east of the protected archaeological site Ad Basilicas pictas Location: Split Head of excavations: Anita Penović and Tomislav Jerončić Institution: Neir d.o.o., Split Excavation period: first half of 2014 Type of excavation: rescue archaeological excavation Total excavated area: 552 m² Chronological and cultural attribution of the site: Late Antiquity, Middle Ages ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS IN ULICA DOMOVINSKOG RATA (HOMELAND WAR STREET) IN SPLIT Rescue archaeological excavations were carried out in Homeland War Street in Split, due to the planned construction of “Small Mall”, a residential and commercial building on the intersection of Homeland War Street and Vukovar Street, as well as the construction of an access ramp for that building (phase 1). According to the newly found architectural remains and the structure at the Ad basilicas pictas site that was excavated before, it can be assumed that this structure served as an amphitheatre (Photo 1). The distance between the inner walls of the structure is 34.26 m, which could have been the diameter of an arena. The diameter of the structure itself, that is the distance between the walls on the far north and far south side of the structure, is 61.36 m. Various types of movable archaeological material have been found at the site: bronze coinage from the reign of Valentinian II, Constantine the Great and Gratian, bronze wedges, nails, fragments of amphorae, dated to between the early 4 th century and the late 6 th century, oil lamps which have a relief surface, lids and bowls. A small number of glass fragments have also been found, as well as metal finds, marble linings and glass tessera. An interesting find was a bay leaf-shaped bronze tin, which could have been a part of a wreath made of bay leaves that was given to victors in Classical Antiquity. The whole moveable material dates back to between the early 4 th century the late 6 th century, except five fragments of medieval Archaic tableware, which were found inside and around Grave 1 (Photo 3). Next to the west profile of the trench, metal finds have been discovered: a masonry trowel, wedge, bronze plumb line and utensil (Drawings 1 and 2; Photo 4). On the south side of the structure, walls oriented in the north-south direction connect the central wall with the south outer wall, which stands next to an ancient aqueduct (oriented in the northeast-southwest direction). The aqueduct was probably built simultaneously with the basic structure, which is connected to it via a curved wall, with a diagonal extension to the north wall of the aqueduct. The natural characteristics of the terrain, such as a stone cliff and marl foundation (which forms the geological layer), were used during the construction of the aqueduct as well as the structure itself. The architecture of the basic structure in both trenches was built from a partially processed stone bound together with lime mortar and tinges of crushed brick, while the stone blocks above are larger (Photo 2). This is undeniably a valuable archaeological find that changes the perception of everyday life in Split during the Classical Antiquity. It can be assumed that the structure served as a private complex for entertainment of the Roman emperor Diocletian. The complex was built outside the walls of Diocletian’s Palace (extra muros) in the early 4 th century. It is a smaller amphitheatre than the nearby Salona amphitheatre. The exact dimensions of the structure can only be assumed at this point because to date it more precisely it is necessary to conduct archaeological excavations at the south part of the structure, which is situated under the south part of Homeland War Street and around the County building in Split. If the archaeological excavations continue, they will surely provide the answers to numerous remaining questions regarding this monumental structure. Translated by Marin Vlainić

CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS IN CROATIA Site name: Stari grad Vrbovec (Vrbovec Castle) Position: Klenovec Humski Place/Municipality: Hum na Sutli Head of excavations: Tatjana Tkalčec, PhD Excavation period: 1 st – 21 st October 2015 Type of excavation: Systematic rescue archaeological and conservation research Chronological and cultural attribution of the site: the Middle Ages, 12 th -16 th century THE VRBOVEC CASTLE ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND CONSERVATION RESEARCHES The Vrbovec Castle is located near Klenovec Humski, in the north-westernmost part of Hrvatsko Zagorje. It is situated on a prominent conical hill, locally called Veliki Gradiš or Veliko Gradišće, above the Sutla River valley. According to historical sources, the castle must have been built before the mid-1260s, when it became the seat of a small county. Indirect historical data have shown that Vrbovec Castle had a significant administrative importance, which is also evident in the fact that the entire Vrbovec archdeaconry was named after it. Even though historical sources explicitly mention the castle rather late (only in 1334), archaeological excavation has shown that it was actually built much earlier, in the late 12 th or early 13 th century. Some finds suggest there might have been a town built of wood, prior to the castle built of stone, at the same location. The preserved Romanesque castle core consists of a northern castle hall on the ground level, divided into two parts (but later divided into three separate rooms) and a perimeter wall two meters wide, which was probably connected to an even older stone tower in the south. This design meant that the castle core enclosed a courtyard with a cistern in the south-western part. Already during the 13 th century, and later throughout the 14 th and 15 th centuries, additions and alterations were made (the entrance room alongside the north-eastern part of the castle, a smaller trapezoidal room in the eastern part of the castle core and traces of a stone built room alongside the western perimeter wall). More significant alterations were made to the defence-tower, such as walls being added to its interior, courtyard area. Furthermore, at the end of the Middle Ages, the tower was fortified by lining up large stone blocks obliquely and in regular rows. Later additions in fact prevented archaeologists from tracing the layout of the original, initial tower. The abundance and diversity of archaeological finds indicate a busy life in the castle, especially in the 13 th and later in the 15 th century. The phases of the Kőszegi family, of the Counts of Celje, and later of Matthias Corvinus, Jan Vitovec and John Corvinus can be recognized. Even though the medieval castle was demolished in the late 15 th century, it came back to life in the first half of the 16 th century, when a wooden tower was erected on its ruins. The tower’s inventory (tile stoves with ornamented stove tiles) and other finds of luxurious items, together with layers of arson and fire, suggest that this stratum of life can be associated with the power struggle between the Kotvić and Rattkay noble families. The excavation of the castle began in 1987 and 1994 with test archaeological excavation conducted by the Institute of Archaeology, and further excavation has been conducted continuously and systematically since 2001. Simultaneously with the excavation, conservation work on the discovered architecture has also been conducted continuously since 2004. During the past two seasons, conservation and archaeological work has been conducted primarily on the area of the grand tower. A plethora of layers, different architectural phases, discovered fragments of pottery vessels and stove tiles, together with fragments of metal, glass and other finds, round up the picture of the castle. Moreover, all this adds to our knowledge of the living standard and the way of life of the medieval secular elite on the edge between the Kingdom of Croatia and Hungary and the Holy Roman Empire. Translated by Lucija Vrhovski

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