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The Ancient city of Narona

The remains of the ancient city of Narona is situated at the place that we now call the village of  Vid near Metkovic.  Narona is located on a southeast, sunny hillside to the base of the hill.


Ancient forum (future Museum), sculpture left-Vespasian, right-Livia

On Narona’s site in pre-historical time, there probably were no meaningful or important settlements(1).  Enclosed with this statement is that there are no pre-historic materials, buildings or settlements found.  Namely, most of the settlements were found on the platform of the higher ground.  Narona is just like the Greek settlements spread on the sunny side of the hill(2).  

According to historical documents, Narona was first mentioned as an emporium and triremes navigation port on Neretva by the Greek historian Pseudo Scylax (3). The Greek geographer Strabo also provided information that Narona was mentioned as a trade city by Theopompus, who is also one of the Greek historians.(4). 

Launching a trade center upstream as a place where large boats were able to navigate was necessary due to the extreme importance of receiving and distributing goods.  Most likely, traders from the far away islands of Chios and Thassos did not use Narona as a trading place like Theopompus said they did.  However, it is proven that the Greek colonies on the Adriatic Sea did(5). From the 4th back to the 2nd centuries B.C., there is no epigraph monument, so we are not sure that there were any living Greek ethnic groups in this area(6).  In the 2nd century B.C., Narona had developed very urbanize physiognomy(7). This we know since the beam with imagery dancers and newly founded architecture were found beneath the Roman forum(8).

During the 2nd century B.C., Romans became very interested in Narona.  In 156 B.C., Roman soldiers lead by Gaius Marcia Figulus went to war against the Daors nation.  Probably Narona was used as their main base.  Most likely in 135 B.C. even Sever Fulvous Floccus in the war against Ardies used Narona for the same purpose(9). Roman soldier were using Narona during the middle of the 1st century B.C. as well.  This we know through the letters sent by Vatinius to Cicero(10).  According to Varron, during that same time, Narona was the center of a large court convent(11).  At that time, numbers of Italic’s were living in Narona(12).  After Octavian’s war movement in 33B.C. there is a significant influx of the population in Narona(13).  Therefore, Narona became a colony, during the Caesar or Augustus Empire. (14)  During the Roman Empire, buildings of public importance were built in the city like the forum, temples, thermal, theater etc.(15)

The written documentations are not stating a lot about the beginnings of Christianity in Narona.  The first and only written document in regards to this matter, stats that Narona’s Bishop Marcellus attended two council meetings in 530 and 533.(16) From the same documentation, we know that Narona was the Diocese’s main center.  The Church as a foundation, mostly kept the old administrative division:  on the Northwest it was Salona with borders close to the city of Makarska (Muccur); on the Southeast it was Epidaurum, with the border slightly farther down from the peninsula of Peljesac including the Northwest part of the island of Mljet,(17) island of Lastovo, Ston’s Valley, and on the North the border was all the way up to city of Mostar.(18) At the Bishops Council meeting in 533, two more Diocese were founded; Muccur (Makarska) and Sarsenterum.(19)

It is a fact that Narona as a city existed up to the 7th century.  We know this due to the large finding of money and jewelry from that time.(20) The new archeological excavation and findings show us that life in Narona continued even during the 7th century.(21)

Author: Jakov Vucic

Translator: Sanja Novkovic


Ardies – one of the Illyrian tribes

Chios – Greek island located in Aegean Sea

Cicero – Roman writer and philosopher

Daors – one of the Illyrian tribes that lived in Neretva Valley.  Their main

            location was in Osanici near Stolac, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Emporium – Roman commercial center/base

Scylax, Pseudo – Greek historian and write from the 4th century B.C.

Strabo - Greek historian and geographer from the 1st century

Thassos – Greek island located in Aegean Sea

Theopompus - Greek historian from the 4th century B.C.

Trireme – large boat with three paddle rows 

Varron – Ancient writer from the 1st century B.C.

Vatinius – Roman (Caesar’s) general.  During the wars against Delmati tribe, Vatinius

            used Narona as a military camp.

(1) N. CAMBI 1980, 133.; B. GABRICEVIC 1980, 162.

(2) N. CAMBI 1989a, 39, 40, 50 & 51.

(3) N. CAMBI 1980a, p. 279.

(4) N. CAMBI 1980a, p. 286.

(5) N. CAMBI 1989a, p. 44.

(6) B. GABRICEVIC 1980, p. 164.

(7) N. CAMBI 1989a, p. 55.

(8E. MARIN et alii 1999, In the introduction (VII), the author stated that during the archeological excavation which was lead by AM Split in 1997 and 1998, that beneath the remains of the Roman forum, there were found the remains of the buildings dating back to the middle of the 2nd century B.C.

(9) M. ZANINOVIC 1980, p. 176.

(10) M. ZANINOVIC 1980, p. 176.

(11) N. CAMBI 1980a, p. 284.

(12) N. CAMBI 1980, p. 128.

(13) M. ZANINOVIC 1980, p. 177.

(14) N. CAMBI 1985, p. 34.

(15) N. CAMBI 1980, p. 133.

(16) N. CAMBI 1985, p. 35

(17) N. CAMBI 1985, p. 55.

(18) N. CAMBI 1985, 35, 44, 47 & 50.

(19The exact site of the Sarsenterum is unknown.  It is believe that it is in Arzano, near Imotski (F. SISIC 1925. p. 171), west of Mostar (D. BASLER 1972, p.142), in Cim (T. ANDELI”1980, p. 262) and in Zitomislici (D. BASLER 1990, p. 101-103 (see map))

(20) F. BULIC 1902; I. MAROVIC 1988,

(21) E. MARIN and colleague 2002, p. 40 – 42.

PHOTO Museum Construction: 

Construction 2004              Museum's Foundation Stone

Links - Narona's Sculpture Exhibit


Photo Narona



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