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Srednjeveški Blejski otok v arheoloških virih
Medieval archaeology of Bled Island

Edited by: Benjamin Štular
Year: 2020

The book Medieval Archaeology of Bled Island is presenting the results of a state-of-the-art archaeological analysis of data from archaeological excavations of the 1962 and 1964.

Polona Bitenc and Timotej Knific analysed of the archaeology of material culture, while Benjamin Štular focused on the archaeology of individuals and communities. The very poor state of preservation of the bone archive meant that an anthropological analysis could not be included on an equal footing with archaeological data in the process of interpreting the site (Leben Seljak). A broader perspective follows, placing the new findings are placed in the context of the archaeological landscape of the Bled micro-region (Pleterski). Important for the book are the results of the excavations near the village of Bodešče (Modrijan).
Two key scientific questions were asked in the book: Did a pre-Christian sanctuary exist on Bled Island? What was the chronology of the churches?
From this it can be concluded that the supra-local object of pre-Christian worship on Bled Island was a spring. Judging by the analogies from written sources, the spring was surrounded by a grove or at least lay in the shade of a tree. Ritually connected with the spring was a nearby place marked with a rock. There is no direct archaeological data on when this situation was established, but it can be assumed with reasonable certainty that this part of the Bled Island was already of special importance in prehistoric times.
At the beginning of the 10th century, a small community began to bury their dead on the island. The original organization of the cemetery symbolically connected it with the spring, which was worshipped on the island, and with the central location of the the Early Medieval burial landscape, the Višelnica bonfire site. The locations for the burials of the first generation were carefully chosen near the fireplace, where the fire burned for at least part of the funerals. The following three generations buried their dead according to changed rules: the graves were arranged in rows, some were oriented towards the true East thus exhibiting considerable astronomical knowledge and. The last grave in this cemetery was dug in the first decade of the 11th century, and its orientation corresponded to the orientation of the first church.
In the first decade of the 11th century, probably after the formal acquisition of the property by the bishops of Brixen in 1004, a small wooden church was built on the island, dedicated to St. Mary of the Assumption was built on the island. A burial under the threshold, the guardian of the entrance, offered the church symbolic protection. Despite the apparent modesty of the church, some state-of-the-art architectural and astronomical knowledge for the time were incorporated into the construction of the church. After only a few decades, the original wooden church was demolished and replaced by a somewhat larger and finer building. This church was also protected by the guardian of the entrance. To the west of the church, in the shadow of the sunrise on the day of the Assumption, a very small community of mixed gender and age began to bury their dead. The community was orthodox and conservative, which is reflected in the strict observance of the same rules for Christian burial for almost two centuries. These characteristics, together with the exceptional location of the cemetery on the island, place this community within the circle of persons belonging to the administrative and defensive apparatus of the Bishops of Brixen.
After almost a hundred years, perhaps in the second decade of the 12th century, the wooden church was demolished and construction of a new stone church began. This was a relatively ambitious Romanesque architecture which completely changed Bled Island its appearance: what was an island with a small church near a spring in a grove became a church on an island. Immediately east of the altar of the new church, in the holiest place in the Christian world (usually reserved for saints or at least bishops), a non adult person was buried. The continuity with the old church was reflected in the burial of the third guardian of the entrance and the other burials west of the church.
The archaeological data agree well with the historians' interpretations, which refer to the deed of donation of 1004 and the consecration of a church in 1142. However, it is worth noting that an excellent degree of congruity between archaeological and historical interpretations does not make any of them more solid. Since these interpretations are based on completely different sources, they remain separate, each only as solid as the arguments that support it.
Large format field drawings are available at:

Table of content

  • Predgovor / Foreword (Benjamin ŠTULAR)
  • 1. Srednjeveško grobišče na Blejskem otoku / Medieval burial ground on Bled Island (Polona BITENC, Timotej KNIFIC)
    • 1.1 Uvod / Introduction
    • 1.2 Zgodovina raziskav / Research history
    • 1.3 Arheološko območje / Arhaeological area
    • 1.4 Starejše najdbe / Earlier finds
  • 2. Interpretacija grobišča in najdb / Interpretation of burial ground and finds (Polona BITENC, Timotej KNIFIC)
    • 2.1 Interpretacija grobišča / Interpretation of burial ground
    • 2.2 Interpretacija grobnih najdb / Interpretation of grave goods
    • 2.3 Interpretacija raztresenih najdb / Interpretation of scattered finds
    • 2.4 Zaključki / Conclusions
  • 3. Stratigrafska analiza in analiza nestoječih stavbnih ostankov / Stratigraphic analysis and analysis of non-standing building remains (Benjamin ŠTULAR)
    • 3.1 Uvod / Introduction
    • 3.2 Metoda arheoloških izkopavanj med letoma 1962 in 1964 / The method of archaeological excavation between the years 1962 and 1964
    • 3.3 Metode analize / Methods of analysis
  • 4. Stratigrafija najdišča / Site stratigraphy (Benjamin ŠTULAR)
    • 4.1 Uvod / Introduction
    • 4.2 Faza 1 / Phase 1
    • 4.3 Faza 2 / Phase 2
    • 4.4 Faza 3 / Phase 3
    • 4.5 Faza 4 / Phase 4
    • 4.6 Faza 5 / Phase 5
    • 4.7 Prazgodovina / Prehistory
    • 4.8 Absolutna kronologija / Absolute chronology
  • 5. Stavbna analiza / Building analysis (Benjamin ŠTULAR)
    • 5.1 Rekonstrukcija stavbnih tlorisov / Building floor plan reconstruction
    • 5.2 Interpretacija / Interpretation
  • 6. Morfometrične analize najdišča / Morphometric analysis of the site (Benjamin ŠTULAR)
    • 6.1 Grobni atributi
      • 6.1.1 Grobne jame / Grave attributes
      • 6.1.2 Polnila grobnih jam / Grave pit fills
      • 6.1.3 Pokopi v isto grobno jamo / Burials in the same grave pit
      • 6.1.4 Lega rok pokojnikov / Position of the arms of the deceased
    • 6.2 Orientacija / Orientation
      • 6.2.1 Orientacija cerkva / Orientation of churches
      • 6.2.2 Orientacija pokopov / Orientation of burials
      • 6.2.3 Orientacijske osi grobišča G1 / Orientation axes of the G1 cemetery
  • 7. Kronologija / Chronology (Benjamin ŠTULAR)
    • 7.1 Uvod / Introduction
    • 7.2 Tipokronologija nakitnih predmetov / Typo-chronology of jewellery
    • 7.3 Cerkvene stavbe / Church buildings
    • 7.4 Ostalo / Other
  • 8. Blejski otok v srednjem veku / Bled Island in the Middle Ages (Benjamin ŠTULAR)
    • 8.1 Interpretacija najdišča / Site interpretatiom
      • 8.1.1 Pisni viri / Written sources
      • 8.1.2 Arheološka interpretacija najdišča Blejski otok v srednjem veku / Archaeological interpretation of the Bled Island site in the Middle Ages
    • 8.2 Sklep / Conclusion
  • 9. Blejski otok: antropološka analiza / Bled Island: Anthropological Examination (Petra LEBEN SELJAK)
    • 9.1 Število skeletov / Number of skeletons
    • 9.2 Spolna in starostna struktura okostij / Sex and age structure of the skeletons
    • 9.3 Morfološke karakteristike / Morphological characteristics
    • 9.4 Ostale karakteristike / Other characteristics
    • 9.5 Primerjalne analize in razprava / Comparative analysis and discussion
    • 9.6 Zaključki / Conclusions
    • 9.7 Popis skeletnega gradiva / Inventory of the skeletal remains
  • 10. Mitična pokrajina. Preizkusi njenega obstoja z napovednima modeloma na primeru Bleda / A mythical landscape. Tests of its existence with predictive models for the Bled case (Andrej PLETERSKI)
    • 10.1 Uvod in pojmi / Introduction and terms
    • 10.2 Mitična pokrajina / The mythical landscape
      • 10.2.1 Sestavni deli mitične pokrajine / The constituent components of the mythical landscape
      • 10.2.2 Mitična zgodba, števila in spremembe v naravi / A mythical story, numbers and changes in nature
      • 10.2.3 Časovna razsežnost mitične zgodbe / The time dimension of mythical story
      • 10.2.4 Matematika / Mathematics
      • 10.2.5 Kako nastane mitična pokrajina / How did the mythical landscape emerge?
      • 10.2.6 Radiestezijski vidik / Radiesthesia
      • 10.2.7 Izvedba prostorske umestitve / Placements
    • 10.3 Napovedni model v mitični pokrajini Bleda / The predictive model in the mythical landscape of Bled
    • 10.4 Blejski otok kot napovedni model sam po sebi / Bled Island as a predictive model in itself
    • 10.5 Namesto epiloga, kaj je bilo potem / Instead of an epilogue, what was it then?
  • 11. Bodešče (Zvezdana MODRIJAN)
    • 11.1 Pod prežo
    • 11.2 Došča
    • 11.3 Bodešče 28
    • 11.4 Zaključek / Conclusion
  • 12. Katalog grobov in najdb / Catalogue of graves and finds (Polona BITENC, Timotej KNIFIC)
    • 12.1 Grobovi in grobne najdbe / Graves and grave goods
    • 12.2 Raztresene najdbe / Scatterd finds
    • 12.3 Seznami / Lists
    • 12.4 Dokumentacija / Documentation
    • 12.5 Terenske risbe / Field drawings
  • 13. Literatura / Bibliography
  • Table / Plates (Polona BITENC, Timotej KNIFIC)
  • Seznam avtorjev / List of contributors
  • Načrt grobišča / Cemetery plan

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Regular price
42.00 €

Online price
37.80 €

archaeological sites
Bled Island
building analysis
Early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
mythical landscape


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