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The Romans in Serbia

The Romans in Serbia Source: The Pannonia Project

Historical facts about contribution of what is now Serbia to the Roman Empire will be presented on Wednesday, 1 February in Sydney, by University of Sydney's professor Richard Miles and dr Alan Dearn from Sydney Grammar School. Special focus on The Pannonia Project in Sremska Mitrovica, an archaeological discovery of major significance...

The contribution of what is now Serbia to the Roman Empire was huge. The Roman provinces of Pannonia and Moesia, where Serbia stands, was one of the most important frontier zones of the Empire, protecting the Danubian frontier from constant pressure from Germanic peoples to the north.

By the 3rd century AD, during a period of crisis and civil war in the Empire, Italy practically became less relevant to the survival of the Empire than the Balkan provinces. Within the current borders of Serbia were born 17 Roman emperors, or 18 if you count the Byzantine emperor Justinian. Most of them came from military backgrounds and became emperor as a result of a civil war. Only Italy was home to more emperors during the history of Rome.

Probably the most famous Roman emperor from Serbia was Constantine, who embraced Christianity. Ten of these emperors were born around Sremska Mitrovica (Roman Sirmium), and the Pannonia Project is particularly interested in one of them: the emperor Maximilian, who ruled from 285 to 310 AD. Maximilian, along with his co-emperor Diocletian and two others formed a 'Tetrarchy' (rule of four) who brought an end (temporarily) to instability in the Empire.

Maximilian was forced to kill himself in 310 AD, after fighting in a civil war against Constantine. As a way of boosting his prestige, Maximilian ordered a palace to be built for him in the town of his birth, and that is the site of the Pannonia Project, that will be excavating. The site will eventually join other Serbian Roman sites like Gamzigrad and Viminacium, as important reminders of Serbia's Roman heritage as and worldwide interest.