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article imageSecret Dalmatia revealed: A 3,000 year-old underwater settlement

By Paul Bradbury     Jul 12, 2014 in Travel
Zadar - A small donation from a local Croatian business funds a spectacular find in the Adriatic sea, a Liburnian settlement rich in artifacts.
In an age of global crisis and financial cutbacks, the donation of 20,000 Croatian kuna (US$ 3,600) by boutique travel agency Secret Dalmatia has produced spectacular results in the Adriatic Sea, revealing multiple artifacts from a settlement believed to be Liburnian and dating back 3000 years, according to a blog on July 11, 2014 from the project benefactor, Alan Mandic.
In action
In action
Mato Ilkic
Mandic is an archaeology and history buff, and his interest in the secrets of Dalmatia have led him to interesting discoveries previously reported on Digital Journal, such as the lost village of Karanovac and an intriguing pyramid hill north of Sibenik. His private interest has been translated into some of the most fascinating boutique tours of Croatia's heritage, which he offers through his luxury tourist agency, Secret Dalmatia.
Samples of finds: pottery  bone tools…
Samples of finds: pottery, bone tools…
Mato Ilkic
Frustrated by the lack of funding available to uncover the large number of archaeological treasures which remain to be discovered, Mandic decided to work with Mato Ilkic of the University of Zadar on an initiative to finance a small excavation of his choosing. Ilkic agreed to accept the donation of 20,000 kuna (US$ 3,670) from Secret Dalmatia and to work with Mandic to finalise a dig of Mandic's choosing. As the Secret Dalmatia blog explains:
Broken handle of ancient pot
Broken handle of ancient pot
Mato Ilkic
"There are dozens of locations that I would love to see excavated but Mato suggested that the money goes to a week long underwater exploration and sondage of a known pre-historic settlement near Ričul. Right by my home town of Turanj. I agreed and, almost a year later, the crew got together and it was agreed that they start excavating on one of the most promising spots.
"One can clearly see the underwater structures on the aerial shots and, it is known from the records, that the region was part of the village of Tukljaca. The village was abandoned and slowly sunken underwater during the Ottoman–Venetian War (1570–1573). All that remains are some walls that can still be seen outside the cemetery on the mainland… Back in the 70s, some archaeological reconnaissance has also been done but no sondage and actual underwater excavating have been done. Until now."
Aerial shot of Ričul  heart shaped Galešnjak  Tukljača cemetery near Turanj and “x” marks the...
Aerial shot of Ričul, heart shaped Galešnjak, Tukljača cemetery near Turanj and “x” marks the location of the excavation
Mato Ilkic
The initial find on the first day was beyond spectacular, and national media reports are hailing the find as a sensational find, with Mandic explaining the findings on his blog, claiming that the early evidence points to a Liburnian settlement dating back 3,000 years, and one which had seemingly disappeared before the Romans arrived, as none of the finds so far are from a later period than Liburnian. The site is believe to be an impressive 1.5 hectares.
The find raises tantalising questions on what else awaits discovery
The find raises tantalising questions on what else awaits discovery
Mato Ilkic
The excavation was performed once all permits were obtained, with the team consisting of Mato Ilkić Ph.D, Martina Čelhar Ph.D, Dario Vujević Ph.D, Mate Parica Ph.D, Marko Meštrov and Maja Kaleb.
The early finds are now being analysed, and more excavations are planned in 2015. Secret Dalmatia is the first private business to fund such a project 100%. Mandic has invited anyone interested in funding further digs to contact him, while Secret Dalmatia is offering specialised archaeological tours for people interested in taking part.
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