The Archaeological Sites

UW Archaeological Field School in Croatia

Site Rotation and Choice
The exact sites for the 2017 field school will be determined by early 2017.  

The sites will be in the following broad "projects": Project A - Paleolithic sites, project B - Vinicica, and Project C - fortified caves and a castle.


Lim Fjord Paleolithic & Mesolithic Project
Sites: Abri Kontija 2, Lim 001, Pećina kod Rovinjskog sela 1, Romualdova Cave
Part of 2015 & 2017 field schools.

The Lim Fjord region of Istria, Croatia contains numerous, little-explored late Pleistocene and early Holocene cave and rock-shelter localities.  The Lim Project, funded in part by the Croatian Science Foundation (HRZZ), began in 2014 and will be part of the 2015 field school.  During the 2014 field season, excavations established the presence of Middle Paleolithic at Romualdova Cave and Upper Paleolithic at Abri Kontija 2.  As part of the field school, work will continue at these two sites and two additional sites, Lim 001 and Pećina kod Rovinjskog sela, will also be explored.


Middle Paleolithic
Site: Kličevica - Velika Pećina
Part of the 2012 field school. 

Velika Cave in Kličevica is located in northern Dalmatia, close to the city of Zadar.  It is a huge cave complex with a small entrance that faces southeast.  A test excavation in the main chamber was conducted in 2006.  This preliminary work uncovered several Middle Paleolithic layers containing Mousterian artifacts and animal remains.  Absolute dating of the late Mousterian at the site is 39,000 years B.P.  

Upper Paleolithic
Site: Bukovac and survey of surrounding localities
Part of the 2012 & 2013 field schools.

Bukovac Cave has yielded the only evidence of Paleolithic humans in the mountainous region of Gorski Kotar.  Early Upper Paleolithic bone artifacts were discovered in earlier excavations at the cave, and work since 2010 has focused on both dating these Upper Paleolithic artifacts and on determining the extend of the Paleolithic use of the cave. The 2013 Field School will continue excavations at Bukovac while further exploring other nearby cave sites


Roman, Medieval & Recent
Site: Velebit National Park
Weeks: Part of the 2017 field school.

As part of an ongoing exploration of the archaeological heritage in one of Croatia's most majestic national parks, 2017 work will include survey and excavation in Velebit National Park.  For millennia, the Velebit mountain range has been a barrier between the Adriatic coast and the Croatian interior.  Nevertheless, archaeological and ethnohistoric research has demonstrated that these rugged mountains were not only repeatedly crossed but also were occupied by prehistoric and historic peoples.  Work in 2017 will focus upon ancient paths and roads as well as on the use of the Velebit region by transhumans.  

Iron Age, Roman-Conquest, & Roman
Site: Viničica
Part of the 2012, 2013 & 2015 field schools.

This hill fort site was a major population center for the Iron Age group know as the Japodians (aka, Iopes).  In addition to providing evidence about Japodian settlements and life-ways, this site also records the conquering of the Japodians by the Romans.  Surveying of the site as well as adjacent, lower areas has demonstrated that there was a sizable Roman population following the fall of the Japodian hill fort. 

Bronze Age, Iron Age & Medieval
Site: Gradišće-Orišje
Weeks: Potential future field school location

Excavations at the hillfort and church site of Gradišće began in 2005.  Although the focus of this coming summer's work will be on the remains of a Bronze Age settlement, Iron Age and Medieval settlements were also present.  Most significantly, excavations have uncovered ramparts (fortifications) dating back to prehistoric times. 

Fortified Caves
Site: Baračeve Pećine, Gajina Pećina 
Part of the 2013, 2015 & 2017 field schools.

Baračeve and Gajina: Over 700 fortified caves have been documented in the Lika and Karlovac regions of Croatia.  These caves were used at least as early as the Middle Ages and, in some cases, up until the 20th century.  Their primary function was as hide-outs and 'last bastion' sites by people resisting occupying powers (e.g., the Ottomans).  These sites also contain Bronze Age and Iron Age assemblages.  Baračeve and Gajina Caves, located near Plitvice National Park as well as the Bosnian border, were part of the 2013 field school.

Medieval Castle
Site: Drežnik (stari grad)
Part of the 2013, 2015 & 2017 field schools.

Drežnik Grad (castle):Drežnik Grad castle is a reconstructed Medieval castle located on a cliff overlooking the Korana River.  By the 14th century, it was owned by the Frankopan family.  It served as a fortification against Ottoman expansion but fell to the Ottomans in 1592.  It was recaptured in the 18th century during the Austro-Turkish War. 

Site: Novigrad
Part of the 2012 field school.

Although originally built in the 12th century, the castle of Novigrad was used almost continuously up until after World War II.  Excavations of this site began in 2001 with the intent of better understanding how the castle was built and was used, historically.  This information will be used to more accurately restore the Novigrad castle.  Perhaps the most significant discovery so far has been a Medievel cistern that was used to store water, a crucial resource if the castle was under siege.  The castle was one of many fortifications built in the areas bordering the Ottoman Empire's expansion into Europe. 

Interested in applying?  Go here

Interested in more information?  Contact Dr. Jim Ahern