Daorson megalithic site

On the flat elevated hill above the Radimlja necropolis of stecaks and the Radimlja River Canyon there are remains of the Illyrian structure of the pre-antique town of Daorson /the Daorson Archaeological Park which is associated with Troya, Stolac/. The old Hellenistic town of Daorson was probably the center of the Daorsoi tribe, which inhabited the regions along the lower course of the Neretva River and the earliest reference to which in written sources dates from the 5th century BC, as “Daorsioiethnos Thrakon”. During the civil war between Caesar and Pompey both Daorson town and part of Daorsan tribe were destroyed by the Illyrian Dalmatians /44 – 43 BC/, the alliances of Pompeians. The lasting settlement never existed on the remnants of Daorson town but close to it Romans had founded the new town of Dilluntum, present day Stolac from which along the “Adriatic road” the Roman road led to the Nevesinje Field and the main road to the Roman Province of Pannonia. The entrance to the archaeological site of Daorson is situated on the elevated observation point which is accessible either by car along the narrow mountainous road from Stolac or by foot along the steep tiny road from Radimlja.
/When the Roman Empire was divided into the West and the East Empires in 395 the area of the present day Herzegovina belonged to the West Empire while Stolac was situated at the very border between the two empires, within the Sarsiterensis Bishopric. Dilluntum town was mentioned on the Church Assembly in Salona in 633. Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian /14 BC/ continued the war operations through Herzegovina and the Middle Dalmatia to be accorded the title of Emperor Caesar August by the Senate which determined the beginning of the Roman Empire in 27 BC/ he started the construction of the Adriatic road from Salona /near Split/ via Narona /Vid by Metkovic/ and Dilluntum /Stolac nowadays/ to Durrahium /Durres in Albania present day/ where this particular Adriatic road joins the Roman road of Via Egnatia /from Durres to Byzantium – present day Istanbul/ which is 1120 km long /746 Roman Miles/. This stone-blocks Roman road paved by stone blocks was completed in only 44 years/. Illyrians were warrior people who had been building Illyrian settlements known as gradinas /fortified towns/ on the hardly accessible places that were usually dominating from the natural elevations. Daorsi tribe settled from the first time along delta and the left bank of the lower course of Neretva River and in Eastern Herzegovina /in the 3rd century they have probably guarded the right bank of Neretva River up to Duvanjsko Polje Field/. The elongated plateau bordered from three sides with high almost inaccessible precipices was chosen by Daorsi tribe for their Illyrian-type settlement, position on the main road between Salona and Doclea. Daorsi tribe members were not significant warriors but have developed strong maritime trade with the south Italy and distant Greek colonies. Since the 4th century until the 1st century BC the intense civil life of Daorsi tribe with charactestics of the Illyrian Hellenism was performed in the center of the tiny Daorsian state. Daorson included three parts of which the central and the oldest was the hillfort /acropolis/ covering the surface of 7000 sq meters. The only possible approach to the Daorson settlement was from the southeastern side /plateau of Banje/ which was defended by the Megalithic wall of the height from 4,5 up to 7,5 meters, 4,2 – 6 meter wide and about 65 meters long.

The town of Daorson was discovered in 1891, and has never been fully investigated archaeologically. Located on Gradina and Banje in Ošanići village, Daorson Illyrian site consists of three interlinked entities the disposition of which is dictated by the lie of the land: the hillfort or acropolis /central section/, terraces below the hillfort /to the south and south-east/, and a residential and commercial area /east/. The hillfort came into being on a prehistoric fortified settlement that had been in existence without interruption since the early to the late Bronze Age /respectively from the 17th/16th century BC to the 9th/8th century BCE/. The settlement was probably destroyed in the 1st century BC, as evidenced by layers of ashes in the foundation of all the buildings discovered.

The town of Daorson had the features of a Hellenistic city. Its high degree of culture and civilization in evidenced by the fact it minted its own coins and made complex, artistically – decorated buckles and clasps and pottery vessels, by graffiti on fragments, and by pieces of stone from human statues about 2 m in height. The material found dates from the 2nd and 4th century BCE and is housed in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. The cyclopean wall dates from the 4th century BCE, when both towers were also probably built. One of them most important finds was a helmet with a Greek inscription, probably an abbreviation of the Illyrian name of the owner, Pinnes.

Daorson consists of three parts: the Hillfort of acropolis, Terraces below the hill-fort and residential and commercial area. Hillfort is the biggest and most colossal part of all complex consisted from the cyclopean wall /40 m in length and 6 m in height approximately/ and two so-called towers which formed a gate to terraces. This construction /named hill-fort/ is situated very close to a sharp precipice /250-300 meters high approximately/. The cyclopean wall looks undeveloped and damaged in some parts.

Terraces are the most interesting constructions of Daorson, that consist of minimum five terraces below the “hill-fort” to the slopes of the plateau. All terraces are connected by stone stairs with each other, the floor and supporting wall of every terrace is fixed by massive stone blocks of right forms with straight edges, with many evidences of ancient restorations. The stones of supporting wall are very massive and much damaged whereas stairs consisted from the straight and not so big stones without high erosion. On the terraces there is the important feature: lower layers of supporting wall are faced by massive and accurate stone blocks with serious erosion, while upper layers faced by little and inaccurate stones without visible erosion. It means that lower layers were built in first time and after some times were added new /upper/ layers. We can see anti evolution process there, when technology became worse and worse as time goes by. Therefore we can say that first builders of the Daorson site were more developed than second and third settlers of this site. It is very hard to suppose the meanings of the terraces because they look like gigantic steps from the top of the plateau to the bottom where a long plain with river is. The wall with gate symbolizes the entrance to this plain valley or to the plateau… we just can imagine.
The residence and commercial area have many evidences of different cultures from the ancients Daorsoi to the Illyrians /ancient south Slavic tribe/ than to the artifacts of Greeks and Rome Empire. Approximately ten residential structures with related small yards and approaching stairs that connected terraces with the central acropolis space were found. Since the end of the 4th century BC Greek culture started Hellenization of the Illyrian culture. On 15 hectares of the pre-acropolis space there are foundations of the spatial urbanized settlement /craft, trade and residential parts, squares, streets and two cisterns/ of the very Mediterranean type, built after the 3rd century BC.

We should remember that the Daorson site has never been investigated as therefore new remains from the past would have be found sometime. Daorson is protected by UNESCO like the important historical site of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Official archaeologists attributed this prehistoric cyclopean site to the Illyrians culture because they know only one culture which inhabited in that area 500 years BCE whereas the features of Daorson tell us about their technically developing and great antiquity.
Daorson was built around a central fort or acropolis, surrounded by cyclopean walls made of huge stone blocks. The Daorson acropolis would have housed all of the important administrative, public and religious buildings. The defensive wall extending from southwest to northeast was 65 meters long, 4.2 meters wide, and from 4.5 to 7.5 meters high with doors and towers on both sides. The Daorsi used the Greek language and alphabet and kept trading relations with the Greeks.

The remnants of numerous wine amphorae have been found, including some ceramic fragments. The most valuable of the finds is a bronze helmet decorated with a series of Greek mythological figures, including Aphrodite, Nika, Heli, Dionysius, Muse, Pegasus. The inscription on it is similar to the inscription on a helmet found in Macedonia. The remnants of a granite sculpture of Cadmus and Harmonia have also been found. This piece includes an Illyrian relief with thirteen snakes and five pairs of eagle’s wings. A small building housed a mint facility. Thirty-nine different coins were discovered in this building, the majority depicted King Ballaios, who ruled after 168 BC. Nine of the recovered coins had a Greek inscription with an image of a boat. Money was of immense importance to the Daorsi, allowing the tribe to remain independent while securing their business, cultural and trade links with other groups.
The name of this site /Daorson/ was given by archaeologists because there was a tribe Daorsoi, which inhabited in that area. Consenquently, we should be very carefully as it doesn’t mean that this site was built by Daorsoi tribe. We know only an origin of the name of this site, no more.