Beketinci – Bentež
Settlement, town, county: Beketinci, Bentež, Osijek-Baranja County
Site type: stratified settlements
Period: prehistory – Lasinja culture, Early Middle Ages, Late Middle Ages
Type of excavation: salvage
Institution: Institute of Archaeology in Zagreb
Excavation manager: Dr Kornelija Minichreiter (2007 and 2008)
The Institute of Archaeology in Zagreb carried out extensive salvage archaeological excavations of the prehistoric, early- and late mediaeval site at Bentež near the village of Beketinci, AN 18, on the route of the international motorway Budapest – Ploče, section Osijek – Đakovo. In the course of the works, which lasted between Autumn 2007 and summer 2008, a total area of 60.300 m2 was investigated.
The Bentež plot lies in the lowest part of the alluvial plain south of Osijek, intersected by the Karašica, Vučica and Vuka watercourses. The oldest part of the site belongs to the Lasinja culture from the Eneolithic period around 6000 before present, i.e. from the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 4th millennium BC, the Middle Eneolithic period. A part of an extensive settlement was discovered, whose western—working—part consisted of numerous clay-extraction pits and two large kilns for firing clay vessels and objects. In the eastern, residential part of the settlement, three large pit-houses (20 x 30 m) with wells on their edges were discovered, as well as the foundations of five above-ground houses of rectangular plan. The largest above-ground house was 30 m long and 12 m wide, while the smaller ones measured 8 x 5 m and 10 x 5 m and consisted of two rooms. Pottery types included pots and small pots, bowls, pans and ceramic spoons. Besides pottery, there were also lithic finds – fragments of stone tools, shaft-hole axes. The archaeological material belongs to the late phase of the Lasinja culture, dated between 3960 and 3360 BC.
The mediaeval part of the settlement existed in two separate periods, in the Early and Late Middle Ages. At the northern periphery of the investigated part of the prehistoric settlement two pits with early mediaeval finds were discovered. The pits yielded pots with simple rims and combed waveline decoration, and fragments of a deep biconical vessel – bucket, dated to the 9th-11th century.
The excavated portion of the late mediaeval settlement stands out by the fact that for the first time in Slavonia as many as 35 houses were identified, on an area of 20.000 m2. The structures arranged in three concentric circles surrounding a small square, opened towards the west (like a horseshoe) are the evidence of the first urban planning for rural settlements in Slavonia in the period between the 14th and 16th centuries. This date was corroborated by the radiocarbon dates of the structures in the settlement. Among the 35 excavated houses there were 11 semi-sunken ones and 24 big above-ground houses of a rectangular plan, covering an interior area between 10 and 90 m2. Several of the above-ground houses had one or two cellars, and each had at least one bread oven in the courtyard. The semi-sunken houses—leather workshops—had a fireplace inside, while two blacksmithies had large forges in their interiors. The only above-ground house of timber-frame construction was most likely a mill (big millstones). The settlement yielded big pottery kilns, various accessory structures (a stable), storage pits – granaries and five wells. Settlement planning of this type was widespread in Central Europe. The settlement, composed of a number of rural households (houses with a fenced courtyard and accessory features and bread ovens inside) and an empty space—a square—in the centre, probably served a commercial function, because historical sources mention Kisújlak (the identified name of the settlement) as a trading and customs settlement on the border of the Baranja and Vukovo Counties. The rich household assemblage of diverse tableware, a wealth of crafts and farming tools, pieces of equestrian equipment and the find of a lead bull of Pope Gregory XI (1370-1378) corroborate the synchronicity of Kisújlak (Bentež near Beketinci) not only with settlements and fortified towns in Croatia, but also its connections with a broader European circle in the period between the 14th and 16th centuries.
- Minichreiter K. 2009, Arhitektura eneolitičkog naselja lasinjska kulture na lokalitetu Bentež u Beketincima, Histria antiqua sv. 18/1, 141-148.
- Minichreiter, K., Marković, Z. 2009, Prapovijesno i ranosrednjovjekovno naselje Bentež kod Beketinaca, Prilozi Instituta za arheologiju u Zagrebu, vol. 26, 21-44.
- Minichreiter, K., Marković, Z. 2011, Architecture of Lasinja Culture settlements in the light of new investigations in northern Croatia, Documenta Praehistorica, XXXVIII, Ljubljana, 333-344.
- Minichreiter, K., Marković, Z. 2013, Beketinci, Bentež, naselja iz eneolitika, ranoga i kasnoga srednjega vijeka, monografija, Institut za arheologiju, 3, Zagreb.