In 1991 archaeologist Romeo Jerčić and the author of this article found a stone inscription bearing the name Nertastina in the wine-cellar of one Mrs. Julija Klarić, widow of the poet Branko Klarić. Until this discovery, the only physical evidence of the existence of the Nerastina tribe, other than in ancient sources, had been two outer boundary stones found long ago.
The stone slab with the inscription measures 43x33x17 cm and has an edge raised by 4 cm and lettering 2.6 cm high. It most probably comes from Sustipan.
The inscription therefore refers to the temple dedicated to Diana and Asclepius which the Nerastina people renovated completely. One further fragment of the inscription, measuring 22x18x11 cm and mentioning the Nerastina, was found in the autumn of 1991 by Romeo Jerčić in a stony border around his land on Sustipan.
These inscription are very similar, having almost the same size of letters and both referring to the renewal of some public building.
In 1914, Don Frane Bulić reported that Filip Kalebić, son of Ivan, found on his land in Sustipan many ancient walls, five plinths, a great deal of building material, sections of a white mosaic etc. On the same land there are still two pieces of an architrave with an inscription and part of a column 50 cm in diameter and 130 cm in length. The architraves had been used subsequently as weights for pressing olives. These two stone beams, measuring 153x66x42 cm, are imposing and most probably were parts of an earlier building. Sculpted in letters 7 cm high we see text:
EX TESTAMENT (O) (P)ATER FECIT.
It is possible that this refers to a temple, perhaps relating to these recent findings. It is also possible that it refers to the ancient memorial grave mentioned by Don Frane Bulić. As we have seen, the one thing we have not found so far is any physical evidence of the cults of the Nerastini; the neighbouring Pituntini worshipped Silvanus, and the Onastini Liber and Augustus. With the references to Diana and Asclepius we have a fuller picture of the cults of the Illyrian tribes living between the Cetina and Žrnovnica rivers.
The Sumpetar collection of deeds (the “kartular”) of the Benedictine monastery of St. Peter in Selo (Sumpetar) provides the most comprehensive information about Poljica in the Middle Ager. These invaluable documents, now kept in the archive of the Metropolitan Chapter House in Split, contain valuable data about the life of the nobleman Petar Crni Gumajev of Split, who built a Benedictine monastery on his land in 1080 at his own expense, alongside the earlier church of St. Peter. In his later years, Petar Crni retired into this monastery, founded by him and his wife Ana. He adopted the Benedictine habit and eventually died there. He was buried in an early-Christian sarcophagus bearing an inscription which can now be seen in the Museum of Archaeological Remains in Split. It is presumed that the first four lines of the inscription were written by Petar himself and that it was completed by Dobre after Petar’s death.
The Sumpetar collection of deeds. the “kartular”, is essentially a description of the geographical state of the pious endowment which had its largest estates in the coastal area of Poljica. it is therefore a first-class document showing the toponymy and economic relationships of the area in the Middle Ages. The monastery of St. Peter in the village ceased to exist after the Mongols penetrated into Croatia, and by the 14th century the properties and the deserted monastery devolved to the Archbishop of Split. The ruined church was subsequently repaired and the front side of Petar’s sarcophagus came to serve a new function: it became the altar “menza” in the new church. This is known only from extant archaeological documentation.
On Sustipan there is the double-apsed church of St. Stephen close to St. Peter’s. It has early Romanesque stylistic details and was made within the supposed early Christian complex, the site of which awaits further research. The northern chapel id dedicated to St. Antony the Abbot, and the southern chapel to St. Stephen. The latter is decorated with a marble altar partition without gables or architraves. Different sections are made from different kinds of marble, and it can be accurately dated to the 11th century. Systematic research will be needed to determine whether this altar partition once belonged to the church of St. Stephen’s or to the old church of St. Peter.
Other early Christian remains on the mountain are the chapel of St. Andrew on Oblik, St. Maximus with its Medieval graveyard with stone grave-tops, and the church of Our Lady of the Snow (Stomorica) above Duće, with a very interesting graveyard in which monolithic stone slabs cover natural clefts in the rock.
The church and graveyard of St. Mark in Duće was built exactly on the outer border of the Naarestin and Onastin tribes at the beginning of the Middle Ages.. tia.
It is not known to what extent this region was subject to outside attack during its inhabitation by the Croats.
Previously, during the Byzantine-Gothic wars the mountain refugees were again used by the aboriginal population, who withdrew into the old fortress settlements of coastal Poljica.
The first significant reports of incomers are in documents such as deeds of donation by Croatian national rulers.
The peace treaty of 839 AD between the Croatian Duke Mislav and the Venetian Doge Tradenik mentions St. Martin in Podstrana.
The question of the political affiliation of coastal Poljica at that time has various aspects.
The coastal and western parts of Middle Poljica recognised the authority of a Croatian ruler of the Neretva region or of the Archbishop of Split.
Later feudal attempts to usurp the area hastened the creation of the Poljica Principality which was better able to resist the interests of other rulers (the families of Kačić, Šubić and the Split Chapter House). The coastal area was part of the Poljica principality from the year 1444 until its dissolution during the period of French rule.