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Osanjici - the town of Daorson

Daorson (Greek: ΔΑΟΡΣΩΝ) was the capital of the Hellenized Illyrian tribe of Daors who lived from 300 to 50 BC in the Neretva River valley. The remains of this once strongest city in the wider area are located in Ošanjići, near Stolac in Herzegovina. It consisted of three units, the central of which was the fortress – the acropolis, which was surrounded by “cyclopean” walls of huge stone blocks (similar to those in Mycenae in Greece).

It housed all the important administrative, public and religious buildings. The defensive wall stretching from southwest to northeast was 65 m long, 4.2 m wide, and between 4.5 and 7.5 m high, with gates and towers at both ends. The Daors took over the Greek language and script, and were in constant trade relations with the Greeks. Remains of numerous wine amphorae and fine pottery were found, but the most valuable find is a bronze helmet decorated with several Greek figures: Aphrodite, Nike, Helium, Dionysus, Muse, Pegasus and others, and the inscription on it is similar to the inscription on the helmet found in Macedonia. Remains of a granite sculpture of Kadma and Harmony were also found, as well as an Illyrian relief with thirteen snakes and five pairs of eagle wings. A coin mint with commemorative tools and stencils, 39 various coins (29 with the image of King Ballaios from 168 BC, and 9 with the Greek inscription ΔΑΟΡΣΩΝ and the image of a ship) was found in a small building. The importance of money was great, it meant the independence of the Daors tribe, but also confirmation that they had developed crafts, culture and trade with other nations. The old Hellenistic town of Daorson is located on the site of Gradina and Banja in Ošanići, Stolac municipality, and is composed of three connected units whose layout is conditioned by the configuration of the terrain. The central part is occupied by the dominant Gradina or Acropolis, on the south and southwest of which there are suburban terraces on the Reef, while on the east side there is a pre-acropolis area in Banja with residential and commercial and commercial parts of the settlement. It is known that from 167 BC. The Neretva was the northwestern border of the Roman Republic in the Balkans, as well as the border of the Daors, who enjoyed a kind of autonomy within that state. At that time, the Daors were attacked from the direction of the Cetina River by the Delmati, a powerful warrior tribe, whose power in some periods extended across the Cetina in the direction of the Neretva River. Due to frequent Delmatian attacks, the Daors in 158 BC. appealed to the Roman Senate. The war against the Delmats was fought from 156 to 155 BC, and the Romans launched war operations against the Delmats from Narona (near present-day Metković), where they had a strong foothold and support from the Daors. They protected the Neretva from the Delmats even before the arrival of the Roman army in Narona. In that war, the Delmats were severely defeated and weakened for a long time.

During the wars between Caesar’s and Pompey’s supporters on our Adriatic coast, the Delmats were again on one side and the Daors on the other. Pompey’s legacy was in 49 BC. allied with the Delmatians and their tribes. The tribes associated with these Delmats certainly did not belong to the Daors, for Caesar’s praetor Vatinius began war operations against the Delmats no later than the spring of 45 BC. It is almost certain that it was at this time (44/43 AD) that the Delmatians attacked the center of Daors, the city of Daorson, and completely destroyed it. From the data on the wars of the Roman praetor Vatinius against Delmat, the time of the destruction of the city of Daorson and the definitive cessation of life in that city can be determined quite accurately. Archaeological material from the fortress dates from the second half of the 1st century BC, which coincides with the presumed time of the attack on the city and the interruption of life in it.

At the time of the collapse of the Roman Republic (around 27 BC) the Daors had 17 decuries (Roman municipalities), and at the beginning of the Roman Empire the Delmatians had as many as 342 decuries, which speaks volumes about the power relations after the wars. Then part of the Daors tribe was destroyed. A more permanent settlement was never built on the ruins of the town of Daorson. Individual and rare finds are represented in this area from various epochs and centuries, even the most recent times, because people often moved there. Later, the new center of Daors developed in the part of Vidovo polje and today’s Stolac, at the beginning of the 1st century BC. as the municipality of Diluntum.

The first data on the archeological site known today as Daorson were published by K. Hörmann and V. Radimsky in 1892. A detailed geodetic survey of the terrain was performed in 1956. The most extensive research was carried out along the southwest tower and the main city gate, as well as partly along the megalithic wall on the inside and outside. The city promenade on the south side of the Acropolis next to the Great Mound, the city stairs and the small sanctuary or temple and the area around the northwest defensive tower were explored in detail. Research work was also carried out on the city cistern, in the area along the northern and eastern transverse ramparts, on the Great Mound and near the northeastern tower, where another, auxiliary or northeastern city gate was discovered. A dozen residential buildings were discovered on the Reef, and a whole series of buildings for various purposes were read in Banja. In parallel, since 1963, in several campaigns, conservation work was carried out on the megalithic walls, but they were insufficient, so the already discovered objects were reburied, thus protecting them from the effects of weather and earthquakes. The complete movable material from the site excavated during all these years is in the depot of the Prehistoric Department of the Archaeological Department of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.

Today, more than three and a half thousand years later, Daorson is witnessing the burden of years with its megalithic walls. Centuries of mighty and glorious history today have not been transformed into a tourist attraction. So only recently have benches and rubbish bins been set up on the lookout in front of the complex. Also, until half a year ago, it was almost impossible to reach this site by car, but the activities of the Federal Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports have improved the road and certain steps have been taken to promote the attractiveness of this site.

The Archaeological Site of the Hellenistic City of Daorson in Ošanići near Stolac has been declared a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina and has been published in the Official Gazette of BiH, No. 15/03. and at the session of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments held from 21 to 27 January 2003. Official Gazette of the Federation of BiH, no. 2/02 and 27/02.

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