The Medieval Collection

The current Medieval Collection of the Archaeological Museum of Istria consists of numerous finds: sacral monuments and decorative architectonic elements of stone, jewelry and costume parts (in most cases made of bronze), utilitarian objects (mainly iron), pottery vessel sherds, and the rarer bone and glass objects that have been collected during a century of archaeological field explorations on the territory of the Istrian Peninsula. The collection was created during the Austro-Hungarian period, by at first collecting and conserving monuments from Early Christian and early medieval sites. From a research and rescue standpoint, in the course of massive town planning and fortification works mainly Pula’s religious structures were documented (St. John at the Nymphaeum, St. Felicitas, St. Maria Formosa, St. Catherine), and those located directly on the ager and the area of an early diocese (Nesactium, St. Hermagoras, St. Lucy – Val Sudiga, Savolago – Galižana, St. Pelegrin – Fažana, St. Peter – Brijuni, St. Morris – Galižana). However, the extraordinary reliquaries from the churches of St. Hermagoras near Štinjan, and St. Thomas the Apostle at Pula, were dispatched to Venice and Vienna respectively. The museological predisposition for the development of the collection was given with the opening of Pula’s Municipal Museum.

The museological evaluation of the above mentioned explorations was performed especially in the period between the two World Wars, when two exhibition halls were arranged at the lapidarium of the Regional Museum (the former German High School, the present Archaeological Museum of Istria). The collected sections of an Early Christian floor mosaic as well as numerous fragments of an Early Christian and pre-Romanesque sacral inventory of stone monuments from churches in southern Istria were presented. The lapidarium was considerably enlarged after the large-scale conservation works at the cathedral of Pula.

The organization of new excavations after World War II resulted in the creation of a Medieval Department at the Archaeological Museum of Istria, which was a precondition for the development of early medieval and old Croatian archaeology in Istria. Important field explorations were carried out on cemeteries and in the ruins of church structures, all of which, together with the existent lapidarium of sacred monuments, enabled the presentation of known facts and new finds in the permanent exhibition of the Archaeological Museum of Istria in 1973, through the presentation of the Early Christian and early medieval periods.

Two decades after the War, a lapidarium was set up in the atrium and southern wing of the monastery of St. Francis at Pula, consisting of transferred sacred medieval monuments discovered in past church explorations (the so-called Vodnjan lapidarium), and individual monuments from the churches of St. Thomas, St. Maria Formosa, St. Clement and St. Theodore at Pula, from St. Mihovil – Banjole, and from Loborika and Mutvoran. Monument ensembles explored in past as well as new explorations of the churches of St. Mihovil near Vodnjan, St. Sophia at Dvigrad, Vela Gospa at Bale and St. Andrew near Betiga, were presented separately. Presented in a section of the lapidarium are Early Christian monuments having a funerary, epigraphic or sacred character. This lapidarium was reduced in size because the monastery was returned to the Franciscan friars.

The finds discovered during excavations of late Roman individual graves, and those from sites located in the wider environs of Pula (Škicini, Betegenica, Lakuža, Fažana, Brijuni), and throughout the territory of Istria (Zambratija, Karpinjan, Sošići, Jurali), from Old Christian cemeteries near the church of St. Peter – Dvigrad, St. Elysius – Fažana, St. Mary – Brijuni, in Frančini – Pazin, and from fortified settlements and castles (Brijuni, Sipar, Stari Gočan), are collected. Explorations are underway at the church complexes of St. Andrew – Betiga near Barbariga, and the church of St. Nicholas at Pula, in Guran, St. Quirinus near Vodnjan, St. Maurice near Roč, St. Agnes in Muntajana, and St. Mary in Vrsar. The period of the early medieval settlement of Istria during early Byzantine rule is especially illuminated with the excavations of large Early Slavic cemeteries with modest indications of Christianization, which are located near Novigrad, Motovun, Buzet and Buje (Čelega, Brkač, Veli Mlun, Mejica, Sv. Margerita). Especially important for the period of rule by the Franks are the excavations on the large old Croatian cemetery at Žminj, and those at the cemetery near Mala Vrata in Buzet (9th century).


Željko Ujčić – Senior Curator, Head of the Medieval Collection


Information, consultations and questions:

Željko Ujčić – Senior Curator, Head of the Medieval Collection
Tel. no.: 052/351-313
e-mail: zeljko.ujcic(at)

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