Danube Virtual Museum

Archaeology of the Iron Gate Region - Đerdap


Gradište-Golubac-Dobra-Donji Milanovac-Tekija-Kladovo-Brza Palanka-Mihajlovac-Prahovo

Geographical frame of the Research project Đerdap (1963/64-2012)

Several thousand years ago, during the old era, in the youngest stage of the Stone Age period - namely from the period of Mesolithic and Proto-Neolithic culture Lepenski Vir, the oldest settlements in the “open” appeared on the banks of the Danube and its islands and gorges, as well as upstream and downstream from Kladovo (the geographical center of the wider area of the Iron Gate region).

Over the first six hundred years AD, two millennia ago, this area and its towns were located within the geographical boundaries of the great Roman Empire, on the Roman limes on the Danube (Danubius or Danuvius), in the Danubian province of Moesia (Moesia, Moesia Superior). Thirteen centuries ago, the first early medieval permanent settlements of Slavs appeared, while a few centuries later, Serbian, Byzantine, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman monumental medieval fortresses and towns were built on the same banks.

Today, at the beginning of the third millennium, the Danube river is the border between two countries. Its right bank is in Serbia and the whole region, except for industrial giants built in mid-twentieth century such as HPP Đerdap I (Karataš-Kladovo) and HPP Đerdap II (Kusjak-Prahovo), is world famous precisely for the richness and importance of authentic traces of the original cultures and civilizations discovered through archaeological research and excavations conducted in the last decades of the twentieth century. Along the coast of this region (Gradište-Golubac-Dobra-Donji Milanovac-Tekija-Kladovo-Brza Palanka- Mihajlovac-Prahovo), over 100 multi-layered sites have been recorded and, according to relevant findings, chronologically classified into different millennium and centuries long periods of time, as well as in the framework of prehistoric, Roman and medieval periods (remains of housing horizons, agglomeration and necropolis, roads, fortifications, technical installations, etc).

This multi-disciplinary, inter-institutional research, which has practically never stopped, was done as part of the program of integral protection of the heritage of a large research project Đerdap. Đerdap project was the first, the largest and the most expensive Serbian scientific research program of integrated, interdisciplinary protection and research of natural and cultural heritage of the Danube in the international context of the time. The project was focused on the wider area of the Iron Gate/ Đerdap region, immediately endangered by construction of two hydro power plants (along the 200 km long coastline). This project has been continuously conducted for almost six decades, varying in intensity, until today (1964/65-2012). However, the greatest immediate scope of works coincides with the intervals 1964/5-1972, 1978/79-1988/1990, periods before and immediately after the two hydro power plants began operation (i.e. formation of reservoirs).

Today, in the first decades of the 21st century, thanks to the results of the protection measures done as part of the Project Đerdap, National Park- Đerdap is covering protected, natural and cultural heritage of the territory of the Danube at the Đerdap gorge, together with the wider rear area. Thanks to the remarkable archaeological discoveries, the broader band of the Danube's Serbian coast is enriched with Iron Gate, the unique archeological park (Gradište-Golubac-Donji Milanovac-Tekija-Kladovo-Brza Palanka-Mihajlovac-Prahovo), with cultural monuments or “museums in the open”, flood protected heritage, and two specialized archaeological museum of the region - Museum of Lepenski Vir, a museum at the eponymous site Lepenski Vir near Donji Milanovac, and the Archaeological Museum of Đerdap in Kladovo opened in 1996. This area, together with hydro power plants Đerdap and monuments from the recent period form a unique cultural landscape of the Danube, which has emerged and changed in the continuity of more than ten millennia.


There is very extensive literature, both Serbian and foreign, old and new, about the results of research and measures to protect the wider Region. The literature is presented in epochs, periods, cultures, interdisciplinary topics of eminent scientists, or localities, monographs, articles, catalogues of first exhibitions, SANU/1969, National Museum / Bucharest / 1978, the National Museum - Archaeological Museum of Đerdap Kladovo1996, popular brochures ... The first complex, archaeological reports of immediate work in this area, the research sites from Gradište to Kladovo, until 1970/1972 were presented in a special issue of the journal Starinar XXXIII-XXXIV for 1982-83 (with the extensive bibliography above). For works and a detailed report conducted downstream from Kladovo, in the period from 1978/79 to 1987 (see special edition Đerdapske sveske I, II, III, IV / Cahiers des Portes de Fer / CPF /, I/1980, II/1984, III/1986, IV/1987, with the detailed useful bibliography, summary and / or an integral translation to French and Serbian.
(Text: National Museum in Belgrade - Archaeological Museum of Đerdap)