JAPODI - The Iapydes (or Iapodes, Japodes, Giapidi)
The Iapydes were an ancient people who inhabited the wider area of Una river valley (including the area of Una National park), today’s Lika and Gorski Kotar in Croatia and Bela Krajina in Slovenia. The Iapydian culture developed app. over the last 1000 BCE.
Way of life
The Iapydian society was mostly based on agriculture and livestock farming. They mostly reared goats, sheep, pigs, cows and horses, as well as poultry. According to archaeological founding they cultivated wheat, rye, barley, and oats, pulse such as lentil, broad beans, peas and collected wild fruit like apples, pears, cherries, rosehips and hazelnuts. Furthermore, they enriched their menus by hunting wild animals (foremost deer and occasionally wild boar and bear) and fishing.
Habitation and settlements
The Iapydian settlements are mostly positioned on higher grounds, naturally protected hills. They feature strong defensive dry walls made of stones and soil which are incorporated into their natural environment. Another very common Iapydian settlement is one on the Una river bank, which consists of number of houses on stilts – sojenice. Sojenica is a wooden house held above the water level by oak stilts pitched into the river bed.
Religion and cults
Traces of Iapydian religious life can be investigated through burial ceremonies, cults of various gods, symbols and remnants of ceremonials and customs most of which are reflected in different figures and decorations on numerous artefacts. The burial ceremonies included both burying the body in the ground and incineration. Burying in the ground was probably genuine Iapydian ritual, whereas incineration is considered to be imported from other cultures that featured ceremonies with urns.
From early on in their history the Iapydian society shows rather high level of social structure. In order to build protective walls and to arrange housing and paths and roads within a bordered area a precise planning and organisation was needed. This planning and organization schemes indicate to some forms of communal government especially in larger settlements and sojenica villages which are considered to be proto-urban structures.
The Iapydian culture
The Iapydian culture featured figural shaping both in figures for everyday purpose and for monument forms. Considering the materials used in their production, artistically formed and shaped objects can be divided in those made of: fired clay – ceramics, bronze and rarely silver, jade and glass and stone. Techniques used in production of this objects include carving, modelling, casting and hammering. Most common objects to produce were everyday objects and human and animal figures. Artefacts made of clay and stone are particular for the Una river valley and have not been found in any other Iapydian excavation sites. Such artefacts are, along with some purely geometrical symbols, almost the only source for investigating a very complex world of Iapydian religious ideas and beliefs.