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Underwater Cultural Heritage and Maritime Archaeology in Croatia: An Overview

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2017

Irena Radić Rossi*
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, University of Zadar, Croatia
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Abstract

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Archaeological sites in Croatia's shallow waters are mentioned in written sources from the sixteenth century, and since the eighteenth century they have been used as evidence for the sinking of the Eastern Adriatic coast. It was at the end of the same century that the first Roman shipwreck in Croatian waters was reported. Sponge divers and coral hunters raised archaeological finds from the seabed off the Croatian coast, thus contributing to the creation of many private and monastic collections. Isolated campaigns aimed at protecting underwater cultural heritage began in the 1950s, and by 1970 these efforts became part of a well-organized system. Although the lack of systematic research remains notable, a number of surveys and rescue excavations have enriched our knowledge of ancient seafaring along the Croatian coast and have contributed to the study of the maritime environment. Some well-preserved shipwrecks from classical antiquity and the modern era show excellent potential for the in situ protection and presentation of Croatian underwater cultural heritage.

Arheološka nalazišta u plitkome moru duž hrvatske obale spominju se u literaturi od 16. st., a od 18. st. koriste se kao potvrda poniranja istočne jadranske obale. Krajem istoga stoljeća prvi se puta spominje i jedan antički brodolom. Lovci na spužve i koralje započeli su krajem 19. st. vađenje arheoloških nalaza iz hrvatskog podmorja napunivši brojne privatne i samostanske zbirke. Izolirane akcije zaštite podmorske kulturno-povijesne baštine provode se od polovice prošloga stoljeća, a od 1970. one postaju dio dobro organiziranog sustava. Iako se zapaža nedostatak sustavnog rada, niz rekognosciranja i zaštitnih istraživanja obogatio je spoznaje o pomorstvu duž hrvatske obale i doprinijeo proučavanju morskog okoliša tijekom proteklih vremena. Nekoliko dobro očuvanih nalazišta iz antičkog i novovjekovnog doba predstavlja odličan potencijal za prezetaciju hrvatske podvodne kulturno-povijesne baštine na mjestu nalaza.

Depuis le 16e siècle, les sites archéologiques des eaux peu profondes de la Croatie sont mentionnés dans des sources écrites, et servent depuis le 18e siècle comme preuves de l'enfoncement de la côte adriatique orientale. C'est à la fin de ce même siècle que fût signalée la première épave romaine dans des eaux croates. Des plongeurs d'éponges et collectionneurs de corail rapportaient des trouvailles archéologiques des fonds au large de la côte croate, et contribuaient ainsi à la création de nombreuses collections privées et monastiques. C'est dans les années 1950 que débutaient des campagnes isolées pour la protection du patrimoine culturel subaquatique, et à partir de 1970 ces efforts intégraient un système bien organisé. Bien qu'il y ait toujours un manque notable de recherches systématiques, quelques études et fouilles de sauvetage ont enrichi nos connaissances de la navigation ancienne le long des côtes croates et ont contribué à l'étude de l'environnement maritime. Plusieurs épaves bien conservées de l'Antiquité classique et de l'ère moderne disposent d'un excellent potentiel pour la protection in situ et la présentation du patrimoine culturel sous-marin de la Croatie.

Zusammenfassung

Zusammenfassung

Archäologische Fundplätze in den Flachwasserzonen Kroatiens werden seit dem 16. Jh. in schriftlichen Quellen erwähnt und seit dem 18. Jh. sind sie als Indiz des Absinkens der ostadriatischen Küste angeführt worden. Vom Ende des gleichen Jahrhunderts stammt auch der erste Bericht eines römischen Schiffswracks in kroatischen Gewässern. Schwamm- und Korallentaucher brachten archäologische Funde vom Meeresboden mit, was zum Aufbau vieler privater und kirchlicher Sammlungen beitrug. Einzelne Kampagnen, die auf einen Schutz des Unterwasser-Kulturerbes zielten, begannen in den 1950er Jahren und in den 1970ern wurden diese Bemühungen Teil eines wohlorganisierten Systems. Wenngleich der Mangel systematischer Forschung noch immer beträchtlich ist, hat eine Anzahl von Prospektionen und Rettungsgrabungen unser Wissen zu früher Seefahrt entlang der kroatischen Küste bereichert und zur Untersuchung der marinen Umwelt beigetragen. Einige gut erhaltene Schiffswracks vom klassischen Altertum bis zur modernen Zeit besitzen ein exzellentes Potential für den in-situ-Schutz und die Präsentation des Unterwasser-Kulturerbes Kroatiens.

Type
Special Section - Underwater Archaeology: Research and Heritage Management
Copyright
Copyright © European Association of Archaeologists 2012 

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