Illyrian temples found at ancient Doclea in Montenegro

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The Center for Archaeology of Montenegro began a series of rescue excavations in the ancient city of Doclea near Podgorica, one of the most important historical monuments in Montenegro, after an ancient villa was destroyed during the construction of a railway line.

Illyrian temples found at ancient Doclea in Montenegro
Credit: Balkan Heritage Field School

During the course of the excavations the foundations of several temples were found, evidently belonging to the Illyrian Docleati tribe on which territory the city was built.




According to the archaeologists, coins found at the site date it to the reign of the Illyrian King Ballaios and Queen Teuta of the Ardiaei tribe who ruled in the mid-second century BC.

Illyrian temples found at ancient Doclea in Montenegro
Credit: Balkan Heritage Field School

“This area has an obvious antiquity where various ancient cultures are intertwined,” said Milos Zivanovich, an archaeologist from the Center for Archaeology, who is heading the rescue excavation.

“The purpose of these excavations is to fully reveal the layout of the city and to understand how it evolved through time,” Zivanovich added.

Illyrian temples found at ancient Doclea in Montenegro
Credit: Balkan Heritage Field School

In Roman times the city of Doclea was strategically situated near the crossings of several main roads on a plateau bordered on three sides by the Zeta, Moraca and Siralija Rivers.




The foundation of the city is related to the Roman effort to urbanize the newly established province of Dalmatia in the beginning of the first century AD. It quickly became an important trading center and was given the status of municipium during the Flavian Age along with other Dalmatian cities.

Illyrian temples found at ancient Doclea in Montenegro
Credit: Balkan Heritage Field School

The Romans enforced the city’s protection through mighty 2.5 m – thick walls, towers, battlements and fortified bridges across the rivers. The city itself is built according to the classical urban grid plan, with a typically square-shaped forum with a colonnaded porticoes that run the length of the space at its heart.

The East-West Via Principalis features the most important city buildings which are still preserved today: the triumphal arch dedicated to Emperor Gallienus, the temple & the statue of Roma, the temple of Diana, a palace, as well as the spacious and richly decorated city baths.

Illyrian temples found at ancient Doclea in Montenegro
Credit: Balkan Heritage Field School

The city flourished as a capital city of the Late Roman province of Praevalitana (3rd – 5th centuries AD). The Early Christians churches and the large episcopal basilica dated to this period are located in the eastern urban and suburban areas both intra and extra murum.




The bishop of Doclea, Evandros is mentioned among the participants of the 4th Ecumenical Council held in Halkidon 451.

Illyrian temples found at ancient Doclea in Montenegro
Credit: Balkan Heritage Field School

The city’s urban life declined after the Ostrogoths sacked Doclea in AD 490. It was devastated further during the earthquake of AD 518.

Doclea never recovered its glory and during the following turbulent period of Avar and Slavic invasions, the city was finally abandoned.

Source: Tirana Times & The Balkan Heritage Field School [December 08, 2018]

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