In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians. The prehistory of Illyria and the Illyrians is known from archaeological evidence. The Romans conquered the region in 168 BC in the aftermath of the Illyrian Wars. The Roman term Illyris (distinct from Illyria) was sometimes used to define an area north of the Aous valley, most notably Illyris proper. In Greek mythology , the name of Illyria is aetiologically traced to Illyrius, the son of Cadmus and Harmonia, who eventually ruled Illyria and became the eponymous ancestor of the Illyrians. A later version of the myth identifies Polyphemus and Galatea as parents of Celtus, Galas and Illyrius. Ancient Greek writers used the name "Illyrian" to describe peoples between the Liburnians and Epirus. 4th-century BC Greek writers clearly separated the people along the Adriatic coast from the Illyrians, and only in the 1st century AD was "Illyrian" used as a general term for all the peoples across the Adriatic. Writers also spoke of "Illyrians in the strict sense of the word"; Pomponius Mela (43 AD) the stricto sensu Illyrians lived north of the Taulanti and Enchele, on the Adriatic shore; Pliny the Elder used "properly named Illyrians" (Illyrii proprii/proprie dicti) for a small people south of Epidaurum, or between Epidaurum (Cavtat) and Lissus (Lezhë). In the Roman period, Illyricum was used for the area between the Adriatic and Danube. The term was in a way of pars pro toto. The earliest recorded Illyrian kingdom was that of the Enchele in the 8th century BC. The era in which we observe other Illyrian kingdoms begins approximately at 400 BC and ends at 167 BC. The Autariatae under Pleurias (337 BC) were considered to have been a kingdom. The Kingdom of the Ardiaei began at 230 BC and ended at 167 BC. The most notable Illyrian kingdoms and dynasties were those of Bardyllis of the Dardani and of Agron of the Ardiaei who created the last and best-known Illyrian kingdom. Agron ruled over the Ardiaei and had extended his rule to other tribes as well. As for the Dardanians, they always had separate domains from the rest of the Illyrians. The Illyrian kingdoms were composed of small areas within the region of Illyria. Only the Romans ruled the entire region. The internal organization of the south Illyrian kingdoms points to imitation of their neighbouring Greek kingdoms and influence from the Greek and Hellenistic world in the growth of their urban centres. Polybius gives as an image of society within an Illyrian kingdom as peasant infantry fought under aristocrats which he calls in Greek Polydynastae (Πολυδυνάστες) where each one controlled a town within the kingdom. The monarchy was established on hereditary lines and Illyrian rulers used marriages as a means of alliance with other powers. Pliny (23–79 AD) writes that the people that formed the nucleus of the Illyrian kingdom were 'Illyrians proper' or Illyrii Proprie Dicti. They were the Taulantii, the Pleraei, the Endirudini, Sasaei, Grabaei and the Labeatae. These later joined to form the Docleatae. Epirus Nova ("New Epirus") or Illyria Graeca or Illyris proper was a province of the Roman Empire established by Diocletian during his restructuring of provincial boundaries. Until then, the province belonged to the province of Macedonia. Dyrrachium (or Epidamnus) was established as the capital of Epirus Nova. The region of Epirus Nova corresponded to a portion of Illyria that was then "partly Hellenic and partly Hellenized".
In Ancient Greece, colonies were sometimes founded by vanquished people, who left their homes to escape subjection at the hand of a foreign enemy; sometimes as a sequel to civil disorders , when the losers in internecine battles left to form a new city elsewhere; sometimes to get rid of surplus population, and thereby to avoid internal convulsions; and sometimes as a result of ostracism . But in most cases the motivation was to establish and facilitate relations of trade with foreign countries and further the wealth of the mother-city (in Greek metropolis). Colonies were established in Ionia and Thrace as early as the 8th century BC. More than thirty Greek city-states had multiple colonies around the Mediterranean world, with the most active being Miletus, of the Ionian League, with ninety colonies stretching throughout the Mediterranean Sea, from the shores of the Black Sea and Anatolia in the east, to the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula in the west, as well as several colonies on the Libyan coast of northern Africa, from the late 9th to the 5th centuries BC. There were two similar types of colony, one known as an apoikia and the other as an emporion. The first type of colony was a city-state on its own; the second was a Greek trading-colony. Two waves of new colonists set out from Greece at the transition between the " Dark Ages " and the start of the Archaic Period , one in the early 8th century BC and a second burst of the colonizing spirit in the 6th century. Population growth and cramped spaces at home seem an insufficient explanation, while the economical and political dynamics produced by the competitive spirit between the frequently kingless, newly introduced concept of the Greek city-states, striving to expand their sphere of economical influence better fits as their true incentive. Through this Greek expansion the use of coins flourished throughout the Mediterranean Basin. area with significant Greek colonies was the coast of ancient Illyria on the Adriatic Sea (e.g. the ancient "Aspalathos", Split, Croatia). The extensive Greek colonization is remarked upon by Cicero when noting that "It were as though a Greek fringe has been woven about the shores of the barbarians." Several formulae were generally adhered to on the solemn and sacred occasions when a new colony set forth. If a Greek city was sending out a colony, an oracle, especially one such as the Oracle of Delphi , was almost invariably consulted beforehand. Sometimes certain classes of citizens were called upon to take part in the enterprises; sometimes one son was chosen by lot from every house where there were several sons; and strangers expressing a desire to join were admitted. A person of distinction was selected to guide the emigrants and make the necessary arrangements. It was usual to honor these founders of colonies, after their death, as heroes. Some of the sacred fire was taken from the public hearth in the Prytaneum , from which the fire on the public hearth of the new city was kindled. And, just as each individual had his private shrines, so the new community maintained the worship of its chief domestic deities, the colony sending embassies and votive gifts to the mother-city's principal festivals for centuries afterwards. After the conquests of the Macedonian Kingdom and Alexander the Great, a further number of Hellenistic colonies were founded also in Asia, Europe and Africa.
Apollonia (Απολλωνία κατ᾿ Επίδαμνον or Απολλωνία πρὸς Επίδαμνον) was an ancient Greek city and former bishopric in Illyria. Located on the right bank of the Aous river (modern-day Vjosë ). Its ruins are situated in the Fier region, near the village of Pojani (Polina), in modern-day Albania. Apollonia was founded in 588 BCE by Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth, on a site initially occupied by Illyrian tribes and was perhaps the most important of the several classical towns known as Apollonia. Apollonia flourished in the Roman period and was home to a renowned school of philosophy, but began to decline in the 3rd century AD when its harbor started silting up as a result of an earthquake. It was abandoned by the end of Late Antiquity. The name of the city is mentioned among the modern bishoprics of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania (Apollonia and Fier). Apollonia is also a titular see of the Latin Church. The site of Apollonia lay on the territory of the Taulantii , a cluster of Illyrian tribes that remained closely involved with the settlement for centuries and lived alongside the Greek colonists. The city was said to have originally been named Gylakeia after its founder, Gylax, but the name was later changed to honor the god Apollo. It is mentioned by Strabo in his Geographica as "an exceedingly well-governed city". Aristotle considered Apollonia an important example of an oligarchic system, as the descendants of the Greek colonists controlled the city and prevailed over a large serf population of mostly Illyrian origin. The city grew rich on the slave trade and local agriculture, as well as its large harbour, said to have been able to hold a hundred ships at a time. The city also benefited from the local supply of asphalt which was a valuable commodity in ancient times, for example for caulking ships. The remains of a late sixth-century temple, located just outside the city, were reported in 2006; it is only the fifth known stone temple found in present-day Albania. Apollonia, like Dyrrachium further north, was an important port on the Illyrian coast as the most convenient link between Brundusium and northern Greece, and as one of the western starting points of the Via Egnatia leading east to Thessaloniki and Byzantium in Thrace . It had its own mint, stamping coins showing a cow suckling her calf on the obverse and a double stellate pattern on the reverse, which have been found as far away as the basin of the Danube. The city was for a time included among the dominions of Pyrrhus of Epirus. In 229 BC, it came under the control of the Roman Republic, to which it was firmly loyal; it was rewarded in 168 BC with booty seized from Gentius , the defeated king of Illyria. In 148 BC, Apollonia became part of the Roman province of Macedonia, specifically of Epirus Nova. In the Roman Civil War between Pompey and Julius Caesar, it supported the latter, but fell to Marcus Iunius Brutus in 48 BC. The later Roman emperor Augustus studied in Apollonia in 44 BC under the tutelage of Athenodorus of Tarsus; it was there that he received news of Caesar's murder.
Split is the second-largest city of Croatia and the largest city of the region of Dalmatia. It lies on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, centered on the Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian . Spread over a central peninsula and its surroundings, Split's greater area includes the neighboring seaside towns as well. An intraregional transport hub and popular tourist destination, the city is a link to numerous Adriatic islands and the Apennine peninsula. Split is one of the oldest cities in the area. While traditionally considered just over 1,700 years old, counting from the construction of Diocletian's Palace in 305 CE, the city was in fact founded as the Greek colony of Aspálathos (Aσπάλαθος) in the 3rd or 2nd century BCE. It became a prominent settlement around 650 CE, when it succeeded the ancient capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia, Salona : as after the Sack of Salona by the Avars and Slavs, the fortified Palace of Diocletian was settled by the Roman refugees. The city draws its name from the spiny broom a common shrub in the area, after which the Greek colony of Aspálathos (Aσπάλαθος) or Spálathos (Σπάλαθος) was named. As the city became a Roman possession, the Latin name became "Spalatum" or "Aspalatum", which in the Middle Ages evolved into "Aspalathum", "Spalathum", "Spalatrum", and "Spalatro" in the Dalmatian language of the city's Romance population. The Serbo-Croatian term became "Split" or "Spljet", while the Italian-language version, "Spalato", became universal in international usage by the Early Modern Period. Although the beginnings of Split are traditionally associated with the construction of Diocletian's Palace in 305 CE, the city was founded several centuries earlier as the Greek colony of Aspálathos, or Spálathos. It was a colony of the polis of Issa, the modern-day town of Vis on the island of the same name, then inhabited by Dorian Greeks. Issa, itself a colony of the Sicilian city of Syracuse, had acquired sovereignty and started founding its own colonies in 367 BCE, after the death of Dionysius the Elder. The exact year the city was founded is not known, but it's estimated to have been in the 3rd or 2nd century BCE. The Greek settlement lived off trade with the surrounding Illyrian tribes, mostly the Delmatae. In time, the Roman Republic became the dominant power in the region, conquering the Illyrians in the Illyrian Wars of 229 and 219 BCE. Upon establishing permanent rule, the Romans founded the Province of Dalmatia. The city of Salona, only a short distance from Spálathos, became the capital of the province and evolved into a significant city in the Roman state. The history of Spálathos becomes obscure for a while at this point, being overshadowed by that of nearby Salona, to which it would later become successor.
Budva is a Montenegrin town on the Adriatic Sea, former bishopric and present Latin Catholic titular see. It has around 14,000 inhabitants, and it is the centre of Budva Municipality . The coastal area around Budva, called the Budva riviera, is the center of Montenegrin tourism, known for its well preserved medieval walled city, sandy beaches and diverse nightlife. Budva is 2,500 years old, which makes it one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast. There is vast archaeological evidence that places Budva among the oldest urban settlements of the Adriatic coast. Substantial documentary evidence provides historical references dating back to the 5th century BC. A legend recounts that Bouthoe (Βουθόη - Vouthoe) was founded by Cadmus the founder of Thebes, Greece , when exiled out of Thebes, finding a shelter in this place for him and his wife, Harmonia. Greek colonization of Adriatic began in 4th century BC, when Emporium was established on the site of Budva. In the 2nd century BC, the area of Budva became part of the Roman Empire. Upon the fall of the Empire and its division into east and west, the defensive barrier which separated the two powers happened to run across this area, subsequently making a lasting impact on the history and culture of this town. In the 6th century, Budva was part of the Byzantine Empire, and in the following two centuries, Slavs and, to a lesser extent, Avars began to arrive in the area, mixing with the native Roman population. Budva bay was reportedly known as Avarorum sinus during the Avar incursions. In 841, Budva was sacked by Saracens, who devastated the area. In early Middle Ages, Budva was reigned by a succession of Doclean kings, as well as Serbian and Zetan aristocrats.
Byllis (Βύλλις or Βουλλίς) was an ancient city located in the region of Illyria. The remains of Byllis are situated north-east of Vlorë , 25 kilometers from the sea in Hekal, Fier County, Albania. Stephanus of Byzantium mentions Byllis as a seaside city in Illyria and its foundation legend, according to which the city was built by Myrmidons under Neoptolemus, returning from the Trojan War, a tradition confirmed by numismatics. The Bylliones are first attested in the mid-4th century BC, in the description of the geographer Pseudo-Scylax, and also asking the oracle of Dodona to which god they should sacrifice in order to ensure the safety of their possessions. The archaeological attestation of the city is possible as far back as the second half of the 4th century BC and was later conquered by Pyrrhus. According to another view, Byllis was found by king Pyrrhus of Epirus. Byllis received sacred Greek envoys , known as theoroi during the early 2nd century BC, indicator of the city's Greek character. Byllis, being a Greek-speaking city, on the borders of Illyria and Epirus, had its own stadium and theatre during the Hellenistic era. About its foundation it has been suggested that Byllis was founded by Greek settlers, though the fact that it had a mixed population is attested by the Illyrian names of officials. The city had its own coinage which was different from that of the tribe of the Bylliones. M. B. Hatzopoulos believes that Byllis is the northernmost non-colonian Greek city in the region. The walls of Byllis were 2,200m long, enclosing 30 hectares of a plain atop a hill 524m above sea level. There were 6 gates in the city walls. The road coming from Apollonia passed through two of them, crossing Byllis in the direction of the narrows of gorges of the Vjosa river on the way to Macedonia or those of Antigonia in the direction of Epirus. In 2011 during a road reconstruction near the archaeological park found in the site a statue of the Hellenistic era, which may depict an Illyrian soldier or a war deity, was discovered. However, there is little point in proposing an Illyrian label for city in which language, institutions, officials, onomastics, city-planning and fortifications were Greek.
The ancient Greek city of Epidamnos or Epidamnus (Επίδαμνος), later the Roman Dyrrachium was founded in 627 BC in Illyria by a group of colonists from Corinth and Corcyra (Corfu). Aristotle 's Politics several times draws for examples on the internal government of Epidamnos, which was run as a tight oligarchy that appointed a ruling magistrate; tradesmen and craftsmen were excluded from power, until internal strife produced a more democratic government. The exiled oligarchs appealed to Corcyra while the democrats enlisted the help of Corinth, initiating a struggle between the two mother cities described by Thucydides as a cause of the Peloponnesian War. Individual trading with the local Illyrians was forbidden at Epidamnos: all traffic was through the authorized city agent or poletes. In the fourth century BC the city-state was part of the kingdoms of Cassander and Pyrrhus. The general vicinity of Epidamnus was called Epidamnia. In 229 BC, when the Romans seized the city the "-damnos" part of the name was inauspicious to Latin ears, as it was refounded, became Dyrrhachium. Pausanias says "the modern Roman city is not the ancient one, being at a short distance from it. The modern city is called Dyrrhachium from its founder." The name Dyrrachion is found on coins of the fifth century BC; in the Roman period Dyrrachium was more common. However, the city maintained a semi-autonomy and was turned into a Roman colony. Dyrrachium was the landing place for Roman passengers crossing the Ionian Sea from Brundisium, which made it a fairly busy way-station. Here commenced the Via Egnatia, the Roman military road to Thessalonica that connected Roman Illyria with Macedonia and Thrace. The city itself was part of Macedonia, more specifically Epirus Nova. In 48 BC Pompey was based at Dyrrachium and beat off an attack by Julius Caesar. In AD 345 the city was levelled by an earthquake and rebuilt on its old foundations. In the 4th century AD, Dyrrachium was made the capital of the Roman province of Epirus nova. Thus its Archbishopric became the Metropolitan of all dioceses in the province. The name "Epidamnos" was still used by the Byzantines, as for example in the 13th-century Synopsis Chronike, referring to contemporary events.
Epidaurus (Επίδαυρος) or Epidauros was an ancient Greek colony founded sometime in the 6th century BC, renamed to Epidaurum during Roman rule in 228 BC, when it was part of the province of Illyricum, later Dalmatia. It is located at the modern-day Cavtat in Croatia, 15 km south of Dubrovnik. During the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey the city was besieged by M. Octavius but saved by the arrival of the consul Publius Vatinius. The city was destroyed by Avars and Slavic invaders in the 7th century. Refugees from Epidaurus fled to the nearby island Laas or Laus (meaning "stone") from which Ragusa (through rhotacism) was founded, which over time evolved into Dubrovnik. Several Roman inscriptions are found amongst its ruins: the sepulchre of P. Cornelius Dolabella, who was the consul under Augustus and governor of Illyricum, and the remains of an aqueduct. In the Middle Ages, the town of Cavtat (Ragusa-Vecchia) was established in the same area.
Lezhë is a town and municipality in northwest Albania, in the county with the same name. In ancient history it was an ancient Greek colony named Lissus. The latter is an Archaeological Park of Albania. The city dates back to at least 8th century BC. Around 385 BC, a Greek colony was found by Dionysius I of Syracuse by the name of Lissos (Λισσός), as part of a strategy by Dionysius to secure Syracusan trade routes along the Adriatic. Diodorus calls it a polis. The city was separated into sectors by diateichisma (διατείχισμα) and there are elements of Syracusan architecture in part of its walls. At a later time it came under Illyrian rule. In 211 BC, Philip V of Macedon captured the citadel of Akrolissos, and Lissos surrendered to him. The town was later recovered by the Illyrians. It was in Lissos that Perseus of Macedon negotiated an alliance against Rome with the Illyrian king Gentius , and it was from Lissos that Gentius organized his army against the Romans. Lissos maintained a large degree of municipal autonomy under both Macedonian and Illyrian rule, as evidenced by the coins minted there. The city was of some importance in the Roman Civil War, being taken by Marc Antony and then remaining loyal to Caesar. In Roman times, the city was part of the province of Epirus Nova, its name Latinized as Lissus. From 2004 an excavation started around the ancient Acropolis of Lissos and the Skanderbeg Memorial, which revealed Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine buildings, tombs and other findings.
Rhizon (Ριζων, Risinium) was an ancient settlement located near today's Risan in the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro. Originally an Illyrian settlement, it was later a Roman city.
The earliest mention of Rhizon dates back to the 4th century BCE. Rhizon had been the main fortress in the Illyrian state where Queen Teuta took refuge during the Illyrian Wars. During the short reign of the Illyrian Queen Teuta, Rhizon became the capital of her empire. During theses periods a mint was established that issued several coinages:
autonomous coinages of the town, in bronze, the royal coinage of king Ballaios , in silver and bronze, most probably, the coinage labeled “Coinage from the Rhizonian Gulf”, which has been considered as the coinage of an alliance in which Rhizon played a part, in silver and bronze. The chronology of these coinages is still not defined with precision, primarily because the historical background of their issuance remains little known. There is hardly any mention in the literary sources of the town of Rhizon , and none of the king Ballaios. However, several features of these coinages such as the characteristics of style, elements of inscription and iconography (title “basileus ” on the coinage of Ballaios, and the presence of a Macedonian shield on the “Coinage from the Rhizonian Gulf”), metrology, choice of coined metals, etc. – point to the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE as the general chronological framework for the activity of the Rhizonian mint and for the successive issuance of the coinages of different issuing authorities there. Formerly the Bay of Kotor was known as Sinus Rhizonicus after the Greek name of Rhizon, the leading town in anticity of the bay. Rhizon had also its own protector, a deity called Medaurus, who was depicted as carrying a lance and riding on horseback. The degree of Hellenization at Rhizon was very high. In Roman times, Rhizinium is documented as an oppidum civium Romanorum. Two Roman routes led through the Bay of Kotor. The most prosperous time for Roman Rhizinium came during the 1st and 2nd centuries, when huge villas were made in the area and the city had 10,000 inhabitants.
Pula or Pola (Colonia Pietas Iulia Pola Pollentia Herculanea ; Πόλαι, Polae) is the largest city in Istria County, Croatia and the eighth largest city in the country, situated at the southern tip of the Istria peninsula, with a population of 57,460 in 2011. Like the rest of the region, it is known for its mild climate, smooth sea, and unspoiled nature. The city has a long tradition of winemaking , fishing, shipbuilding, and tourism. It has also been Istria's administrative centre since ancient Roman times. Greek pottery and a part of a statue of Apollo have been found, attesting to the presence or influence of Greek culture. Greek tradition attributed the foundation of Polai to the Colchians, mentioned in the context of the story of Jason and Medea, who had stolen the golden fleece. The Colchians, who had chased Jason into the northern Adriatic, were unable to catch him and ended up settling in a place they called Polai, signifying "city of refuge".
Trogir (Tragurium, Τραγύριον, Τραγούριον) is a historic town and harbour on the Adriatic coast in Split-Dalmatia County, Croatia, with a population of 10,818 (2011) and a total municipality population of 13,260 (2011). The historic city of Trogir is situated on a small island between the Croatian mainland and the island of Čiovo. It lies 27 kilometres west of the city of Split. Since 1997, the historic centre of Trogir has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites for its Venetian architecture. In the 3rd century BC, Tragurion was founded by Greek colonists from the island of Vis, and it developed into a major port until the Roman period. The name comes from the Greek "tragos" (male goat). Similarly, the name of the neighbouring island of Bua comes from the Greek "voua" (herd of cattle). The sudden prosperity of Salona deprived Trogir of its importance. During the migration of Croats the citizens of the destroyed Salona escaped to Trogir. Initially the Roman Tragurium was one of the Dalmatian City-States . From the 9th century on, Trogir paid tribute to Croatian rulers and to the Byzantine empire. The diocese of Trogir was established in the 11th century (abolished in 1828; it is now part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Split-Makarska) and in 1107 it was chartered by the Hungarian-Croatian king Coloman, gaining thus its autonomy as a town.
Korčula (Κόρκυρα Μέλαινα, Kórkyra Mélaina, Corcyra Nigra, Korkyra Melaina) is a Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea. It has an area of 279 km 2, 46.8 km long and on average 7.8 km wide and lies just off the Dalmatian coast. Its 15,522 inhabitants (2011) make it the second most populous Adriatic island after Krk and the most populous Croatian island not connected to the mainland by a bridge. The population are almost entirely ethnic Croats (95.74%). Melaina Korkyra (Μέλαινα Κόρκυρα, "Black Corcyra") was the ancient Cnidian Greek colony founded on Korčula. Greek colonists from Corcyra (Corfu) formed a small colony on the island in the 6th century B.C. The Greeks named it "Black Corfu" after their homeland and the dense pine-woods on the island. Greek artifacts, including carved marble tombstones can be found at the local Korčula town museum. A stone inscription found in Lumbarda (Lumbarda Psephisma) and which is the oldest written stone monument in Croatia, records that Greek settlers from Issa (Vis) founded another colony on the island in the 3rd century BC. The two communities lived peacefully until the Illyrian Wars (220 BC to 219 BC) with the Romans. The island became part of the Roman province of Illyricum after the Illyrian Wars. Roman migration followed and Roman citizens arrived on the island. Roman villas appeared through the territory of Korčula and there is evidence of an organised agricultural exploitation of the land. There are archaeological remains of Roman Junianum on the island and old church foundations.