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Preliminary survey of the seabed of Šibenik-Knin County

Preliminary survey of the seabed of Šibenik-Knin County

In October and November of 2012 the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology conducted a survey of the coast and seabed of Šibenik-Knin County. The seabed from the Kornati group island Arta Velika to the island of Zlarin was surveyed. Dives were conducted at previously known locations of archaeological interest and at some new locations selected on the basis of reports from archaeologists or local inhabitants.

The research campaign included the use of Side Imaging Sonar to scan the seabed and diving to survey the seabed. Participating in the reconnaissance along with research leaders Mladen Pešić and Luka Bekić of the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar were outside associate divers Marko Meštrov (the Han-Vrana Agency), Jerko Macura, Rok Kovačić, with Petar Dobrović providing technical support.

The reconnaissance covered two interesting and previously insufficiently investigated locations. The first location was the Lenovac area around Skradin on the Krka River. Lenovac is located downstream from the ACI Marina in Skradin and is part of the quay of a Roman period port and commercial centre with interesting archaeological material. The second location is the area around the island of Arta Velika, located on a navigation route through the Pašman channel with a Roman period shipwreck.


he stone structure of the Roman quay and the embankment created by its collapse in the Lenovac area is covered by the silt and travertine formations created over the centuries by the Krka River. The thick deposits of silt at the bottom of the river channel cover sherds of tegulae, pithos and amphorae of African and eastern Mediterranean provenance. These finds are evidence of long-term inhabitation and commercial exchange. There is an interesting find of a Roman legionary spear with shaft socket found firmly attached by concretion to the stones of the embankment under the quay. This spear bears witness to the use of Scardona (Skradin) as a port for the supply of goods to the military encampment at Burnum (Ivoševci near Kistanje) in the 1st century.

U sklopu ovog rekognosciranja bilo je predviđeno pregledati i prostor nizvodno od Brljanskog jezera na rijeci Krki upravo zbog blizine Burnuma ali zbog niza problema (nepristupačnost terena, pripadnost jezera nacionalnom parku i sl.) ekipa nije bila u mogučnosti izvesti zaron.

A survey of the area downstream from Lake Brljansko on the Krka River was also foreseen in the frame of this reconnaissance because of the proximity of Burnum but, as a result of a number of problems (inaccessibility of the terrain, the fact that the lake is part of a national park and so forth) the team was unable to conduct dives. In his 7th century work Cosmographia the Anonymous of Ravenna wrote of the strategic importance of the position of the island of Arta Velika (Artion) on the navigation route through the Pašman channel. The reconnaissance covered the area of the islets of Artica and Ula (Artica Mala) located to the northwest of Arta Velika. Various ceramic materials from different periods bear witness to the long-term navigation and use of this area as an anchorage. Amphorae of the Late Roman 2 type reveal that the most intensive traffic occurred from the 4th to 7th century period. Found along with this type were amphorae of the Forlimpopoli type (1st to 2nd century). The seabed off the islet of Artica is the likely end of the journey of a vessel with a cargo of Lamboglia 2 type amphorae, in use from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE – its remains are now concealed over a wide area of the seabed covered by Mediterranean tapeweed. Scattered sherds of various types of amphorae are found on the seabed off the islet of Ula (Artica Mala). Found here along with sherds from Lamboglia 2 type amphorae are fragments of Post Medieval ceramic plates and fragments of eastern sigillata B type plates.

Lenovac, iron legionary spear in situ
Various ceramic finds on the seabed off the islet of Artica
Lamboglia 2 amphorae on the seabed off the islet of Artica

The reconnaissance included a further three locations of archaeological interest. An anchorage at Sovlje Cove near Tribunj, Sanđela Rock near the island of Žut and the seabed off the islet of Sustipanac near Pirovac.

Several sherds of Lamboglia 2 type amphorae from the 1st to 2nd century period, African cylindrical amphorae from the 3rd to 4th century period and a large quantity of Post Medieval small bowls dated to the 15th to 18th century were found in the southern section of Sovlje Cove.

A large quantity of broken stone was identified in the northwestern section of Sanđela Rock. This type of stone structure is not evident on the rest of the rock so that this is presumably a breakwater. Several fragments of amphorae necks and handles were found within the stone structure that approximately dates it to the Roman period.

Dives were conducted around the isle of Sustipanac to investigate reports from local inhabitants indicating the presence of sections of sculpted altar screens and other church furnishings on the seabed near the monastery. A large quantity of building material, tegulae and barrel roof tiles were observed during the survey of the area. One dressed stone was found, possibly a section of a doorframe, and a small quantity of Post Medieval ceramic ware.

Post-Medieval plate on the seabed off the islet of Artica Mala
The bottom of a painted and glazed vessel, Sovlje Cove near Tribunj
The stone structure on the seabed off Sanđela Rock

This programme continues a reconnaissance project the chief goal of which is to supplement the MACHU.HR database of underwater archaeological sites in Croatia, a system of plotting and protection being developed at the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar. The information in the database will contribute to the system of protection of valuable sites in our waters.

Marina Šimičić

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