ALONG THE ZETA RIVER: TURKISH BRIDGES AND A BRONZE AGE TOMBSTONE

1 Bronze Age tomb Frutak Kujava1 Zeta DanilovgradThere is not much traffic on the old road from Danilovgrad to Nikšić, along the Zeta River. It is mostly used by local inhabitants of the villages in the fertile Bjelopavlići valley. And of course, by a few curious tourists, who want to explore this beautiful region with Turkish bridges and small water power plants on the emerald green river.

Recently, a very important discovery was made in this area: a tombstone from the early Bronze Age was found on the border between the villages of Kujava and Frutak (photo 1). And this was a good reason for us to hit the road in search of this archeological excavation.

2 Bulin mostIt was a beautiful sunny day and many people were working on the land. The river was meandering through the plain (photo 2) and soon we passed the power plant of Slap Zete and stopped to take a look at a small stone bridge on the left side of the road (photo 3). Local inhabitants told us that it is called Bulin most (Bula’s bridge – a bula is a Muslim woman) and that it is part of an old Turkish cobblestone footpath that still exists. With two different arches, a big one and a smaller one, the bridge is quite atypical! According to a legend, it was built by the wife of Adžija, architect of the Adžijin bridge that is located 2 kilometers farther.

3 Adzin mostIn a region without proper signposts, as there are many in the continental part of Montenegro, the only way to know where you can find interesting places is talking to the local people. They are eager to tell you as much as possible about their homeland and its history. And so we got detailed instructions how to find the archeological excavation we were looking for.

But at first we had the opportunity to admire another Turkish bridge, Adžijin most (Adžija’s bridge), an architectural masterpiece (photo 4) of elegance. According to the legend, nothing can separate a couple that has kissed under this bridge!

4 Most Dobro PoljeWe had been told to pass the reconstructed suspension bridge in Dobro Polje, behind the old water mill on the left side. At first we hesitated – was this really a bridge for motorized traffic? There were no traffic signs and our small Peugeot could hardly get through the narrow concrete entrance. Indeed, the bridge looked very strong, with new wooden planks. Its length was almost 70 meters, high above the river… But when we saw other small cars passing the bridge, we decided to go (photo 5).

The road led us through a rural area with nice orchards, gardens and fields – and everybody was busy with preparations for the spring. Horses and mules were waiting for the next burden to carry (photo 6) and when we approached the foot of the mountains (with high above us the highway to Nikšić), the landscape changed and turned into forests. We asked a passer-by for the tombstone and got the answer: “Just continue, you can’t miss it!”And finally, a few kilometers after passing the church of Zagorak, we saw a tombstone in the middle of a white circle – a grave from the early Bronze Age that was discovered only three months ago (photo 7) .

5 BjelopavliciThe tomb that contained several skeletons was excavated by the Montenegrin archeologist Predrag Lutovac and his group. It is probably almost 4000 years old (1850-1800 BC). Closed with several big stone blocks from all sides, it was also protected by a circle of flat white stones. This circle around the tomb had a dual function: practical, to prevent erosion, and magical, to prevent the souls of the deceased from disturbing the living people. The skeletons were found in foetus position (photo 8), which is one of the characteristics of the Bronze Age. Other subjects like a bronze needle, a bracelet, ceramics and a bronze buckle were discovered, too. And what is even more interesting – several other tombstones are situated in the surroundings and are now waiting to be investigated! This is an extraordinary archeological treasure indeed (photo 8)!

Photo: Predrag Lutovac
Photo: Predrag Lutovac

Although it was possible to join the highway back to Podgorica (you can also visit the tomb from the highway when you follow the signpost to Zagorak), we took the same road back and passed the suspension bridge once more. Soon we arrived at the hydro-electric power plant Glava Zete, situated among green cypresses. In the old days, this was a popular place for family excursions, with a good restaurant. But we preferred to continue our trip to Bogetići, where we had – as always – an excellent rural hotpot in the traditional “Konoba” restaurant.

Back in Podgorica I looked back on a great day. Why? Well, I must admit that I am still excited when I discover something new in Montenegro, although I have been living here for such a long time! And discovering a 4000 years old archeological excavation is not exactly something you experience each day!

8 tomb Bronze Age Frutak Kujava

 

 

5 Comment

  1. effi says: Reply

    Wat bijzonder! Lagen de stenen onder een laag aarde, of waarom is dit niet eerder ontdekt? 4000 jaar oude skeletten, mindboggling.

    1. Toevallig gevonden onder een heuvel in het landschap. Er schijnen er nog meer te zijn, maar er is geen geld voor onderzoek. Trouwens, wat een prachtige kleinzoon heb je!

  2. […] I like Adžija’s Bridge; it is an architectural masterpiece of elegance. This unusual bridge, made of hewn stone, was built by an “Adžija” (Hadzi) during the Ottoman occupation, but exact data about the year of its construction and the hadzi’s name are not known. Once, the bridge was part of the caravan route from Shkodra to Onogošt (Nikšić) – nowadays, it is not used anymore, but you can find it on the right side of the road from Danilovgrad to Glava Zete. And it is not only a beautiful tourist site… According to a legend, nothing can separate a couple that has kissed under the Adžija’s Bridge! (see also http://montenegro-for.me/2015/03/along-the-zeta-river-turkish-bridges-and-a-bronze-age-tombstone/) […]

  3. Gabriella Kozma says: Reply

    Today we tried to follow your trip and we enjoyed very much although to find the tomb was not so easy and we asked some ladies but they have never heard about it. Thank you for your excellent blog I try to learn as much as I can from your stories about this country where we live now.

    1. I am sorry you didnot find the tombstone. Local people are often unaware of the significance of such archeological sites. I am now back from my nolidays to Indonesia and I will soon write about my new discoveries in Montenegro!
      Kind regards,
      Marian e

Leave a Reply