Medieval settlement of Arača rests on the south bank of Crna Bara pond, the watercourse belonging to the alluvial plain of the Tisa River. The settlement is located about 13 kilometers east of Tisa river bed. The name of this settlement, which some sources also mention as Potiska Arača, is linked to the ruins of basilica and monastery.
Church and monastery are relatively well explored and findings are documented, so we have an abundant knowledge of them. Save for the parish, the identities of the main donor, the patron or patrons of this holy place are still ambiguous. We are uncertain of the status of basilica, as well as the monastery within the church organization in Southern (medieval) Hungary. Also, certain monastic orders, which can be linked to the creation and establishment of the monastery and the church, are within domain of argumented assumptions.
On the other hand, the name and location of this important medieval town are quite certain. It is significant because of its position, size, and the sanctity that has grown into its environment. Research hasn’t even scratched the surface of the daily routines in Arača itself. For these reasons, the protective systematic excavations are aimed at researching and documenting the medieval settlement and establishing a chronological and spatial relationship with the monastery complex. Excavations will result in documentation of all horizontal sites – from Prehistoric to late Medieval. The changes in concepts of housing and settlements’ layout, particularly those changes that occurred during the development of the religious complex, will be documented. An analysis of the settlement, or part of the settlement, in or out of which, and together with which the religious complex emerged and grew is yet to be performed. The ultimate goal is the reconstruction of village life in general, especially the part that developed simultaneously with churches and monasteries, and in their closest vicinity.
The sections defined in this way are to be presented through involvement in cultural, educational and tourism programs. A significant part of the project must be a construction of the road, for the purpose of improvement of access for interested parties, justification of investments and preservation of previous reconstruction efforts.
Archaeological research has been focused on the area near the basilica and monastery, with the goal of obtaining data for the reconstruction and revitalization of this complex.
At the same time, a part of the necropolis that was formed next to the parish church, and sometime after at a small part of the monastery grounds, has been categorized as well. – The remains of the original single-aisle basilica from the late 11th to the early 12th century have been explored and recorded as well. On this same location the Arača stone has been discovered at this location in late 19th century, and was moved to Budapest where it still remains. There are images of a church, a priest and benefactors carved in this stone. Also there are original carvings with Byzantine pattern and motifs of a bird and a horse, as the church was built in the period in which the country was closer to the Eastern Christianity. Building of a monumental, three-aisled basilica left the remains (foundations to be exact) of the church under the very floor of the middle aisle of the basilica. It was built in the first half of 13th century, in time of Béla the Fourth’s rule. In the second half of the 13th century, a chapel was built over the eastern transept of the northern aisle. The monastery was formed and built in the last quarter of the 15th century. Today, mostly foundation zones have been preserved. The remnants of the monastery tell the story of the turbulent times marked by Turkish incursions. It lasted for a relatively brief time, as it was occupied by Turks in 1551. The settlement was also mentioned in the 17th century. Moveable archeological material found on monastery site is mostly comprised of ceramics and glass.
Coin findings contributed to the more accurate calculations concerning the period in which the monastery was built and time span during which it was active. The coins were found in the tombs, along with jewelry mostly made of silver. Bells, candlesticks, baptistery, stone plastics, and other findings, along with the remains of the church walls, made it possible to perceive the scope of religiousness of the Middle Ages, as well as the role of the monastery as a precursor in the spread of moral, cultural and educational values in these parts. The research was performed jointly organized by the Provincial Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and the Museum of Vojvodina. The “Arača – Church, Necropolis, The Monastery” monograph is the beginning of the presentation of research results. It has been published in Hungarian language as well. All movable archaeological material has been deposited in the Museum of Vojvodina.
The excavations were performed on the location South-East from the monastery complex. The surface excavation in layers of arable land, based on the movable archaeological material, suggest prehistoric, late Roman and Medieval settlements.
The relatively large amount of construction debris, dislocated fragments floor, molded brick and terracotta plastic, stone plastics done in red marble indicate a significant construction/constructions for this Medieval village. Medieval archaeological material in this zone is mostly comprised of ceramics. Coins are used as referral for the dating of objects based on the initial activities. They indicate the range from the first quarter of the 13th to the mid-16th century. We found the core zone of more buildings as well as shorter overground parties. The remnants of these fundamental areas as well as movable materials point to significant and very important horizons in the development and shaping of the medieval settlement of Arača. It was most probably a tower gate or palace entrance located at the edge of the complex enclosed by a wall.
The remains of several buildings have been noted in the immediate vicinity of the basilica and monastery. They are most probably pointing to a relatively wealthy class of inhabitants of Arača. It is also possible that it was this same class of people that was one of the most important initiators and financiers in the construction of the basilica as well as parish church, followed by the monastery.
Partly explored building was surrounded by palisades and a trench from the outside. Filling of the trench is mostly comprised of burnt remains of palisades and burned and destroyed building materials.
Part of the activities is directed towards regulating the status of land covered by a complex of archaeological sites. The transfer of property of stretches of land covering archaeological sites to state/municipal property is in process.