Excavation Completed, Roman Artefacts Discovered Under Hvar Town Arsenal

Total Croatia News

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Hrvoje Bakovic

More spectacular finds under the historic Arsenal on Hvar Town’s exclusive waterfront.

Better known as Croatia’s premier island and the sunniest in all Europe, the island of Hvar was in the news for different reasons on January 5, 2016, as the findings of an archaelogical dig under the historic Arsenal building were presented, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

The Arsenal is one of the most iconic buildings in Dalmatia, guarding the entrance to Hvar Town’s fabled main square. Its first floor is home to the oldest public theatre in Europe, built in 1612, and its ground floor had been used until recently as an entertainment centre. 

(Photo credit Slobodna Dalmacija)

That all changed in 2014, when renovation and restoration work revealed ancient treasures under the floor of the Arsenal. As we previously reported for Google News, excavation work then began. The work, which was carried out by local archaeological supervisor Eduard Viskovic, fellow archaeologists Nebojsa Cingeli and Miroslav Katic, as well as Porin Kukoc from NEIR, revealed three layers of history: the late first and early second centuries, the second layer from the 4th – 7th centuries, and finally the Venetian period. 

(Photo credit Eduard Viskovic)

“The overall findings can be divided into three stratigraphic units: The classical antiquity, Late antiquity and the period of Venetian rule. The oldest findings are pottery and architecture from the classical period of 1st and 2nd century. A whole room with dimensions of 7×15 meters was found. The Roman architecture of this period was so far unknown in Hvar town. Taking into account the large amount of pottery found in the port of Hvar and the surrounding areas in earlier explorations, we can assume, that Hvar was even in this period an inevitable antique port,” – said Visković.

(Photo credit Slobodna Dalmacija)

An English translation of the Slobodna Damacija article can be found here

The findings once again demonstrate the rich heritage of an island which these days has become synonymous with celebrity and party tourism in recent years. It is in fact the only island in the world with four UNESCO heritages (which do not include the oldest public theatre), and organised tourism in Europe began on the other side of the main square in 1868 with the founding of the Hvar Health Society.

(The oldest public theatre in Europe, which sits on the first floor of the Arsenal)

2016 is likely to see a major focus on the island’s heritage, as its former capital Stari Grad (meaning ‘Old Town’) celebrates its 2400th birthday. One of the oldest towns in Croatia (some say the oldest), the town was founded in 384 BC with the arrival of the Ancient Greeks from the island of Paros. The nearby agricultural colony founded all those years ago still exists today, and is one of Croatia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, known these days as the Stari Grad Plain.  

(Photo credit Slobodna Dalmacija)


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