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Old Croatian graveyard located at Svećurje in Kaštel Stari

Tonči Burić ; Muzej hrvatskih arheoloških spomenika

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 2.335 Kb

str. 105-122

preuzimanja: 801



Located at Svećurje in Kaštel Stari, between Split and Trogir, a smallish Old Croatian graveyard with interred bodies was discovered at the end of 2001. The graves were found during the building works for a family house. Timely intervention stopped the digging of the foundations and the graveyard was completely investigated in two campaigns in 2002. The investigations were conducted by the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments and the dig was led by the author of these lines. The investigated site is situated in the area of the medieval village of Radun whose name is preserved in the wider area around the graveyard, and nearby there is the very well preserved pre-Romanesque church of St George, surrounded by a later medieval graveyard. The graveyard which is analysed here belongs to the group of smaller graveyards which were set out in rows and we can approximately date it to the early Middle Ages, that it the Old Croatian era in the material culture of the Middle Ages (71h to 11 Ih century). The basis for this dating is found in the graves, in the method of construction of the stone coffins, number of burials in an individual grave and certain elements of funeral ritual found in most of the graves. All these elements together offer the possibility of a narrower, more precise dating to the beginning of the 9'h century and in doing this we have to point to other graveyards discovered in Kašteli whose chronological and historical backgrounds enable the comparison of the Radun graveyard with them and its more precise chronological determination. General arguments for such a dating are the orientation and number of bUlials in individual graves and the construction of the coffins made from stone slabs, and the arguments which more precisely confirm the dating are the finds of jewellery in the graves and especially preserved traces of burial rituals which witness the tradition of pagan burial rites which was then still alive. All the discovered graves contained stone coffins, constructed of relatively thin stone slabs placed vertical\y along the sides of the hole and covered with one or more of the same slabs. This way of constructing a grave was most common in the early Middle Ages (excluding the so-called pagan era), and also throughout the entire Middle Ages in all Croatian areas south of the river Sava and this has already been well covered in our literature of the Middle Ages. V Sokol has very recently contributed an overview of the different opinions, but the detailed analysis of this question goes beyond the scope of one article. Graves whose bottoms are covered by thin stone slabs are not rare in old Croatian graveyards, and this is especially common in graveyards situated on the territory of the Old Croatian Klis county and are also confirmed by the recent digs in the area around Sinj . The shapes of the graves are also common. Rectangular coffins dominate (9 graves), and four graves contain coffins in a trapezoid shape. This once more confirms the thesis which was put forward in his time by D Jelovina, claiming that the shape of the grave does not correlate to the time of the burial, i.e. that different shapes appear at the same time throughout the Middle Ages, and not successivelyane after the other as the older archaeologists Lj Karaman and S Gunjača had tried to prove. J Belošević came to the same conclusion in his research, as have I after systematic research into the parish graveyard of medieval Sućurac on the site at St George of Putalj. The older opinion is again supported by V Sokol but the results of the latest digs including this one at Svećurje in Radun completely disprove it. At the Svećurje graveyard in Radun (Diagram I, II and III) individual burials dominate, as registered in 9 of 13 graves (G-l, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12 and 13). In G-6 a double burial was found, and in G-7 it is more likely that we have a situation of two burials at different times, while for G-lO and G-ll nothing can be said because in the former there was no skeleton and the latter contained the remains of three skeletons, one of which is in situ. Both these graves lie next to each other and are situated in the part of the site where the earth is most shallaw. Both graves are missing their lids, so this was most likely a case of previous damage caused by clearing the terrain for planting vines. In short, and based on the example of this small graveyard, the results gained from the analysis of the graveyard at Putalj were confilmed, according to which graves with one burial are dominant until the 13'h century and not until the second half of the 13'h and further throughout the 14'h and 15,h centuries and the early modem era did family tombs with multiple burials become predominant. The orientation of the burial is also common for the early Middle Ages (E-W), all the bodies are placed in the grave with their head to the west and arms placed alongside the body. The Radun graveyard is generally very poor in finds. Of the 13 graves only two contained anything and that was one earring in each. In G-3 a small bronze hoop, and in G-12 adamaged single-bead earring with a smooth rounded be ad (Pic. 2). In both cases these were child's graves. The finds of these earrings in themselves only approximately determine the dating of the burials in this graveyard which, due to the small number of graves, should be placed within a short time frame. Therefore, to determine the date of the burials in this graveyard more precisely, other elements should be taken into consideration which were luckily given to us by the investigations, and which are crucial not only for the dating of the graveyard as a whole but also for the more precise dating of the jewellery in the discovered graves. In question are the remains of burial rites with clearly pagan characteristics which have been confirmed in four graves. In the small child's G-9 grave, small pieces of cinders were found directly above the tiny remains of the newbom's skeleton. Since the grave was not damaged because the lid slabs were in place, there is no doubt that the cinders were thrown onto the body immediately after its placement in the grave. ln the remaining three cases, remains of ritual fire were found next to the lids of the graves (G-4, 5 and 6), in all of these cases located on the north or the north-west side. The fact that all these four examples were found at the western end of the graveyard cannot have some chronological meaning in the graveyard as a whole due to the small number of graves, but surely has a crucial role in its general dating. It is especially important to emphasise that amongst the remains of the charcoal from the bumt wood and the stone circle of these fire places, small pieces of rough ceramics were also found. Unfortunately two of the three fire places (vzand3)' next to G-4 and 5, were significantly damaged by the digging of the foundations but they also contain a few pieces of ceramics. The best preserved fireplace (VI) was situated next to the lids of G-6 on the north side. In the relatively thick layer of cinders around the small stone circle, quite a large number of pieces of rough ceramics, mostly unfired and with grains of calcites have been found. Due to this characteristic, the already tiny fragments bumt in the fire, fell apart as soon as they were touched. This is obviously a case of vessels made for one use and therefore not fired. They were used during the burial rites on the grave at the time of the funeral so I would therefore explain these fireplaces as remains of the burial feasts (daća) in honour of the deceased. This continuing survival of pagan burial rites will have a very important role in the dating of the graves in this graveyard. The "pagan horizon" of the Old Croatian era dates from the mid-7th to the mid-9th century. The main characteristics of the graves of this era are accessories in the graves, mainly pots for food and drink in accordance with the rites and beliefs of the Slavonic polytheistic religion. With the increasing influence of Christianity they slowly disappeared from the second half of the 8th century on, but still appear sporadically during the first half of the 9tb century. After this transitional phase, we usually find jewellery, mostly earrings and rings, from the mid 9"h to the beginning of the 12th century in the graves of the Christianised phase of the Old Croatian era. The occurrence of fireplaces as part of the pagan rites during burial is very rare in the Croatian graveyards of the pagan horizon. It has been confirmed for certain only in the graveyard at Materize near Nin where the dead were buried in earth mounds, and recently the remains of fire have been registered in early medieval graveyards in Glavice near Sinj (locations Jojine Kuće and Gluvine Kuće) where holes with the remains of fire were discovered but it seems that this was not a case of fireplaces by the grave. Therefore the only certain parallel for fireplaces can be found next to three graves at Materize near Nin where a graveyard dated approximately to the 8"h century has been found. The presented analogies of the pagan rites offer a lower chronological limit for the graveyard at Svećurje in Radun. This nevertheless needs to be moved to the very beginning of the 9"h century because of the appearance of the jewellery in the Radun graves. Since ordinary hoop s are not suitable for precise chronological placements, we are left with the find of the single-bead earring from G-12. An almost identical and equally damaged example has been found in the still uninvestigated graveyard in nearby Kaštel Kambelovac in the area of medieval Lažani approximately dated to the 9"h century, and one whole earring at the location of the Old Croatian graveyard at Putalj in Kaštel Sućurac (analogies form the wider area are not brought in here, because the analysis is based on the research of the graveyard as a whole, and not individuals types of finds). And while the earring from Lažani remains, due to the fact that the location is still uninvestigated, insufficiently safe for a close chronological parallel, although it is typologically exactly the same, the one from Putalj is very important because of the narrowly determined chronological coordinates. The Putalj graves of the Old Croatian era have been dated, due to archaeological and histOllcal arguments, to directly before the rule of Duke Mislav (cca. 835-45), i.e. to the first two decades of the 9th century. Here remains of pagan rites were been found, because a pot was been placed next to one grave near the legs. Therefore I also view the graves at Svećurje in Radun within the framework of those factors which have been confirmed at Putalj, where we find mixed together elements of the pagan horizon with those which will mark the Christianised horizon of the Old Croatian graveyards from the middle of the 9"h century to the II"b century, in which exactly this type of single-bead earring is one of the most common types of jewellery found inside the graves. And so the Radun graveyard once more confirms the transitional character of Old Croatian graveyards from the first half of the 9"h century in the initial phase of more intense Christianisation. Whether the somewhat stronger remnants of pagan rites in the graveyard at Svećurje in Radun also have an ipsignificant chronological distinction is not possible to determine at this stage of the research, but the first two decades of the 9"h century are in any case a border across which it is not advisable to go back in time, i.e. before 800, so I would therefore date the graveyard analysed here to between 800 and 830, with a note that the time frame of the burials in it will probably be somewhat shorter due to the small number of graves. After the strengthening of the ducal power of the Croatian Trpimirović dynasty during the times of Mislav and Trpomir, approximately from the mid 9th century, the pagan survival started disappearing rapidly from graves and jewellery became the predominant category of the finds. In this context I just want to mention once more the dating of the type of old Croatian single-bead earring with smooth unomamented be ad analysed here. The older authors dated this type of single-bead earring to the very beginning of the 9"h century, and this was accepted by a pOltion of younger researchers. But in recent decades there has been a tendency to move the dating of this type, and of single-bead earrings generally, to the mid 9th century. Considering again all the arguments I think that these two opinions are not absolutely irreconcilable. Namely, the earring from Putalj and the one from G-12 in the Radun graveyard, taking into consideration the well-established chronological frameworks of the burials on them, confirms the opinion that this type was already appearing at the beginning of the 91h century but the rarity of such finds in that era shows that most examples of this type belong to the middle and second half of the 91h as well as the IOIh century. l bave already pointed out the appearance of biconic beads in rudimentary shapes from the middle and second half of the 81h century during the analysis of the Putalj example, which then justifies the first appearance of single-bead earrings with a smooth be ad as early as at the beginning of the 91h century. In the analysis of the Radun graveyard, another rare element has to be emphasised which provides us with valuable data on the shapes of graves and the burial mound and which has been determined with four graves. Above the coffins, but outside the area they take up, largish or middle-sized amorphous blocks of stone were found at a height of 30-50 cm above the level of the lid. In three cases (G-S, 11 and 12) these were placed at the west end of the grave, and in one case (G-l) at the south-west end, but above the head of the deceased in all cases. According to the circumstances determined in stratigraphic layers at the site I believe that these stones, particularly because of their position in relation to the graves, have to be explained as grave markers in the above-ground part of the grave, i.e. outside the earth which created the burial mound. l also leave open the possibility that these markers were more numerous in this graveyard but have been dislocated during the above mentioned clearing of the terrain when a number of the coffins were also damaged. In any case, if this interpretation is correct, it would represent a valuable find of grave marking from the early Middle Ages, about which we have only hypothetically spoken so far. The very area of the graveyard is completely defined. The site is situated in a narrow terrace, separated from other terrace s by a high drystone underwall. The western border is defined by the digging for the foundations of the house in which they were no more graves towards the west and the eastern border has been defined by a path discovered on the eastern side and placed perpendicularly to the direction of the graves (Pic. 1). On this path and around it there have been found rare fragments from Late Antiquity and rough early medieval ceramics. Translation: Nicholas Philip Saywell

Ključne riječi

Svećurje; Radun; Old Croatian; pagan horizon; Christianised horizon

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