The Archaeological Museum of Istria conducted a series of excavations in the period from 1955 to 1957. This early Croatian cemetery is the most important archaeological witness of the new colonization of the Peninsula, dating back to the beginning of the 9th century. The oldest graves found are those with rare find of ceramic jar sherds. This cemetery of the Croatian settlers in Žminj (227 graves), without any grave offerings, with jewellery alone (earrings, rings, missionary rings – PAX), emphasizes the already explicitly Christian character of the population around Žminj’s Castle. A third of the unearthed graves contained finds - the most numerous being earrings, followed by around twenty rings. Silver and bronze earrings from Žminj are classified into several jewellery groups. The oldest ones include a wide variety of earrings that reflect Mediterranean-Byzantine traditions (e.g., lots of filigree wire, pseudo granules). The female inhabitants of Žminj and its environs at the time wore jewellery that was produced in Istria’s larger coastal towns (ruled by the Franks), where the tradition of Late Roman crafts was still alive. It is feasible that the settlers who came to Žminj brought this jewellery from Dalmatia, because isolated cities like Split and Zadar, together with the islands in the Kvarner Bay, were much longer under Byzantine rule.
In 2010, jewellery store Claudia from Svetvinčenat produced the first Žminj earring, a replica of the ones found during the excavations. During the 2011 Assembly of Chakavian Poetry this original souvenir was presented in its modern use, becoming recognizable as a cultural product and as a tourist souvenir, promoting Žminj and its region.
Žminj earring is protected and listed on the Register of Cultural Goods of the Republic of Croatia. The original jewellery pieces are kept in Pula’s Archaeological Museum of Istria.