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Rt. Kaštelina/Kaštelina Point History and Archaeological Excavations

From the last group of houses on the south-west side of Kampor bay, there is a short climb to the Kaštelina peninsula which sharply juts into the sea. In this beautiful place where I loved to climb as a kid and from which the view reaches across to the far horizons to the west, with the islet Boljkovac near by and to the distant Cres island. It is easily observed how this place could have served as a strategic lookout to monitor maritime traffic in the area starting from ancient times.

Kaštelina point was inhabited since the Iron Age. Later, Greek, Romans and Byzantinians built their structures upon it. Today, there are only ruined walls, yet until 100 years ago, there lied scattered large quantities of coloured stones and larger blocks of mosaic. Similarly, during field work, the inhabitants would find Roman coins and other antiquities, some of which are kept in the monastery of St. Eufemija.

In my possession (see below), I have a number of colourful mosaic stones that I found half way up the southern shore of Rt. Kaštelina in the mid 1960s. Due to the color variety, they appear to have come from different parts of the ancient world. They most likely fell down from the top of the hill where a Greek/Roman/Byzantine structures might have been located.


Note: The Roman factory stamp of Quintus Clodius Ambrosius was discovered on Rt. Kaštelina Roman Villa clay building material fragment (see: book Rapski zbornik II, year 2012, p. 9). Doing some research, I found that the Aquileia (in Northern Italy on Adriatic Sea between Venice and Trieste) factory of Quintus Clodius Ambrosius was active for about 150 years, from the middle of first century A.D. to the end of second century A.D. It exported pre-fabricated construction materials along the Adriatic coast from Piceno, Italy and to all of the Croatian Adriatic.

See also: Rimske Keramičke i Staklarne Radionice. Proizvodnja i trgovina na jadranskom prostoru (2008) (Roman Ceramic and Glass Manufactures: Production and Trade in the Adriatic Region).

See also: Nadgrobni spomenik obitelji Baebius iz Arbe ( Family Baebius Tombstone from Arba). By Glavičić, Miroslav (2003).
The author describes and analyzes a 1st century AD fragment of a tombstone with the portraits of the deceased family Baebius, which is kept in the lapidary museum collection of the Franciscan monastery of St. Eufemia. The portrait field shows the couple, ie. Decurion T. Baebius T. f. Iustus and his wife Tettia Volsonis f. Family memorial was created by T. Baebius T. f. Iustus or Iustinus, which is probably their son. The fragment was found at the site of Miral near Cape Kaštelina.

Kaštelina Point near Kampor on the island of Rab (T. 6, 1) (P. 39)
prof. dr. Željko Tomičić, "Arheološka svjedočanstva o ranobizantskom vojnom graditeljstvu na sjevornojadranskim otocima", Prilozi 5-6, 29.-53 (1988/1989).

On the western part of the island of Rab between Miral on the bay of Valdoža in the north and Kamporska Draga in the south lies the peninsula of Kaštelina which ends in Kaštelina point (T. 6, 2). The point lies in a position which offers a splendid view over the islands of Cres, Plavnik and especially Krk. Toward the east the peninsula gradually slopes down into a flat and spacious terrace whose height is 22 m. In its eastern part stands a conical upright structure 33 m high, heavily-covered with vegetation. The surrounding bays provided good anchorages.

To archaeologists the site of Kaštelina was recongised as a larger periodically-inhabited hill fort of the early Iron Age which served as a refuge and look-out point (Batović 1987: 163; T. VII, 1, 2). To the local population remains of architecture on Kaštelina are traces of the so-called Greek city from which foreign tourists plundered huge pieces of polychrome mosaic between the two World Wars. Several finds from this site are kept in the collection of the Franciscan monastery of Sv. Bernardin in Kampor (T. 7; T. 8).

The toponym Kaštelina can be connected with sights and buildings of a defensives character (Šimunović 1972: 227). Similar names such as Kaštil, Kaštilac, Kaštilo, Koščun and Košljun, Kaštelina derive from the Latin castellum and castrum.

On the basis of the walling, towers, water-tank and sacral building, another in the series of Byzantine fortified posts can be recognized. The area was additionally inhabited at other periods: as a Liburnian hill fort in the early Iron Age, which in the Roman period a complex of villae rusticae should be suspected in Miral bay.

In the sixth century this appropriate location was used to build an early-Byzantine fortification of a considerable size. This fortification formed an important link in the protective complex of the island of Rab where several ideally-located forts were built, such as the one on Sv. Damjan hill above Barbat where A. Fortis tried to locate Colentum (1774: 258, 260), and which recently has been identified as an early-Byzantine fort (Domjan 1983: 136, n. 21). Smaller posts were built in the interior of the island (Palit), and on promontories (Sv. Nikola on Sorinj point). The fortification on Kaštelina served to protect the island's central town of Arba, but also the important naval route to Osor and Krk and further to Ravenna and Aquileia (T. 1).

The site of Kaštelina ideally complements other archaeological investigations of the northern part of Hrvatsko Primorje, especially on Krk (Mohorovičić 1987: 35; Faber 1988: 113-140; Tomičić 1988: 146-151; Gunjača 1986: 127; Brusić 1990: in press), on Palacol Mali and Sv. Petar - Ilovik (Badurina 1982: 171-177). To these may be added a whole series of locations which bear names such as Stražica, Straža and Vela Straža, which suggest visual signaling (Badurina 1982).

Kaštelina excavations 2008 (by prof. dr. sc. Miljenko Jurković, mr. sc. Iva Marić). Hrvatski arheološki godišnjak.štelina_excavation_2008_ or here as PDF file.

Abstract: During September 2008 the fourth campaign of archaeological excavations into the area of Cape (rt) Kaštelina on the island of Rab was conducted; it was run by the International Research Centre for Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages of Zagreb University in collaboration with the universities of Padua and Lille. The objective of this year’s campaign was to continue the test digs already started in the area of sector 2000 which lies at the north east tip of the peninsula, while the following primary objectives were posed: conclusion of the excavation in sector 2000 located in the northern part of the peninsula and making various different test digs along the southern edge of the plateau. In the area of sector north (2000) during the last campaign an area of about 250 square metres was opened up, covering part of the villa west of the rooms explored in 2005. After removal of the cultivated stratum (with a maximum depth of 80 cm mechanically, we continued with the manual excavation of the whole area, recording the sequence of the construction of the villa. Stratigraphic excavation enabled the testing of the assumed building phases (two from the Roman period, one post-Roman, modest structures, and at the end the gradual transformation of the area of the village into cultivable land). During the research, numerous fragments of pottery were found, and some coins; the publication of these results is in preparation. The data collected in this excavation campaign confirm in great measure the previous assumptions and allow us at least two hypotheses: i.e. that in the Roman period the villa had two phases, and that the area that was excavated in recent years was probably the pars rustica of the building (ed. see excavation plan below).

Title: "Kaštelina na otoku Rabu - od rimske vile do ranobizantske utvrde (Kaštelina on the Island of Rab - from a Roman Villa to a Byzantine Fortress)". Book: Rapski zbornik II, year 2012. Authors: Jurković, Miljenko; Brogiolo, Gian Pietro; Turković, Tin; Chavarria Arnau, Alesandra, Marić, Iva.

Abstract: For the past six years (ed. 2005-2012), in collaboration with the University of Padova and the University of Lille 3, International Research Centre for Late Antiquity and Middle Ages of the University of Zagreb has been conducting archaeological excavations on the peninsula Kaštelina on the island of Rab. Excavations have shown that although the site has commonly been regarded as an Early Byzantine fortress, it is in fact much more complex and multilayered than imagined. Explorations encompassed the whole area of the peninsula and have yielded with the identification of many previously unknown structures. Several developmental phases of the complex have been identified, which obviously preceded the phase of fortification of the peninsula that has indeed, most likely, taken place during the 6th century. The walls of the earliest phase, especially those located on the promontory of the peninsula, could be dated to the first centuries of the Roman Empire and can be recognized as the remains of an extremely spacious coastal villa.

Rt. Kaštelina other Archaeological Investigation References:

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Rt. Kaštelina & Melar bay in the Summer of 1973.
On far left center is Punta Kampora & beyond on the horizon is Cres island.
For larger view, click on the image below.
Archaeological excavation on the top of Rt. Kastelina by University of Lille 3.
The excavation by University of Lille 3, France is an international scientific project. It involves the University of Zagreb, Padua, and Lille 3. This is a first step, to identify all the sites on the island ranging from Roman times to the Middle Ages.
For more on the joint excavations, see: Rab-Kastelina Project (Croatia), Universities of Zagreb, Padua and Lille-3.
Note: The project was conducted from 2005-2008 with Prof. Miljenko Jurković from Croatian side.
Rt. Kastelina   Kampor township   Kampor Bay

From: Kaštelina excavations 2008 (by prof. dr. sc. Miljenko Jurković, mr. sc. Iva Marić).
Hrvatski arheološki godišnjak, 5/2008 Croatian Archaeological Yearbook, 5/2008.


Mosaic stones found by me in the mid 1960's at the northern shore of Rt. Kaštelina. Due to the color variety, they appear to have come from different parts of the ancient world. They most likely fell down from the top of the hill where a  Greek/Roman/Byzantine buildings might have been located.

Rt. Kaštelina from Space.
 (C) Google Earth.
Myra Macolic mosaic collection 

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Last update: Last update: November 20, 2016

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