Scientific program of the Institute


Scientific program of the Institute


Material culture in the social context

The research topic includes conceptual considerations of material culture and archaeological records in spatio-temporal and social contexts by applying archaeological and different interdisciplinary methods. The research topic is partly focused on the study of activities related to the production, use, and distribution of objects made of various materials, primarily ceramics, metals, stone, and glass, and other goods. In this sense, research includes the entire life span of an object. In the production segment, it focuses on defining the source of raw materials, the analysis of their physical and chemical properties, the processing and preparing of raw material, and the technology of manufacturing the object (chain of operations). By reconstructing the production process, the researchers try to understand the mechanisms that affect it and identify the level of its organization. On the other hand, post-production activities study the processes of use, distribution, recycling, and disposal of objects, and the processes by which, through social interaction, an object acquires profane and/or symbolic meaning. Such a comprehensive research approach provides a better insight into the background of all the activities related to the life span of an object. This provides a better understanding of the needs, skills, and knowledge that contributed to the traditions of past societies. Particular attention was paid to the archaeological context of material culture and the analysis of archaeological records. Therefore, an indispensable segment of this research topic, along with standard archaeological methods, is interdisciplinary research, using natural science methods, experimental archaeology, ethnological analogies, and contemporary research tools. The set of the collected data makes it possible to discuss resource exploitation, chronology, economy, social order, and cultural practices in the broader social context.

Identities and cultural interactions

The research topic focuses on various aspects of social interactions and the processes of creating or transforming the social identities of individuals or groups. In accordance with contemporary theoretical models, identity is viewed as a fluid, dynamic and multilayered process in which different mechanisms of adaptation respond to changing social circumstances. The issues of preserving the tradition of a particular society or its transformation through different cultural interactions are viewed through the analysis of different aspects of daily life, from costumes, food, settlements, to funerary customs and rites of passage. In the context of cultural interactions, particular attention is paid to identifying the networks and mechanisms for the exchange and distribution of particular objects, knowledge, and skills, as well as their significance. Along with the distribution and exchange of goods, the mobility of individuals and/or groups is also considered, as well as their mediating or driving role within a particular social system. The mechanisms of interaction and the dynamics of cultural contacts are considered transversally across the different social levels of a particular community, but also in a broader geographical, temporal, and cultural context. The reconfiguration of old identities and relationships and the creation of new ones is also studied in the context of death as a biological and cultural phenomenon. The remains of funerary material culture are the basis for examining the social, emotional, and practical reasons for the treatment and commemoration of the deceased, which are woven into the patterns of funerary customs. Bioarchaeological research provides valuable information on the biological and social structure of the population and the diet, health, and living conditions of the community.

Environment and cultural landscapes

The research topic examines the complex relationships between man and the environment through archaeological indicators and interdisciplinary research approaches. Going beyond the notion of landscape as the framework in which man acts, it emphasises the integration of archaeological and environmental data in an attempt to reconstruct the complex interactions of humans and their environment. Indicators of environmental characteristics are considered in relation to economic strategies, social structures, and spiritual expressions. The study of these relationships, through the analysis of archaeological records, reveals changes that affect the adaptation to the natural environment, its transformation, and the use of its resources; in other words, it examines the dynamics affecting the creation of cultural landscapes (settlements, forts, communications, sacred spaces etc.), but also the cultural features of past societies themselves. The undertaken research considers the data on the dynamic and mutual relationship between man and the environment, both within particular narrower periods and over longer stretches of time, leading to a more comprehensive view of the multilayered cultural changes in the researched territory. Research of cultural landscapes is carried out using modern archaeological methods that facilitate the collection of a wide range of different data. Therefore, the interpretation and reconstruction of landscapes, at the level of particular sites and within wider territorial areas, largely relies on conducting analyses in the domain of natural and technical sciences. For this reason, the research topic emphasises interdisciplinary research complemented by the use of digital tools in documentation and applied analytical processes.


The scientific professional programme involves basic archaeological systematic and rescue excavations in the territory of Croatia as part of the European cultural and archaeological heritage, as well as the systematic digitization of collected data. The aim of the program is to continue the development of the research methodology and to continue the systematic collection of data on archaeological sites and finds, their spatio-temporal distribution and interpretation, in which the department of scientific archaeological documentation (ARHINDOKS) plays an important role. The use of digital tools, such as GIS systems, and the application of non-destructive methods (field surveys, remote and geophysical surveys) is also important in data collection and processing; it systematically improves the process of documenting archaeological material. There is also the important maintenance of established databases (Database of Ancient Archaeological Sites in Croatia) and the creation of new databases and reference collections of specimens, with an emphasis on open access to information and continuous interaction with the public. In line with the well-established principles of open science and social utility in promoting the Croatian archaeological heritage as a non-renewable resource and a determinant of the national identity, the undertaken research includes the presentation of the results not only to experts but also to the general public. The dissemination of the gained knowledge is carried out as a series of activities (lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and popular science publications) and projects, both independently and in collaboration with other institutions. Through various active partnerships, the Institute implements activities for an interactive and sustainable link between the archaeological heritage and the tourist offer. The link with this important branch of Croatian economy accounts for a greater public interest in the archaeological heritage, especially in the preservation and presentation of archaeological sites, which strengthens the visibility and identity of the Institute as an important factor in the scientific and social community. Defining its social role in this way, the Institute positions itself as a transmitter of knowledge, but also profiles itself as a key partner of various stakeholders involved in the preservation and promotion of archaeological and cultural heritage in general.


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