Church Our Lady of Kuje, Archaeological remains

The archaeological site in the place of the present 17th century Church of Our Lady of Kuje, in Kuje Bay in Ližnjan, was examined in 1995 during the restoration of the church. The 17th century church was most probably built in the place of the previous 13th century Church of St. Thomas. During the construction works of 1995 the remains of a pre-existing property, dating from the Late Antique period, were discovered in the foundations of 17th century church. Works carried on site by the Archaeological Museum of Istria unveiled the remains of the northern part of a Late Antique residential country villa, with thermal installations and a multi-coloured floor mosaic dating from the 5th century. It should be noted that archaeological findings dating from the 1st to the 5th and 6th centuries (a stone altar, a Late Antique limestone capital, and a ceramic phial) had been discovered previously in the vicinity of that locality, which attests that this site was continuously inhabited. During 1995, two rooms from the northern section of the Late Antique property were partially examined, and a notional reconstruction of that section extends to a width of 17m. Judging by the architectural findings, it is a residential complex in the country style with a thermal area. The remnants of a heated air vent installation indicate a high standard of living for the inhabitants of this property. For now, the circumstances of the conversion of this non-religious property into an Early Christian basilica in the 5th century are not known. It is from that period that the two recovered floor mosaics originate from. Only a segment of the black and white floor mosaic with a braided edge band and Greek crosses was discovered in the larger semicircular room, the rest has been destroyed, while in the smaller eastern square room, a multi-coloured mosaic with geometrical motifs was discovered, which covered the entire room. It is assumed that the original Christian basilica was rebuilt in the period between the 13th and the 15th centuries, and the later Baroque church completely changed the north-south orientation of the preceding Early Christian structure. Today, after the excavations and surveys in 1995, and after the restoration of the baroque church, the Late Antique and Early Christian remains found in its foundations have been preserved and made visible for the public on site. The project for the reconstruction of the church included the conservation and exhibition of the findings, i.e. the visible floor mosaics, but on the understanding that the church remained functional. A compromise solution was found, with strong metal carriers and a thick glass floor above the site. The construction allows the mosaics to be visible while at the same time being able to support 500kg per m2.

Site Details

CODE HR-18/Kuj
LOCATION Ližnjan, Kuje Bay
PERIOD 4th-5th century
PERIOD OF EXCAVATION 1995
OWNERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT Parish of Bishop St. Martin, Ližnjan
PUBLIC ACCESS only if authorized
CREATED BY Tina Širec Džodan