MQ Students and archaeological fieldwork at Bribirska Glavica

By Danijel Dzino

MQ Students and archaeological fieldwork at Bribirska Glavica

This year, from the 13th of April to the 3rd of May, saw the successful completion of another excavation season at the site of Bribirska Glavica in Croatia. Since 2014 the site has been excavated as part of the Varvaria-Breberium-Bribir Archaeological Project, which is a joint venture between Macquarie University, The Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments of Split, the MF Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo, and the Šibenik City Museum. Information about the site and the modern archaeological project is available here.

Six Macquarie students (Dean Wilson, Samantha Eardley, Lilly Somerville, Rhiannon Williams, Matthew Nixon and Kristen Taylor) participated in the dig, along with four students from Norway, and other collaborators from Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments from Split. The students used a number of tools during the season, with the various professionals on-site teaching them how to effectively excavate, photograph, record and interpret data. For example, Andrea Di Miceli from the Archaeological Research Group archeoRes showed students how to use Adobe Illustrator for editing photographs and digitising trench sections, and also asked students to help him use his ‘Total Station’ to survey the sites topography.

This year saw the completion of excavations within a modern Orthodox cemetery which uncovered an Early Christian sacral-cemeterial complex. This complex consisted of a monumental 6th century Early Christian rotunda and a large mausoleum with sarcophagi. The circular arches of the rotunda can be seen in drone photography of the modern Church (Fig. 1). The trenches were also extended towards a Late Antique elite dwelling, perhaps a villa, situated below the aforementioned sacral-cemeterial complex around the rotunda (Fig. 2). In addition to a number of exciting small finds, including a Roman ring-stone, a major result of this year’s campaign was the discovery of a late-1st century BC or early-1st century AD elite dwelling which had an elaborate fresco upon its wall (Fig. 3). From initial observations it is thought that the fresco is either of the First (200-80 BC) or Third (30 BC-60 AD) Pompeian Styles (Roman fresco styles based primarily off those seen in the villas of Pompeii and Herculaneum).

The excavation season at Bribir is not all about digging however. For instance, the Macquarie students also sorted small finds at the site’s lapidarium (our storage and processing room) and helped with the flotation of soil samples for archaeobotanical analysis by Dr Kelly Reed (Oxford University). On the first Sunday the students also went out for a day-trip, visiting the Roman legionary camp Burnum (Ivoševci near Knin), the mausoleums of the medieval Croat dukes and kings at the churches of St Mary and St Cecilia in Biskupija, and the Croatian royal city of Knin, where they got to explore its monumental fort. Finally, as is the case every year, the conclusion of the season was celebrated Croatia-style with a roasted lamb on the spit and some song and dance.

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Danijel Dzino

Dr Danijel Dzino is a Lecturer in the Departments of Ancient History and International Studies (Croatian Studies). Dr Dzino was born within the ancient borders of the Roman civitas Daesitiatum, in provincia Dalmatia. He completed his BA (Hons) (1997-2000), MA (2001) and PhD (2002-2005) in Classics at the University of Adelaide. He was a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide (2006-2009) until moving to Macquarie University to start work on his ARC postdoctoral grant (2010-2014).