Budva History - Ancient Budva 02 PDF Print E-mail

During this period the population of the Montenegrin coast engaged in raising livestock, communicating actively with central Italy and the Aegean, while for their rites they made objects suggesting veneration of the snake, probably the incarnation of an ancestor or some divinity, protector of the home and hearth. Obviously communications between the Adriatic and the Aegean had been established, and the local culture had elements related to the myth of Cadmus (raising cattle, the cult of the snake), but it is not certain whether during this period an overland passage existed {via Cadmeia), or contacts with central Greece were effected by sailing along the coasts of the Adriatic, Ionian and Aegean seas. The archaeological finds in the Spile cave that date from the Copper Age no longer include objects indicating contact with the Aegean but only local workmanship, mostly clay vessels of simple form, ineptly made and without decoration, similar to what was produced by nomads in continental parts of the Balkan peninsula. It was only several centuries later, between c. 2200 and 1800 B.C., that the culture on the Montenegrin coast changed radically, as seen in the finds from Vranjaj cave and the Tivat flats. The Vranjaj cave is located above Herceg-Novi on lofty Mt. Orjen, some 900 metres above the level of the sea. In 1982 and 1983 the cave yielded cultural strata from the end of the Copper Age and the early phase of the Bronze Age: many ceramic vessels characteristic of the Ljubljana and Cetinje cultures. These finds show that during the transition between the third to the second millennium B.C. the Budva area was part of a large cultural zone that extended from the Bay of Kotor to Lake Skadar, including a good portion of the continental hinterland. In 1970 and 1971 on the Tivat flats a site by the name of Mala gruda was excavated, actually a huge burial mound, over 20 metres in diameter and four metres high, with a tribal chief buried in the centre. How powerful, rich and respected he was is seen not only in the dimensions of the mound but also in the exceptionally valuable objects in the grave: a triangular gold dagger, a silver axe and five gold rings for the hair. The weapons and jewellery must have been fabulously expensive, since they were obtained from distant parts of the east Mediterranean, from Syria or Crete. Therefore it seems that the mound on the Tivat flats must contain the remains of some hero from mythological times, one of the Enchelei princes who could also have summoned Cadmus to help him in battle with his neighbours. This grave is dated c. 1900-1800 B.C., a time which coincides approximately with the mythical chronology of Cadmus' rule in Thebes. Budva could have been founded during that period, for the costly gold and silver weapons from the east Mediterranean could only have been obtained by a local chieftain in Kotor through the intermediary of some settlement trading on the coast. So far archaeological finds from this period have not been found in Budva, though in view of the finds at Mala gruda on the Tivat flats they may be discovered in the future. This supposition is supported by finds from the early and middle phases of the Bronze Age, from 1800 until c. 1200 B.C., grouped around Budva, primarily in settlements on heights (gradine) and burial mounds (tumuli). Unfortunately, archaeological research on these sites has been very limited, so it is difficult to appreciate all aspects of Bronze Age culture on the Montenegrin coast. One type of weapon, a bronze axe with a curved blade characteristic of Albania, Dalmatia and Skadar, about twenty of them found in the vicinity of Budva, shows that trade with the eastern Mediterranean flourished until the last quarter of the second millennium B.C.These characteristic axes were produced during the 14th century B.C. in eastern metallurgical workshops from Palestine and Syria to Luristan and the Caucasus. It still has not been definitely established from which of these areas and how these costly arms reached the eastern coast of the Adriatic. One possibility is Colchis in the foothills of the Caucasus, a well-known metalworking centre associated with the Greek myth of the Golden Fleece and the Argonauts. Among the many events woven into this myth is one relating to the Budva area and the Enchelei, which may explain the appearance of bronze axes with curved blades on the eastern Adriatic coast.
The Greek poets Callimachus and Apollonius of Rhodes, celebrating the return of the Argonauts from Colchis to Greece, mention that some of the men of Colchis who joined this conpany of heroes on their quest, permanently settled among the Enchelei on the black, deep Illyrian river where the graves of Harmonia and Cadmus are located.
The scene of this event is undoubtedly the Budva region, for the black, deep Illyrian river can only be the Bay of Kotor, and as the Argonauts' expedition took place only one generation before the beginning of the Trojan War, the arrival of the men of Colchis in the Adriatic would coincide with the appearance of the Albanian-Dalmatian and Skadar type of bronze axe.
The period from the 13th to the 4th centuries B.C. was an obscure age in the cultural history of Budva, since from the Bay of Kotor to Ulcinj not a single archaeological artefact has been discovered definitely dating from that period. Whether this is an accident or the result of insufficient archaeological research or the consequence of a sudden impoverishment of the local culture, future study will show. It is certain, however, that during this period important ethno-cultural and socio-economic processes must have taken place that led to the revival and abrupt rise of the local culture during the 4th century B.C., and the vigorous development of urban life in Budva.

 Ancient Budva covered only the south part of the rocky reef on which the old town stands today, the high rock occupied by the citadel dedicated to St. Mary and the surrounding area behind the churches of St. Sava, Holy Trinity and St. John. The foundations of the city gate almost coincide with present-day Njegos Street, while the walls stretch west almost to Santa Maria in Punta and east to the Pizanela gate. Thus, ancient Budva, together with its acropolis, today the citadel, occupied an irregular polygonal area of about 125 metres east to west and about 100 metres north to south. Limited in space and surrounded by walls two metres thick, built of large trapezoidal stone blocks, Budva in the 4th century resembled a small stone nest, well-protected by the Mogren and Sveti Spas hills and the island of Sveti Nikola, bathing in the blue of the sky and sea.
Located about 300 metres west of the main city gate on the gentle slopes of Sveti Spas hill facing the sea in the warm shade of cypresses, pines and eucalyptus trees is the necropolis of ancient Budva. On this site, now occupied by a large hotel complex, for centuries the inhabitantsof Budva found eternal rest. About fifty graves were discoveredhere, their appearance and contents the only evidence of life in ancient Budva. The graves discovered on the slopes of SvetiSpas are not older than the middle of the 4th century B.C.,which means that the deceased were buried here only afterBudva was encircled by its mighty Cyclopean walls. All the graves dating from the middle of the 4th to the middle of the 5th centuries B.C. look about the came: deep, rectangulargraves with walls of broken rock or thin bricks, less oftenstone coffins of stone slabs, the deceased always laid out horizontally, often with personal jewellery, weapons andvarious objects for daily use. Several family tombs were discovered with many skeletons of different sex and age. One of these tombs, discovered in 1936, contained valuable gold jewellery: four pins in the shape of Hercules knot, two necklaces with lions' heads ornamenting the ends, earrings with an image of the goddess Nike, and a medallion with a relief of Ariadne or a bacchante. In 1980 a grave was found with six skeletons, and alongside them a bronze helmet of the Greek-Illyrian type, a dozen bronze vessels, a pile of iron knives and spears, and one of the most beautiful sets of ancient gold jewellery, consisting of three rings, earrings and brooches with an image of the abduction of Ganymede and a necklace with ends decorated with negroid heads. The other graves, though they do not contain such valuable objects, show that the inhabitants of Budva were not only fairly wealthy but also accustomed to the urban milieu, to the objects familiar to the inhabitants of large Greek cities of the time. Also found in almost all the graves were good quality ceramics, mostly Gnathia - vases produced in southern Italian pottery workshops, and terracotta depicting figures from daily life or Greek mythology. All these objects came to Budva from Greek colonies, especially from Sicily and southern Italy. That the population of ancient Budva included Greek settlers can be seen from a typical Greek marble stele found on the slopes of Sveti Spas.The flowering of Budva can be explained by the historical events that led to the creation and consolidation of an Illyrian state and during the second half of the 3rd century B.C. made the eastern Adriatic coast south of Kotor Bay the centre of world events. By the middle of the 4th century, approximately when Budva had developed into a well-fortified city, the Illyrians - united with neighbouring tribes -clashed with the Macedonian state, and their first kings Bardilis, Clit and Pleurat became important factors in events on the Balkan peninsula. In the middle of the 3rd century B.C. when Budva was at the height of its prosperity, Agron created a great Illyrian state, its centre located in the region of Budva and Rotor Bay. The rise of this state was short-lived, for a few decades later the first Roman-Illyrian war (229-228 B.C.) broke out, having fatal consequences for the Illyrian state, and hence the development of Budva. The fighting took place precisely in the Bay of Kotor. Agron's widow, now in command, was compelled to seek peace, and the Romans agreed under conditions that severely limited the power of the Illyrian state. Trapped in the web of Roman politics, Teuta's heirs managed to preserve a certain amount of independence for another fifty years, but in 168 B.C. when Genthius openly opposed the Romans, the Illyrian state finally fell, and he himself featured in the triumph of Lucius Anicius in Rome, along with twenty-seven loads of gold, nineteen loads of silver and 120,000 Illyrian silver coins. Thatyear definitely marks the end of the prosperity of ancient Budva: the graves in the Budva necropolis dating from the second half of the 2nd and first half of the 1st century B.C. contain very modest offerings, which shows that at that time the city was impoverished, and that there was no longer anyone to buy or sell luxury items. The local population was formally granted freedom, the coastal towns were exempt from paying high taxes, certain tribes and individuals were rewarded for their loyalty, but this was all in aid of preparations for the final Roman conquest of the eastern Adriatic coast and the whole Balkan peninsula, which was accomplished during the 1st century B.C. The turbulent events accompanying this conquest bypassed Budva; it appears thatduringthe 1st century B.C. the town was completely abandoned, since not a single archaeological artefact has been discovered in the Budva area from that period. It was not until 40 B.C. when Octavian gained control of Dalmatia and in the following decades finally broke the resistance of the native tribes in the interior of the Balkan peninsula, that Budva returned to the stage of history in full splendour, this time as a city of Roman citizens located on an important military road leading from Aquileia to Dyrrachium, connecting with the old via Cadmei, i.e. the well-known via Egnatia.


Dragoslav Srejovic

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