Underwater survey in lake Bled
01. 07. 2019 - 07. 07. 2019

In order to deepen our understanding of the individual archaeological sites within Lake Bled and gather documentation for the creation of engaging presentations of the lake’s underwater cultural heritage and its surrounding areas, a collaborative effort was undertaken by the Institute of Underwater Archaeology, with the Cultural Institute Bled and the divers from the Society for Underwater Activities Bled. This endeavor involved conducting archaeological surface surveys in specific sections of the lake.

The selection of survey locations was based on careful consideration of previous assessments of archaeological potential, as well as high-resolution bathymetric measurements taken between 1982 and 2007. This research was conceived as a continuation of previous investigations into the archaeologically significant regions of the lake basin, with the primary objective of expanding our knowledge of individual sites and gathering valuable documentation for the purpose of creating compelling content that showcases and promotes the underwater cultural heritage. Our focus was directed towards the shallow areas adjacent to Villa Sokol, situated on the submerged glacial moraine, as well as the coastal regions surrounding the island that contained submerged vessels. Additionally, we explored a 150-meter stretch of the coastal zone near Villa Bled in the Mlino settlement, as well as the locations of various bathymetric anomalies.

A total of 14 potential sites were thoroughly examined during this study. Out of these, five sites yielded no significant archaeological findings, as they were found to contain concentrations of modern debris, such as branches or large rocks. At two locations, no anomalies were identified, leading us to speculate that the objects might be concealed beneath layers of sediment, rendering them invisible on the surface of the lakebed. However, at six locations, we successfully documented the remains of small contemporary watercraft, including fragments of canoes and baskets.

Among the notable discoveries was an intriguing finding at location No. 119—a small wooden boat featuring four benches and an ornate metal railing adorning the stern. Furthermore, oarrests were observed on the sides of the vessel. A postcard dating back to approximately 1930 depicted a similar or possibly the same boat, known to have been used by Prince Peter Karađorđević of Yugoslavia as he traversed the tranquil waters of Lake Bled.

Another captivating outcome emerged from our investigations at location 114—a rocky formation forming an underwater ridge just north of the shore near Villa Sokol. This geological feature stands as one of the distinctive elements within the landscape of Lake Bled. It was postulated that a small platform, possibly supported by stilts or another wooden structure, may have been situated on the leveled summit of the outcrop. However, our hypotheses could not be conclusively confirmed. Notably, the exposed surface of the ridge revealed numerous pottery fragments from the early modern period, including sizeable shards of ceramic vessels, densely scattered even up to 40 meters away from the shoreline. The oldest artifact discovered at this site was an arrowhead, roughly dating back to the period between the Late Roman era and the early stages of the Late Middle Ages. Nevertheless, the precise context, specific classification, and functional significance of this finding remain somewhat enigmatic. While the most plausible dating places it in the Early or High Middle Ages, it cannot be discounted that the fragment was lost during waterfowl hunting or fishing, as the barbs, similar to harpoons and multi-barbed points, would have hindered its extraction from a wound or the release of captured prey.

(For more comprehensive information, please refer to Gaspari, A., et al. 2022, “Interesting Archaeological Discoveries in the Area of the Submerged Glacial Moraine in Lake Bled near Želeče.” – Chronicle Vol. 70 No. 1 (2022))