TRACES OF HISTORY ON ELEVATIONS
Expert Associate: Ranko Starac
Do you know that elevations above Ponikve hide the historical-archaeological mystery?
When climbing up to elevations at 350m and 471m above Ponikva valley, you'll get an unforgettable panoramic view but also precious remains of history up to 4000 years old. These remains are commonly known as „gradine“ /fortresses/.
As the first inhabitants of these fortresses were Liburnians, Illyrian naval people, we named them Liburnian fortresses. They can be found all around the area of the town of Bakar.
Fortresses were built on elevations. Thanks to their position, the communication with nearby settlements was once easier in case of danger;( daytime-smoke and at night fire). Fortresses had a dual role-as a permanent settlement and as a shelter for surrounding villages in case of danger. Essential conditions for the construction were the proximity of spring water or ponds, and, if possible, the cultivable soil in valleys.
WHY A FORT?
Today's barely recognizable traces of ancient buildings inspired our ancestors to give the name fort to mark a place where people once lived.
WHERE IS FORT PONIKVE SITUATED (350 m)
North-west from the settlement Ponikve, beside deep, and in the time of heavy rain water filled sinkoles /Mali and Veliki Lug/ at an attitude of 350m is Fort Ponikve. In an environment of particularly karstic geomorphological landscapes, this position was in the past a control point with a magnificent panoramic view of Bakar Bay and the western part of Grobnik area.
WHO USED THE FORT?
It was occasionaly used by prehistoric shepherds to bring cattle out of summer heat in green deep valleys. The importance of the surveillance position is also evidenced by the remains of a trench cut into a cliff as well as guard positions from World War II.
HOW DOES PONIKVE LOOK LIKE?
The Fort covers small area, the top of the hill is covered by sharp limestone cliffs which protect from the wind Bura, facing southwestern, small grassy wasteland with traces of drystone wall construction.
Modest archeological traces give us a glimpse of the prehistoric origin of this shepherd's shelter situated between the great prehistoric fortresses of the fortified hilltop fort on Cernik vrh and the control point on a harder accessible fort above Plosna.
FORT ABOVE PLOSNA SETTLEMENT (471 m)
In Bakar's karst hinterland, among steep and difficult-to-reach elevations, stands out a hill Fort Plosna situated about 2000m air distance from Plosna settlement.
PLOSNA FORT POSITION
Indeed, at first glance this stone monolithic boulder and rock filled location situated at 471m above sea level offers an unforgettable panoramic view, for prehistoric inhabitants an ability to control the wide area.
PROTECTION FROM THE WIND BURA
Stone monolithic boulder and rocks protected prehistoric inhabitants from Bura while staying inside plateau bordered by dry stone walls. The inhabitants stayed on the slope, rock-covered cliffs, within the plateau bordered by drystone walls, stretched in length of 200meters along the narrow access path.
WHAT IS A DRYSTONE?
Defence fort walls were built by drystone wall technique, the construction of stone walls without the use of embroidery (dry construction).
The modest surface ceramic pottery discovery belongs to the period between the late medieval or late bronze age as well as to the period of the older iron age. Based on traces analysis without archeological research, it appears that the settlement was occasionally inhabited by local community from 12th cent.BC probably up to antiquity.
DISCOVERY IN SURROUNDING LOCATIONS
In a deep valley Petrovo, northeast of Fort's base, there are some identical fragments of ceramics. This suggests that cultivated fields were there in prehistoric times. South of Fort, at Modra lokva and near the well-preserved well, there are material traces from the early 16th to the late 18th century. In Škrljevo settlement hinterland on a gas pipeline route in Stepeci valley, experimental archaeological digging proved the vicinity of the settlement with remains of ceramic pots and tools made from lopped chert.
IN BAKAR BAY FIRE HAS BEEN BURNING SINCE 3740 B.C.
C-14 analysis showed an unexpected result: ancient copper hunters burnt fire around this area around 3740 B.C. at the beginning of Copper Age.