Archaeological Site Doclea
Roman town Doclea is the most significant ancient locality in Montenegro. It is 4 km far away from Podgorica, up the river Moraca. It was situated on the wide flat plateau between the rivers Zeta, Moraca and Siralija Creek.
The strategic position was the main reason why the town was built at this specific place. The space bordered by three river basins was unapproachable during almost the whole year because high water level, and protected by upright cliffs and very easy to defend. Although it was defended by nature and protected by rivers, it was fortified by mighty walls, towers and bastions which surrounded plateau on which the town was situated.
The founding of Doclea is related to the beginning of the 1st Century. The town was the most probably founded after the 9th year, and became a municipium during Flavi Dynasty, at the reign of Vespazian, when the largest numbers of municipiums were established in the area of the Roman province Dalmatia.
During the Roman period, Doclea was the most significant urban center in the area of Montenegro which we know today. It was situated near the crossroad of several main roads, of which the road from Narona (Vid near Metković), led to Scodra through Montenegro, and that road was one of the most significant Roman communications. However, Doclea wasn’t situated on the road itself, and that was the fact, because Doclea wasn’t mentioned in the most important itinerars - Tabula Pointingeriana and Itinerarium Antonini.
Doclea was named after the Illyrian tribe Docleati on which territory it was built. It had significant role in this period, but it was mentioned relatively late in the historical sources. Ptolomey mentioned Doclea for the first time (Δόϰλϵα), while the Epitom, which was made by Aurelie Viktor from 4th Century, mentioned it as Dioclea, and because of the name similarity, it was thought as a birth place of Diokletian Emperor. The Byzantium writers also mentioned it by this name.
Although it was naturally protected by deep basins of three rivers which surround it, Doclea was also surrounded by massive walls, 2-2, 50 m thick, with towers and battlements in the most important places, and fortified bridges across the rivers. The biggest walls and towers were on the northeastern side which was naturally unprotected and which had also the ditch beside walls.
The town was built according to the classic urban scheme with two main streets, cardo and decumanus which intersected on the right angle, while all other streets went parallel with them, creating in that way square block of flats. The city square – forum was situated near the place where the two main streets intersected.
The main street via prinsipalis was in the direction east-west, from the Siralija bridge to the Moraca bridge. The most important city buildings were situated from it’s left and right sides. The triumphal arch, was put not far away from the Siralija Bridge, towards down town, dedicated to the Emperor Galien. Another temple was on the right side of the triumphal arch, and near remains of that temple, the statue of Roma Goddess was found, so it was presumed that this temple was devoted to her. Near this temple, there was another one; devoted to Goddess Diana. There was a bigger palace with atrium moving on. Also, moving toward down town, there was town bathroom – term, built by the well known Roman scheme. The terms used to have gymnastic hall, or palestra, dressing rooms, halls with cold and hot water, a library, rooms for rest. All premises in terms were decorated with floor mosaics and sculptures which remains exist even today.
Opposite of the terms, there was main town square-forum on the northern side of the street, with basilica. The forum was rectangle shaped space closed from the western side by long facade of the basilica, in direction north-south, and from other three sides closed by porches. The basilica was construction lightened from above, built in monumental stone construction. The mayor part of this basilica made a unique and decorated space where two smaller premises were separated by three parted colonnades. One could enter into a closed rectangle premise from the northern part with semicircle apse. The main facade of the basilica faced the square had decorative colonnade. The part of the inscription was preserved on the basilica epistyle which talked about the dedication of this building to 15 year old boy Flavie Frintan Balbino, which gild statue on the horse decorated the forum.
Although the town was situated beside three rivers, the water supplying system was in use, which brought water from the Cijevna River, and which remains are visible even today.
Since the 4th Century, there was a space in the eastern part of the town where the Christians have been living, with the Churches and large episcope basilica. The “Podgorica Glass” was from this period, and it was, as a matter of fact, wide glass plate with scenes from Old and New Testament. On the 4th Ecumenical Council held in Halkidon 451, Doclea episcope Evandros was mentioned as a participant.
After gothic devastations in 490. and particularly after earthquake 518. Doclea lost it’s significance.
Doclea excavations have started in the second half of the nineteenth century
Publishing of so called “a glass of Podgorica” in 1873 brought a great interest of European scientific audience
In the recent years, the archaeological excavations on Doclea site were led by PI Museums and Galleries of Podgorica