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Projekat Rastko Arheologija
TIA Janus


Occasional editions 5


(Srpsko pomorje od 7. do 10. stoleća)


Publishers: Serbian archeological Society and Regional Museum of Hereg Novi



Đorđe Janković
Summary of the monograph

Dioclea was first recorded by this name in the middle of the 10th century, in the writings of Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, where the name of the Roman town of Doclea was linked to the name of Emperor Diocletian. It is also known by this name in Serbian sources from the 13th century, and is later generally known by the name Pomorje (Littoral). The name Zeta can also be found from the 11th century onward. Those are names that, in the broadest sense, match the boundaries of ancient Prevala (Prevalis, Prevalitana). In Latin sources there is no separate country in this region – but always Sclavonia, Servia, Rassa and so forth. Priest Dukljanin was a priest of Dioclitanae ecclesiae, the Church so called after the town. In the popular tradition of the people of Podgorica, Dukljan was Satan himself, the devil.

The available archaeological material, coming from settlements (Svač, Ilovica, Gradina Martinića) and cemeteries (Lješ, Sard, Mijele, Svač, Kameno), enables the determining of a reliable chronology of Pomorje. The findings of pottery, which is by manufacture divided into Serbian and Romeic, are the most valuable for dating purposes. Archaeological sites, compared with one another by pottery shards and grave findings, give us six temporal layers.

The first layer was closed by the Avars around the year 600; after that there is no more Byzantine kitchen and table pottery crafted on a swift wheel, and pottery crafted on a slow wheel appears, from the North, Romeic and Serbian. It is found in a layer closed by destruction in the 7th century, which can be explained by the Bulgarian migration. Namely, Bulgarians could have come to the region around the Danube as far back as 640-660, to soon descend to the South to the Pelagonia region from Pannonia, under Kuber (Kuver), and then to migrate to Italy, through Dalmatia, under Alciok (Alzek). The following layer is marked by the founding of cemeteries of the Komani-Kruje culture, around the year 800. Then comes the renewal of churches in coastal towns, which then perished in the Saracen attempts to settle on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, in 866. The layer closed at the time of the Bulgarian conquering of Serbia in 924 is reliably confirmed only on Gradina Martinića, although many other settlements must have also been vacated at the time. Certain meager findings indicate that there was a closing of layers around the end of the 10th century (Svač).

The fact that the Saracens ravaged Pomorje in 866-867 enables some grave findings to be dated to that time. In these graves are objects previously dated to the 7th, even the 6th century. Enclosed units from the Crimean and neighboring Russian regions, as well as layers from regions in the coastal area, show that they should be dated to the 8th—9th century. Among these objects of particular significance are buckles (of the types of Corinth, Bal-Gota, Mytilenes) and fibulae. These cemeteries show different cultures: Slavic-Serbian, Romeic and Komani-Kruje. Furthermore, particular Slavic rituals are also recorded, such as “trizna”, funerary rite (Svač). The placing of vessels into the grave, seen in Lješ (Lezhë) and Svač, can by interpreted as the stressing of the Orthodox Christianity through the observing of ritual, under Iconoclastic rule.

A number of churches, serving until the 8th—10th century, dates from the Early Byzantine era (Bar, Budva, Ilovica, Ston, etc.); the churches in Ancient Doclea were vacated permanently. Several churches should be dated differently than they have been so far, and some have only just been discovered. The Holy Virgin of Krajina, previously dated to around the year 1400, is actually from the Early Byzantine era. The similar triconchal church from Bar could have been in use until the 9th century. A basilica with a transept was discovered in Budva, which received its mosaic floor in the 7th century. At the beginning of the 9th century it was divided off into a church with lateral rooms and upstairs galleries, and at the same time it received new stone furniture – especially prominent is a large ciborium, made of parapet slabs from the 6th century. Of greatest repute was the monastery of Archangel Michael in Prevlaka (Ilovica), renewed many times. Its cathedral, built around the beginning of the 9th century, on the location of older churches from the 3rd and 6th centuries, was a three-nave structure with three apses to the East. Its stone furniture has been preserved in part. It would appear that the basin of the baptistery from the time of Dux Višeslav, today located in Split, also appears to have belonged to this temple. The church of the Holy Trinity that is located in the same monastery today is built on the foundations of a church from the Early Byzantine era, which received new stone furniture in the 9th century. The correct dating for the cruciform church of St. Thomas in Prčanj could be to the early 7th century. Kotor was an important church center; early churches have been found in Šuranj and in the foundations of the sacristy of present-day temple of St. Tryphon, where a cathedral could also be located. The basilicas from Kotor, determined as belonging to the Early Byzantine era, are probably from the 10th—11th century. The dating of the basilica discovered beneath the foundations of the Dubrovnik cathedral and the cruciform structure beside it should similarly be corrected, to the 10th or first quarter of the 11th century. Also erroneously dated to the 6th century is the triconchal church with baptistery from Doljani, which was in fact constructed around the year 900. Especially significant is the church from Gradina Martinića, analogous to the church from Pope near Novi Pazar. It has several phases indicating the change of rituals – in the second phase the walk around the altar table, the Episcopal throne and the baptistery were cancelled, by construction of an altar partition and ciborium. They were later demolished. In present-day Metohia, once also part of the province of Prevalis, there were important churches. The Church of the St. Apostles in the Peć Patriarchate is part of a large temple that was located there, of which the foundations beneath St. Tryphone are very reminiscent. Studenica Hvostanska was a monastery since no later than the 6th century. Its new cathedral single-nave temple with inscribed apse was most probably constructed in the 7th century, and reminds of the church from Vrutci near Sarajevo. Also found in Vrutci was a richly ornamented stone decoration from the beginning of the 9th century, similar to the one from the coastal region. Some corrections also need to be made to the reading of inscriptions. Thus the inscription on the church dedicated to St. Stephen should, instead of (coniuge) Dana read Danel (hursar) cum coniuge mea…

Churches with basilical bases have been used since ancient times (Doljani, Budva). They began being built again in the 10th century (Kotor, Dubrovnik, Prizren). Older single-nave churches have semicircular apses, and since the 7th century as a rule have apses inscribed into a rectangle and trapeze (Muo, Rose, Mljet, Ston, Šćedro, Šuranj, Studenica Hvostanska, Vrutci). Most prominent are single-nave churches with lateral rooms, which can have semicircular or inscribed apses. The oldest among them are the ones with asymmetrically distributed lateral rooms, from the Early Byzantine era (Ston, Mljet, Srima). These are followed by churches with symmetrically distributed rooms and inscribed apses (St. Apostles in Peć, foundations of St. Tryphone in Kotor, probably Doci in Neretva and Lepenica near Sarajevo). The youngest churches of this group, from the 9th century, have three semicircular apses to the east. They are represented by churches in Gradina Martinića in Zeta and Pope near Novi Pazar; perhaps there are more churches that fall into the same group (Beška, Taraboš). Around the year 900 churches were built with a triconchal base, the most significant of which is the church in Doljani, constructed adjacent to an old basilica. The triconchal-based churches from Drivast and Zaton seem to have been open to the west. Churches with similar bases can be found only in the region from Ohrid to the Danube and on Byzantine ground. Cruciform-based churches (Prčanj, Dubrovnik, perhaps St. Tryphone in Kotor) are rare, but they have a lengthy tradition, starting with Panik from the 3rd century.

Several phases can be noted in the dating of stone ornaments of churches. Some pieces could be from the 7th century (Ilovica), and slabs with a depiction of a gryphon from Sustjepan from the 8th century (Ulcinj, Budva, Ilovica, Kotor, Dubrovnik). Correctly dated to around the year 900 are the newly-built altar partition and ciborium in the church at Gradina Martinića, from the time of archont Peter. The stone furniture from the vicinity of Janjina on Pelješac is also dated by the mention of the same archont. Also interesting is the placing of three crosses on inscriptions (Sveti Stefan, Kotor, two from Ston). An interrupted line along the edges, or rows of triangles, could be a characteristic of stonemason workshops from Serbia of the 6th-13th century.

There is archaeological data available for three towns, Sard, Svač and Stari Bar. Fortifying characteristics can be singled out in them – rounded corners of surrounding walls, gates in circular towers and towers with semicircular bases, from the time of defense against the Bulgarians in the 9th century. Perhaps Višegrad near Prizren is from the same period. The towers and some gates of Gradina Martinića near Danilovgrad, are from a younger phase, built onto an old wall around the year 900. Here, within the surrounding wall with two gates, there used to be a rectangular castle with belonging church, raised by archont Mutimir. In Gornji Oblun there are foundations of a similar rectangular structure. Of the three towns that Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus writes of in Dioclea, only Lontodokla (Lontodocla) can be linked with certainty to Doljani near Podgorica. Singled out as a separate whole is the unexplored Skadar with accompanying hamlets, known only for its numismatic findings. The study of the circulation of money from Dubrovnik shows that this largest town in the coastal region (with an area of around 7 hectares) could have perished several times: at the beginning of the 7th century, in the second half of the same century and around 840 (attack of the Saracens at the time of conquering Bari?). Renewed circulations are prominent around the year 900 and 925, and permanently as of Basileos the Second. On the Vladimir hill in the vicinity of Svač there is a fortification with a church, where Oblik from the Chronicle of the Priest of Doclea (Ljetopis popa Dukljanina) could have been.

The available archaeological material clearly shows a total of three ethnae or cultures in the coastal region: Serbs, Latins and people of the Komani-Kruje culture, i.e. Red Croats. The Diocletians and Goths noted in written sources cannot be archaeologically determined

There are very meager testimonies on the Greek, mostly in inscriptions in stone (Ilovica, Gradina) and mosaic (Budva).

In written sources Serbs are, as a rule, mentioned under the general name of Slavs. Apart from that, they are also demarked as allies of the Empire, which can be archaeologically verified as well. The Chronicle of the Priest of Doclea, as well as written sources from Dubrovnik and elsewhere, make note of the Morovlachi. This name could refer to Serbs that Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus writes of on the Caucasus, under the archon „tîn Serbotiîn tîn legomšnoun Maàra paid…a“. Archaeologically, Serbs can be followed by certain characteristics, such as a long application of trizna (Svač, Kameno), or the use of an bread-baking pan until the present day (Svač, Ilovica). Slavic buckles from Lješ and Kroja, also known in the Đerdap and Banat regions, indicate a migration from the Danube to the coastal region around Skadar. Such a course of migrations is also suggested by pottery shards decorated by wavy and upright lines drawn by a comb (Svač, Ilovica), which appear around the beginning of the 7th century, and originate from the regions around Vienna and Bratislava. Of older origin are undecorated pots, dated in Kameni to the second half of the 7th century. They are preceded by some shards from Svač and Ilovica, among which are pieces of small single-handled pots. The rib on the neck is a characteristic of the 7th century, and the added ornaments on pots and ribs on the pans are also frequent in younger ages as well. In the 8th and 9th century the pottery was frequently decorated with slanted strokes with a comb, characteristic for the entire Serbian coastal area, and also present in the North-West from Morava to Elbe (Laba). Similar to pottery decorated with ribs, it can be linked to related products in present-day Bosnia, and through the regions of Morava, Vienna and Elbe.

In written sources the inhabitants of the coastal towns are natione Romanis or Latinus gente. They can be archaeologically separated in the 7th century into two basic components, local (buckles in the form of doves and feline beats) and northern, originating from the region around the Danube (iron buckles with bent bases, pots crafted on a slow wheel). Pottery irregularly decorated by a comb and crafted on a slow wheel (Ilovica, Starčeva Gorica) can be linked to pottery from Herzegovina, Istria and Northern Italy. From the 9th century onward Latins can no longer be recognized by movable archaeological findings. According to written sources and other circumstances, there was a settling of Latins from Italy also, in the 9th-10th century (Antibari, Belo’s legendary settling of Dubrovnik from Rome, Kotor under archbishopric of Bari).

Written sources quite dimly and vaguely indicate the presense of Croats (so called “Red Croats”) and Avars, somewhere between the Neretva and Byzantine Ohrid. There are Avar objects in the area of the Old Croat culture (Smrdelj) and in the region of the Komani-Kruje culture (Vrap) as well, and in the Serbian coastal region in Šipan. Characteristics of the Old Croat culture of the region between Cetina and Istria can also be found in Bulgarian territories (unornamented vessels, jugs, pots with handles, signs on pottery etc.). Certain finds of characteristic biconical pots might indicate belonging to Guduščani. In Lješ, Sard and the vicinity of Vir were discovered the westernmost cemeteries of the Komani-Kruje culture, which spreads to Pelagonia in the East. It has been erroneously dated to the 7th century and ascribed to descendants of Illyrians or to Romanized population. It consists of several components. Byzantine objects from the 8th-9th century come from coastal towns (buckles of the type of Corinth, Bal-Gota) or from the Byzantine population of Pannonia (buckles of the types of Mytilenes, circular buckles). Slavic objects can be discerned by small earrings with salteleons, some earrings with star-shaped pendants, arrow tips in the shape of a swallow’s tail. Characteristics of the Komani-Kruje culture are torques, earrings, buckles, semicircular pendants, circular metal rims, wide-spread use of mosaic tubular pearls. Similar object can be found in the broad areas between the Caucasus, Ural, Swabia and north-west Pannonia.

Its dating to the 9th century is most clearly shown by the well described grave units from Koman, published by P. Traeger. The description of the settling of bearers of the Komani-Kruje culture can be found in the Chronicle of the Priest of Doclea in the story of the settlement of alleged Bulgarians. In it Slavic words can be recognized (Velija; bare, Bar; Seno-buja, Sin-bagija), Bulgarian words (Volga, Vulgari, kagan), with a certain Sarmatian presence (Kris). The peoples of this culture could have come to north-west Pannonia towards the end of the 8th century, from the border regions between the Slavs and the Khazar Khaganate. The Komani-Kruje culture arose upon the fall of the Avar Khaganate in 791-814, and disappeared with the Bulgarian conquering of the region until Skadar, first in 897. As a Christian culture, it can be linked with data on Christianity in the regions of the Russian steppes in the 7th-9th century, and on bishoprics around Drač (Durrachio, Durrës), among which were Hunavija (Hunavia) and Kron. The cemeteries of the Komani-Kruje culture are located next to fortifications, and there is data on 30 fortresses that the Bulgarians returned to Byzantine in 896-904.

Serbia must have been established as a state from the 7th century. Dux Višeslav whom the priest Iohannes makes note of on the inscription of the baptistery basin from the beginning of the 9th century is a descendant of the ruler that brought Serbs to Dalmatia at the time of Emperor Heraclius. He must have been ruler confirmed in his own Church, or else Priest Iohannes would not have made note of him, but of the Byzantine Emperor. Rulers had their own castles with churches (Gradina Martinića). The plan of the rooms around the yard in Gradina shows its complex content: the quarters of the ruler, warehouse for collected taxes, stables, quarters of the dignitaries and members of the court. A significant characteristic of a state is its army. Cavalry is known to have been present since the 7th century, but is confirmed by archaeological findings only since the time of the Bulgarian conquering of Serbia. Danael from the inscription in the church of St. Stephen seems to have been a hursar, which could mean that he was some kind of fleet commander. The official script at the court seems to have been Greek (the seal of Strojimir), Latin script was used in the churches (numerous inscriptions), and since St. Constantine Cyrill the state used Glagollitic script (Čečan). The economy and taxes were based on clear rules, although money was not in use. Apart from agriculture, including the making of wine, a significant role was certainly played by salt plants, mining with metallurgy, the processing of fur and so forth, as well as trade in these goods.

Two facts are important for the studying of the early history of the Serbian national church. First, that the use of the same churches can be seen through from the 6th century to the 9th and 10th century, including monasteries in which there is Slavic-Serbian pottery as early as from the 6th century. Second, these churches differ both by duration and by appearance from the churches of the surrounding areas. Both of these facts indicate the early Christianity of Serbs, according to Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus since the time of Emperor Heraclius. Other written sources also indicate the existence of Serbian bishoprics in the 7th-8th century (Servija, Gordoserba, Pope Agathon, etc.). The spontaneous inclusion of Serbs and Slavs in the Byzantine service or inhabited in Byzantine settlements into the local church organization must have taken place, since the final decades of the 6th century. At the time of Emperor Heraclius the Church adapted to Serbs, the people that Dalmatia was left to, was only just established. The natural seat of the presumed arch-bishopric was in the Church of the St. Apostles in Peć, unusually large and with plan characteristic for western regions. It could have united the jurisdiction over Dalmatia and Justiniana Prima. Serbian rulers took the throne there, as did Višeslav. At the time of this ruler, the first noted by name, many renewals of churches took place, both Serbian (monastery of Ilovica, Vrutci near Sarajevо) and in the Latin towns of Byzantium (Ulcinj, Budva, Kotor).

Because of the expansion of the Bulgarians, the seat of the archbishopric had to be moved during the 9th century, most probably to Doljani, to the old basilica. That was a time of great changes in the Church, caused by the work of the Slavic apostles. The fight of Rome for the establishing of rule over the Serbian national church began, which can be seen in the striving for domination the churches of Dacia and Dalmatia (this one through Pannonia) by Rome, recorded in the letters of Pope John VIII. This caused resistance both in Serbia and in Bulgaria, where a Slavic service was elected. However, when Peter came to the throne in Serbia, he introduced a new practice of liturgies, as shown by the partitions in the castle church in Gradina Martinića. This Latinization, assisted by the interests of Emperor Leo VI, caused resistance. When Peter’s rule ended, the partitions were torn down. At the same time, churches with triconchal bases were raised, similar to those in the vicinity of Ohrid (Doljani, Drivast, Zaton…).

In the western third of the Bulgarian empire an archbishopric was established that succeeded the Justiniana Prima. Its first archbishop was Agathon, who was succeeded, as suggested by all circumstances, by St. Clement. This archbishopric can be archaeologically recognized by churches with triconchal and tetraconchal bases. They are not known in Bulgaria or the neighboring Croatia, but can be found in Zeta. When the Bulgarians conquered Serbia in 924, they most probably raised a church in ancient Doclea, in order to found a new spiritual center. The Serbian archbishop at the time fled to Dubrovnik. Immediately upon the conquering of Serbia, in 925, a church council took place in Split, in which the Duke of Zahumlje Mihailo, Bulgarian ally, took part as well. At this council the practice of Slavonic liturgies was discontinued. After that, according to the Chronicle, Belo Pavlimir takes over the rule over Dubrovnik and all of Serbia, and he founds a bishopric in Ras, with the Church of St. Peter. This shows that the seat of the archbishopric was still in Dubrovnik. At the time of Jovan Vladimir, who succeeded Belo, educated in Ohrid, the church services were certainly Slavic, since the official script was Glagolitic (Čečan).

It can be concluded that Serbs began the taking over of Dalmatia towards the end of the 4th century, and completed it at the beginning of the 7th. This handing over was easy for Byzantine, since Serbs accepted Christianity. The linking of the settling of Serbs with Emperor Heraclius probably should be connected with migrations into the vicinity of Thessalonica (Serblia) and Asia Minor (Gordoserba). The reason for such a connection can be the establishing of an archbishopric at the time of Emperor Heraclius and within it the confirmation of the succeeding rulers. Such a state was self-sufficient until circumstances changed dramatically with the coming of Charlemagne. At the beginning of the 9th century, in war with Frankish Empire, Serbia lost some regions to the north-west; between Pelagonia and Skadar peoples of the Komani-Kruje culture settled, and then the Bulgarians occupied the eastern parts of the Serbian territories as well. A stronger connection with Byzantine and a change in the organization of the state ensued. This enabled long-term resistance to the expansion of the Bulgarians. The seat of the Church, moved to Doljani, was now more exposed to external influence. Bulgaria finally did manage to conquer Serbia in 924. When Časlav renewed Serbia, the coastal regions were not included. Upon the fall of Serbia, the parish of Dioclea was formed for the first time, by Bulgaria, to be taken over by Byzantine. At the time of Belo Pavlimir and Jovan Vladimir the country was once again united for the most part, together with Dioclea.

Full e-edition of the monograph (Serbian, cyrillic): „Projekat Rastko“:
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