Meet the Romans in Serbia
My still un dug seat on the top of cop was equivalent to the Y51 seat at the Royal Opera House: very high up with restricted view. Looking down at the cop and behind half naked archaeologist unmoved by burning sun I could see Russell Crowe fighting feriocly for his freedom. Behind me was a green flat field with occasional glimpse of the Danube River whose bed moved through the centuries leaving behind rich archaeological site well preserved.
“We are standing at the top of the Amphitheatre with capacity of 12000 seats” – the voice of enthusiastic guide wake me up.
We are at Viminacium, one of many Roman town and fortress in Serbia, not far from the capital city Belgrade. The Viminacium itself was the capital city of the Upper Moesia as well as the administrative, military and commercial centre until 582 when was destroyed by Avars. The city was on transition point between the West and East Roman Empire at very interesting time when Rome capital was transferred to the East, the Constantinople, today Istanbul.
The archaeological site of Viminacum cover huge area and some still undiscovered due to presence of power plant which produces 20% of Serbia energy hence not possible to relocate and land owned by locals which government is trying to buy of them in order to expand excavations but also stop locals from stilling aftercarfts generously uncovered after rain.
Except typical Public Bath, with all the water navigations we saw fresco decorated tombs, on some of them colour still well preserved and with good mixture of the pagans and Christian symbols. The most remarkable tomb marked G5517 in which is clearly visible the Christogram in double floral garland. Relying on legends and historical sources this type of Cross is defined as Constantine Cross in memory of the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity and introduce the Christianity as the official religion. The pagan tomb marked as G2624 is full of combination of the floral and animal pictures. The paintings in tombs proved that that pagans and Christians were sometimes buried at the same cemetery.
Serbia has the largest number of Roman emperors born outside of Italy – 17 among them Constantine I and Justinian I. The itinerarium Romanum Serbiae is a project to integrate a visit of all major Roman excavation on teritory of Serbia such as Sirmium (Today known as Sremska Mitrovica), Singindunum (Today know as Belgrade), Viminacium ( known as Stari Kostolac), combined with visit to the forts of Naissus today known as Nis, Pontes known as Kostol and Diana known as Karats. The itinerary would include visits to the imperial residences Felix Romuliana (today known as Gamzigrad) and UNESCO site, Šarkamen, Mediana and Iustiniana Prima.
In 2013 the celebration of the 1700 of the Edict of Milan by Emperor Constantine to legalise Christianity in the Roman Empire will take place in the birth town of Constantine, the Naissus, today Nis. The vast number of people expects to see the historic moment when the Pope and the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church meet for the first time.
Text by Ms M Gardiner
Travel to Serbia
what to see in Serbia