Field research of the Institute


Zvonimirovo-Veliko polje

Settlement, town, county: Zvonimirovo, Suhopolje, Virovitica-Podravina

Site type: cemetery with two burial horizons

Period: Late Iron Age, La Tène culture, Early Middle Ages, Bijelo Brdo culture

Type of excavation: systematic

Institution: Institute of Archaeology

Excavation manager: Prof Željko Tomičić (1993-2005), Dr Marko Dizdar

In 1992, finds of the Bijelo Brdo culture were discovered on a gentle elevation to the south-east of the Zvonimirovo village, above a former meander of the Drava village. Salvage investigations first started in 1993 and resumed in 1998. Since then, they have been carried out continually until today. The excavations so far yielded 101 cremation graves of the La Tène culture and 42 inhumation graves of the Bijelo Brdo culture.

The older horizon of burials belongs to the La Tène culture. This is the only systematically investigated cemetery from that period in northern Croatia. The investigations resulted in the growing understanding of the processes that were taking place in southern Pannonia during the evolution of the La Tène culture. The results of interdisciplinary analyses pointed to the existence of defined rules of funerary ritual. The graves contained cremated remains of the deceased persons, which were placed on the bottom of the rectangular or oval pits. The remains of wooden coffins have been preserved in a few graves. The anthropological analyses have shown that sometimes two or three persons were buried in the grave.

Warrior graves with weapons and toilet accessories have been distinguished, while iron fibulae and belt sets belong to the costume. Grave LT 15 stands out with four fittings from a wheel axle, while grave LT 45 yielded an object presumed to represent an instrument used in medicine or in rituals. In other words, this might be the grave of a druid. Most female graves contained woven iron belts, in association with Brežice type buckles. Bronze belts composed of segments of various forms, some decorated with enamel, also stand out. The costume included different forms of bronze and iron fibulae, while glass bracelets were the most common jewellery items. Several graves contained iron knives and ceramic spindle-whorls. Iron pin with a zoomorphic head from richly furnished grave LT 91 is an exceptional find.

Ceramic vessels with food and drink were placed in graves as funerary gifts. Most graves contained a set consisting of a pot and bowl, although kantharoi and cups were also found in several graves. Some vessels were decorated with compositions consisting of impressed concentric circles connected with garlands.

The oldest grave found so far belongs to the end of the Early La Tène (LT B2) from the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century BC, while the remainder can be dated to the end of the 3rd and the first half of the 2nd century BC (LT C2). Based on the analysis of items from the female costume, the cemetery belongs to the distribution area of the Mokronog group, which is associated with the community of the Taurisci, for whom the central Podravina region was the easternmost point of their distribution. Influences from the neighbouring communities, above all the Scordisci, are also discernible.

The younger horizon of burials consists of a row cemetery of the Bijelo Brdo culture. The deceased were placed in pits in the supine position, aligned west-east. The finds that belong to costume and jewellery were documented in female graves, dating the cemetery to the 11th century. The most common finds are different variants of bronze, silver and tin rings and earrings. Raceme earrings of the so-called Volhynian type, decorated with granulation and filigree, as well as their cast variants, stand out. Female graves yielded cast earrings in the shape of a pine cone or a crescent moon, as well as jingle bells and buttons that formed part of a necklace. Necklaces consisted also of heart-shaped pendants, cowry shells or various glass beads. Various forms of rings have been distinguished, made by casting, weaving, granulation or filigree. The richly furnished female grave 31 yielded a denar of the Hungarian King Ladislaus I (1077-1095)




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