Early Farming in Dalmatia

Danilo Valley, including location of the 2005 excavations at Danilo Bitinj

The Early Farming in Dalmatia project was initiated and directed by Professor Andrew Moore (Rochester Institute of Technology, NY). Excavations at the two Neolithic sites of Danilo Bitinj and Pokrovnik, which formed the basis of the research, were carried out between 2004 and 2006.

Dalmatia is defined as the southern part of Croatia that fringes the eastern coast of Adriatic; middle Neolithic Danilo Bitinj is located in a fertile valley ca.8 km from the coast and the early-middle Neolithic site of Pokrovnik is in the next valley to the northeast, at a distance of ca. 30km inland. The settlement at Danilo is thought to extend over ca. 9ha. and it is estimated that the smaller of the two sites, Pokrovnik, covers ca. 3ha.

Sampling strategies were designed to maximise the potential for recovery of environmental materials (e.g. plant macro-remains, micro-fauna, molluscs, etc.) at both sites and two flotation machines were used, thus enabling large volumes of excavated deposits to be processed during the 2004-2006 seasons. As recently as the late 1990s there was a dearth of environmental data from sites in Dalmatia, due it seems to the lack of integrated programmes of sampling and flotation, and so there were very few mainland or island sites where the recovery of botanical or faunal remains was a fundamental part of excavation strategies. This, together with the fact that the eastern Adriatic is considered to be one of the main routes via which early farming spread into southern and central Europe, has highlighted the importance of the project.

Sue Colledge's involvement with the project has been to oversee the archaeobotanical analyses of charred plant material recovered from the two sites (e.g. see Reed 2006). The results to date have already greatly enhanced what we know about the range and dietary significance of cultivated and gathered plant species exploited in the region during the Neolithic. For example, there is a dominance of economic taxa at the two sites; domestic cereals, pulses and oil plants and wild fruits were recovered from middle Neolithic levels at both sites and from early Neolithic levels at Pokrovnik. Thus demonstrating that plant foods represented a significant component of the subsistence regimes and, perhaps more importantly, that crop-based agriculture was established by the early Neolithic.

Post-excavation work is ongoing and Sue in the process of collating the results from Danilo and Pokrovnik for publication.

Related outputs

  • Moore, A.M.T., et al. (forthcoming) The Early Farming in Dalmatia project – Initial results and prospective research. American Journal of Archaeology
  • Reed, K., Colledge, S. and Moore, A.M.T. (in prep) The Early Farming in Dalmatia project: archaeobotanical investigations at Danilo Bitinj and Pokrovnik. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.
  • Fadem, C.M., Smith, J.R., Moore, A.M.T. and Menđušić, M. 2009 Pedologic analysis of the Danilo Bitinj Site, Central Dalmatia, Croatia. Catena 78(3), 181-184.
  • Moore, A.M.T., Menđušić, M., Smith, J. and Podrug, E. 2007 Project ‘Early Farming in Dalmatia’: Danilo Bitinj 2004-2005(Preliminary results). Journal of the Zagreb Archaeological Museum 40(1), 15-24.
  • Moore, A.M.T., Menđušić, M., Smith, J., Zaninović, J. and Podrug, E. 2007 Project ‘Early Farming in Dalmatia’: Pokrovnik 2006 (Preliminary results). Journal of the Zagreb Archaeological Museum 40(1), 25-34.
  • Reed, K. 2006 Early Farming in Dalmatia: Preliminary Archaeobotanical Report on the Middle Neolithic site of Danilo. Unpublished MSc dissertation, UCL.


  • National Science Foundation (US)
  • National Geographic

Project Members:

  • Sue Colledge
  • Tony Legge (University of Cambridge)
  • Andrew Moore (Rochester Institute of Technology, NY)
  • Kelly Reed (PhD student, University of Leicester)


Further information:

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