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Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Danube Limes (Croatia)

Date of Submission: 31/01/2020
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
National Commission of Croatia for UNESCO
Ref.: 6476
Transnational
Other States Parties participating
Bulgaria
Romania
Serbia
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The Tentative Lists of States Parties are published by the World Heritage Centre at its website and/or in working documents in order to ensure transparency, access to information and to facilitate harmonization of Tentative Lists at regional and thematic levels.

The sole responsibility for the content of each Tentative List lies with the State Party concerned. The publication of the Tentative Lists does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the World Heritage Committee or of the World Heritage Centre or of the Secretariat of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.

Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

The Roman Empire, in its territorial extent, was one of the greatest empires the world has known. Enclosing the Mediterranean world and surrounding areas, it was protected by a network of frontiers stretching from the Atlantic Coast in the west, to the Black Sea in the east, from central Scotland in the north to the northern fringes of the Sahara Desert in the south. Much of this frontier survives on and in the ground. It was largely constructed in the 2nd century AD when the Empire reached its greatest extent. This frontier was at times a linear barrier, at other times a protected space, or in some cases a complete military zone.

Substantial remains survive (clockwise from the west) in the UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Starting on the western coast of northern Britain, the frontier in Europe then ran along the rivers Rhine and Danube, looping round the Carpathian Mountains to the Black Sea. The eastern frontier, stretching from the Black Sea to the Red Sea and running through mountains, great river valleys and the desert. To the south, Rome’s protective cordon embraced Egypt and then ran along the northern edge of the Sahara Desert to the Atlantic shore in Morocco.

The remains include the lines of the linear frontier, natural elements such as the sea, rivers and deserts, and networks of military installations and ancillary features such as roads on, behind and beyond the frontier. These encompass both visible and buried archaeology. Together the inscribed remains and those to be nominated in the future form an extensive relict cultural landscape that displays the unifying character of the Roman Empire, through its common culture, but also its distinctive responses to local geography and political and economic conditions. Each component part is a substantial reflection of the way resources were deployed in a particular part of the Empire.

Hadrian’s Wall, Upper German-Raetian Limes, the Antonine Wall, situated in Great Britain and Germany, have already been jointly inscribed on the World Heritage List as Component Parts of Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site (FRE WHS; since 1987, 2005 and 2008 respectively).

Name(s) of the component part(s)

1          Batina-Gradac, (Ad Militare II), Fort

2          Batina-Sredno, (Ad Militare I) Fort, Cemetery

3          Popovac (Antianae?)  Fortification

4          Zmajevac-Gradac/ Várhegy, (Ad Novas), Fortification

5          Zmajevac-Gradac/ Mocsolás, (Ad Novas?), Cemetery

6          Kneževi Vinogradi-Crvena ćuprija, Military installation

7          Kneževi Vinogradi-Dragojlov brijeg, (Donatianae?), Fort, Cemetery

8          Lug-Gradina, (Albanum), Fortification, Cemetery

9          Kopačevo-Mali Sakadaš, (Báksad), (Ad labores?), Fortification

10        Bilje-Biljska cesta, Road

11        Osijek-Roman bridge, Bridge over the Drava river, (vis-à-vis Roman Mursa)

12        Osijek-Donji grad, (Mursa), Military installation, Civil settlement, Road

13        Dalj-Banjkas, Fort

14        Dalj-Šljivici, Military installation

15        Dalj-Beglučarica, Military installation

16        Borovo-Gradac, Military installation

17        Borovo-Šanac, Military installation

18        Sotin-Popovo brdo, (Cornacum), Fort

19        Sotin-Jaroši, Fort

20        Šarengrad-Gradac, Watchtower

21        Ilok-Bišket, Watchtower

22        Ilok-Česta, Military installation

23        Ilok-Gornji grad, (Cuccium), Fort, cemeteries

Description of the component part(s)

The Danube Limes in Croatia is the central riverine part of the frontier on the western bank of the Danube River (the right bank of the Danube), element of a continuous line of frontier installations down to the Black Sea.

The list of single sites located within the future serial nomination "Danube Limes in Croatia" (from North to South):

 

Name of site

 
Structures

Location
village, city)
Municipality

Region

Coordinates

Present Situation, State of Conservation

1

Batina-Gradac

(Ad Militare II)

Fort

Batina

Draž

 

Osijek-Baranja County

45.852474

18,844690

Remains not visible on the surface, partly overbuilt, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

2

Batina-Sredno

(Ad Militare I)

Fort, Cemetery

Batina

Draž

 

Osijek-Baranja County

45.847568

18.842207

Remains not visible on the surface, partly overbuilt, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

3

Popovac (Antianae?)

Fortification

Popovac

Popovac

Osijek-Baranja County

45.806280

18.640020

Remains not visible on the surface, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

4

Zmajevac-Gradac/ Várhegy

(Ad Novas)

Fortification

 

Zmajevac

Kneževi Vinogradi

Osijek-Baranja County

45.801181

18.806646

Remains not visible on the surface, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

5

Zmajevac-Gradac/ Mocsolás

(Ad Novas?)

Cemetery

Zmajevac

Kneževi Vinogradi

Osijek-Baranja County

45.805094

18.804018

Remains not visible on the surface, partly overbuilt, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

6

Kneževi Vinogradi-Crvena ćuprija

Military installation

Kneževi Vinogradi

Kneževi Vinogradi

Osijek-Baranja County

45.737731

18.730835

Remains not visible on the surface, partly damaged by a modern drainage canal, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

7

Kneževi Vinogradi-Dragojlov brijeg

(Donatianae?)

Fort, Cemetery

 

Kneževi Vinogradi

Kneževi Vinogradi

Osijek-Baranja County

45.722856

18.740271

Remains not visible on the surface, the area is cultivated (agriculture), partly damaged by a modern cemetery

8

Lug-Gradina

(Albanum)

Fortification, Cemetery

 

Lug

Bilje

 

Osijek-Baranja County

45.664190

18.773320

Remains not visible on the surface, partly overbuilt, partly damaged by a modern construction

9

Kopačevo-Mali Sakadaš

(Báksad)

(Ad labores?)

Fortification

Kopačevo

Bilje

 

Osijek-Baranja County

45.605453

18.792916

Remains not visible on the surface, partly overbuilt, partly damaged by a modern construction

 

10

Bilje-Biljska cesta

Road

Bilje

Bilje

 

Osijek-Baranja County

45.593327

18.729200

Remains not visible on the surface, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

 

11

Osijek-Roman bridge

Bridge over the Drava river, (vis-à-vis Roman Mursa),

Osijek (Podravlje)

Osijek

 

Osijek-Baranja County

45.562555

18.717513

Remains partly visible on the surface during the low water level, partly damaged during 20th century waterway regulation

12

Osijek-Donji grad

(Mursa)

Military installation, Civil settlement, Road

Osijek

Osijek

 

Osijek-Baranja County

45.557044

18.715496

Remains partly visible on the surface, partly overbuilt, partly damaged by modern construction

13

Dalj-Banjkas

Fort

Dalj

Erdut

 

Osijek-Baranja County

45.500755

19.004041

Remains not visible on the surface, partly overbuilt; partly damaged by modern construction, some parts collapsed into the Danube river

14

Dalj-Šljivici

Military installation

Dalj

Erdut

 

Osijek-Baranja County

45.491303

18.964083

Remains not visible on the surface, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

15

Dalj-Beglučarica

Military installation

Dalj

Erdut

 

Osijek-Baranja County

45,475638

18,931975

Remains not visible on the surface, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

16

Borovo-Gradac

Military installation

Borovo

Borovo

 

Vukovar-Srijem County

45.430029

19.011406

Remains not visible on the surface, not overbuilt, endangered due to erosion of the Danube river

17

Borovo-Šanac

Military installation

Borovo

Borovo

Vukovar-Srijem County

45.423347

18.992186

Remains not visible on the surface, not overbuilt, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

18

Sotin-Popovo brdo

(Cornacum)

Fort

Sotin

Vukovar

 

Vukovar-Srijem County

45.297072

19.098712

Remains not visible on the surface, partly overbuilt, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

19

Sotin-Jaroši

Fort

Sotin

Vukovar

Vukovar-Srijem County

45.289622

19.100911

Remains not visible on the surface, partly overbuilt, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

20

Šarengrad-Gradac

Watchtower

Šarengrad

Ilok

 

Vukovar-Srijem County

45.232929

19.299606

Remains not visible on the surface, not overbuilt, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

21

Ilok-Bišket

 

Watchtower

Šarengrad

Ilok

Vukovar-Srijem County

45.232076

19.311747

Remains not visible on the surface, not overbuilt, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

22

Ilok-Česta

Military installation

Ilok

Ilok

 

Vukovar-Srijem County

45.226250

19.337440

Remains not visible on the surface, not overbuilt, the area is cultivated (agriculture)

23

Ilok-Gornji grad

(Cuccium)

Fort, cemeteries

 

Ilok

Ilok

 

Vukovar-Srijem County

45.223647

19.372699

Remains not visible on the surface, partly overbuilt

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Roman Frontier as a whole has an extraordinarily high cultural value. It was the border of one of the most extensive civilizations in human history, which influenced the western world and its peoples for many centuries.

Criterion (ii): The frontiers as a whole reflect the development of the Roman military architecture and the impact of the frontier on the growth of transport routes, and urbanisation.

Criterion (iii): The Roman frontier is the largest monument of the Roman Empire, one of the world’s greatest preindustrial empires. The physical remains of Limes, forts, watchtowers, settlements and the hinterland dependent upon the frontier reflect the complexities of Roman culture, but also its unifying factors across Europe and the Mediterranean world.

Unlike the Roman monuments already inscribed, the FRE’s constructions are evidence from the edges of the Empire and reflect the adoption of Roman culture by its subject peoples. The frontier was not an impregnable barrier: rather it controlled and allowed the movement of peoples within the military units, amongst civilians and merchants, thus allowing Roman culture to be transmitted around the region and to absorb influences from outside its borders.

Criterion (iv): The frontier reflects the power and might of the Roman Empire and the spread of classical culture and Romanisation which shaped much of the subsequent development of Europe.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Authenticity: The section of the Danube Limes situated in the modern Croatia survives as a chain of fortified sites (forts and watchtowers; Limes road) and the rest of the Roman military infrastructure (roads, bridge) is organically linked with the landscape along the Danube. Some of the component parts inscribed to date have been extensively studied and researched and their authenticity has been verified. There are still many invisible, undisturbed and uncovered elements of the property in most of the Limes sites. Small parts have been excavated and presented to the public.

Integrity: Many fortifications are partly or completely covered by medieval or modern settlements and agricultural areas. Fieldworks, modern construction and other kinds of intervention have disturbed and/or transformed the Roman remains in nearly all of the proposed World Heritage sites. However, the preserved remains are a bright testimony of the overall Roman border and military protection system known as the Roman Limes. Both, geophysical investigations/surveys and minor archaeological excavations have demonstrated that remains of the Limes monuments have survived below ground, even in settled or urban areas. The selected properties are able to illustrate the main periods and the full range of the facets of the Roman rule on this part of the border of the Empire.

Justification of the selection of the component part(s) in relation to the future nomination as a whole

The nominated Danube Limes in Croatia section forms a central part of the vast and complex Danube Limes and consists of a number of individual sites located along a stretch of 138 km from the fort od Batina (Roman site Ad Militare) close to the Hungarian border, to the fort of Ilok (Roman site Cuccium) close to the Serbian border.

Distinctive geographical and natural conditions of the area influenced the positioning of the Roman military localities. In Baranja, mostly lowland countryside region in northeast of Croatia, the Limes sites were built kilometres behind the Danube, around marshy habitats of today's Nature Park Kopački Rit. In Baranja, The Roman military installations were as far as 17 km away from the Danube riverbed, which establishes one of the largest distances of a Limes site from a river course in Europe. To the southeast of Baranja, in regions of Slavonia and Syrmia (Srijem), the Roman fortifications were positioned closer to the high and steep Danube bank.

In Croatia, the initial finds from the Roman era along the Danube are dated to the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), and the Pannonia Province was founded between 20 and 50 AD. Conversely, the outcome of one of the late Roman Empire major battles, the battle between Constantius II and Magnentius at Mursa (Osijek) in 351 AD could have been a deficient number of troops, ending up the fate of this frontier section in next decades. Specifically, presently the latest archaeologically confirmed typical Roman finds in this territory are not later than the reign of the Roman Emperor Valentinian II, i. e. the 390s AD. Specified events are in line with the late Roman and early Middle Age, both best described as the ages of transition and transformation.

In Croatia, many Roman Limes fortifications were built above the former prehistoric sites, some of whom were then partly or completely overbuilt during the Middle and Modern Ages. The identified types of sites on the Danube Limes in Croatia are forts, temporary camps, roads, watchtowers, bridge, civil settlements and cemeteries. For what is known, auxiliary forts in Croatia were regularly spread within relatively similarly established distances depending on local topography. Generally, the Limes road is surveyed on a small-scale though, in some places, its course can be traced by the data taken from the Roman itineraries and by milestones found. In the town of Mursa, where one of the first Roman military installations in the Danube area was built, an associated bridge, today often referred to as the Hadrian's bridge, was set up. The branch of the Limes road ran through Mursa, incorporating it in line with other Danube Roman frontier installations.

The proposed frontiers of the Roman Empire – Danube Limes in Croatia World Heritage Site would encompass scientifically confirmed existing Roman military sites (forts, fortifications, watchtowers, roads and other) between Batina and Ilok, settlements and cemeteries adjacent to those military fortifications, civil town and the bridge in Mursa.

Comparison with other similar properties

The Croatian section of the Roman frontier is part of the river frontier along the Danube which stretches from Bavaria to Romania and the Black Sea, protecting the Roman Empire from the tribes from the North. Eight countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, share this system. Although the proper Latin name of this type of frontier is ripa, a better known and more commonly used word limes is the one for the nomination of this section in Croatia.

Beside the Danube, there are more river frontiers such as the Rhine river frontier in Western Europe and the Euphrates frontier in the Near East. There are major structural differences in river frontiers compared to the land ones. A part of the very essence of a land frontier system is that an artificial barrier with its structural details (walls, palisades, rampart/ditches) forms a continuous line in the landscape and provides the necessary link between individual monuments (watchtowers, fortlets, forts). This can be demonstrated through and seen in the already existing parts of the World Heritage property: Hadrian’s Wall, the Antonine Wall or the Upper German Raetian Limes. The relationship between the individual frontier elements is clearly visible.

All river frontiers such as the Danube Limes lack these most obvious connecting element(s). Although the rivers form a linear obstacle, which connects the individual monuments, the frontier line and the linearity of the fortification system itself is less easy to define and present. The forts along the Rhine and the Danube river frontiers are between 10 km to 30 km apart, and often without their inter-visibility.

A distinctive feature of the rivers Rhine and Danube frontiers are chains of watchtowers along one side of the river course and bridgehead fortifications. The watchtowers as the intermediate elements in the archaeological landscape are not so easy to detect along the river frontiers. Those of the earlier Roman Empire were mainly made of timber. The Late Roman watchtowers are easier to discern because of their massive stone construction. More than 200 watchtowers, mostly stone ones, are recorded along the Danube banks, most of them in Hungary, forming a very tight defence system. It can be assumed that similar systems existed on the other Danube frontier sections too.

There are several points where bridgeheads are clearly established in order to trade or secure the river crossings. In the times of war, these were used to secure a beachhead for an invasion to an enemy territory. In times of peace, they were used to provide landing infrastructure at crossings or to secure both sides of bridges. These natural pairs of fortifications were often named in pairs like Dierna and Transdierna, Drobeta and Transdrobeta (Pontes), Margum and Contramargum. Some of these bridgeheads are located in Dacia (present day Romania).

Although there are no clearly identified bridgehead fortifications in Austria, there are such sites known for example in Iža in Slovakia. Most of them were constructed when Roman politics caused advances of the army into a Barbarian territory. In the late Roman times, more bridgeheads such as Contra Aquincum (Budapest) in Hungary were established to control and, even more so, to protect the crossing points and the traffic on the river itself. Such military installations were heavily fortified and some of them survived quite well on the left side of the Danube in Hungary, Serbia and Romania.