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GAMZIGRAD Yugoslavia.

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 and Negotin.


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 (1974) 61-76MPI.


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