EuropeLjubljanaSlovenia

Ljubljanica River “one of the richest river archaeology sites in Europe”

1980-07-ljubljanica.jpgWho knew?

Just a few days before the New Year, Slovenia made its very first appearance in the pages of National Geographic, with a feature in the January 2007 issue on the Ljubljanica, the river most familiar to visitors here, and one described by the magazine as one of the “richest river archaeology sites in Europe.”

Explained writer Carol Kaufmann:

Archaeologist Andrej Gaspari is haunted by pieces of the past. His hometown river, the Ljubljanica, has yielded thousands of them –Celtic coins, Roman luxuries, medieval swords– all from a shallow 12-mile (19 kilometers) stretch. Those who lived near and traveled along the stream that winds through Slovenia’s capital of Ljubljana considered it sacred, Gaspari believes. That would explain why generations of Celts, Romans, and earlier inhabitants offered treasures –far too many to be accidental– to the river during rites of passage, in mourning, or as thanksgiving for battles won.

But Gaspari may never be able to explain for certain why the Ljubljanica holds one of Europe’s richest stores of river treasures, many of them remarkably preserved by the soft sediments and gentle waters. Too many pieces of the puzzle have already disappeared.

During the past two decades, sport divers have made the river their playground, removing most of some 10,000 to 13,000 objects found so far. Even though removing artifacts from the Ljubljanica has long been illegal, professional archaeologists have been forced to compete with private collectors. Some divers sold their loot to museums; others to the highest bidder. Some kept their treasures private. Many artifacts have left the country, untraceable. Gaspari’s greatest torment comes from the knowledge that few maverick collectors know—or care—where exactly their prizes were found. For an archaeologist, an object’s meaning comes as much from its context—location, association with other objects—as from the prize itself. Without context, there is no story.

NG also a 17-image photo gallery here.

Some further reading…
An absract from a 2003 article in the The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology by Gaspari; a short piece with pics from the Hungarian National Office of Cultural Heritage; underwater archeology in Slovenia in general (with more links); a brief related story from 2002; and an abstract from the National Museum of Slovenia for a 2004 temporary exhibit of river artifacts.

The picture? The oldest one of the Ljubljanica I could find in my stash, from July 1980.

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5 Comments

  1. September 5, 2007 at 12:37 pm — Reply

    Kama Sutra este una dintre cele mai antice si mai celebre lucrari de erotism scrise vreodata. Totodata constitue si o lectura captivanta si dintre cele mai placute.

  2. Giorgio Fumagalli
    September 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm — Reply

    Giasone avrebbe portato la sua nave allo asciutto lungo le rive del Ljubljanica, verso lo Adriatico. Sarà vero?
    I was said Giason went, with its boat on the bank of Ljubljanica to Adriatic sea? Do you think it was possible?

  3. Giorgio Fumagalli
    September 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm — Reply

    Giasone avrebbe portato la sua nave allo asciutto lungo le rive del Ljubljanica, verso lo Adriatico, sarà vero?
    I was said Giason went, with its boat on the bank of Ljubljanica to Adriatic sea? Do you think it was possible?

  4. March 27, 2012 at 10:33 pm — Reply

    [...] some international attention back in 2007 when National Geographic described it as one of “The richest river archaeology sites in Europe“. Sharing this is the second sexiest thing you can do [...]

  5. […] in the Piran Café archives is this post about a National Geographic feature that described the Ljubljanica as “one of the richest […]

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