The Kornati Islands

The Kornati Islands are the densest archipelago in the Mediterranean. Nowhere else in this large sea is such a great number of islands crammed in so little space. Because of ambiguous criteria of the definition of an island in general, there is no general agreement about their number. But we think that we shall not err much if we determine their number at 150. The area of the sea in which they are located is about 320 square kilometres. The two largest islands (Kornat and Žut) constitute 70% of the total area of the Kornati islands.

Kornati history

The Kornat Islands, like many Adriatic, Mediterranean, and world islands, were formed at the end of the ice age, when the surface of all the seas rose so much that the fields became the sea, and the mountains became islands. The raising of the sea level has continued to the present day, but in a slightly changed form (roughly 1mm a year). That this is so prove the remains from classical antiquity in the Kornat Islands, which were then above the sea level or at the sea level. The best preserved among them are the submerged salt pans at Šipnate and on the island of Lavsa, the submerged muli  (piers) at Trstikovac, Statival, and Sedlasti bok, the underwater remains on the island of Piškera that have not been investigated yet.

The first settlers

The first settlers in the Kornat islands, as already said, were the Illyrian tribe Liburnians - the ethnic element spread on the soil named after them in classical antiquity of the province Liburnia - which stretched from Istria to the estuary of the river Krka. The Kornat Islands were part of the sea in which, it seems, they ruled supreme, whose traffic they controlled; that part of the Adriatic sea that the historian from classical antiquity called Liburnicae insulae.
turetaIn the 1st  century, new colonisers replaced the Liburnians. Except by considering the remains of their material culture, it is difficult to say how they had managed this area, but it is reasonable to suppose that it was not essentially different from what was taking place on other small or smaller islands on which towns had not been established in classical antiquity. The property, then, was in the ownership or in use of deserving families or loyal subjects ot the Empire.
Since there are no written traces, except if the surviving Romance forms in the names of islands, we shall assert, as in the case of the Liburnians, that all we know of that administration came to us through the remains of destroyed villae, salt pans, vivariums or the cargoes of sunken ships.
In the times when the Kornat Islands were part of an important shipping route, and the historian think that one of these moment was the attempt of Emperor Justinian to renew Byzantum in the 6th century, at least two objects of exceptional importance were built on the island of Kornat, both at the locality Tarac. The first is the fort Tureta on the height above the field, which served to control the shipping route through the Channel of Kornat, and the second is the church of St. Mary at its foot.

Recent History

The most recent history of the Kornat archipelago and the relations that persisted in it all the way to the 2nd half of the 20th century was determined by an invention. Namely, in the early 16th century a patrician from Zadar Šimun de Cedulinis invented the method of catching pilchards by means of light. Until then, pelagic fish was caught without artificial light, during the periods of darkness (mrak) during summer, with dragnets, in positions determined by drawing lots, but there is no mention in documents of fishing pilchard. De Cedulinis patented his invention and obtained exclusive right to fishing in the Kornat Islands - then in the sea of Zadar - for 10 years.

Additional information