Excavating Gradina of Nadin

Few days back, I managed to get away from the desk to visit the results of the new archaeology campaign at Nadin hilltop fortress Gradina. It is far more than the rest of the hilltop fortresses I have visited in the past – https://secretcroatia.blog/2016/12/21/hilltop-fortress-of-orlic-and-true-abandoned-croatia/ – Nadin was actually a major town for centuries.


Today, Nadin is nothing more than a sleepy village in Ravni Kotari some half hour from Zadar. It is well known for its wine and agricultural produce. But, back in the day, it was a well known center known for its strategic position and surrounded by fertile fields.

Nadin fields
The View to the West
The View to the East

There are historic remains all over the hill and it was a strategic position even in the war of the 90s. Nadin was an important settlement in the Turkish times with remains of a mosque still visible.

Nadin gradina
Nadin village
The village
Nadin site from the air
More structures


The current excavations on Gradina started in 2015 but the works of all sorts to understand the site have been present for decades.
The Department of Archaeology at the University of Zadar has conducted research at the Nadin Gradina necropolis since 2005, which continued more intensively beginning in 2015. That year, a cooperative research agreement was established with the University of Maine, with initial investigation of the settlement funded by the National Geographic Society (9647-15) and the Rust Family Foundation (2016-09). In 2017, the importance of these investigations was recognized by the Croatian Science Foundation, which has funded the current project “Ravni Kotari: Urbanization and Landscape Change in Northern Dalmatia” (IP-2016-06-5832). Related aspects of this work have also benefited from supplemental support from the Croatian Ministry of Culture, the Local Museum in Benkovac, the University of Zadar, and the University of Maine.

Here is the link to more information on the current excavations http://www.nadin-gradina.com/ and they have quite an active Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/NadinGradina/

Nadin archaeology site from the air
Aerial view

The section excavated is just a small area of the entire site. However, it gives an excellent insight in the complexity of the settlement. As a result, archaeologists can see the development of the site.

Walls of Nadin

From what is excavated, one can see and pretty much understand how the settlement progressed from its earliest days to major Roman municipality. Lovely Roman road is still in great shape!

Roman road in Nadin
Section of the Roman road

Numerous stone huts are also now excavated and give the understanding how the original settlement was on a much lower level. Everything was “raised” with Roman arrival. Of course, it was not that original folks from Nadin left and some new people arrived, but it was more an introduction of the new society and techniques, practices… Modern times. Back in the 1st ct AD, of course. Local Liburnian tribes were always at peace with Romans. As a result, there are no battle fields in this part of the country. The tribe of Delmati, located further south, was the one that fought the wars with the Romans.

Excavations at Nadin
Sections of old houses
Students at work at Nadin
Slowly excavationg at Nadin
Archaeological excavations at Nadin

The Finds

Fragments of the ceramics are present all over the site. From all periods and with all sorts of decorations.

Ceramics at Nadin
Fragments of ceramics at Nadin
Relief on an antique clay pot
More ceramics
Part of a large clay pot
Clay pot in fragments held by an archaeology student

The finds are from all epochs and some of them are quite elaborate!

The future of this excavation of ancient Nedinium depends heavily on government funding but also the good will of a local who owns the land… Unfortunately, he is not so cooperative so these excavations are facing uncertain future. At least a new generation of archaeologists has a chance to learn about it. And preserve the knowledge for some new sites.