Saturday, February 18, 2012

Famous Archaeological Site of Viminacium

The tale of the one-time splendor and decline of the Roman city and military camp of Viminacium is attracting for a long time the attention both the national and the international public. Viminacium is beginning to take its rightful place on the world’s cultural-historical stage. The area occupied by this ancient Roman city and military encampment (covering an area of over 450 hectares of the wider city region and 220 hectares of the urban area) presently lies under cultivated arable land, with artifacts and fragments of objects from the Roman era strewn throughout its furrows.
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The necropolae (burial grounds) of Viminacium, explored over the last three decades of the 20th century, have yielded over 14000 discovered graves thus far. The exploration of the Roman city and military encampment is headed by an interdisciplinary team consisting of renowned experts from various fields. Besides archeologists, the Viminacium project has gathered geophysicists, mathematicians, electrical engineers, geologists, petrologists, researchers engaged in remote detection, 3D modeling and form recognition, as well as in artificial intelligence. Their vision is for the fora and temples, the theaters and the hippodrome, the baths, the streets and the city quarters to rise from the fields under which they had been lying for centuries, in order to become a part of our own and the world’s cultural heritage, as well as a recognizable symbol of the Danubian region. Kostolac and Drmno, at 13 kilometers from Pozarevac, are lying on the remnants of the ancient city of Viminacium, the capital of the Roman province of Moesia Superior, known as the Moesia Prima province in later antiquity.

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Historical sources say that Viminacium was a significant military stronghold, where the Roman legion Legio VII Claudia Pia Fidelis was stationed. Through archaeological excavations, which intensified during the last quarter of the 20th century, the city has slowly risen from previously scarce historical accounts to reveal itself as a place of dynamic development during its six centuries-long history, a meeting place of Eastern and Western cultures, with flowering craftsmanship and art, a place where merchants from the entire Roman Empire came to exchange their goods.
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It seems that it was the well-developed economy of this city, whose products found its buyers even outside the bounds of the home province, which gave rise to the great variety of crafts and artistic workshops that appeared in this area. And it was precisely in these workshops that some of the most significant fresco-decorated tombs of late antiquity were produced, in the course of the 4th century. An important military center and Roman provincial capital, Viminacium was built on territory belonging to the Celtic tribe Scordisci. It owed its size and significance to the rich hinterland in the Mlava River Valley, as well as to its exceptionally favorable geographical position, both within the defense system of the Empire’s northern borders and as a crossroad for road, river and trade networks.
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Archeological investigations of Viminacium have gone on for more than a century. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, M. Valtrovic and M. Vasic conducted excavations on the right banks of the Mlava River, at the Cair site, revealing the encampment’s rectangular base, 442×385 meters, as well as large civilian settlement not far from its western rampart. In contours could already be discerned in the 19th century: broad avenues intersecting at right angles, roman forum, theaters, baths, aqueducts and ramparts. The settlement gained the status of a municipio (city) in the first half of the second century, most probably in A.D.117, during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, receiving the name of Viminacium Aelium Hadrianum. Viminacium’s subsequent rise was interrupted , if only briefly, by a plague epidemic during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. However, already in the first years of the 3rd century, the city was once again in full expansion.
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A number of Roman emperors either passed through Viminacium or stayed for extended periods. Hadrian organized hunting games on two different occasions. Emperor Septimus Severus also visited the city twice. Emperor Gordian III, Philip the Arab, Trebonianus Gallus, Hostillianus, Diocletian, Constantine the Great, Constantinus I and Julian also paid visits. As far as it is known, Gratian was the last emperor to visit Viminacium. In the 3rd century, during the reign of Gordian III, Viminacium became a colony and obtained the right to mint coins. Historical sources state that a decisive battle for supremacy over these parts took place near Viminacium between two Roman emperors, Diocletian and Carinus, in A.D. 284. Serving as testimony to that time is the marble portrait of Carin’s son Carinus, now held at Pozarevac Museum. In the 4th century, Viminacium was a significant Christian episcopal see. The city was definitely razed in the middle of the 5th century during the Hun invasion and never subsequently rebuilt, except as a military fort, during Justinian’s reign in the 6th century.
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Special attraction within archeological park Viminacium represents paleonthological site where is discovered whole mammoth skeleton. It has been discovered 350m east from the Mausoleum, and arises from the geological period Pleistocene (one million years). Space on which was mammoth excavated has been located in the basin of old delta of Morava river which was formed when the Pannonian sea retreated. It is assessed that the female mammoth was 60 years old, 4.5 meters high, over 5 meters long, and at the lifetime weighted almost 10 tones. She belonged to the rare species. Until now in the world has been found around twenty mammoths mostly during 19th century, but none of them was discovered in full anatomic position. Because of that this specimen has a special importance to the visitors who have an exceptional chance to experience in unique conditions at the depth of over 30m, in unusual ambient just as in the period of Pleistocene, the Earth one million years old by the very site of Roman Viminacium.
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Following the fact that in antiquity, 2000 years ago, Viminacium was close to the Danube it is planned to dig the canal 1200 meters long, 40 meters wide and 8 meters deep which should connect Viminacium with present day banks of Danube. In that way it would be enabled to all river cruisers to dock by the archeological site itself.

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