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SCUPI THE HISTORY OF THE CITY The history of Scupi speaks little and insufficient, more information can be acquired only from the archeological researches, for which certain hints already exist. The archeological excavations have confirmed that the Roman city of Scupi was erected on the southern and western slopes, mostly in the foothill and the valley under Zlokucani Fortress hill, on whose top was an old acropolis. The city had a very good location and to a large extent fulfilled the conditions for erecting an Antique city, which in that time were set by the renowned architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. At its peak, covered approximately 45 hectares of area. The first significant date in the history of Scupi was the year 168 B.C. when Romans came to rule this territory, the Scupi became a colony where deserving veterans were settled, mostly veterans of the 7 th legion of Claudius. From the tombstones we know that the territory of Scupi was settled by veterans of other legions, as well: V Macedonica, III Italica, IV Macedonica ala Flavia, XIII Gemina, IV Scythica. The veterans of the Roman legions came from the different parts of the Roman Empire, from northern Italy, Spain, Syria, Dalmatia, Istria, Asia Minor etc. The colony was founded in the time of the Flavius dynasty; according to the inscription with the abbreviations Col(oniae) F(laviae) F(elix) D(omitiana), it was assumed that it was the time of the Emperor Domitian (84 -85 A.D.). We must also point out that we know very little about Scupi before its becoming a colony, although this beginning raises the question of camp, but this question has not been precisely answered because it depends on researches of wider scope. One of the possible hints is the shape of the city ramparts, which certainly date from the early period. Today we assume that the city had been built by a plan ever since it became a colony in the time of the Flavius. The answering of the question of the city scopes and borders was followed by the discovering of the objects and by determining their plan and arrangement inside the interior urbanity structure. According to the geographic position, the orientation of the city is in the direction northeast-southwest. The Romans located the town by important antic roads that connected the Aegean Sea with central Europe, Thrace with Adriatic coast.
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  • 1.
    • SCUPI
    • THE HISTORY OF THE CITY
    • The history of Scupi speaks little and insufficient, more information can be acquired only from the archeological
    • researches, for which certain hints already exist. The archeological excavations have confirmed that the Roman city of
    • Scupi was erected on the southern and western slopes, mostly in the foothill and the valley under Zlokucani Fortress hill,
    • on whose top was an old acropolis. The city had a very good location and to a large extent fulfilled the conditions for
    • erecting an Antique city, which in that time were set by the renowned architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. At its peak,
    • covered approximately 45 hectares of area.
    • The first significant date in the history of Scupi was the year 168 B.C. when Romans came to rule this territory, the Scupi
    • became a colony where deserving veterans were settled, mostly veterans of the 7 thlegion of Claudius. From the
    • tombstones we know that the territory of Scupi was settled by veterans of other legions, as well: V Macedonica, III
    • Italica, IV Macedonica ala Flavia, XIII Gemina, IV Scythica. The veterans of the Roman legions came from the different
    • parts of the Roman Empire, from northern Italy, Spain, Syria, Dalmatia, Istria, Asia Minor etc. The colony was founded in
    • the time of the Flavius dynasty; according to the inscription with the abbreviations Col(oniae) F(laviae) F(elix)
    • D(omitiana), it was assumed that it was the time of the Emperor Domitian (84 -85 A.D.).
    • We must also point out that we know very little about Scupi before its becoming a colony, although this beginning raises
    • the question of camp, but this question has not been precisely answered because it depends on researches of wider
    • scope. One of the possible hints is the shape of the city ramparts, which certainly date from the early period. Today we
    • assume that the city had been built by a plan ever since it became a colony in the time of the Flavius. The answering of
    • the question of the city scopes and borders was followed by the discovering of the objects and by determining their plan
    • and arrangement inside the interior urbanity structure. According to the geographic position, the orientation of the city is in the
    • direction northeast-southwest. The Romans located the town by important antic roads that connected the Aegean Sea with
    • central Europe, Thrace with Adriatic coast.

2.

  • During the II century, Scupi was particularly representative in shape, with the monumental theatre as a focal point.
  • During the III century troubles started, In the year of 286-296, the powerful Gothic and Herullian forces crossed this area.
  • After the catastrophe caused by Goths, the destruction, the fires and the large scale ruination of the city, by the end of
  • the 3 rd and beginning of 4 thcentury came a short period of peace and calm. It was the time of the rule of the
  • Constantine I, the time of great reconstruction and intense building of important objects of high quality, mainly of public
  • character. This construction falls in the time immediately after the Tetrarchy. In that period the most representative
  • building, Civil Basilica was built. It was a public building, a courthouse, located in the southern part of the town (only the
  • 28 meters long eastern section has been excavated). The section once was a large room with wide apses on its northern
  • end. Its floor was covered by mosaic with geometrical motifs. The preserved wall ornaments include portion of marble
  • beams, bases and colons, as well as one Corinthian capital.
  • To the fourth, or the last construction period of Roman Scupi belongs the construction of the objects erected by the
  • highest level. The objects of this construction period are dated from the period of the late Antique; it is the period Scupi
  • became an episcopacy seat. This age was marked with a rapid fall of the economic power, which by analogy, affected the
  • quality of the architecture and the contents of the accompanying material. The objects were built in techniques that do
  • not show the particular care, which speaks of restless and uncertain times. Buildings dated from this period are the
  • Christian Basilica, the object with an apse oriented towards the east and the two walls that partition the area to the
  • north of the baths. The basilica was presumably restored at the end of the V century, nevertheless it certainly did not
  • survive the notorious earthquake of 518 A.D. that devastated the town of Scupi and which was mentioned by Comes
  • Marcellinus, who wrote that the citizens had escaped before the Barbarians came into the demolished city. After that
  • numerous objects were rebuilt, but in primitive technique where the bonding material was mud instead of mortar. The
  • floors were made of firmly packed earth, and the fireplaces were also built very primitively. And finally, these objects
  • were ignored as well, by digging pits in certain rooms which contained Mediaeval Finds and by building stone walls and
  • floors appropriate to them, at the top level, and also by graves that by the construction, indicate to be Medieval.

3.

  • THE EXCAVATION
  • The archeological excavations of the Antique site of Scupi started in the period between the two world wars. The work
  • was concentrated on discovering more spectacular objects, but without particular concept or plan. The objects that were
  • separated in such way from the urbanity structure, could not give any significant results considering the urbanity issues,
  • the communication and the history of the city.
  • Appreciating the significance of Scupi for the study of Antique history and culture, in 1966 the Museum of the City of
  • Skopje started, for the first time, a planned and systematic research of this city, and with some breaks, it is still going on.
  • So far, researches were carried out over the territory of the city and in the necropolises. The first expert leading the
  • systematic researches and a long time explorer of Scupi was professor Milutin Garasanin, who was also the first to
  • propose a long-term and perspective working plan and set the main directions of the system of field works, which are
  • still being applied.
  • In the past period of 30 years, the scope of the explored location is pretty modest. We must point out that the main
  • reason for that was always due to financial problems, since there was never enough money to carry out the planed
  • works thoroughly. These delayed excavations caused serious difficulties in solving many problems, like when carrying out
  • preservation and protection measures. Yet, it is important that the excavations have provided, so far, a solid basis for
  • further researches which can be carried out on a larger scope; this will give results that could provide the solution and a
  • detailed analysis of the most important questions.
  • CIVIL BASILICA
  • It is situated at the city forum. According to its plan it is a three-nave basilica with a double apse facing the west. Its whole
  • northern part, which is 2 meters wide, and a part of its central nave are discovered, as well as a part of the apse, where only half
  • of the arch is unearthed, because the other part of the central and the southern nave are under the irrigation trench, which runs
  • parallel to the basilica. Because of this parts of the central and the southern nave, as well as the narthex, have never been
  • unearthed. The entrance to the building was probably located at its eastern side and it went under the electrical transformer

4.

  • station.
  • The walls of the basilica are rather massive and built in the opus quadratum technique. The basis of the outer northern wall is
  • 1,70 meters. In this part of the apse, three flying buttress were discovered, which were built of stone in their basis, while the
  • upper part was built with bricks. Average dimensions: length of about 0,90 meters and width of 0,90 m. On the inner wall with a
  • base of 1,90 meters, which is the wall between the central and the northern nave, there are half-columns (pilaster) built of brick
  • and mortar. On the average they are 1,20 meters long and 60 cm wide.
  • The floor of the northern nave was not preserved, while the floor of the central nave is covered with a mosaic of a high artistic
  • value. The mosaic was made in two versions of a geometric style created by combining black and white tiles.
  • In the area which closes the inner apse, the mosaic has a pattern of unfinished semicircles, or to be more precise, they
  • are somewhat smaller and divided into two halves, which were built in two different combinations, i.e. light and dark,
  • which interchange, which gives an impression that the surface is a relief.
  • In fact, a larger part of the mosaic in the central nave is created with other forms of geometric combinations, such as
  • circles filled with spherical rhombs. That is, a dark rhomb is positioned into the large white circle, while in its center
  • there is a small dark rhomb. The borderline is created by stripes, first there are two thin stripes, a white and a dark one,
  • and it ends with one wide white stripe.
  • Its closest analogy can be seen in the mosaic in the large storage in the harbor of Tomi (Constanca), which is dated to be
  • from the 4 thcentury. There are also some analogies with a mosaic of one building in Apolonia, which has been dated by
  • M. Korkuti in the 2 nd- 3 rdcentury. There is also an analogy with the mosaic in one Villa Rustica in Diklo near Zadar, dated
  • somewhere between the 1 stcentury and the end of the antic period.
  • In this part of the building a number of fragments from a wall mosaic were discovered facing the floor, which could
  • suggest the interpretation that they probably decorated the walls of this monumental building. The wall mosaic was
  • made of a large number of small squares varying in dimension and color, but unfortunately their composition could not
  • be interpreted.
  • It is important to point out that some larger parts of decorative and architectural plastic were discovered in the building,
  • such as: beams with cogged decoration, column bases and shafts, etc. Among them, there is one exceptionally well
  • preserved Corinthian capital, a rare representative of this type!

5.

  • All of this suggest the conclusion that the basilica had a remarkable construction of its walls and very rich and luscious
  • internal decoration, and based on these qualities it could be numbered as one of the most representative localities in
  • the Roman Skupi.
  • Its stratigraphical situation can be deducted from its basic elements. Its eastern part is erected over some buildings from
  • an older date, probably originating from the Roman Period or the earliest known construction period. The remaining
  • larger part of the basilica is situated over the ruins of walls from the 2 ndand the 3 rdcentury, and over fire debris. This is
  • further verified by the discovered movable archaeological finds. It was possible to explore the building only 28 meters in
  • its length and 10 meters in its width. Unfortunately, all the wishes and attempts to continue the works on this location
  • were unsuccessful.
  • The building is positioned in the direction east to west, with a slight deviation, and it belongs in the period of the early
  • 4 thcentury (T. 5).
  • Professor M. Grasanin, who discovered and studied the complex of the civil basilica says: "It can certainly be assumed
  • that it was located at the forum. If we accept that the luxurious buildings, which were reviled when the canal was dug in
  • 1971, were connected to the forum, and having in mind the direction of the street, then the forum should lie between
  • these buildings and the civil basilica".
  • The list of existing literature:
  • Dusanka Koracevic Scupi, city territory; The Museum of the city of Skopje 2002
  • Borka Dragojevic Josifovska: Inscriptions de la Mesie superieure vol. VI, Scupi et la region de Kumanovo 1982, 14 f.,nota 12
  • N.Vulic Roman theater near Skopje; Belgrade, 1961, 4 23
  • B. Alemsova Scupi Archeological survey, 1959, 116
  • G.Spasovska Tombstone inscription by M.Valerius marinus decurio of colonia Scupi , Skopje 1973, 273-276
  • I. Mikulcic Life antique XXI, The territory of Scupi, 1971,436 - 468

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