Juraj Belaj was born in 1968 in Ptuj, Slovenia. He received his education in Zagreb, where he graduated from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Zagreb in 1997 with a degree in Archaeology and Information Sciences. He received his Master’s degree in 2001 (“Archaeological inheritance of military orders in North-Western continental Croatia“) and his PhD (“Archaeological verification of the presence of the Knights Templar and the Knights of St. John in the area of Ivanščica“) in 2005 from the Department of Archaeology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb.
He joined the Institute of Archaeology in Zagreb in 1997 and in 2018 he was appointed to the academic title of scientific advisor. Since 1997 he has continuously been taking part in scientific research projects dealing with Croatia’s mediaeval archaeological heritage: “Mediaeval Archaeological Heritage of Continental Croatia” (1997-2002), “Mediaeval Archaeological Heritage of Croatia” (5th-16th century) (2002-2006), and “Mediaeval Archaeological Heritage of Croatia” (5th-17th century) (2007-20012) (all the projects were led by Prof. Željko Tomičić). In 2013, he led the project of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport “Mediaeval Archaeological Heritage of Croatia” (5th-17th century)”. Since 2020 he led the research project of the Croatian Science Foundation "Development and Heritage of the Military Orders in Croatia (milord)" (IP-2019-04). He participated in several archaeological investigations: Zbelava, Slivnica (Slovenia), Hoče (Slovenia), Nijemci, Zvonimirovo, Hajndl (Slovenia), Ilok. He managed multiannual investigations of sites of military orders: in Ivanec (old town with the chapel of St. John the Baptist), on Prozorje near Dugo Selo (St. Martin’s church), in Gora (the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary), in Pakrac (hospitaller church and fort) and also at the Gradišće fortification near Margečan (trial excavations).
From 2012 to 2017 (curse holder since 2015) he had been teaching the course Croatian Archaeological Heritage at the Croatology Department of the Centre for Croatian Studies of the University of Zagreb and since 2015 he was associate professor. He is the author of two exhibitions on archaeological investigations in Ivanec (in 2003 and 2008), He is a member of the following professional associations: European Association of Archaeologists, Société Internationale d´Ethnologie et de Folklore, Croatian Archaeological Society and the Croatian Hagiography Society “Hagiotheca”. Since 2010 he is a member of the editorial board of the scientific journal Contributions of the Institute of Archaeology in Zagreb and also of the organisational board of the international scientific conferences of medieval archaeology of the Institute of Archaeology since 2014. His scientific interests are predominantly about medieval subjects: migration of the Slavs and Croats and their early sacral organization of the newly conquest territory, and questions of presence, development and influence of military orders in south-eastern Europe. He also deals with interpretations of early modern period archaeological finds.