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Vjesnik Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu, Vol.39 No.1 Prosinac 2006.

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Bellum Pannonicum (12-11 BC). The final stage of the conquest of the southern Pannonia

Alka Domić-Kunić ; Archaeological department of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences

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Greek and Roman authors mention Pannonia as a mountaineous country rich in forests and marshes and very cold in winter (Tibullus, Panegyr. Mess., 3.7,108–109; Strabo, 7.5,2 and 7.5,10; Ovid, Ad Liviam, 390; Velleius Paterculus, 2.115,4; Pliny the Elder, Nat. hist., 3.25,147; Pliny the Younger, Panegyr. Traiani, 12.4; Tacitus, Ann., 1.17; Florus, 1.39,3; Appianus, Illyr., 4.18–19, 4.22, 5.25 and 27; Herodian, 6.7,6 and 8.1,1; Cassius Dio, 49.36,2–4 and 55.32,3; Aurelius Victor, Epit. de Caes., 41.5; SHA, Probus, 21.2; Enodius, Panegyr. ad Theod., 7.206; Zosimus, 2.18,2). Nevertheless,
Pannonian territory was of considerable strategical, trading and even economic importance to the Roman world from the late Republican times onwards. Therefore it is not surprising that already in the 2nd century B.C. Rome showed its interest in the area southeast of the Alps, as it is obvious from Polybius’ report on the rich gold layer in the land of the Taurisci (in Strabo, 4.6,12), from Strabo’s report on early trading between Rome and the Danubian region (5.1,8; 4.6,10 and 7.5,2) (see also Pliny the Elder, Nat. hist., 3.18,128; Tacitus, Ann., 1.20) and also from Polybius’ fragment on what was probably the first war waged in Pannonia (frg. 64 Suda). As the most important
trading points mentioned were Nauportus (Vrhnika on the Ljubljanica river), Emona (Ljubljana) and Segestica (Sisak, both on the Sava river), and Poetovio (Ptuj) as their counterpart on the Drava.
Until the middle of the 1st century AD, the term Pannonia covered the territory between the Drava and the Sava rivers, stretching to the south as far as the northern slopes of the Dinara mountain range (Strabo, 7.5,3 and 7.5,10; Florus, 2.24; Appian, Illyr., 3.14 and 4.22; Isidorus, Etymolog., 14.16). Not until Augustus’ administrative measures was the province of Illyricum divided into two separate provinces, Dalmatia and Pannonia, and after the annexation of the area north of the Drava river during the reign of Claudius, the name of Pannonia embraced the western part of Hungary as well, its south reaches stretching to the northern slopes of the Bosnian mountains.
Pannonia was a part of the Mediterranean oecumene, representing the northernmost edge of the world known to the Greeks (Herodotus, 4.49; Apollonius, Argonaut., 4.282–292 and 4.324– 326; Pliny the Elder, Nat. hist., 3.18,128), The Danube and the Sava rivers (as well as the Ljubljanica) were a part of the praehistorical trans-European communication network which combined overland and fluvial routes intersecting the whole continent. Most important was the Amber Road, a much travelled trade route beginning on the Baltic shore and ending in the north corner of the Adriatic. Nevertheless, the Greek knowledge of Pannonia was both incomplete and distorted (Strabo,
2.1,41, 7.5,1 and 7.5,9 – on Theopompus, Eratosthenes, Timosthenes and Polybius), excluding Posidonius (passim in Strabo, especially in 7.5,2, 7.5,10 and 7.5,12 for the land of the Scordisci). Therefore, Rome could not have inherited much of the knowledge on Pannonia. During 150 years of conquering of the Pannonia, Rome gradually came to know well its geographical features and its inhabitants. The first reliable information on the area was gathered during the expedition of Octavianus Augustus (35–33 B.C.) and was recorded in Strabo’s and especially in Appian’s books. The inhabitants of Pannonia were known as very brave and belligerent people (Velleius Paterculus, 2.110,5 and 2.115,4; Appian, Illyr., 4.24; Herodian, 2.9,11; Cassius Dio, 49.36,3; Mammertinus, Panegyr. Maxim. Aug., II(10)2). Their society was organized on a clan system, their settlements were mainly rural, with several protourban exceptions at important communication points (Nauportus, Emona, Segestica and Sirmium on the Save trade route, Poetovio and Mursa on the Drave –
see Fig. 2). This paper attempts to give an accurate distribution of ethnical communities in Pannonia south of the Drava based primarily on authoress’ analysis of classical literary and epigraphic sources.
It is, of course, only a suggestion. Unfortunately, the promise Velleius Paterculus gave to his readers (In another place I shall describe the tribes of the Pannonians and the races of Dalmatians,
the situation of their country and its rivers, the number and extent of their forces, and the many glorious victories won in the course of this war by this great commander, 2.96,2–3) was not fulfilled, at least as far as we know. So, the proposed ethnical picture is based on other literary sources (Strabo, Pliny the Elder, Appian, Cassius Dio) which were themselves, based on the Orbis Pictus of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, dating from the very end of the 1st century B.C. The authoress proposes the following ethnical distribution (Fig. 3): in general, the area west of the Mons Claudius (mountains
surrounding the Po`ega basin) was occupied by the Taurisci and the area east of the mountain by the Scordisci, both of the Celtic origin. The Taurisci, who settled the upper Sava valley, were predominant
over several Pannonian communities, i. e. the Serretes and the Serapilli (upper Drava valley), the Iasi (between Aquae Iasae/ Varaždinske Toplice and Aquae Balizae/Daruvar, extending
to the south as far as Pakrac and Lipik), theVarciani (from Žumberačka Gora and Medvednica along the Sava north of Segestica/Sisak), the Colapiani (along the river Kupa, as far as its confluence with the Sava, with eastern border in the lower Una valley) and the Osseriates (between the mouths of the Una and the Vrbas, probably as far as the mouth of the river Bosna). The Scordisci were settled along the confluence of the Sava and the Danube. The area of their political influence covered the Andizeti (the lower Drava valley, Baranja and eastern Slavonia probably with Cibalae/Vinkovci as the southernmost point), the Amantini (Srijem), the Breuci (the Sava valley, from the mouth of the Orljava river eastwards, holding both banks of the Sava and reaching the Danube in the vicinity of Vukovar) and the community of the Cornacati (around Sotin, south of Vukovar) who were probably of Breucian origin. South of the Sava river, in the area where the political influence of the Pannonian Celts was reduced to their more or less noticeable cultural influence, there were some of the most powerful
Pannonian communities, mentioned by Strabo (7.5,3). Their ethnical territories spread over the vast mountaineous area ending on the northern slopes of the Velebit and the Dinara mountains in the
hinterland of the Adriatic sea. There lay, according to Strabo (7.5,3) and Appian (Illyr., 3.14 and 4.22) the southernmost ethnical border of the Pannonians towards the non-Pannonian communities.
The southern Pannonians were the Maezaei (between the lower Una and Vrbas valleys, as far as the northern slopes of Grme~ and Srnetica to the south), the Ditiones (south of Maezaei, between the
Mount Plje{evica to the west, the Vijenac and Šator mountains or perhaps even Dinara to the south, and the easternmost slopes of Klekova~a and Lunjeva~a to the east), and the Daesitiates (between
the Vrbas and perhaps the Drina valleys, extending as far as the mountains south of Sarajevo). There were also several smaller ethnical communities (cfr. Strabo, 7.5,3), probably the Deretini, the Dindari, the Glinditiones and the Melcumanni, all probably within the vast area of the Daesitiates who, according to the authoress, politically dominated the communities mentioned. According to Greek and Roman written sources, Roman interest in Pannonia dates back to
the beginning of the 2nd century B.C. at the latest. According to Polybius (in Strabo, 4.6,12), rich gold deposits were found in the land of the Taurisci. Rome showed interest in its northeastern neighbourhood during the final stage of the Roman Republic, and probably evolved a long-term plan for conquering the area beyond the southeastern Alps. The starting point of all Roman military expeditions to Pannonia was Aquileia, founded in the 2nd century B.C. as a trading post and a military base in the northern corner of the Adriatic. It is widely supposed that the first historically confirmed armed conflict between the Romans and the Pannonians (Polybius, frg. 64 Suda) took place in the territory of Pannonian Segestica. If so,
Segestica was the first and the principal target of the Roman army as early as 156 B.C., and was periodically attacked during the next 120 years. In the same year there was a war against the Delmatae and the Scordisci (Livy, Per., 47; Strabo, 7.5.5; Florus, 2.25; Cassius Dio in Zonaras, 9.25; Iulius Obsequens, Prodig., 16). The Scordisci probably took part as the allies of the Delmatae, although it is possible that there was another (separated) war against them in the same year. During the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. Rome waged several wars against the Scordisci, all of them on the northern border of the province of Macedonia, far away south of the Scordiscian central region around the mouth of the Sava (Livy, Per., 56 and 63; Eutropius, 4.24 and 4.27; Velleius Paterculus, 2.8.3; Appian, Illyr., 1.5). Only after the victorious expedition of Caius Scribonius Curio (cos. 76 B.C.), did the scene of further fighting move far north, to Scordiscian territory (Orosius, 5.23.20; Florus, 1.39.6); between 16 and 12 B.C. the Scordisci were subdued and became Roman allies
(Cassius Dio, 54.20.3; 54.31,3; Suetonius, Tib., 9) The next historically testified military campaign in Pannonia was the penal expedition of Tiberius Sempronius Tuditanus (cos. 129 B.C.) against the Histri, the Carni, the Taurisci and the Iapodes (Pliny the Elder, Nat. hist., 3.19.129; Appian, Illyr., 2.10; Livy, Per., 59). It is possible that Tuditanus reached Pannonian communities which were politically dependent on the Taurisci, at least those in the Sava valley, i. e. the Varciani. Tuditanus’ victory over the Iapodes south of Velika
and Mala Kapela was the prior condition for further military successes in Pannonia, because the Roman legions controlled the upper course of the river, with Pannonian Segestica at arm’s reach. The city was attacked ten years later (in 119 B.C.) by the consul Lucius Aurelius Cotta and by Lucius Caecilius Metellus Diadematus (cos. 117 B.C.), the cousin of the actual consul and his namesake (nicknamed Delmaticus). Although Appian gives contradictory information (Illyr., 2.10 and 4.22), it seems very probable that Segestica was not seized, although it was besieged for the second time in its history. During the same time, the second war against the Delmatae was
completed successfully by L. Caecilius Metellus Delmaticus (Livy, Per., 62; Appian, Illyr., 2.10; Eutropius, 4.23; Orosius, 5.24).
The 1st century B.C. was a crucial period for the Roman Republic. During that time, Rome experienced the Bellum Italicum (the allied war, 91 B.C.) as well as the civil war (Marius vs. Sulla), and started long-term wars against the kingdom of Parthia. Given these circumstances, Pannonia was probably not in the focus of interest of Roman foreign policy. Not even Caius Iulius Caesar, appointed
as governor of the provinces of Gallia Cisalpina and Illyricum, was interested in the military advancing in Pannonia, although he planned to attack the Dacians, Pannonian northern neighbours, who were menacing Roman possession east of Italy (Strabo, 7.3.11; Suetonius, Caes., 44; Appian, Illyr., 4.18 and 3.15). Namely, holding Segestica was the main prerequisite to a successful campaign against the Dacians (Appian, Illyr., 4.22 and 4.23; Strabo, 4.6.10 and 7.5.2).
The final stage in conquering Segestica was the military expedition waged by Caius Iulius Caesar Octavianus in 35–33 B.C. The future emperor not only captured the city, but also subdued the territory south of the city, conquering the Kupa valley (the land of the Colapiani) as well as the regions of Lika and Gorski Kotar (the land of the northern Iapodes) (Appian, Illyr., 4.18–24; Cassius Dio, 49.35 and 49.37; Strabo, 7.5.4; Florus, 2.23; Livy, Per., 131; Rufius Festus, 7). Octavianus also waged war against the Delmatae (Appian, Illyr., 5.25–27; Cassius Dio, 49.38; Livy, Per., 132 and 133; Strabo, 7.5.5; Suetonius, Aug., 20 and 22), reaffirming the Roman control over the Adriatic coast and its hinterland. It seems that Octavianus did not attempt to advance further east along the Sava, but concentraded on his principal goal – taking Segestica. Possession over this settlement was the prior precondition for conquering the rest of Pannonia and reaching the Danube. The area conquered or pacified by Octavianus during the Illyrian war (35–33 B.C.) is outlined in Appian’s account of these events; the eastern border of Roman Illyricum probably did not extend eastwards of the territories of the Iasi (in the Drava valley) and the Colapiani (in the Sava valley), reaching the westernmost slopes of the mountains surrounding the Požega basin (Fig. 5; Fig. 6 shows the position of the Roman military camps controlling the Roman possessions after the campaign 35–33 B.C.). Tiberius Claudius Nero, the adopted son of Octavianus Augustus and one of his best army commanders, completed the conquest of Pannonia in the Pannonian war 12–11 B.C. (Cassius Dio, 54.24.3; 54.28.1–2; 54.31; 54.34.3; 54.36.2–3; 55.2.4; Velleius Paterculus, 2.39.3; 2.96.2–3; Suetonius, Aug., 20 and 21; Suetonius, Tib., 9 and 14; Res gestae, 30; Frontinus, Strateg., 2.1.5; Livy, Per., 141; Florus, 2.24; Festus, Brev., 7; Eutropius, 7.9). This war was traditionally dated to 13–9 B.C., but historical sources are quite clear concerning its beginning early in 12 B.C. (Cassius Dio, 54.28.1–2) as well as its termination in 11 B.C. (Cassius Dio, 54.36.2; 55.2.4). During the campaign Tiberius subdued all Pannonian communities east of the Požega basin (including the basin itself), and reached the Danube in its reaches between the mouths of the Drava and the Sava rivers (Res gestae, 30). In this way the Andizeti in the Drava valley with their main centre in Mursa (Osijek), came under direct Roman control and also the Breuci (Cibalae/ Vinkovci, Marsonia/ Slavonski Brod) and the Amantini (Sirmium/ Srijemska Mitrovica), both in the Sava valley; as is mentioned above, the Scordisci were acting as Roman allies during the war. After a thorough analysis of written sources regarding the Pannonian war 12–11 B.C. (above mentioned) and the great Batonian rebellion 6–9 AD (Velleius Paterculus, 2.110–115; Cassius Dio, 55.28–34; 56.11 and 16–17; Suetonius, Tib., 16 and 17), authoress concluded that Tiberius’ legions also overran the territories of Pannonian communities south of the Sava, in today’s Bosnia (Osseriates, Maezaei, Ditiones and Daesitiates) (Fig. 8). Although Tiberius was only rewarded with an ovatio, his accomplishments in the Pannonian war were crucial for further Roman policy towards the Danube region. Rome could at last consolidate in the area between the Drava river and the Adriatic and organize the province of Illyricum as an integral entity. The province would soon be divided into two separate administrative units – Dalmatia and Pannonia. During Claudius’ principate Pannonia would expand to the areas of the present-day western Hungary, reaching the middle Danube and embracing Celtic communities who were not hostile to Rome (there is no evidence of armed conflicts between the north-Pannonian Celts and Roman legions). Tiberius’Pannonian war thus represents the final stage of the conquering of Pannonia and the precondition for reaching the middle Danube as the final northeast border of the Roman Empire.


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