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Ancient Necropolis Unearthed In Garden Of 17th-Century Croatian Palace

Croatian archaeologists have unearthed a necropolis with the remains of 32 people — some buried in ceramic jars — dating back to the late 4th/early 5th century AD.

Researchers unearthed the remains in the front grounds of Radošević Palace, a 17th century baroque-style structure on the island of Hvar, off of the Dalmatian coast.

The burials were exceptionally well-preserved, the experts said, with many featuring so-called grave goods including small ceramic jugs, coins and utensils.

The dig also revealed part of one wall, thought from a late 5th century settlement, complete with a city gate — and another dating back to the 2nd century.

According to experts, burials in ceramic jars are common and are thought by some to have been reserved for infants and children.

The ages at death of the remains found buried beneath the grounds of Radošević Palace, however, have yet to be determined.

The two-month-long excavations — conducted by the archaeological consultant firm Kantharos — were undertaken in advance of a new library and reading room being constructed on the palace site.

In total, the team found 20 graves, some of which contained the remains of multiple individuals, over an area of around 700 square feet (65 square metres).

Typical of late antique burials, the graves included those made of amphorae (tall, two-handled jars) and other earthenware, structures made from roof tiles and one masonry tomb in which the bones of 12 people were discovered.

“What especially emphasizes this necropolis is its exceptional preservation, as well as very valuable and complete grave finds,” the researchers wrote in a statement. “Most of the tombs were decorated with one or more ceramic jugs and lamps, glass bottles and vessels, money and other small utensils.”

The findings, they added, hint “at completely new insights into local/regional late antique ceramic production as well as trade links, through documented imports, some of which were first recorded in the Adriatic.”

One of the last finds to be made at the site — buried in the lowest layers excavated — was a wall which the researchers believe was constructed in the 2nd century. “Of all the traces of late antique life found in Hvar so far, this is really the most significant and richest site,”‘ the team said.

The Radošević Palace excavation, they added, has which vividly shown “all the archaeological splendour of grave finds and gives us, for now, the most detailed insight into funeral customs of that period.”