Experts have discovered an ancient necropolis dating to the 4th and 5th centuries C.E. at a 17th-century palace on the Croatian island of Hvar. The find was announced in a statement earlier this month by the archaeological consulting company Kantharos, which has spent the past two months excavating the area before building a library on the island.
The necropolis was unearthed in the front garden of the 17th-century Baroque Radošević Palace, erected by the Radošević-Radossio family. In its release, Kantharos called it “the most important and richest site” discovered in Hvar, which has been inhabited since at least the 8th century B.C.E., when Illyrians settled the island. It was home to ancient Greeks and Romans, and was used as a Medieval Venetian shipping port as well as a naval base for the Venetian Empire until 1776.
The necropolis is well-preserved and contains 20 graves with the remains of 32 individuals. Researchers also found a wealth of goods, including intact amphorae, oil lamps, glass bottles, money, and examples of pottery and ceramics.
A range of tombs, from simple graves to built structures with roof tiles, were unearthed at the site. One tomb contained 12 skeletons, and was completely walled in with stonework. Some remains and grave goods were interred and sealed inside large amphorae. Further research is required to provide more details on funerary customs from the 2nd to the 5th centuries C.E., and the team plans to conduct radiocarbon dating on the various layers of remains.
The findings provide new insight into “ceramic production as well as trade connections, through documented imports, some of which were first recorded on the Adriatic,” as Katharos noted in its statement. The team of archaeologists—including Eduard Visković, Joško Barbarić, Marko Bibić, and Jure Tudor, who worked with assistance from Tina Neuhauser Vitaljic, Marine Ugarković, and Joseph Barack Perica—also discovered ramparts with a city gate that dates to the 5th century, as well as a stone wall dating back to the 2nd century C.E.