Mediana Archaeological Site
The Romans inhabited the area of the city of Naissus as early as the 1st century AD after they had defeated the Dardanians. The location on the important Roman commercial route of Via Militaris conditioned its rapid economic development which was particularly evident in the 4th century AD, when Naissus was a prosperous imperial city and summer residence and home to workshops for the manufacture of arms and for making silverware. Mediana archaeological site was luxurious Imperial Roman Residence and antique historical site located in the suburbs of Naissus -present day Nis-, built on the Via Militaris road that in antiquity connected Singidunum /nowadays Belgrade/ with Serdica /nowadays Sofia/ and Constantinople /nowadays Istanbul/ at the beginning of the 3rd century AD. The road Naissus – Lissus linked the central Balkan areas of Upper-moesian Dardania with the sea ports on the Adriatic coast (Dyrrachion, Apollonia) and later on with the Italy as well as with the Aegean Sea port of Thessaloniki, by the connection with the Naissus – Scupi road. It was also the finest and fastest way of transport between Rome and the Danubian Limes for the military forces in the 1st century A.D., as well as for the mineral resources in the 2nd and 3rd century A.D.
Mediana lies on the way Niš-Niška Banja (Spa) covering 40 ha in the vicinity of the Nisava River and thermal springs to witness of imperial Naissus wealth and glory. The remains of the Imperial palace with mosaics on the surface of 800 sq m, together with peristyle were discovered in the Mediana archaeological site. There was a street in Mediana in the east-west direction which passed on the south side of the villa with peristyle and the granary located 150 meters from it. From this street it was possible to approach these buildings. The central area was occupied by the villa with peristyle, nymphaeum and the baths; to the west of the villa was the granary, and somewhat to the north a spacious building with octagonal and circular rooms. To the south of the villa in Mediana are the remains of several villas and economic buildings. What strikes the eye is that the luxurious buildings of solid material with columns, decorated with marble facing, lavish mosaics and frescoes, concentrated mainly around the central villa with peristyle, while the economic buildings are located to the west of the granary towards Naissus. The Villa with peristyle comprised an area of about 6.000 sq m (98,6×63 m) and included thermae on the west side and a smaller nymphaeum on the east side.
Luxurious Mediana Roman villas with mosaic floors, sacral objects /Baptistery/, remains of the Church from the 4th century with the large floor mosaic of the Christ monogram, economy buildings with pitos, Roman bathrooms, water tanks, fort remains etc testify about Naissus culture and wealth from the times of the Emperor Constantine the Great /Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus 280-337 AD/ who was born here. In 1972 numerous marble sculptures of Gods and mosaics of Medusa /jelly fish/ and the God of Water were found at Mediana archaeological site.
Mediana was heavily damaged in the fire at the end of the 4th century to be finally destroyed and deserted in 441. Emperor Constantine was founder of the Byzantine Empire and is considered under the title “The Great” for his contributions to Christianity. Truly deserving of the title “great” it is no exaggeration to say that the world may well have been a different place, and history taken another course entirely had it not been for the life of Constantine. The Bosphorus, a narrow strait, connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmora; and here, on a triangular piece of ground, enclosing on one side an excellent harbor, Constantine the Great in 323 laid the foundations of his capital when he transformed the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium into a new imperial residence, Constantinople. Founding a New Rome in the East – Constantinople, Emperor Constantine established a center of the new, Byzantine Empire which joined the best experiences of antique values and Christianity and which would remain the capital of the great civilization and culture for over a thousand years. Emperor Constantine ruled the Roman Empire from 306 to 337, which encompassed many thousands of km of border to defend. Emperor Constantine the Great consolidated the frontiers of the Roman Empire and imposed a firm organization on the Army and the civil administration, since he was one of the first to realize the impossibility of managing the empire’s problems from distant Rome. In the year 313, he issued the Milan Edict, thereby introducing Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire and restored any personal and corporate property that had been confiscated during the persecution of Christians. In 323 AD Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Roman Empire to the ancient Greek Town of Byzantium and established a formal culture of church and state at his permanent capital and the “second Rome.” Byzantium was renamed Constantinople /current day Istanbul/ and became the seat of this ecclesiastical government. Constantine the Great provided the city of Constantinople with a forum, a hippodrome, or circus of great size, and the baths and pleasure-grounds, recalled the memory of those of Rome. Schools and theaters, aqueducts, fourteen churches, fourteen palaces, and a great number of magnificent private houses, added to the splendor of Constantinople and its emperor, Constantine the Great. Emperor Constantine not only initiated the evolution of the Roman Empire into a Christian state but also provided the impulse for a distinctively Christian culture that prepared the way for the growth of Byzantine and Western medieval culture. Death of Constantine the Great led to formal division of the Roman Empire into Western and Eastern Empires but Byzantine valuable traces are still exclusively preserved and exposed in the Balkans countries to numerous culture-lovers and scholars.