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