Danube Virtual Museum

Archaeological Museum of Đerdap

It is magnificent to stand on the Danube bank / Magnum est stare in Danubii ripa (Plin. Ep. XVI 2)

The Archaeological Museum of Đerdap in Kladovo was constituted and opened in 1996 with the aim to present, promote and use heritage. This is the youngest specialized institution in the field of integral protection of heritage in the region of Iron Gate/Đerdap and is in charge of the archaeological collection of the Iron Gate/Đerdap, as well as the cultural and natural heritage on the right bank of the Danube in the region.

The constitution and opening of the museum is one of the most significant realized goals of the Science Research Project Đerdap in the field of heritage protection. By reaching this goal, the Project Đerdap will continue with its scope of work in the future.

The museum is located in the central section of the explored area of the bank (Golubac-Kladovo Prahovo). The area is surrounded by the protected, unique and most representative monumental complex - Tabula Traiana (100 AD), the relief with an inscription carved into the rock of the canyon Lower Gorge, near Tekija/Roman Transdierna; the Roman fortress Diana/Diana statio Cataractarum (I-VI century), a station/statio on the Iron Gate cataracts (101 AD) and Pontes/Pontes (I-VI century), a fortress-bridgehead near Trajan's Bridge (105). The medieval fortress-town Fetislam is located at the entrance to Kladovo, on the Danube bank close to the museum.

The Archaeological Museum of Đerdap in Kladovo is a branch-museum of the National Museum in Belgrade and also technically a part of the HPP Đerdap Ltd. (HPP Đerdap I, Karataš - Kladovo) - one of the founders that provides technical support in carrying out complex programming tasks in heritage protection.

Even though the acquisition is still an ongoing process- parts of the archaeological collections have not been handed over to the museum yet, there are now hundreds of thousands of organic and non-organic artifacts in its depots (Gradište, Golubac, Dobra, Donji Milanovac, Tekija, Kladovo, Brza Palanka, Mihajlovac, Prahovo). These artifacts have been collected over many decades in systematic archaeological research and excavation of prehistoric, Roman and medieval settlements, towns, necropoli, roads and forts built on the right bank of the Danube River in the Iron Gate/Đerdap region.

This is one of the most systematically collected archaeological collections of great scientific interest.

All significant prehistoric, Roman, late Roman, early Byzantine or medieval era/periods/cultures in the span of more than 10 000 years have been presented through theme or multimedia exhibitions and events in accordance with the available capacity. A large number of archaeological exhibits and collections are genuine rarities that by their importance, exceed the borders of our country.

The Archaeological Museum of Đerdap, as a place of preservation and promotion of the importance of protecting heritage of the Danube, in accordance with the capacity, uses all available tools/media for exhibitions - halls and galleries, the space inside and outside the building, the museum park - Lapidarium Museum (exhibition of epigraphic stone monuments in the open).
In the foyer of the museum, a large archaeological map with an accurate record of modern settlements and the names of famous explored picturesque locations are chronologically marked. The map was made in 1969 for the exhibition of the first results of Đerdap exploration organized by SANU in Belgrade (1964/5-1971/2).

The exhibition of photo panels in the small museum hall shows authentic archive footage in the form of black and white photos of famous sites. The exhibition adds to the picture of the Danube bank appearance and a number of major researched locations, as well as significant events related to the history of the integral protection within the large Science Research Project Đerdap.

... It is magnificent to stand on the bank of the Danube ... or, in the original in Latin – Magnum est stare in Danubii ripa (Plin. Ep. XVI 2) has been the title of each event and activity of the Museum of Đеrdap since 1998 when it was first promoted. The author of this inspiring sentence is Pliny the Younger (the age of Trajan).

Prehistoric collections

The exhibition displays the oldest artifacts and examples of the prehistoric era, which covers a very long period BC until the arrival of the Romans at the beginning of the new era. In the halls/galleries of the Archaeological Museum of Đerdap, besides the amazingly puzzling sculptures of Lepenski Vir culture – excellent “original copies” made by Prof. Stamenković and S. Savić, famous sculptors-conservators of the National Museum, there are also utilitarian or cult objects, bowls and clay figures of the first farmers from the Starčevo culture in Vinča, their tools and stone utensils, bones or horns for different purposes used by settlers from the Stone Age that covers inconceivably long periods BC, around (8000) 7000-5500/4000 (3000) BC.

Prehistoric stone artifacts and vessels or clay figurines from the banks of the Danube - the nearby villages and necropoli near Mala Vrbica, Korbova and Vajuga, form the oldest collections from the Stone Age- the Neolithic Period (Starčevo culture in Vinča) of the current exhibition.

The period of exploitation and use of metals, bronze and iron, which marked the last two millennia BC, set the foundation of unstoppable industrialization and massive use of all types of metals. Typical large urns (for burial), and small imaginatively designed hand-made clay vessels as well as figural sculptures, jewelry, weapons and utilitarian objects made of metal - copper, bronze, iron are the result of technological know-how and human skills that are the manifestation of the high period of the Bronze and Iron Ages. The appearance of the first vessel thrown on a potter's wheel at the end of the last century BC signaled the end of the last stage of the prehistoric era and, with the arrival of the Romans, a beginning of the new Roman period on this part of the Danube.

Roman, late Roman and medieval collections

Since the very beginning of the new era (a period of August and Tiberius) and during the first six hundred years, the banks of the Danube were, geographically, within the limits of the great Roman Empire.

The museum of Đerdap exhibits museum pieces-artifacts from well-researched fortifications, large and small fortresses, military sites and military-technical installations, the agglomerations and necropoli discovered along the river-land Danubian road of Roman, late Roman and early Byzantine limes. Originating from various sources, the goods produced in the renowned crafts centres, were created for the needs and tastes of the entire rich multi-ethnic population, who lived on this completely urbanized banks of the Roman Danubius.

The current exhibition presents objects for different purposes made from different materials, used in war and everyday life, for storage and food preparation, eating and drinking (amphorae, pithoi), entertainment and recreation. They were also used as jewelry, for decoration and as accessories-fibule, gifts to favourite gods, burial gifts, as well as during numerous ceremonies in the presence of high-rank officials and Roman emperors. In addition to military equipment items, weapons and tools, vocational, medical and pharmaceutical instruments, various objects made of stone, clay, glass, metal, bronze, iron and precious metals illustrate occupations, and of course, fashion trends, workshops and their masters-artists, as well as other details. Besides indicating events important for history and culture, they are often of supreme artistic craftsmanship and present cultural property of exceptional importance. Among them is supreme (art) work - world rarities.

Epigraph stone monuments with inscriptions are a very important part of the museum collection. Stone epigraphs with inscriptions, architectural components made from durable materials e.g. grooved pillars, the famous series of imperial inscriptions carved on natural rocks of the Danube Gorge along the coastal road or on sculptures, and reliefs, are without doubt the most important phenomenon of the centuries long Roman epoch of this region. Despite unimaginable natural difficulties, all of this was successfully built. Precisely these artifacts help us today, 2000 years later, to imagine how the disappeared buildings or preserved ruins look.

A series of commemorative royal inscriptions, carved in natural rocks high above the base of a narrow coastal road, discovered at several locations of the Upper and Lower Gorge, reliably date the construction of the Danube road-limes. Judging by the recorded royal inscriptions - Tiberius (33/34 AD), Claudius (46 AD), Domitian (92/93 AD), Trajan (98/99, 100, 101, 105/6 AD), Diocletian (294-300 AD), it was built and repaired, improved, maintained and taken care of by the empire rulers. These famous inscriptions celebrating the great architectural works are tangible first-rate information for understanding the major historical events of 2000 years ago. Based on them, we get answers to some of the most important issues, such as building - why, who and what was built.

In addition to the two inscriptions by Trajan from 100 and 101 AD, all others recorded, along with the road and the military-technical installations have been lost in the deep waters of the Danube reservoirs since 1970. Only a small number of them have been kept in the Museum of Đerdap in Kladovo.

Some of the inscriptions on the rocks of the Danube Gorge, such as Gospođin Vir, have been taken as impressions in plaster and polyester. Two of these prints in polyester of the Roman emperors Claudius and Domitian, have been saved thanks to the care of the Archaeological Museum of Đerdap. The museum’s permanent exhibition comprises these artifacts due to their importance.

Major epigraphic monuments are exhibited in the lapidarium-park of the Archaeological Museum Đerdap in Kladovo, at the sire of Trajan’s inscriptions, in the gorge, or within HPP Iron Gate/ Đerdap, as well as at the fortresses Diana and Pontes and downstream the Danube.

The most significant inscriptions, Trajan’s and Diocletian’s, are dislocated, but they are exhibited on photo-panels in the museum. Excellent photographs are accompanied by a professional review.

Medieval collections

The Medieval Period begins with exhibits that testify to the permanent settlement of Slavs and final dominating Slavic influence in this region of the Danube/Balkans in the period after the final abandonment of the Roman limes in the early 7th century. This exhibition displays different kinds of objects - utility and luxury clay items, glass paste jewelry, bronze, silver or gold, numismatic finds to present the period when this region was under the strong influence and direct domination of Byzantium and another, when it was part of the Serbian medieval state. This rich period that followed from the XI/XII to XIV/XIV centuries (until the Ottoman conquest) is a true continuation of tradition of the European urban culture in this part of the Danube region with the affluent urban population. Many exhibits, discovered in medieval agglomerations, Christian churches and necropoli testify to this fact.

Several famous, medieval fortresses were built in this region in the late medieval period (16th-18th/19th century) as a result of long struggles over the domination in this region between the Central European and Ottoman Empires. After the building of the medieval fortresses Ram and Golubac, located at the entrance to the gorge of the Danube, in sector Tekija – Kladovo, several strong fortresses/bastions, today partly submerged but visible, were built on the right bank of the Danube and on the islands – a rocky fortress Elisabethfort (partially submerged) and, about 15 km downstream, a well-preserved medieval fortress Kladovo and a castle/fortress Fet(h)islam. Two strong famous fortresses on these islands were also submerged - Adakale/Adakaleh, located 5 km downstream of Tekija and opposite Fort Elizabeth, and Karataš/Gura Vaii on the island of Bansko/Banului. Part of the Adakale fortress on the Romanian island Simian/Simian has been restored.


(Text: National Museum in Belgrade – Archaeological Museum of Đerdap)

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