Basic information
Original title:
Predmeti in krajine. Strukturiranost notranjskih železnodobnih skupnosti
Researchers involved:
Asst. Prof. Maja Andrič, PhD, Janka Istenič, PhD
Peter Kos, PhD
Edita Lozić, PhD
Žiga Šmit, PhD
Assist. Prof. Benjamin Štular, PhD, Vesna Svetličič Turk
Borut Toškan, PhD, Peter Turk, PhD
1 May 2017–30 April 2020
J6 – 8251

The major characteristic of the Iron Age societies seems to be highly evolved social differentiation: Iron Age society is highly structured. The emerging hierarchy – often studied through the artefacts – was also reflected in the territorial organization. In Slovenia – including its SW area with Notranjska and Karst regions – the main evidence of this are fortified, mostly hill-top, settlements – hillforts. Their intensive settlement in the Late Bronze Age is noticeable, but nevertheless the culmination of defence wall constructions and formation of complex spatial hierarchy seems to be predominantly an Iron Age phenomenon.

The goal of the proposed project is to analyse the way that the Notranjska region Iron Age societies were structured as reflected in the artefacts and in the landscape. We will use two sources of data. The first is typo-chronological and archaeometric analysis of small archaeological finds. The second is the archaeological interpretation of lidar (Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging, a remote sensing technique using airborne laser-scanning systems) data combined with field survey (geophysics, trial trenching).

On the one hand hillforts of interest have yielded numerous Iron Age artefacts. Our primary focus is the Iron Age hoards of mixed composition and individual finds of bronze fragmented shaft-hole axes and ingots. An important part of the research will be an in-depth study of possible associations with social structure or spatial organisation. A large quantity of these items in the region under question, points towards a use more complex than the assumed exchange between elites. Further, analogies of the Notranjska shaft- hole axes and ingots hint to Northern Italy and Etruscan centres of Central Italy as areas of origin and/or exchange communities. Based on these preliminary observations it is our hypothesis that the extensive distribution of these objects is related to a wide exchange network or even a pre-monetary function. This presumed exchange or pre-monetary function of bronze artefacts would be reflected in the elementary composition. The hypothesis will therefore be tested by defining the elementary composition with the non-invasive PIXE (proton induced X-ray emission) method.

On the other hand with preliminary analysis of 84 km2 of lidar data in the area in question, we detected more than 2000 archaeological features. We understand most of them as Iron and Roman Age remains of intensive agricultural use of the landscape. In addition, elements like linear earthwork boundaries in total length of almost 10 km and detail plans of hillforts reflect elements of social structure in the landscape. To harness the full potential of the lidar data, a more in-depth analysis of the lidar data supplemented with ground-truthing is needed. Ground-truthing – primarily with the intention of recovering dating evidence – will take the form of focussed systematic field survey, intensive field survey with micro trial trenches and small excavations of selected features. We plan to achieve better understanding of their significance and to reconstruct the paleo- environment.

The proposed project is planned as an interdisciplinary research and combines different methods and sciences, ranging from archaeology to archeozoology, archeobotany, spatial sciences and archeometry. Therefore, the research will be carried out in cooperation with experts from different fields. The results will be evaluated in the scientific monograph, which is the primary scientific objective of the proposal, on the Notranjska in the Iron Age. It shall bring an important contribution to the knowledge on social and cultural processes in the Iron Age and during the transition to the Roman period. The publication will contribute to the development of Slovenian archaeology and it will be used not only as a referential scientific work but also for education, promotion and preservation of cultural heritage.

  • LAHARNAR, B., E. LOZIĆ, B. ŠTULAR 2019, A structured Iron Age landscape in the hinterland of Knežak, Slovenia. – In: D. C. Cowley, M. Fernández-Götz, T. Romankiewicz & H. Wendling (eds.). Rural Settlement. Relating buildings, landscape, and people in the European Iron Age (Leiden 2019: Sidestone Press), 263–272. [COBISS.SI-ID - 9811040].
  • LAHARNAR, B., E. LOZIĆ, A. MIŠKEC 2020, Gradišče nad Knežakom. – In: J. Horvat, I. Lazar, A. Gaspari (eds.), Manjša rimska naselja na slovenskem prostoru / Minor Roman settlements in Slovenia, Opera Instituti Archaeologici Sloveniae 40, 2020, 123–140.

Project manager

Project manager at ZRC