Odjel za povijest umjetnosti


Ecological Echoes of Biokovo's Prehistory 


Small-scale collaborative, education and research project funded by EU-CONEXUS.

Main project objective: To examine and test the technological advancements and societal organization of the prehistoric communities in Biokovo as an exemplary model of ecological production and self-sustainability

Information about the partners involved:

Project leader: Silvia Bekavac
University of Zadar, Department of Art History
Project partner 1: Željko Miletić
University of Zadar, Department of Archaeology
Project partner 2: Fran Domazetović
University of Zadar, Department of Geography, Center for Geospatial Technologies
Project partner 3: Dora Štublin
University of Zadar, Department of Art History
Project partner 4: Ana-Cornelia Badea
Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest, Faculty of Geodesy
Project partner 5: Aurel Florentin Catalin Negrila
Technical University of Civil Engineering, Surveying and Cadastre Department
Project partner 6: Tudorel Silviu Clinci
Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest, Surveying and Cadastre Department
Project partner 7: Gheorghe Badea
Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest, Faculty of Geodesy
Project partner 8: Anca Patricia Gradinaru
Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest
Project partner 9: Michael Quinn
South East Technical University, Waterford Institute of Technology





Project Decription

The area of the mountain Biokovo is still terra incognita in the scientific and research sense. At the foot of the mountain is a developed coastal tourist area of the Makarska Riviera, which Biokovo separates from the hinterland. While it is often perceived as an obstacle that separates the coast from the hinterland, Biokovo was, in fact, the meeting place of these two spatial components. Its richly carved karst relief, steep bare rocks, frequent winter storms, and hot, dry summers have given rise to harsh yet self-sustaining living conditions since prehistoric times. This earliest period encompasses complex cultural phenomena, ranging from the formation of the Cetina cultural group to the distinct communities mentioned by Greek travel writers and navigators of the Adriatic in their periegeses and voyages, known as Bulinae, Nestae, and Manii. It pertains to an Indo-European ethnic substratum that was interred beneath characteristic stone burial mounds (tumuli) with the deceased laid in a stone chest in a crouched (fetal) position. Their primary economic activity was animal husbandry, specifically transhumance, which involved the combination of winter and summer pastures. Mount Biokovo proved to be exceptionally suitable for this purpose. Livestock, served not only as a source of food but also ensured the creation of surpluses that could be traded. During the summer months, Biokovo served as a direct communication route between the hinterland and the coast, where pasture activities took place. While guarding their herds on the mountain and living in caves and dry wall shelters, Cetinian shepherds descended to the coast to sell their products in the coastal ports. These experienced Aegean traders conducted overseas voyages, particularly in the Adriatic, during the summer when navigation was favourable. The discovery of a substantial quantity of ceramics decorated in the Cetina style on the island of Palagruža provides solid evidence of trade between the two shores of the Adriatic. The project proposal is based on a theoretical model suggesting that the Cetina culture represents a widespread cross-communication cultural pattern. This is manifested through the diffusion of a distinctive ceramic style that extended across the central Mediterranean, spanning from the western Balkans to the Peloponnese, the Apennine Peninsula, eastern Sicily, Malta, and the Aeolian Islands. These processes occurred during the second half of the 3rd millennium BC when a vast trade network formed in the European Mediterranean region. This network included micro-communications between local cultural groups and Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean communities. The eastern Adriatic coast became a pivotal point in the Adriatic-Ionian exchange area. According to this model, we hypothesize that the "Cetinians" of Biokovo played a central role in intercultural connections and exchange patterns. Their way of organization, production, and trade serves as an exemplary model of self-sustainability within an ecological life system. By implementing the planned research methodology and leveraging the coordinated efforts of the research team, the goal is to prove that the settlement patterns, way of farming and exploitation of natural resources, diet and funeral customs of the prehistoric communities of Biokovo represent an ideal type of self-sustainable way of life without degradation and invasive changes in the environment. This will fulfil the main project objective, and the results of the project assignment will serve as a basis for the development of large research projects with international collaborations.