Prehistory

The current permanent exhibition at the Archaeological Museum of Istria was set up in 1972. Shown in the five exhibition halls on the first floor of the Museum are objects from the Paleolithic period, extending all the way to the end of the first millennium BC.

An overview of the development of life on the territory of Istria is shown with a chart where the most important events are chronologically marked, followed by a selection of the most common fossil finds, and a pictorial depiction of human development. For the Paleolithic period, several explored caves from the region of Ćićarija were highlighted, as well as Romualdova Pećina (Romuald’s Cave) and Šandalja, from which a small selection of stone implements and animal bones is exhibited. On display in showcases at the same hall, are the oldest fragments of impresso pottery from the territory of southern Istria, especially Vižula near Medulin, as well as several pottery vessel fragments stemming from the Jami na Sredi cave on the island of Cres. Furthermore, there is a selection of polished stone axes, sledgehammers and arrowheads, all of which represent mostly incidental finds that are indicative for a new mode of working stone. The Eneolithic period is presented through the Javorika – Gromače site that was explored on the island of Veliki Brijun. On exhibit are different vessel fragments, as well as reconstructed replicas of the original finds that are kept in the archaeological collections of the Brioni Isles. On the Istrian Peninsula, sites from that period would also include Pradišel (Kavran) and the Cingarela Cave (Momjan). Bearing in mind that caves continue to be a source of important traces indicating that they were inhabited for a prolonged period of time, a selection of finds from the prehistoric layers of a cave located near the village of Srbani has also been displayed.

The Bronze Age on the territory of Istria is characterized by numerous hillfort settlements that are presented with the help of the first ground-plan drawings executed by Carlo Marchesetti, and the explored details of these settlements (entrance systems leading through the protective walls, the foundations of dwellings, furnaces), followed by a selection of typical pottery sherds, and the reconstructions and replicas of vessels (Monkodonja, Gradina on Veliki Brijun). Numerous bone implements, grindstones, different weights, whorls and rare bronze weapons (axes, spear points, knives) were elements that were used in everyday life. Bronze Age necropolises and interments underneath stone tumuli usually come with a modest amount of grave offerings, which means that the exhibited amber finds and bronze jewelry from Vrčin, or the large vessel and necklace from Žamnjak should be considered as particularly significant.

The central hall of the permanent exhibition of the prehistoric collection is dedicated to fragments of stone monuments from Nesactium. Standing out prominently among them is a monumental block depicting a woman giving birth and breastfeeding a child, connected with a sculpture of a horseman. Also on display are all of the discovered fragments from different sections of anthropomorphic sculptures (male torso, part of a female head, etc.), followed by parts of a so-called altar, and a selection of slabs decorated with hewn spirals and meanders. A rather frequent discovery on Iron Age necropolises are stone blocks featuring semi-circular depressions that were perhaps related to special ceremonies, and so, besides such monuments from Nesactium, several of those that were unearthed at Limska Gradina are likewise on display. Also exhibited amongst stone monuments is a “Double Head” that was discovered somewhere in the vicinity of Pula and was subsequently acquired from a private collection at the beginning of the 20th century. In the hall with the stone monuments, a showcase was added containing a selection of finds unearthed at Nesactium in 1981. On display here, among other things, are fragments of a situla with a depiction of a sea battle, and a proposed scale model of the vessel depicted on the situla.

Shown in the last two halls are remnants of the material culture pertaining to the Histri, the Iron Age inhabitants of Istria. We exhibited a selection of grave finds from the necropolises at Nesactium, Limska Gradina, Picugi, Kaštel near Buje, Kaštelir near Nova Vas, and Pula. Displayed alongside locally manufactured grave urns with typical geometrical decorative patterns, are vessels that were either modeled after or imported from the region of Northern Italy and the culture of the Veneti, mat painted Daunian vases, vessels of Etruscan origin, and rare Greek black- and red-figure vases that were added to the graves of the wealthier deceased individuals. Bronze vessels, helmets and parts of jewelry were likewise placed into graves as offerings.

Exhibited alongside finds unearthed on Istrian necropolises is also a selection of objects from a Liburnian necropolis that was explored at Osor, featuring jewelry that is totally different in comparison with the Histrian one.

The youngest items on exhibit are La Tène – shaped fibulae from the last centuries BC, which were discovered on the necropolis at Picugi.

© Arheološki muzej Istre 2010. Proizvodnja Ulisys d.o.o. Bazirano na Typo3 CMS sustavu.