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The study of Piero Sticotti "The roman municipality of Doclea in Montenegro", finally translated:

The distressing testimonial to our behavior towards our heritage

(Piero Sticotti: "The roman municipality of Doclea in Montenegro", a monograph, issued by “Matica crnogorska” and Association for Culture and Science, Podgorica, 2000)

Many have written about the roman municipality of Doclea (Duklja) on numerous occasions. Lately P. Mijović, O. Velimirović - Žižić, D. Srejović, V. Korać, or Đ. Rasler et al. before them have taken upon this stimulating task. In the year 1975 the group of authors has published the monograph "Antic Doclea- the necropolis". Following the order of King Nicholas, Doclea has been researched by Rovinski (from 1890. to 1892.); by Englishmen Moonrou, Anderson, Milne and Haverfild (1893) and Piero Sticotti. Piero Sticotti visited Doclea in 1892. and started excavating 4 years later. After this, there has been no excavation for almost half a century, if we exclude the work of I. Novicki (1938). From 1954. to 1962. Doclea has been explored by domestic archeologists up until the latest pits.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most thorough research has been conducted by an Italian archeologist Piero Sticotti and his associates L.Jelić and C.M. Iveković. Their results have been presented in a monograph "The Roman Town of Doclea in Montenegro", published in German language in Vienna in year 1913. Its occurrence stirred up much interest of European scientific community, while sadly in Montenegro only a small number of experts knew about it. (Now it is apparent that those who have written authoritatively about Doclea have actually been heavily relying on Sticotti’s monograph) Even today, 87 years after its publication, this monograph represents the most inclusive and systematic study of Doclea and is the work of inestimable importance not only to archeologists, but also to writers, linguists, ethnologists and other aficionados of antiquities. It has preserved for us and for future generations a valuable legacy that has been progressively devastated because of the decades of lack of care and coarse behavior. As testified by Šafarik in 1754. already, the local population used to build the parts of capitols, columns, architectural fragments, plates and tabular inscriptions into the walls of their homes.

The predecessors of Sticotti: Rovinski, Munro and others, studied the significant archeological material, discovered and evidenced important monuments, forum, basilicas, temples of the Goddesses Roma and Dianna, thermal baths, gates, arches, palaces with atrium and peristile, but they also made couple of omissions. The continuation of work was beyond their capabilities and it required the engagement of specialized experts, especially those connoisseurs of roman provincial culture. Sticotti was an ideal person for such undertaking. Although very young (22) he already had a reputation of an European expert, the connoisseur of classical languages and the typical representative of Viennese classical scientific school of thought. He accepted the endeavor with gratification and seriousness. With the vigor of the antique world enthusiast, but also with precision and meticulous orderliness of a scientists he started the work. Not only did he thoroughly examined , thematically diversified and analyzed the Doclean archeological fund, but his curious spirit directed him into researching the surrounding environment, tradition, transportation networks, epigraph monuments, urban anthropology, written sources, languages etc. He produced varied documentation and supplemented it with drawings, plans, photos, discoveries and reconstruction of certain objects. He also made a clear chronological outline of historical events in Doclea and its surroundings, describing its early developments, progress and the end, the process of Romanization, customs and origins of its population, beliefs and cults, legends about the emperor of Doclea and others. He left written traces on geography, topography, urbanism, and an aqueduct between rivers Ribnica and Morača, that used to transport cold and clean water from the river Cijevna into the city that was 12 miles apart. He tried to correct the mistakes of Rovinski whose work he described as “lacking systematic plan and detailed research, by which he departed from scientific requirements”. The inquiries from 1954. to 1962. and those later on largely confirmed Sticotti’s results. For us, who witnessed how Doclea was devastated by the railways that went right through it(1948), by building the electric station, asphalt road, power level line, ruination of the walls and fences and illegal building, the Sticotti’s monograph "The roman municipality of Doclea in Montenegro", besides being a rich depository of data and documents, is also a warning to think and realize what a fortune we had and lost. It is, to repeat once more, the center piece, the magnificent history of the largest and most well known Doclean settlement, the center of former roman province of Dalmatia, whose capitals were Prevails and Doclea, it is the monument to a laudable history and constructive spirit, but it is also distressing and ugly memorial of our behavior towards cultural and historical legacy of which we could have been proud of. Sticotti’s study in an excellent translation of Daniel Vincek (also known for his translations of the books “ Montenegro-the Gate to Balkans”, “Montenegrin mountains”, “Hastert’s Traveloges” and “Geography of Montenegro”) is complemented with the great conclusion written by the archeologist Olivera Velimirovic Zizic. By making it accessible to our readers, the publishers deserve the highest honors and acknowledgements.

That other Doclea

The studies of Piero Sticotti and his predecessors illustrates how the Montenegrin government and the prince Nicholas were more culturally progressive than the contemporaneous elites of richer and more developed European countries, but also more prudent than their successors that lived and worked in better times, like those now. (Truth to be told, that other Doclea was preserved in the collective consciousness as mythical and secretive, mystical and unreal, as the spiritual support and link to the past- As such, it inspired many Montenegrin writers, most notably of all J. Brkovic to whom it remains the focus of poetic fascination.)


Translated to English by Ana Gegaj ( )