The Archaeo-Ethno Park is located in Ravna 8 km north of Knjaževac, in the yard of the old village school. The oldest houses in the village were built at beginning of the XX century along with the building of the school in 1906. Today, it is a historical monument. The choice of this village for positioning of The Archaeo-Ethno Park was influenced by the proximity of the ancient fortress Timacum Minus. The construction of the park began in 1977 and it was officially opened in 1989.
The main idea was to present significant archaeological findings from the Timacum Minus site within the archaeological exhibition in the school building and the Lapidarium and also to make visitors familiar with the history of archaeological research of the nearby site. One of the main ideas was to illustrate the ambient of the XIX century patriarchal village community with residential and commercial buildings as its parts. The Ethno Park consists of the house from Gornja Kamenica, with a Wine Museum with wine cellar in its basement, a house from Berčinovac, a barn form Beli Potok and a cauldron for brandy with the pipe of cherry wood from Pričevac.
This kind of exhibition made it possible to preserve years of experience and a range of traditional folk architecture and also to allow visitors a direct contact with objects. The visitors have the possibility to learn about traditional culture of housing and buildings of folk architecture of the region. In the last ten years the Archaeo-Ethno Park was supplemented by another object built according to the model of the house “Gazdić” from Radičevac on Stara Planina in which, besides the smaller room for conferences and tasting the traditional cuisine, wines and brandy of the Knjaževac area, there is an information tourist center with souvenir shop. In the park a workshop for manufacturing traditional pottery with replicas of antique and traditional pottery kiln was formed. Inside the old village school a conservation laboratory was made and equipped. The Archaeo-Ethno Park, besides various educational and creative programs, organizing workshops offers the possibility of accommodation and organization of various conferences, cultural, tourist and educational programs as well as scientific and research camps.
As part of the Archaeo-Ethno Park in Ravna, to the right of the entrance to the park, a lapidarium was formed, containing Roman stone monuments found during the archaeological research of the Timacum Minus fortification in the period 1975 – 1990. They were mostly found in the fortress itself or were received as gifts from the local people. The majority of them are gravestones, honorary monuments and altars. They are a very important and reliable source for studying and learning about military, administrative, ethnic, social, cultural and religious events about which, except sketchy information in records or still insufficient archaeological findings, there is still insufficient information.
Monuments are composed of gables, embossing, inscription field, skirting and shank. These tombstones are most often decorated with floral motifs. Frequently there is a vine motif, symbolizing the belief in a new life, the eternal renewal and new birth. The inscription field contains basic information about the deceased. In the embossed field there is usually an image of the deceased or the deceased with family members. A number of gravestones from Ravna is in Niš in the lapidarium in the Niš Fortress.
There is also an altar in the Lapidarium from the second century which was dedicated to Diana, the goddess of hunting, patron of animals and forests. The altar confirms respect of the cult of the goddess Diana in the area of the Ravna fortification. This goddess was the patroness of silver mines and its role fits into the picture of life in the fortress, whose economic basis was mining and metallurgy. The goddess Diana was the daughter of the supreme god Jupiter. She was identified as the Greek goddess Artemis. She was respected as a protector of women and in some of her temples only women had access. Diana is usually presented in a short tunic, with a bow and arrow accompanied by a deer.
In addition to the altar which is dedicated to the goddess Diana there was an altar dedicated to the god Mars. Despite the fact that he was the god of war, Mars also protected the rural population which prayed to him as the patron of fertile fields. He promoted the fertility of fields and protected them from bad weather conditions.
At the entrance to the Archaeo- Ethno Park, on the left side there is the school built in 1906. Today, within the school there is a small archaeological research station with well-equipped classrooms – laboratories for conservation and research activities. This research station serves as a space for the realization of for various scientific and archaeological projects and other educational programs. In the school hall there is an exhibition of fragments of Roman gravestones and stone plastics from the Timacum Minus site and other archaeological findings within a smaller exhibition display. In the school there are working premises for storing and processing of archaeological findings, and also the bedrooms for the accommodation of research teams.
„The Big House” was modeled after the village house from Gornja Kamenica built at the end of XIX century. It belongs to the Moravian type of building with a prolonged porch with arches and the “corner”. On the upper floor there are three rooms: “Iža” – the kitchen with fireplace in the center, a girl’s room or the newly wedded room which was used to prepare the dowry or for the wedding night, and the “big room” which was the room for guests. In the big room there is an exhibition of textile items, products of home textile industry, parts of national costumes, traditional pottery and items for processing wool. In the older type of these traditional houses there is a flat porch, whereas in a more developed type there are arches on the wooden porch, which are a characteristic architectural element of a Moravian house. The roof covering is of ceramides which cover the wooden structure. In the region of Stara Planina it was sometimes made of wicker or wooden boards, less often of stone. On the Timok houses of the Moravian type there is a characteristic a funnel-shaped stocky chimney with a lid, which is called “badža”. In the lower part of the house there is a wine cellar with a winery which contains wines from the Knjaževac region. The Archaeo-Ethno Park with nearby wineries and the Homeland Museum from Knjaževac are part of the official route called “Wine Routes” of Serbia.
„The Small house” was made at the end of XIX century, and was transferred to the Archaeo-Ethno Park in Ravna from the village of Berčinovac. It was made of original elements in the traditional style with a straight porch of authentic materials in the traditional way. The interior of the house has been divided into two rooms, the „iža“ with the hearth and the “big room”. The interior of the house has been reconstructed with authentic items from the modest family life for everyday use. The interior was complemented by products of local craftsmen and handicrafts made by skilled local peasants.
In the Archaeo-Ethno Park there is an object built according to the model of the house of „Gazdić“ from the village Radičevac on Stara Planina. It belongs to the Moravian type and represents a valuable example of traditional architecture. On the ground floor is a relatively well equipped conference hall and cultural, tourist and educational programs which are organized here throughout the year, a souvenir shop and information center for visitors. Upstairs is a wooden porch for rest and accommodation facilities for research team members and also tourists.
A part of the Archaeo-Ethno Park is the “ambar”, a barn, which is the only economic object, typical of the Knjaževac region. The barn consists of the cellar and granary, and has been transferred from the village of Beli Potok and dates from the XIX century. It has been divided into “sections” for different grains and the cellar with pillars has multiple purposes – for keeping tools, wine etc.
In the open space by the barn there are items used in a village household and are rarely used today: a carriage, a plow, a sleigh, old beehives „trmke“, a cauldron for brandy from Pričevac with a pipe made of cherry wood.
The Wine Museum
In the cellar of the “Big House” there is an exhibition space which depicts the wine production in this region. It contains tools used for making and storage of wine (vessels, measuring cylinders, tools for processing grapes and preparation of wine, winery containing Knjaževac region wines, etc.) and also the photo documentation about the long tradition of grapes and wine production in is area. Based on the Turkish sources, the region of Knjaževac had a special status and taxes within the Vidin (Rumelia) Eyalet, and it was during the period of Turkish reign famous for its indigenous grape and wine varieties. In the tavern there is an exhibition of products and other items by PPK „DŽERVIN“ Company which is the sponsor of this exhibition.
Center for the Production of Traditional Pottery and Preservation of Traditional Crafts
In the Archaeo-Ethno Park in Ravna there is a workshop for traditional pottery, a space equipped by the funds of UNICEF, Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia and the Municipality of Knjaževac with the aim to preserve and promote the traditional pottery techniques in the region of Knjaževac. Summer Schools of Traditional Crafts are organized here for young people, students, artists and museum experts in partnership with the Central Institute for Conservation from Belgrade. Besides the workspace and traditional equipment and tools for making pottery, here is also a replica of an ancient pottery kiln made in partnership with the archaeologists and traditional craftsmen from Spain as part of the project supported by the Spanish Cultural Centre Cervantes in Serbia, University of Granada and Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia. Next to the replica of the ancient kiln, there is a traditional pottery kiln used in the region of Knjaževac. The workspace is complemented by contemporary equipment and tools and also a small exhibition space with items made during the summer schools. In the Archaeo-Ethno Park in Ravna souvenirs made of wool in the double string knitting and weaving technique are manufactured.