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15-17 NOVEMBER 2012
International Jubilee Conference UACEG2012: Science & Practice


A. Miric1, E. Vasic Petrovic2, A. Marinkovic3
Keywords: late antique, heritage, protection of historical monuments, Nais, Mediana

Research area: protection of historical monuments


City of Nis, the birthplace of Roman emperor Constantine I the Great, that in
313AD signed the Milan edict- the proclamation of religious freedom in the Roman Empire,
is one of the oldest and largest cities in Serbia. Material traces of life from prehistoric, antic,
Byzantium and medieval periods are integrated in modern city core and are largely defining
its character.
According to existing strategies of City of Nis cultural and touristic development,
year 2013 will be dedicated to celebration of 1700 years since adoption of Milan edict.
Numerous projects of promotion of religious and ethnic tolerance, as well as valorization and
popularization of built heritage, will be realized before and during the festivities. Particular
importance belongs to the projects of preservation, presentation and popularization of late
antiquity period built heritage.
This work presents the results of efforts to protect late antiquity built heritage of
City of Nis through the prism of critical analyses of state of the antique monuments and
possibilities for their sustainable management before and after the jubilant 2013.

1. The City of Nis in the late antiquity

City of Nis, antique Naissus, was located in the center of the Roman province Upper
Moesia (Moesia Superior), at the crossroads of major antique roads. Epigraphic data
provides information that the city core was formed in the last decade of 1st century AD. In 2nd
century AD Naissus was one four largest cities in Dardania. Not only the soldiers and their

Aleksandra Miric, Phd student, IRAA, Universit de Lyon, France, aleksandramiric@yahoo.com

Elena Vasic Petrovic, Post.grad. student, University of Belgrade, Serbia, elenavasic@gmail.com
Aleksandra Marinkovic, Phd student, University of Nis, Serbia, alexytea@yahoo.com

families, but also numerous merchants and artisans inhabited the city. In the second half of
the 2nd century AD Naissus acquired the status of municipium. In the first decades of the 3rd
century AD the city reached a very high level of development and became an important
military, economic and political center of the region. In the 4th century AD Naissus belonged
to the newly created province of Mediterranean Dacia (Dacia Mediterranea). In this period
the city became the residence of the Roman Emperor, who remained here and thanks to
whose activities Naissus witnessed significant architectural activities. Constantine the Great,
born on the territory of ancient Naissus, ruled the kingdom from 306 AD to 337 AD. The
greatest merit to the increase of number of luxury buildings is attributed to his stays in
Naissus. One of the most important and far-reaching consequences decisions of his reign,
was his proclamation of "Edict of Milan", signed in 313 AD, which proclaims freedom of
religious expression.
The incoming 2013 is the year of the great jubilee "1700 years since the Edict of
Milan , so the attention of the scientific community is focused on the study and presentation
of cultural monuments that date from late antiquity. Their state and possibilities for their
sustainable management will be presented in the lines below.

2. Late antiquity built heritage of City of Nis

The most important monuments, legacy of the late Roman period, in the urban
structure of modern Nis are: Nis fortress, archaeological site Gradsko polje, archaeological
site Jagodin Mala, Square of King Milan and its surroundings, the archaeological founds in
Gorica hill and Vinik hill, archaeological site Mediana and archaeological founds in Niska
Ottoman fortress, constructed in 18th century AD on a slight hill on the right river
bank, took place of destructed antique fortress [1]. All the available material from older
buildings was used for the construction of Ottoman walls and bastions fort, which
contributed to the poor condition of the antique archaeological findings.
Archaeological site Gradsko polje, where a number of antique remains have been
registered, is a plateau located just outside of the north gate of Nis Fortress. The greatest part
of that space is occupied by large industrial and military complex, so the archaeological
founds are unavailable to the public.
The remains of the city's largest antique cemetery is in Jagodin Mala. It was located
along the axis of the road that led to the northeast Naissus, on the right river bank. The
necropolis was in use during the period from 4th century to 6th century AD.
Even though the following founds are not presented, it is useful to mention the
following late-antique locations situated in city core: Pantelej, Ribnik, Beograd Mala, Trg
Kralja Milana, Apelovac, Ciglana and Stara zeleznicka kolonija on the south bank of the
Besides Vinik and Gorica, where residential buildings, villas and water supply
constructions are registered, the suburb of ancient Naissus, Mediana is important
archaeological complex, which is partially explored. Looking at the wider area of the city, it
is necessary to mention the tombs discovered in Niska Banja

3. The state of research and protection

When the Serbian army liberated Nis from the Turks, the works on reconstruction and
reorganization of Nis fortress started. In the late 19th century, the Lapidarium of epigraphic
monuments found in the ancient Naissus and archaeological sites in the region, was formed,
see [2]. Lapidarium is still there, but the condition of the monuments that are exposed to
weather and temperature fluctuations is very bad. Among the various antique structures
found in the Fortress, the most attention have attracted the remains of the street (called
"Byzantine street") with porticos and buildings dating from 4th century AD, that is found on
the south side of the Bali Beg mosque. This part is conserved after the archaeological
research, but from that time until today, nothing further has been done on its maintenance
and presentation. A large number of archaeological founds are researched and covered: parts
of water supply construction and several facilities of unknown purpose, the remains of metal
workshops, but also elements that have shown the existence of religious (cult) facility in the
later stages of construction, see [3]. At the central plateau of the fortress well-preserved
remains of "ancient streets" were discovered, with a well-finished stone slabs, a portico with
columns and remains of a public building with a rich architectural decoration. In the south
below the excavated parts are remains of "building with arches". In the southwestern part of
the fortress are the finds of the remains that may belong to "Asclepius temple".
All that is currently visible of impressive findings on the central plateau, wellpreserved pieces of ancient streets and public buildings, is only the indefinite recess in which
can be discerned the outlines of the former architectural elements. A conserved part of
Byzantine street and termae near Belgrade gate are still in good condition, but
unfortunately, like other buildings in the fort, has no signs and written information, so they
are completely incomprehensible to observers and visitors.
Numerous finds dating from late antiquity and Byzantium period that were found
outside the fortress walls are covered or destructed, so no remains are presented to the
Near to Nis Fortress, at Gradsko polje archaeological site, a building named "Villa
with octagon" was discovered,. It is assumed that this was a luxury facility that could serve
the needs of senior provincial government and royal officials, and Emperors themselves. The
presence of mosaic and floor heating systems is determined in all investigated areas.
Researches were never completed. "Villa with Octagon" is, as many other archaeological
structures, only preventively conserved, so its decay progressively increase with each
successive changes of seasons. The effect of atmospheric conditions and parasite vegetation
influence is disastrous for the rest of this very important building, see [4].
There are a many late antique buildings with a mosaic floors discovered in Naissus.
One of them is a remarkable Roman villa of larger dimensions situated at the location
Konjsko groblje, contemporary military complex in Jagodin mala. Facility has not been
studied systematically. The Remains of buildings were found in many archaeological probes,
so it is possible that the villa covered an area of 600m2, see [2]. The villa is not presented.
Researches of the antique necropolis at Jagodin Mala run sporadically from the first
half of twentieth century. From that time until now six tombs with frescoes, dozens of brick
vaulted tombs and hundreds of free burial graves have been investigated. Only Basilica with
Martyrium and mentioned tombs with frescoes ("Tomb with Christ-monogram," "Tomb of
the Christ-monogram at the ceiling," "Tomb with the calottes," "Tomb of the north-south
orientation" and 2 more Tombs at the courtyard of the House of secondary school students)
are accessible. Condition of graves in Jagodin Mala is catastrophic. Protective buildings
erected over their entrances are ruined and full of rubbish. Neither one of them has their

guardian instution; no one invests in their maintenance nor exploits their potential. Forgotten
by all but researchers who write about them and publish photos and drawings from the time
of their discovery, these valuable early Christian monuments are in unrecognizable state.
Mediana is an important archaeological site from the late Roman period located in the
eastern suburb of the Roman Naissus and it is his best-preserved part. The site dates to the
reign of Constantine the Great, see [5]. Except representative villa with peristyle, excavations
dating from the beginning of 19th century have revealed baths, horreum, crafts center, early
Christian church and great number of late antique houses. One part of antique suburb was
beyond the legally protected archaeological site, so the construction of the industrial zone
caused an irreversible destruction of archaeological remains. In the area of the factory
complex of electronic industry a large tank with a water tower used to supply the suburb, was
discovered, and later destructed, see [6]. Research works on this huge area are still going on,
and on several occasions the remains of antique architecture has been conservated and
Even though Mediana was added to the Archaeological Sites of Exceptional
Importance list, protected by Republic of Serbia, only the well-preserved mosaics protected
in situ by the museum building erased in1936 are presented. The rest of more than 900m2 of
floor mosaic is covered by sand and not presented in any way, see [7].

3. Actual projects
In recent years the City of Nis has made an effort in defining the Strategy of cultural
development, and in adopting the Qualicities standard. Qualicities methodology and Local
Plan of the progress of sustainable architectural heritage development for the city of Nis, is
adopted at the Assembly of Nis in December 2011. The goal of methodology Qualicities is
the differentiation of the local community as a whole of specific cultural and historical
values that are positively valued by residents and visitors. In these documents, the
presentation of late antique cultural heritage as an attractive resource, on which the city of
Nis have been recognized, is given special attention , see [8].
The latest plans of the city authorities are focused, among other, on the antique
monuments situated in Nis Fortress and Gradsko polje. These plans, to some extent, give
hope that serious reflection and planning will take place and will open opportunities for its
permanent protection and better utilization. As a result of this initiative in 2011, Nis Institute
for Protection of Monuments of Culture made a Conceptual project of landscape design and
revitalization of Fortress of Nis, which has elements of the strategy document, see [9]
Moreover, the idea of the architect N. Petrovic-Spremo from the year of 1965. has
been actualizated. It was a plan to make an archaeological park Mediana. The project for a
presentation of the Villa with peristyle, which includes the presentation of a part of the
mosaics, is in progress. Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments Nis developed a
number of projects that are aimed at the presentation of the archaeological site. In the course
of 2011, the project of construction of small visitor center at the entrance to the site is
realized, see [10].
The implementation of these initiatives gives us a chance to improve the condition of
the archaeological remains in terms of their protection and presentation.

3. Conclusion

Poor condition of late antique built heritage defies City of Nis efforts to build its
economic growth on cultural heritage presentation, as well as modern trends of revitalization
of world architectural heritage.
Extreme economic crisis that marked the previous period, the continued lack of
funding for planned actions, the lack of continuity in the study and maintenance of cultural
heritage material, the lack of accountability in the organization and management of urban
resources and urban planning and inadequate exploitation of the entire space to a large extent
prevented or limited the professional timely, preventive and operative engagement of
appropriate protection regime, as well as the maintenance and use of Nis cultural heritage.
The current situation is a reflection of the impact of economic, social and political
circumstances in the development of the city.
Causes for such a situation include also continual neglect and incomplete research and
conservatory interventions which did not remove numerous essential problems that
contribute to devastation of constructions. Lack of strategies to research, protection and
systematic presentation of late antique monuments and delayed implementation of existing
conservation projects could result in significant damage and complete disappearance of
archaeological remains. Exactly for these reasons, reexamination of possibilities for
conservation and re-conservation of architectural heritage is imposed.
One of the factors of which, in the context of globalization, the success of the City of
Nis and the entire region, is depending and which is affecting the quality of life and
economic progress is the preservation of architectural heritage of great cultural and historical
significance. Its value is reflected in the high potential for territorial differentiation of the
specific environment and local economic development. The role of late antique
archaeological remains, as an important element of heritage, is very important in the process.
However, the realization process of protecting and presenting in a way that contributes to
local economic development is conditioned by the existence of a permanent budget line for
the implementation of programs and activities designed and coordinated on the level of interinstitutional and professional collaboration.
Nis archaeological heritage should have great significance for understanding the
history and understanding of cultural, religious, political and social conditions in general
early Christian period. The incoming jubilee "1700 years since the Edict of Milan , was
evidently a good opportunity to think and rethink the late antique heritage state. It is evident
that an initiative of its improvement was made. The question is not only if the multi-layered
Nis Fortress, tombs found in residential zone of Jagodin Mala, ancient buildings of Mediana
located few inches below the level of the soil, are managed in a proper, sustainable way, but
also if our generation will accomplish its duty to preserve them for the upcoming

4. Citation
[1] According to Petrovi , 1993, The segments of its urban structure are registered
during previous research, but it is not enough to assume the dimensions of the ancient
fortifications, the position of roads and buildings.
[2] More information in Andrejevi , 2001
[3] More information in Ljubinkovi , 1963

[4] According to, Jeremic, 2006, the surface of villa is 300m2. According to VasicPetrovic, 2011, the project for the conservation and restoration and the financial support were
approved in 2012, by the decision of the Ministry of Culture.
[5] Group of authors, Encyclopedia of Nis-history, Gradina, Ni 1995
[6] More information in Dr a, 2006
[7] according to Miric/Vasic-Petrovic, 2012, Floor mosaics of late antique buildings
from Naissus and its environment are not adequately protected and presented. The only
permanent shelter is built above a small triclinium mosaics of the Villa with peristyle at
Mediana, the temporary shelters are built above mosaics of early Christian church with the
monogram of Christ, mosaic floor of the hallway in the peristyle villa and mosaics from the
Villa with conch are displaced. Other mosaics are not available for the public.
[8] According to Miric, 2012, Becoming a member of European Capitals of Culture
Association and accepting Qualicities methodological guideline, Nis has shown multiannual
tendency to use the potential of heritage for improvement of economic, social and cultural
life and to respect the European standards for heritage management.
[9] According to Vasic-Petrovic, 2011, the project for planning and revitalization of
Nis fortress provides the plans for systematic research and presentation of the ancient
heritage, including Villa with the octagon and its mosaic.
[10] According to Vasic-Petrovic, 2011, the financial support was provided by City
Municipality Mediana
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