The Augusteum at Narona (Croatia)

The ancient Roman city of Narona, now the village of Vid (3km from Metkovic) in Croatia, had a very beautiful temple; the Augusteum, a site of imperial cult named after the imperial title of Augustus.

Reconstruction drawing of the Augusteum, Archaeological museum Narona

Reconstruction drawing of the Augusteum, Archaeological museum Narona

Narona was part of the Roman province of Dalmatia. The city was established after the Illyrian Wars and was located on the alluvial plains. It was founded as a Hellenistic emporium in the 3rd/2nd century BC, first time mentioned by the Greek historian Pseudo-Skilak in the 4th century BC.

“And from Nestians is the Naron river: and the voyage into the Narona is not narrow: and even a trireme voyages into it, and boats into the upper trading town, being distant from the sea 80 stades.” – Pseudo-Skylax, 24.

Narona became a major Roman stronghold in the 1st century BC and probably received the status of Colonia (Colonia Julia Narona) from Augustus.

Archaeological research conducted in 1995 and 1996 led to a sensational discovery of the remains of a Roman temple – the Augusteum – and seventeen monumental marble sculptures of Roman emperors and their family members.

The remains of the Augusteum and fifteen marble sculptures exhibited on a platform, Archaeological museum Narona © Carole Raddato

The remains of the Augusteum and fifteen marble sculptures exhibited on a platform, Archaeological museum Narona
© Carole Raddato

The Augusteum at Narona seems to have been built in about 10 BC and was later dedicated by Publius Cornelius Dolabella, the governor of the province of Dalmatia.

Inscription honoring the emperor Augustus, erected by Publius Cornelius Dolabella, the governor of the province of Dalmatia, 1st half of 1st century AD, Archaeological museum Narona © Carole Raddato

Inscription honoring the emperor Augustus, erected by Publius Cornelius Dolabella, the governor of the province of Dalmatia, 1st half of 1st century AD, Archaeological museum Narona
© Carole Raddato

It had four columns across the front supporting a triangular pediment. The single chamber (cella) had a simple mosaic floor.

The Augusteum cella's mosaic floor, Archaeological museum Narona © Carole Raddato

The Augusteum cella’s mosaic floor, Archaeological museum Narona
© Carole Raddato

The statues were vandalized in the 4th century when Christianity replaced paganism as the official religion of the Roman Empire: they were discovered some 20 years ago, lying on the floor and their heads broken off.

At the beginning of the temple history, there was only a small podium on which were placed statues of Augustus and his wife Livia (and perhaps Agrippa, Augustus’ right-hand man).

The head of Livia was acquired by British archaeologist Arthur Evans in 1878 who carted it back to the Ashmolean Museum (see picture here). The head was re-united with its body at an exhibition in Oxford in 2004 (source: Guardian).

After Augustus’ death in AD 14, Publius Cornelius Dolabella, the governor of Dalmatia, added two more statues of the imperial couple, as well as one of the new emperor Tiberius.

From left to right: Lucius Caesar, Gaius Caesar, Julia, Agrippa and Antonia Minor, Archaeological museum Narona © Carole Raddato

From left to right: Lucius Caesar, Gaius Caesar, Julia, Agrippa and Antonia Minor, Archaeological museum Narona
© Carole Raddato

There were further additions over the next couple of centuries, including statues of emperors Claudius and Vespasian; so many in fact that the podium was extended.

From left to right: Germanicus, Drusus, Claudius, Agrippina the Elder, Agrippina the Younger, Vespasian, Archaeological museum Narona © Carole Raddato

From left to right: Germanicus, Drusus, Claudius, Agrippina the Elder, Agrippina the Younger, Vespasian, Archaeological museum Narona
© Carole Raddato

The remains of the Augusteum with its gallery of imperial sculptures became the core of the modern architecture of Narona Archaeological Museum. The museum which is built on the ruins of the ancient town was opened to the public in 2007. It is the first museum in Croatia located in situ.

Archaeological museum Narona, Vid, Croatia © Carole Raddato

Archaeological museum Narona, Vid, Croatia
© Carole Raddato

The museum contains other finds discovered during the excavations in the area around the temple; sculpture fragments, coins, glass, metal and bone artefacts, pottery and oil-lamps. The exhibition includes a total of roughly 900 finds, allowing us to track the city’s history from the end of the third century BC through the fifteenth century AD.

Archaeological museum Narona © Carole Raddato

Archaeological museum Narona
© Carole Raddato

Further photos can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.

Narona Archaeological museum official website: http://www.a-m-narona.hr/en/

The museum is opened from September 16th to June 14th
Tuesday – Friday: 09:00 – 16:00
Saturday: 09:00 – 17:00
Sunday: 09:00-13:00

Sources and further reading:

Conservation of Roman Marble Sculptures from Narona

The Rise and Fall of an Imperial Shrine: Roman Sculpture from the Augusteum at Narona

The remains of the Augusteum and fifteen marble sculptures exhibited on a platform, Archaeological museum Narona © Carole Raddato

The remains of the Augusteum and fifteen marble sculptures exhibited on a platform, Archaeological museum Narona
© Carole Raddato

About followinghadrian

I came, I saw, I photographed... follow me in the footsteps of Hadrian!
This entry was posted in Archaeology Travel, Croatia, Dalmatia, Museum, Roman Temples and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Augusteum at Narona (Croatia)

  1. Tina says:

    Thanks a million for opening my eyes to Narona, which I never knew existed in that odd little border-area corner of Croatia, and isn’t found in popular guidebooks. I look forward to exploring next time!

    Like

  2. Pingback: The Augusteum at Narona (Croatia) | Roma Antiqu...

  3. Rod says:

    The Village of Vid is easy to find and has good parking.There are river trips and excellent food at the riverside Knoba.There are few above ground artefacts but the new Museum is excellent .Vid is well worth an excursion.

    Like

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