Ancient Roman city Dioclea (Duklja)

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On the territory of Montenegro there is a huge number of historical monuments, which many conquerors left at different times. Impressions of past cultures are observed in the architecture of many ancient cities and temples of Montenegro, monuments and sculptures, in the visual arts and painting, folklore and everyday life of the local population. Currently in Montenegro there is a huge amount of archaeological excavations and large architectural complexes (about 50), the oldest defensive fortresses, as well as many sacred objects and memorial monuments of the liberation wars. We will tell you about one such valuable historical object in Montenegro in this article.
 

Ancient Roman city of Dioсlea.​
 

The Zeta Plain, which now houses the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica was inhabited in ancient times. Just 3 kilometers northwest of the modern capital, at the confluence of the Zeta and Moraca rivers was the ancient city of Dioсlea, in which, according to legend, the Roman emperor Diocletian was born. This city was founded by the Romans as far back as the 1st century AD, and it was it which later gave the name to the state on this territory - Duklja. The name was chosen only because in the local dialect "Dioсlea" is sounded like Duklja. The city of Dioсlea in ancient times was a major shopping center, with developed for that time infrastructure. In those days, the Roman governors loved to live in comfort and erected beautiful temples, thermae (Roman public baths), the triumphal arch and the palace building. In the XX century, during the archaeological excavations, even necropolises were discovered here, where objects of everyday use were found: ceramic and glass vessels, jewelry, tools, weapons, coins.

This historical region of Montenegro at different times was known under the names Diocletia, Dioc, Duklja, Zeta (Diocletia, Diocleia, Duklja, Zeta). From IX to XI century, the state was called Duklja: by the name of the Illyrian tribe of docklates. According to another version, the name of the state came from the ancient Roman city of Dioklea (Dukli) in the area of modern Podgorica. The population of the state was called the Duklians. In the 11th century, in the Byzantine chronicles, the country is more often called Zeta (from the name of the Zeta River - the tributary of the Moraca). In literature, the state is also called the Duklian state, the Duklja kingdom, the Zeta state, the kingdom of Zeta, the Duklja principality.

Today, only the remains of numerous buildings, structures are preserved, and archaeological excavations at the site of the ancient settlement are one of the main scientific values and tourist attractions of Montenegro.

History of the city of Dioclea.

The city of Dioclea (Doclea) was founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD on the site of the settlement of Illyrian tribes Dokleati. Initially, Dioclea was a semi-autonomous region of the Grand Duchy of Raska, which in turn was part of the Eastern Roman Empire, and then Byzantine suzerainty.

The years passed and by the second century the urban settlement had turned into a large settlement with a clear Roman layout from perpendicular streets, in which there was all the communal infrastructure (water supply, sewerage) and lived almost 40,000 people. Even in modern Montenegro, few cities can boast such a population. The city was surrounded by a fortress with defensive towers, there was a square that was located at the intersection of the two main streets. On the square there was a monumental basilica on the west side, on the north side there was a court building. In 297, Duklja became the capital of the newly created Roman province of Prevalis, which had trade links with Italy, Dalmatia, Macedonia and Greece.

In the IV century, the city was destroyed several times by barbarian tribes, at the end of the 5th century it was devastated and destroyed by western Goths, and in 518 suffered a major earthquake. As a result, the city came to a complete decline and, unlike neighboring Meduna, did not turn into a medieval settlement. The Slavs who came here in 620 finally destroyed the city, but took its name for the name of its first state Duklia, from the XI century, during the reign of Byzantium, known as Zeta.

After the IX century the reign of the Roman Empire was overthrown, the city began to build Christian churches, and around the city was erected a fortress wall and defensive structures. Most of the history of Christianity of Duklja introduced the ruler John Vladimir, who is revered by the Serbian, Orthodox Church to this day, and was given the rank of saints.

In the 12th century, cultural development declined, and finally Duklja fell in 1189, when Prince Mikhailo Vojeslavljevic, and the eldest son of Stefan Neman, named Vukan, got the throne. It is believed that it is from these times that the city of Dioclea is in ruins.

Since the end of the XIX century, many historians and scientists of the world began to take an active interest in the city of Dioclea. One of the first who shew scientific interest in the city was the Russian scientist P.A. Rovinsky. After it, the city was studied by English archaeologists, however, systematic study of the ancient settlement began only in 1954 and continued until 1998. The famous English archaeologist Arthur John Evans devoted 7 years to the study of this ancient settlement, and the result of his works today is the main study in archeology of Montenegro.

Today, on the site of the old city, there are preserved walls, various rectangular structures, the ruins of the bridge over Moraca, the ruins of palaces, villas and baths, numerous sarcophagus (more than 300 pieces) with richly decorated bas-reliefs. Sculptures and fragments of artifacts and ornaments of handicraft production testify the former wealth of this ancient Roman city. Also, historians established that in the middle there was a city square, on it in the west - a basilica, and in the north was located the courthouse. In 1874 the famous Podgorica Cup was found here. Religious buildings of those times - triumphal arches and three churches, one of which is dedicated to the goddess Roma, and the other to the goddess Diana were found in Duklja. In addition, scientists discovered necropolises with ancient objects of use: tools of labor, ceramic and glass vessels, weapons, jewelry, coins and ornaments.

Although even from the ancient city of Dioclea only piles of stones and half-ruined walls left, but when you come into contact with them you still experience mixed feelings of excitement and admiration.
 


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