Ancient Roman Temple Found Under 18th-Century Church in Croatia

The foundations of an ancient temple were discovered under and next to the 18th-century Church of St. Daniel in a Croatian village.

The remains of the structure were discovered in Danilo, near Šibenik, the former Roman city Ridit. The location of the building was previously unknown, though archaeologists had unearthed many architectural elements and decorations from the Roman sacral building.

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Using georadar images, the team found the frame of the entrance. The frame is most likely what remains of a colonnade. The ancient temple features large walls, and it once stood 66 feet by 33 feet.

Fabian Welc, of the Institute of Archaeology of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, told Science in Poland that the temple was likely once part of a forum. Located at the city center, the forum would have held the most important public buildings, among them courts and municipal offices.

Welc’s institute worked with the Institute of Archaeology in Zagreb and the Šibenik City Museum on the project, which began in 2019.

LIDAR aerial scanning technology enabled a thorough analysis of the terrain, which very faintly detected the outline of former architectural remains along the surface. A nearby cemetery, which was used between the 9th and 15th centuries, was also partially located. Some medieval graves were dug directly into the relics of Roman baths; evidence of a large adjacent building featuring a central courtyard and a portico with numerous rooms was also discovered.

A number of Roman residential and utility buildings were identified around the modern-day cemetery in Danilo using large-scale geophysical surveying and analysis of the ALS model.

Archaeological research has been ongoing in Danilo over the last 70 years. The construction of a water pipeline initially yielded hundreds of Roman inscriptions, including some mentioning the city Municipium Riditarum, which was founded by the local community of the Romanized Ridit tribe.


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