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02. 02. 2016 @ Antonija Eremut

Cista Velika, Crkvine

Category: cultural heritage GPS: LAT: 43.528915979 / LONG 16.8815229647

The site on Crkvine is one of the most important and the most stratified, systematically explored and presented, archaeological sites in Dalmatia. The research had been commenced by Father Lovre Katić in 1936, and afterwards it was almost neglected for a rather long time. In 1992 a new research was commenced again, mostly organized by the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments from Split. In 2012/2013 the site was almost completely explored and presented.

Life in Crkvine starts during the Chalcolithic and the early Bronze Age; it commences properly around the karst valley at the bottom of which there used to be a pool with water, and around which there were found fragments of pots in which people from that era used to carry water. The first constructions on this area were built by the Romans, during the first centuries after Christ. They are commercial and residential objects with water tanks in the proximity of the Roman road, the section of the travel station Tronum/Trono which is mentioned in the ancient itineraries.

The next phase in the development of this site starts during the 5th century, when on the foundations of the early ancient architecture the first and the biggest church with the basilica floor plan was being built, with a spacious apse on the eastern part and the adapted buildings from the earlier period along the southern part, among which of a great relevance is the first phase of the baptistery with the cross-shaped piscina.  

After the demolition of the great basilica, on its position was built a slightly smaller church with the chapel along the northern wall, and with the narthex on the western side; even the baptistery was slightly changed.

The following phase, belonging to the 6th century, is related to the construction of a so-called three-konha (a church with three apses or konhas) on the southern side of the site, in which interior had been incorporated and again adapted the baptistery.  

Life in Crkvine probably ceases by the end of the 6th or the beginning of the 7th century, i.e. during the Avar-Slavic penetrations. However, already in the course of the 8th /9th century, within the remains of the Early Christian architecture there were two little early-medieval churches built. After the 10th century this place was abandoned; the church and the cemetery are probably being built closer to the road, around 300 meters in the direction of the north, around what is today the church of Saint Jacob.

All the construction phases that were listed above can somehow be followed also through movable finds; in the first place stone fragments of the church furniture – pluteus, gables, beams, capitals, parts of altar.

Simultaneously with the construction of the churches, from the 5th to the 9th / 10th century, there used to grow cemeteries around them. There can be distinguished, according to their appearance and location, the late antique tombs (5-7th century) from the medieval ones. There were explored 60 different burials in total. Distinctive late antique tombs, which are made of stone and arched, are positioned into two regular lines in the direction of east from the sacral complex. Early Medieval graves were mostly buried around the churches mentioned above, within the remains of the earlier architecture. Findings from both of the groups of the graves (jewellery, money, tools, glass, a bone comb, spurs) contribute to a great extent to the dating of the changes on the site that were described above, as well as to finding out about the way of life of the inhabitants from this area during these ancient historical periods.