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JUSTINIANA PRIMA (Caričin Grad) Yugoslavia.

The remains of an important city of the Early Christian period near the village of Caričin Grad, ca. 30 km SW of Leskovac in S Serbia.

The city occupies a long, high ridge in a fertile, hilly district and was founded early in the reign of Justinian. The city walls cover an area over 500 m N-S and ca. 215 m E-W. There are additional fortifications around the inner acropolis near the NW limit of the city and another E-W wall with a gate separates the N and lower S areas of the community.

There is a circular forum near the N end of the city and paved, colonnaded streets extend from it in four directions; the one to the E leads directly to a large gate through the city wall and the W street enters the acropolis. On the acropolis is a large basilica of two stories with a ground plan that includes a nave with two side aisles and three apses at the E. There is a complex of building N of the basilica and a large, quatrefoil baptistery with a cruciform piscina on the S.

There were at least five other churches in the ancient city, all dating to the 6th c. Of special interest is a long basilica in the S area which has a tripartite transept and a colonnaded atrium. Mosaics on the floor of the narthex and in the naos are well-preserved and depict in large panels scenes of the Good Shepherd, hunters and savage beasts, centaurs, and amazons. The excavators point to analogies for the style and symbolism to mosaics in the imperial palace in Constantinople and to mosaics in Nikopolis. The architectural decoration of the basilica suggests a date of 525-50.

An unusual martyrium is located in the NE quarter of the city where most of the shops and industrial works may be found. The martyrium is a three-aisled basilica with an apse. The crypt, like the basilica above, has three aisles, all vaulted, extending the whole length of the church. Another smaller basilica with a nave separated from the two side aisles by arcades is S of the acropolis. Outside the central gate on the E is a large bath with a hypocaust and an apodeuterium that is triconchial in plan. Another church lies to the S which has apses on the N and S as well as on the E.

The city was probably Justinia Prima which Justinian founded near his birthplace of Tauresium. Justiniana Prima, earlier thought to have been at Scupi (modern Skopje), was the seat of the archibishop in Dardania and was the principal city in the region during the 6th c. It was destroyed in the late 6th or early 7th c., but archaeological evidence shows that it was revived in the 9th and 10th c.

The principal excavations were conducted from the 1940s to the 1960s. Many of the architectural fragments can be seen at the site; most of the smaller finds are in the museum in Leskovac.


A. Grabar, “Les monuments de Tzaritchingrad,” CahArch 3 (1948) 49-63; N. Spremo-Petrović, “Bazilika sa kriptom u Caričinom Gradu,” Starinar 3-5 (1952-53)PI; D. Mano-Zissi, “Iskopavanje na Caričinu Gradu 1949-1952 godine,” ibid., 3-5 (1952-53) 127-68MPI; id., “Terme kraj srednje u suvurviumu Caričina Grada,” ibid., 20 (1969) 205-12PI; A. Deroko, “Excavations at C-G in 1947,” ibid., 1 (1950) 119-42PI; C. A. Raleigh-Radford, “Justiniana Prima . . . ,” Antiquity 28 (1954) 15-18I; D. Mano-Zissi, “Caričin Grad,” Velika Arheološka Nalazišta u Srbiji (1974) 78-88MPI.


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