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451Roman Silver / Cibalae

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  • James Mathews
    Jul 27, 2013
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      >>>> Roman Silver / Cibalae <<<<

      Forty-eight items of Roman Silver were recovered in Vinkovci, Croatia.  These items consisting of bowls, plates, jugs, and spoons is touted in archaeological circles as one of the greatest finds of the century.  All of the materials in the hoard were recovered by professional archaeologists so, the full and complete context of the find was recorded, with a great deal of detail and additional information besides the silver hoard itself.  

      The reporter from the City Museum in Vinkovci, Hrvoje Vulic, in reporting the find indicated that the silver had been found in a pit that had been lined with Roman Brick, very likely a prepared storage area for valuables.  The pit was located in the city center of the town which has been declared a “heritage zone” and is protected by ordinance from any excavations  or development.  This “protection” includes the attendance of an archaeologist and a preliminary archaeological survey of the area.

      Much of the hoard was further decorated by engravings of various animals, structures, plants, people, and pastoral / hunting scenes.  Further, several of the items were carefully decorated with the use of gold leaf.  One of the plates was signed (probably by the maker) as “AQVILA  ANTONIVS FECIT” (‘made by Antonius Aquila’)The private company which was involved in the development project was the Geoarheo Co.  This find is considered to be the greatest achievement to date in the some forty years of excavation in Vinkovci by both the City Museum as well as private company in the area.  These excavations are termed as “rescue excavations due to the finds and work with in the city center as well as nearby.  

      These excavations have revealed that the Vinkovci area has been occupied in continuous habitation since the Neolithic period some 8,000 years ago.  The area was host to the first Roman settlers who arrived some time in the 1st century AD, and who by the late third century and early fourth century had founded and grown the city of Cibalae into the third largest town within the Province of Pannonia with an estimated population of nearly 10,000 people.  Vulic further explained,” that these silver vessels would probably have belonged to a wealthy citizen of Cibalae who took the precaution to bury the hoard when the city was threatened by unsafe conditions that shook the Roman Empire at this time.”

      Cibalae was founded in Pannonia (later Lower Pannonia) on a tributary of the Save River between that river and the Danube.  This is noted as a prehistoric site and became a Roman municipium and then a colony, probably in the times of Hadrian (AD 117 - 38) and Septimus Severus (AD 192 - 211) respectively.  It was also the birthplace of Valentian (r. 364-375) and Valens (r. 364-378).  The city was situated at the intersection of two roads  leading to the great military bases of Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica), Siscia (Sisak), Mursa Major (Osijek) and Aquincum (Budapest).

      During the first two civil wars between Constantine I the Great and Licinius (c 316), a major battle  was fought a few miles from Cibalae (probably at Vukovar).  Although Licinius’ army of 35,000 men was encamped in a wide plain, Constantine with 30,000 troops advanced through a defile (between a hill and a swamp) to meet him, and after a ferocious engagement the forces of Licinius fled, with a loss, it was said of 20,000 lives, and the entire mass of heavy equipment carried by the army.  A subsequent engagement at Campus Ardiensis in Thrace proved indecisive, and the two men temporarily came to an agreement, according to which Licinius ceded Illyricum (except Thrace) to his rival  Recent excavations at Cibalae have yielded a number of discoveries , including hydraulic installations.

      References:

      --Hrvoje Vulic, “Roman Vessels, Vinkovci, Croatia,” Current World Archaeology, Issue 53, June/July 2012, Vol. 5-#5, Lamb House, Church Street, London, UK, Page 8, www.world-archaeology.com;

      --Michael Grant, “A Guide To the Ancient World, A Dictionary Of Classical Place 
      Names,” The H.W. Wilson Co., 1986.

      Respectfully Submitted;

      Marcus Audens