Preliminary survey of the seabed of Zadar County
In October and November of 2012 the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology conducted a survey of the coast and seabed of Zadar County. The seabed from the islands of Vir to Vrgada was surveyed. The diving positions were selected on the basis of reports and information from associates who participated in this programme. Several anchorage sites were discovered on this occasion that served as safe havens for ships during their navigation of the eastern Adriatic coast, as where shipwrecks that occurred during these voyages.
The research campaign included the use of Side Imaging Sonar to scan the seabed and diving to survey the seabed. Participating in the reconnaissance along with research leaders Mladen Pešić and Luka Bekić of ICUA were outside associate divers Marko Meštrov (the Han-Vrana Agency), professor Zdenko Brusić DSc, senior lecturer Mato Ilkić DSc, Mate Parica (University of Zadar), Igor Mihajlović and Anita Jelić (Croatian Conservation Institute). Also participating in the work were outside associate divers Rok Kovačić and Jerko Macura, and Petar Dobrović providing technical support.
The preliminary survey covered the area off the western coast of the island of Vir. This site was to have had a shipwreck at a depth of a few metres. The survey did not establish the presence of a shipwreck, and the extraction of sand conducted in this area has eradicated any evidence of its presence.
The following position to be surveyed was the breakwater in Fažana Cove at Petrčane below the small 11th century church of Sveti Bartul (St Bartholomew). The plan of the breakwater has been documented. The breakwater most likely served to protect seafarers staying at the monastery or the neighbouring structures from the southerly jugo wind.
Two possible anchorage positions were surveyed during the reconnaissance. The survey of the possible anchorage in the western part of the cove at Petrčane did not yield results. Sherds of Late Roman and Post Medieval vessels were found at the anchorage position in the southwestern part of the island of Ošljak near Zadar. These sherds indicate the use of this anchorage over an extended period of time.
The waters of the islet of Babuljaš are particularly interesting. Remains from two different and unrelated time periods were identified here. These are sherds of ceramic vessels from the Bronze or Iron Age and sherds of large cylindrical amphorae of North African provenance and several plates of red terra sigillata chiara clay that can be approximately dated to the 3rd to 4th century.
An attempt was made during the reconnaissance to locate a shipwreck on the seabed between Vrgada and the islet of Artina. The search was, unfortunately, unsuccessful.