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The Resistance of the Dardanians to Roman Conquests and Romanisation

Naser Ferri

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 653 Kb

str. 93-111

preuzimanja: 153


Puni tekst: engleski pdf 653 Kb

str. 93-111

preuzimanja: 352



Roman written sources began to mention the Dardanians in the 4th century BC. They had already had an established social system several centuries earlier, firstly led by their princes (as shown by the find of a double grave of a princely pair from the 6th century BC in Banja e Pejës, Pećka Banja and afterwards, in the historical period, by kings. Before the coming of the Romans, the Dardanians had their cities, a large army with more than 20,000 soldiers, and other institutions. In the big Dardanian centres, silver coins were struck (drachmas and tetradrachmas were struck in Damastion from the 4th century BC). The first encounters of the Dardanians and the Romans were in the form of military alliances against a common enemy, Macedonia. After the Illyrian Wars of 168 and the conquest of Macedonia in 148 BC, particularly after its conversion into a demilitarised province (provincia inermis), the previous alliance was unsatisfactory to the Dardanians (who had not gained the expected conquered areas in Paionia, only the right to the salt trade). Afterwards there was open hostility, which led to long years of debilitating wars under the leadership of the consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 98 and 85, and Appius Claudius in 81, then the so-called Bellum Dardanicum in 75 BC waged by the proconsul Scribonius Curio and in 59 BC led by Mark Anthony. The ultimate aim was the subjugation of the tribes to the north of Macedonia and Rome’s arrival at the Danube. It peaked after the incursion of the consul Marcus Licinius Crassus Dives in 29 and 28 BC, the Dardanians being formally conquered, and yet not finally subjugated. After the conquest, at the beginning of the 1st century AD, Dardania became a part of the province of Moesia, and after the division during Domitian in 86, of Upper Moesia (its capital being in Viminacium on the Danube). Cities built on the foundations of the former old Dardanian settlements are mentioned. They were built according to Roman laws: Colonia Scupi, Municipium Dardanorum, Muncipium Naissus, a municipium of an unknown name , near today’s Pecs (Pejë), perhaps a municipium in Dresnik by Kline (Klinë) close to Pecs (Pejë), and several smaller settlements (Timacum maius, Timacum minus, Ad Herculem, Aquae Bass(ianae?), Vendenis, Theranda, Vicianum and so on). Still, even after the conquest, the resistance of the Dardanians to the Romans went on in various degrees and forms and lasted until the end of the Ancient period. During the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, in the area of Dardania, there was an organised insurrectionary movement of the Dardanian bandits (latrones Dardaniae), against whom the Romans fought for long without success, deploying auxiliary forces. Emperor Marcus Aurelius used various underhand methods: he placed control points manned by beneficiarii and won over the leaders and respectable insurrectionaries, giving them offices in the Roman army and administration. He worked on reducing the number of rebels and the danger of them to the Romans and the domestic population loyal to the conquerors. At the same time they confided to them care for the security of certain parts of the province. As well as armed resistance, there were various forms of non-violent, passive resistance to Romans and Romanisation, thanks to which many legendary ethnic cultural factors of Dardanian culture have been saved from destruction and appropriation. These include personal names (Andia, Ania, Sita, Dassius, Pasades, Dardanus, Rhedon, Scerdulaedus, Bizo, Dalmina and Dalmana, which appear together with an Illyrian patronymic), the name of the legendary deities of the indigenous people (the goddess Dardania, the gods Andin, Tato, Silvan, the dragon-shaped divine duo Dracco and Draccena, the unknown deities Atta and Mundritus), the clothing (a long shirt and a covering for the head, shoulders and back of the women), jewellery (a necklace typical only of the Dardanians with three medallions, a big one on the chest and two smaller ones on the shoulders), their customs (ancestor cult, mound burials) and so on. There are written testimonies to these by ancient writers and data from texts, epigraphs from the area that covered ancient Dardania (today NW Macedonia, the whole of Kosovo and central Serbia), from which it can be concluded that the least Romanised part of Dardania, that is, the place where the most old Dardanian factors have been preserved are today’s Dukagjini Plain (Rfafshi and Dukagjinit) in Kosovo (Peć-Pejë, Đakovica-Gjakovë, Prizren, Suva Reka-Suharekë, Orahovac-Rahavec).
All these factors, and many others, during the Roman rule, that are not covered here, were then part of resistance, either armed or passive, to Roman rule and Romanisation, and contributed considerably to the preservation of traditional ethnic and cultural factors in areas with a Dardanian population, from prehistory, Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the present day.

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