- Heraclea Lyncestis
Heraclea Lyncestis also spelled Herakleia Lynkestis, (
Ancient Greek"Ἡράκλεια Λυγκηστίς") was an ancient Greek [Michael Avi Yonab, Israel Shatzman (1976), "Illustrated Encyclopaedia of the Classical World", Jerusalem: The Jerusalem Publishing House Ltd. SNB 562 000372Page 230] [ H. B. Walters (editor), (1916), "A Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, Biography, Geography and Mythology" pp 480-481 ] city in the north-western region of the ancient kingdom of Macedon. The time of the foundation of the town and its founder are argued, but most of the historians agree that it was founded by the ancient Greek [ Nebojs̆a Tomas̆ević, Kosta Rakic, Madge Tomas̆ević, Madge Phillips-Tomas̆ević, Karin Radovanović, (1983), "Treasures of Yugoslavia: An Encyclopedic Touring Guide", University of Michigan, p 536] ruler Philip II of Macedonin the middle of the 4th century BC in Lynkestis, after its conquest, rather than by Philip V of Macedonin 2nd century BC. The town was named in honor of the mythological Greek hero Heracles. The epithet"Lyncestis" means "the Land of the Lynx" in Greek. During the Roman periodit got the name "Heraclea Lyncestis" in Latin, from which the English name is derived.
Today its ruins fall within the borders of the
Republic of Macedonia, 2 km south of the modern town of Bitola(formerly Monastir) [Hammond, NGL, (1972), "A History of Macedonia, Volume I: Historical geography and prehistory", Oxford:At the Clarendon Press, Oxford Univerisity Press, pg. 59] . It is in charge of the local institution "Museum and Gallery of Bitola".
It was an important strategical town during the
Hellenistic periodas it was at the edge of Macedon's border with Epirus to the west, and to the non-Greek world to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The Romans divided Macedonia into 4 regions and Heraclea was in the fourth region. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatiawent through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road. Objects discovered from the time of Roman rule in Heraclea are: Votivemonuments, a portico, thermae(baths), an amphitheatreand town walls. In the early Christian period, Heraclea was an important Episcopal seat. Some of its bishops are mentioned in synods in Serdicaand other nearby towns. From this period are the ensembles of the Small and Great (Large, Big) basilica. The Grave (Funeral) basilica with a necropolisis located east of the theatre.
The Roman emperor
Hadrianbuilt the theater in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Discovered in 1931, a small bone ticket for a seat in the 14th (out of 20) row is the earliest known proof of the theater’s existence. The theatre itself wasn’t discovered until 1968. Inside the theater there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theater went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empirewere banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, paganrituals and entertainment.
Late Antiquity and Byzantine periods
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. Some of its bishops have been noted in the acts of the Church Councils as
bishopEvagrius of Heraclea in the Acts of the Sardica Council from 343 AD. A Small and a Great (Large) basilica, the bishop's residence, a Funeral (grave) basilica near the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaicsof very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian artperiod. Other bishops from Heraclea are known between 4th and 6th century AD as bishop Quintilinus mentioned in the Acts of the Second Council of Ephesus, from 449 AD. The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/ Visigothforces, commanded by Theodoric the Greatin 472 AD and, despite a large gift to him from the city's bishop, it was sacked again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century.
Mosaics in the Basilicas
Basilicawas discovered in excavations made before the World War IIbetween 1936-1938. At first it was thought to be an ancient palace, but in the later research from 1960-1964, it became clear that it was an early Christian basilica. There is a decorated floor mosaic made by the technique " opus sectile" within the basilica and several rooms have been unearthed. The first room was used for baptizing and the second room in has a floor mosaic made by the technique " opus tessellatum". After creation of the complex Great Basilica, the function of these rooms was changed. By discovering the walls, architectonic plastic and floors were reconstructed electronically.
The Great Basilica is a monumental building with a room of open porch colonnades, a room of egzonarteks, one of narteks, two north annexes, and a room of three south annexes. The floors of these rooms are mosaic with geometric and floral designs. The mosaic in the narthex is of early Byzantine art, a big composition at a size of 100 m. There are birds, trees, bushes, a red dog, which is a symbol of paradise, and animals beasts as a domain of the earth. This mosaic dates from the end of the 6th century. The Great Basilica is built on top of another one and was made sometime between the 4th to 6th century.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970-1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th room all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th room there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.
Arrival of the Slavs
In the late 6th century the city suffered successive attacks by Slavic tribes. In place of the deserted theater several houses were built between the 6th century and the 7th century AD, when
Slavssettled across the northern regions of the Balkans.
* [http://www.chlt.org/sandbox/perseus/pecs/page.1966.a.php The Perseus Digital Library: The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, 1976]
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