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University of Zadar Centre for Foreign Languages Course: JEA 101_1314,g1,2,3,4 Instructor: Marijana Birti Vui Student: Lara

kori Email address:


Seminar paper

Zadar, January 3rd 2014

Insulae Sepomaiae Name/surname of a student: Lara kori JEA 101 g1,2,3,4

Abstract Sepomaia, an ancient latifundium in the western coast of Istria. Can this latifundium show us the organization of roman life? Can it be a landmark to understand the past of this territory? Is it really this important? These are some of the questions that are going to be answered in this seminar paper. Sepomaia included different estates of which each had it's function and it's governor. Unfortunatelly, the remains were damaged during the past and have never been renovated. They have been damaged by the force of nature and by the human hand. Regarthless, these remainings are quite impressive and deserve to be presented.

Key words: ancient, villas, Sipar, Cape Tiola

In this paper I want to represent the latifundium called Sepomaia which is not important only for Umag but for its surroundings too. It is important because of all the archaeological remains that we can find today in the Cape of Katoro and Zambratija. These remains show us how the ancient romans lived and their organization of everyday life. We can see that the people who lived there were very rich so we have all different foundings, some of them are rare and can be found only couple in the world. Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus (a roman writer) described this part od Istra. He described it as full with olives, vine, rich crops etc. These parts were full of life and joy, the magnificent building could be seen from the distance. Istra was very valued by the ancient romans because of its agricultural ability to feed the people. The festival of Sepomaia is celebrated every summer and it shows from the first hand how the ancient romans lived. They show us how they were dressed, what they ate and how they acted. We can see how the gladiators fought, what weapon they used, the differences between one gladiator and another. This festival is the best way to celebrate the time of roman leadership which left us some beautiful and rare foundings. INSULAE SEPOMAIAE It is considered that Sepomaia was actually one big, well organized latifundium and that it was divided into smaller estates. Today, here you can find many antique remains. Most of them are architectural remains such as walls, floors, pools, piers, mosaics etc., but you can also find moving remains: amphoras, ceramic pots, objects made of steel and bronze etc. The research of Sepomaia began in the 19th century at the location of cape Katoro. The research was then continued by Stefan Mlakar from the Archaeological Museum of Pula. Unlike previous works, this research was concentrated on cape Tiola where the remains of luxurious Roman villa were found. Old sailing routes ran down the length of the coast, and goods were transported only during the day. At night and during storms they would hide in the ports and harbours. Thats how it was in Katoro. The area between the Cape of Katoro and the Cape of Sipar did not only have villas belonging to wealthy people, since there were also rural houses with farmsteads, whose inhabitants engaged in agriculture, crafts, fishing and trade. They would sell their products to merchants, which would then be transported by boat to other places. A large port was needed for this purpose. This is how the settlement Sepomaia came into existence, which stretched between the Cape of Katoro and the Cape of Sipar. The arrival of settlers in this area reaches far back into history, since there were settlers here even before the Romans. The settlement first had a name with Celtic roots Sepomaia. The Romans later renamed the settlement Siparis. Due to the many dangers that threatened them, the people of Siparis had to frequently leave their homes: there were repeated attacks by pirates, attacks by a variety of different enemies,

earthquakes, and constant robberies by barbarians. However, when these dangers passed they would always return and reconstruct the town and its walls. This happened all the way up to 876 A.D. until the time when pirates from Neretva under the leadership of Duke Domagoj raided the town. Siparis started to decline more and more, and its inhabitants moved to an island todays Umag. Whilst other towns on the west coast of Istria slowly recovered, Siparis never did. Sepomaia includes different toponyms that will be described in this seminar paper. These toponyms are: Sipar and cape Tiola. These are not the only roman villas at this area but they are the most known and preserved. There are few more locations where the remains could be found and where is a sign that a villa once existed and they are Muntarol, cape Katoro, Zambratija, Saint Margarita etc. These villas were not well preserved and there is a few information that we could find. Sipar According to the research, Sipar served for a mainly economic activity. Objects that were found here are interpretated as port devices, underwater pools, horreum (granary) etc. The age of these objects show us that Sipar was populated from 2nd century BC until 9th century AD. The visible architectular part is a tower from Justinian time. According to historical data there are two sunken cities in western coast of Istria: Cisa near Rovinj and Sipar near Umag. In the charter of family Benedetti you can read that, when the tides are low, mosaic floors, buildings and rooms appear in the sea. There is also another tradition which says that Sipar was established by Byzantines, then populated by pirates and that in today's ruins there are living spirits that look after the treausure. The legend says that Sipar should be located in the depths of the sea in the area of cape Katoro. But it is not known for certain wether the city is located in the sea or if it is hiding under the vegetation of the land. However, the remains that were found are the remains of luxurious villas and castles, but they were found on the land. Because of the many dangers that threatened them, the people of Siparis have repeatedly had to leave their homes: frequent attacks by pirates, various enemies, earthquakes, permanent invasion of barbarians etc. But when the danger was over they would return and reconstruct the city and its walls. Until 876 years when the Neretva pirates, led by Duke Domagoj ruined city. Siparis started to decline more and more, and its inhabitants moved to the island - today's town of Umag. While other towns on the western coast of Istria were slowly recovering, Siparis never recovered. Unlike many other resorts, which live in the same area and up to two millenniums, Sipar will never live again after Duke Domagoj . Another reason for the further destruction of the everyday remains is the destructive effect of the sea.

LEGEND OF ROSAMUND AND A SHEPERD There are many legends connected with this castle, but one of the most beautiful and known is a legend about Rosaumnd and a sheperd. The legend says that Sipar was a magnificent city, that ruled the whole Adriatic sea. Young and beautiful Rosamund was lord's daughter who one day met a poor, but handsome sheperd. They instantly fell in love, but Rosamunda father could not accept this. He closed Rosamund in her rooms and expelled the young sheperd from Sipar. After that, Rosamund gets ill and nothing could help her. Not the doctors, the expensive gifts or balls could help her. Her grief and sadness were so big that her father decided to call the sheperd and test his wisdom. The sheperd was brought to Sipar, but before he could see Rosamund, he had to find two stones with the same color among thousands of multicolored stones. To the great astonishment, the sheperd qiuckly found not two but four stones with the same color. He was helped by the fairy of love who was unvisible to the rest. In that way, sheperd and Rosamund could get married. And they lived happily ever after. Cape Tiola The studies on cape Tiola reveal that the villa was decorated with colorful mosaics, it had underfloor heating, cistern which supplied the villa with water etc. With archaeological researches, it was confirmed the existence of residential building made of three divided spaces. The first space was a cistern, with mosaic floors. The second one is a thermal circuit with a furnac, cold, warm and hot water and was surrounded by corresponding rooms. The main part of the third room was used for winter life. It had the central heating where hot air was used to heath the floors and walls. The space that was used for winter life stopped being used in the year of 150 and was being used to bury the dead. There were two well preserved tombs. In the first one there was buried a young couple. The objects buried with them show that the couple was extremely rich. In the second one there is a child's body. The remains show that people stopped living in this villa around the 4th century. Sepomaia's decline Sepomaia's decline occured around the 3th and 4th century. This also testifies the social, cultural and economic decadeny in society of that time. The situation was getting worse because of the costant barbaric interruptions. The villages were not suitable to defend themselves, the building were not surrounded by walls and they were not good for life. The population are leaving the villas and they are transfering to the island of Umag because it was easier to defend an island than a territory who was long-drawn along the coast.

CONCLUSION This seminar paper was made to describe the ancient times in Istria, Umag to be more specific. As we can see, this time was very prosperous for Istria. The Romans had a great respect fot this area and they built these large and impressive buildings. The remains of few ports show us that there was a great deal of trade and commerce. There was also exchange between different cultures and opinions. Today, this whole area is full of ancient remains. There has also been a few remains that are very rare like a preserved cup of glass that can be found in a small number in the whole world. These remains are pretty impressive and the researches are still going on. So in the future we can expect more of these beautiful remains.

References: Monografija grada Umaga, Gradska knjinica Umag & Puko otvoreno uilite Ante Babi Umag, 2012

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