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More about Narona history...

Archaeological site "Narona"

The remnants of the city of antiquity Narona have been found in the area surrounding the village of Vid, 3 kilometres from Metkovic. Narona was a Roman colony and emporium and its massive wealth based on trade. These are the most precious remains of historical heritage in this area. Archaeological digs from 1995 and 1996 provided epochal results, with the discovery of Augusteum, the temple consecrated to the divinized Augustus (16 monumental figures), making this site one of the most significant archaeological sites outside of Rome.
Over the past decade, a permanent archaeological collection has been set
up, archaeological research on the early Christian basilica at the site
of the Chapel of St. Vid has been conducted, archaeological research and
conservation of the early Christian basilica and the ruins of Roman
villa rustica (country homes) at Bare conducted, research on the city
walls of Gornji grad (the upper town) completed, and research on the
city walls of Donji grad (the lower town) started, including research on
the settlement which preceded the Roman Narona, with ruins found under
the level of the forum.
In the area of the large forum, the most impressive structure is
Augusteum. This small temple, with its vestibule, lying upon a raised
plateau alongside the forum, was erected in honour of the Emperor
Augustus about 10 years before Christ. At that time, the first statues
were added in its interior, with the largest, a statue of Augustus in
his imperial robes, measuring nearly 3 metres in height.

Following his death, the Emperor's Regent Publius Cornelius Dolabella had the temple renovated (the portrait of Livia of Narona, as well as the bust of Mercury, now on display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford). Later, during the period of Emperor Claudius, new statues were added. During the rule of Vespasian in 74 A.D., significant works were conducted at Narona, and on this occasion an inscription and sculpture were added. Only the head remains of this sculpture, and it was discovered in the direct vicinity of Augusteum some 20 years ago. These final statues were added to the temple in the period of the rule of Sever, in the middle of the 2nd century. According to research to date, it can be concluded that Augusteum was destroyed at the transition between the 4th and 5th centuries. A museum pavilion that will display all the artefacts and statues is expected to be opened soon.

Five points have been defined which currently provide insight into Narona. Those are:
1. The Chapel of St. Vid. In front of the chapel, an early Christian
christening font considered to be used during the time of Prince Domagoj,
2. the early Christian church outside the city walls called Bare after
the settlement of the same name upon which it stood,
3. the complex of the early Christian basilica on the northeastern city
of the town, which for the time being has only been researched by probing,
4. the blueprints of the city walls surrounding Gornji grad and
descending down to Donji grad, and
5. the Forum, today the town square, next to Augusteum. The Narona
Museum is constructed here.



1. First monument
Narona was first mentioned by the Greek historian Pseudo-Skilak in the
4th century before Christ, who wrote that the Neretva River was
navigable to the emporium (docks), which was evidently at Narona.
Theophrastus, about whom the geographer Strabon wrote, stated that Greek
traders solder their ceramic wares at Narona.
2. Origin of the name
The linguist A. Mayer stated that the name Narona originated from the
word Náron, from the root ner-/*nar-, meaning, to dive, which is also
the root of the Croatian word noriti (roniti - to dive).
3. Illyrian Narona
It is difficult to say which tribes in prehistory inhabited the Neretva
River Valley. In the beginning, this area was likely inhabited by the
Daors, which were later forced out by the Ardians, and they were forced
out by the Delmati. Illyrian structures, or settlements outside the
city, were located at the top of the hill above Vid. Strong
fortress-structures about Vid were also found on the hills of Marusica
gradina (375m) and Velika Mitrusa (460m).
4. Greek Narona
The Greeks did not leave much of a trace at Narona. There are two round
towers as part of the city walls are from the 4th century before Christ.
There are no inscriptions in the Greek language, though three tombstones
in the Hellenist style were found.
5. The arrival of the Romans in the Neretva Valley
The Romans strengthened their hold on Narona following the
Roman-Illyrian wars. There was a Roman military base (castra) at or near
Narona, like a legion base for the wards against the Delmati. The city
walls were expanded.
6. Organization and structure of government
In the beginning of the Roman rule, Narona was a conventus civium
Romanorum (community of Roman citizens) and a municipium (municipality
with partial Roman civil rights). Narona became a Roman colony (Colonia
Julia Narona), with full Roman civil rights, perhaps under the rule of
Caesar in the 1st century before Christ. The city was run by the
quattuorviri (Council of Four), and the duoviri (Council of Two),
selected from the ranks of the city council (ordo decurionum). In the
centre of town, a square (forum) was built, with public buildings - the
temple, manors and others, while the amphitheatre was likely built
outside the city.

7. Naronian Convent
In Dalmatia, Narona was a CONVENTUS NARONITANUS - Naronian convent: the
judicial and administrative centre of the region. The convent stretched
through the area of many Illyrian tribes and stretched from the Adriatic
coast, west to Cetina and into the interior of Bosnia east of Vrbas, the
mouth of the Bosna River, and passed over the Drina River to the east,
including Montenegro and a large part of coastal Albania.
8. Naronian ager
The Naronian ager (land owned by the city of Narona) bordered on the
coast with the ager of Salona near Makarska, and in the interior with
the ager of Novae (Runovici near Imotski), including today's Ljubuski
and Capljina, where it bordered with the ager of Diluntum (Stolac) and
to the south, it included Ston and Peljesac to the border with the ager
of Epidaurum. The Narona colony frequently granted land in its ager to
the veterans who retired from military service.
9. Topography and architecture of Narona in the 1st - 3rd centuries
Narona likely spread over an area of 25 hectares, which implies that it
encompassed a majority of today's wetland areas. The city had roads
built towards Salona and Epidaurum. The buildings of the city were built
of stone and brick, while roof tiles were imported from Italy (Pansiana,
Ambrosiana and others).
10. Epigraphical monuments
Over three hundred Roman monuments have been found in Narona:
ceremonial, public, private monuments and tombstones. They mention many
of the city administrators, military officials and the Governor of the
Dalmatian province Publius Cornelius Dolabella. In addition to those in
the Archaeological collection at Vid, forty are built into the Eres Kula
(tower) at Vid, while the remainder at on display at the Archaeological
Museum in Split and elsewhere.
11. Coin Findings
Many examples of the money of the time have been found at Narona, from
drachmas of Dira and Apolonia, Roman republic money, to gold coins,
silver coins and copper coins bearing the images of virtually every
emperor. Also significant and valuable was the find of gold jewellery,
called the Urbica gold, as one of the rings in the collection has the
name Urbica on it, from the period of the 5th-6th century.
12. Pagan cults
Many pagan cults spread throughout and were worshipped in Narona:
Jupiter, Aesculapius, Mercury, Mars, Fortuna, Diana, Cerera, Neptune,
Demeter, Libera, as well as oriental divinities, such as the goddess
Isis, whose alabaster bust is on display as part of the archaeological
collection at Vid.
13. Ecclesia Naronitana (the Narona Diocese)
In the 5th and 6th centuries, Narona became the seat of the diocese, as
its Bishop Marcel is mentioned in the 6th century (Marcellus, episcopus
ecclesiae Naronitanae). Narona had at least three churches from the
early Christian period. The largest, perhaps episcopal, was the basilica
situated at the location where the Church of St. Vid is today. The other
churches were the basilica at the locality of Eres Bare and the basilica
at the aqueduct, on the route of the waterworks towards Korcula, under
the road Vid-Ljubuski.
14. Late antiquity and the fall of Narona
Historians believe that Narona fell in the early 7th century, when the
great migration of the peoples began. However, a certain continuity of
life continued through the 8th and 9th centuries, likely on the
periphery of Narona.
15. Research by Carl Patsch
The first person to systematically study Narona was Austrian
archaeologist Carl Patsch at the end of the 19th and beginning of the
20th century. He confirmed the existence of the forum, city walls and
the road to Narona and discovered many epigraphical monuments, coins,
landmarks, amphorae and more. He wrote about his findings in the book
16. Research by Ivan Marovic and Nenad Cambi
After World War II, Narona was systematically studied by experts I.
Marovic, F. Buskariol and N. Cambi from the Archaeological Museum in
Split. In the centre of Vid, they uncovered the mosaic near the forum,
they studied the defence walls and the partially uncovered basilica from
the waterworks route towards Korcula. In 1978, N. Cambi discovered the
sculpture of the head of the Emperor Vespasian, which dates back to
about 75 A.D. The head was made of white limestone, and treated with a
rotating drill.
17. Research by Emilio Marina
The team of the Archaeological Museum in Split achieved significant
results from 1991-1997 in the study of Narona under the leadership of
museum director Emilio Marina. The foundations of the basilica under the
Church of St. Vid were studied, and a well preserved christening font
was discovered. The font was decorated with scenes of heavenly rivers,
however, due to the swampy soil, it had to be buried again. At the site
of the forum, at the location of Plecaseve Stale, 16 temple statues of
the Emperor Augustus and his family, Roman officials and deities were
excavated. They were all found decapitated, and therefore it was assumed
that the temple was erected here in the 1st century (Augusteum), but was
later destroyed and the decapitated sculptures cast from their pedestals
in the 4th century, when Christianity was made the official religion in
the Empire. Two heads, belonging to the god Mercury and the Empress
Livia, are on display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Next to the
statues, an inscription was found of the Emperor's Governor Publius
Cornelius Dolabella, who likely erected the sculpture of Augustus 14
years after the Emperor's death. Augusteum is to be reconstructed in
situ on the forum of antiquity at the main square of Vid, and a Museum
pavilion will be constructed there.
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