The ruins of a
Roman castrum on a plateau at the SW edge of a village
11 km W of Zaječar near the Bulgarian border. The
ancient name of the site is unknown although the center
must have played an important role in the region as the
juncture of the routes Bononia-Castra Martis-Horreum
Margi (Čuprija) and Aquae-Timacum Minus-Naissus
(Nis). It was part of Dacia Ripensis after the organization
of that province by Aurelian in the 3d c. During that
century the castrum was founded, and it presumably
served as the administrative center for the mining, goldpanning, and quarrying operations in the area. The two
phases of destruction detected have been attributed to
the Hunnic invasion of 441 and the Slavic invasions of
the late 6th c.
The plan of the town is an irregular trapezoid ca. 300
by 230 m. The town walls, constructed of opus mixtum,
are 4 m thick and exceptionally well-preserved for the
entire perimeter. Six round towers, counting the corner
towers twice, are located on each of the four sides. The
wall may have been constructed as late as the reign of
Justinian when there was other rebuilding on the site.
Excavations have noted traces of walls belonging to
10 buildings, but the campaigns concentrated on one
large building near the center of the town in the NW
quadrant. The building, or rather complex of structures,
is a rectangle (54 x 34 m) and was built in the 3d c.
The S and W exterior walls were revetted with multicolor
marble plaques, using serpentine and porphyry, and were
further elaborated with marble pilasters. The interior
walls were covered with marble on their lower extent;
fresco covered the rest of the walls, separated from the
marble revetment by a stuccoed molding. The chief entrance was from the marble-paved street to the E through
a colonnaded gateway and into a long vestibule. An octagonal room with a hypocaust lies to the N which communicates, via a descent of two steps, with a large room
on the N. This room has an apse on the E with a raised
floor reached by two broad steps.
The mosaic pavement of the vestibule is a highly
colorful tapestry pattern with a series of octagonal fields
bearing a variety of geometric motives. A room opening
to the S from the vestibule has as one main panel a
hexagonal trompe l'oeil with town gates at the angles
connected by representations of city walls crowned by
ramparts; a gadrooned kantharos fills the NE corner.
The apsidal room has mosaics with geometric motives
along the side walls and, in the center, a masterly representation of venatores and panthers in a large panel
framed by a guilloche border. Other animal scenes, less
well preserved, were also in the central area. The mosaics in the apsidal room have been dated to the 4th c.,
probably also the date of those in the vestibule.
The function of the building is not known; the excavators suggest that it was either a praetorium or a bath.
It was built over in the mid 6th c. by a smaller apsidal
construction, and there is some evidence of renewed use
in the 9th-10th c. The earliest material reported from
the site is a group of 3d c. funeral monuments.
Finds from Gamzigrad are in the museums in Zaječar
Djordje Mano-Zissi, “Le castrum de
Gamzigrad et ses mosaiques,” Archaeologia Jugoslavica
2 (1956) 67-84; Vladimir Popović, “Antički Gamzigrad,”
Limes u Jugoslaviji
I (1961) 145-53; M. Čanak-Medić,
“Kasnoantička Palata kod Gamzigrada,” Velika Arheološka Nalazišta u Srbiji