previous next

EMONA (Ljubljana) Yugoslavia.

The present capital of Slovenia was originally a prehistoric village with river port which became a Roman defense point, Augustan colonia, and an episcopal see of late antiquity. It is at the juncture of the Gradaščica and the Ljubljanica, on the N bank of a morass reaching in the S to the Karst-Highs of Inner Carniola. The city is on the only road joining the Apennines to the Balkan peninsula, and from prehistoric times to the barbarian migrations and beyond it bore almost all the traffic between Italy and the provinces of Pannonia, Moesia, Dalmatia, and Noricum. In antiquity there was already a legend that associated the foundation of the city with the wintering here of the fleeing Argonauts.

On the river bank an Iron Age necropolis was found. The settlement with which it was connected has not yet been found. Sporadic La Tène finds and references of ancient authors indicate that Celts (Tauriscians) settled here in the 2d and 1st c. B.C. The city was raised to the rank of colonia in the Augustan period, and received a circuit wall (523 x 425 m) with towers, fortified gates (the porta praetoria has been excavated and preserved, as has the S wall) and a city plan of five cardines crossing seven decumani at right angles. Of the 48 insulae into which it was divided, two in the center were used for the forum and its buildings (basilica, religious center, portlcos with shops). Some elements of it are preserved. The insulae had drains leading to the cloacae which ran under the decumani and into the navigable Ljubljanica. Insulae were remodeled from time to time and even razed. The one that stood on the SE corner of the city, today called Jakopičev Vrt, has been preserved and put on view. In the NW part of the city Christians met for prayer in a private dwelling in the 3d c. The complex that resulted was rebuilt in the course of the 4th c. as a public center for sacred activities. A large segment of it including an octagonal baptistery with portico, floor mosaics with donor inscriptions, and the building's inscription have been uncovered (preserved in situ; late 4th c.). The religious center is contemporary with St. Jerome, who carried on a lively correspondence with friends in the city.

The roads to Aquileia, Celeia, and Siscia were flanked by necropoleis. The grave goods (1st-5th c.) illustrate the material level of day-to-day life known by the inhabitants, concerning whom we are also relatively well informed by inscriptions. The city was in the midst of relatively rich surroundings and had its own water supply. The inhabitants lived for the most part from river and road traffic.

Simplicius, vicarius Urbis in 375, came from Emona. As the sources show, few political events bypassed Emona, which was particularly involved with Maximinus Thrax (238), Theodosius (388), and Alaric (401).


W. Schmid, “Emona,” Jahrbuch für Altertumskunde 7 (1913)MPI; Zgodovina Ljubljane 1 (1955)MPI; J. Šašel, “Emona,” RE Suppl. XI (1968)P; L. Plesničar, Jakopičev Vrt (1968); id., Katalog severne emonske nekropole (1972)PI; S. Petru, Emonske nekropole (1972)PI.


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: