The Paleolithic site Badanj is located below the village Borojevića near Stolac. It is located about 6 km as the crow flies west of Stolac. Podkapina is located in rock, 45 m above the river Bregava. The canyon of the river Bregava is 18 km long and about 100 m deep in Eocene limestone, between Vidovo polje and Neretva. The notch was used in Roman times as an important road between Narona and Dilunt (Vid-Stolac). Archaeologically, this site dates back to the late Paleolithic – Late Epigravettien period, ie 13000 to 12000 BC. The site was discovered in 1976. An engraving was found next to the subcap, which is the first find of its kind on the east coast of the Adriatic.
Research from 1976 to 1979 revealed the main prehistoric periods at this site. In the second campaign of archaeological research from 1986 to 1987, several goals were set: analysis of materials by layers to create a future detailed regional Paleolithic – Mesolithic chronology; reconstruction of the natural environment of Badnje, including paleogeographic conditions; creating an image of the organization of activities within the community.
According to the Spatial Plan of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina until the year of the archaeological site of Badanj, it has been recorded and valorized as a monument of the 1st category of national importance.
Badanj is a very rich Paleolithic and multi-layered cave site. The archeological site of Badanj is a potkapina or pripeča with a shallow depression in the rock that descends steeply to the right bank of the Bregava. Archaeologically relevant is the area below the rock where the life of the Paleolithic homo sapiens periodically took place. Below the removed surface layer, two chronologically separated layers of settlement in the Paleolithic were found. In the upper layer 0.8 – 0.9 m deep, 20 cultural and geological layers from two phases of settlement, which belong to the late Paleolithic – epigravettien, were explored. Below is a sterile layer of sipar, under which a very scarce material, which probably belongs to the Middle Paleolithic, has not been sufficiently explored. In the flint tool industry, which is mostly epigravetiene with typological continuity in all layers, the presence of numerous changes can define two phases, which are identical to the phases in the wider area of that time on the southern Adriatic coast and the Ionian coastal zone in Italy.
The fauna of the area shows significant changes during the mentioned period. Deer are predominantly represented, in the earlier phase goats and ibex were relatively widespread, and in the later phase wild boar and, somewhat later, roe deer predominate. This fact indicates the diversity of the climate in the period, which also influenced the above-mentioned cultural changes. However, the analysis of the number of bones found shows that small groups of hunters lived on Christmas Eve, or communities only for short periods, or on both. According to numerous finds of deer cubs (up to one-month-old in the period when they do not have horns) and a small number of deer antler artifacts, it is certain that human communities lived here periodically, mostly from March to June.
The distribution of artifacts and animal remains led to a sketch of the general picture of activities in the settlement. At the bottom of the abri was a hearth around which almost all the activity of the inhabitants took place: in addition to preparing food, leather was prepared here, bone and stone tools and deer tooth beads were made. It was eaten by the hearth, but also in the wider area of the abria, where animals were chopped up and more complex tools were repaired. According to the analysis of fauna and paleogeographic reconstruction, the number of groups that could meet the living needs here was 10-15 people. Namely, according to the estimates of the remains on Christmas Eve, about 14 to 17 people could be fed annually. As researchers point out “If these reconstructions are correct, then this site represents only a small part of the human settlement system in this region from the Late Paleolithic period” (Whallon, 1989, 20), ie in the time range from 14,000 to 10,000 BC. In the vicinity of Christmas there are two more ditches (reconnaissance and unexplored), Crvena pećina and Drenovačka cave.
The discovery of an engraved drawing in the rock of the Badanj site is especially important and it is one of the oldest art monuments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The drawing is partially damaged. It is carved into the obliquely laid surface of a large polished block of stone that was broken off from the cave massif. Its surface is inclined about 30 degrees from west to east. The drawing is located in the southwest corner of the rock and probably represents a figure of a horse seen from the right side attacked by arrows. Only the back half of the body has been preserved, with the thighs typical of a horse and part of the trunk, while the rest of the drawings have been destroyed. The depth of the cut is 5 mm. The engraving of a horse in Christmas Eve was not an anatomically perfectly reproduced figure, which was not important for the man of that time. What was more important to him was what the team had to say. The topics were usually hunting content. The basis of the theme of this art was the visual mastery of animals, the symbolism of supremacy over nature and the world of magic.
It is assumed that the damage to engraving dates back to the Paleolithic era. Namely, the stone was discovered only during the removal of the earth from the cave (during the collection of fertilizers for the surrounding fields). Until then, the stone was covered with an intact layer of earth in which remains from younger periods were found, with which the cave was buried over time.
The Badanj engraving contains a depiction of an animal and signs that are typical of the region of Mediterranean art of Paleolithic man. Engravings similar to this one are found in significant numbers in Sicily, Calabria and Apulia. The sea level at that time was 100 to 150 meters lower than the current one, which allowed people to communicate by continental. Similar acts could be expected in the coastal towns of Montenegro, Albania and Greece.
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