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Research of the remains of Suleiman's Bridge near Darda

Research of the remains of Suleiman's Bridge near Darda

Wooden piles were extracted along with silt during the cleaning of a fishpond near the baroque period Esterhazy palace in Darda in May of 2008, carried out by employees of the Municipality of Darda. Experts based in Osijek, upon notification, surmised that these might by the remains of the famed Suleiman's Bridge. According to historical data this wooden bridge was constructed in 1566 at the behest of Suleiman the Magnificent, built to serve as a bridge over wetlands during his march on Vienna. The bridge was partially destroyed and reconstructed on several occasions, and finally completely destroyed by the Austrian army in 1686.

An 18th century Austrian map depicting Suleiman's Bridge
On-land research of the material excavated from the fishpond during dredging

In July of 2009 archaeologists with the Croatian Conservation Institute carried out field research in the fishpond area, at the position of the presumed northern end of Suleiman's Bridge. The aim of this archaeological campaign was to document all wooden elements of the bridge extracted during the widening of the fishpond, found in the sand excavated on shore and already transported to the Museum of Slavonia, and the wooden elements that were found in the fishpond during underwater research. In further exploration this data will be of great use in the conceptual reconstruction of what the bridge used to look like.

Pile finds within the embankment
Marking wooden elements found in the fishpond

Radiocarbon analysis of samples of the piles taken in situ indicate that the wooden piles originate from between 1440 and 1650, which broadly fits with the period of the bridge's construction. A comparison of geodetic maps made during the research with maps from the 17th and 18th centuries that record the existence of the bridge indicated that the direction it stretches in is consistent with the position of Suleiman's Bridge. Because of the potential threat from fishers, bathers or repeated dredging of the fishpond, the Croatian Ministry of Culture has registered this locality on the list of preventively protected cultural sites, with continued research on the on-land and underwater parts of the site planned.

Geodetic surveying of wooden bridge elements
Geodetic surveying of wooden bridge elements

Mladen Pešić

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