Ὤρικος, Ὤρικον
Oriku , Orikumi
Oricum - Monumental Fontana 01.jpg
Monumental fountain
Oricum is located in Albania
Location in Albania
LocationOrikum, Vlorë County, Albania
RegionEpirus or Illyria
Coordinates40°19′8″N 19°25′43″E / 40.31889°N 19.42861°E / 40.31889; 19.42861
  • Classical
  • Hellenistic
  • Roman
  • Greek
  • Roman
Site notes
OwnershipGovernment of Albania

Oricum (Ancient Greek: Ὤρικον, Ὤρικος or Ὠρικός; Latin: Oricum or Oricus; Albanian: Oriku or Orikum) was an Ancient Greek city at the south end of the Bay of Vlorë on the southern Adriatic coast between Epirus and Illyria.[1] It is located near modern day Orikum, Vlorë County, Albania. The site of Oricum is an archaeological park of Albania.


Orikos is firstly mentioned in ancient sources by Hecataeus of Miletus and Herodotus (fl. 6th century BC), where it is identified as a λιμήν (limen harbor in Greek).[2][3] In the Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax (4th century BC) Orikos is identified as a Greek polis (‘Ελληνίς πόλις) located within the territory of Amantia, the latter being regarded as an Illyrian city.[4]

The periegesis of Pseudo-Scymnus (c. 100 BC) reported the tradition according to which the city was founded by Euboeans on the Illyrian coast, blown off their route on their return home from Troy by strong winds.[5][6] As a Euboean foundation it would date back to about the mid 8th century B.C.[7] Probably it was established as an Eretrian emporium,[8] or as a harbor by Eretrian refugees from Kerkyra after this island was conquered by the Corinthians, although the latter hypothesis is less likely.[9]

It remains uncertain whether the myth of the foundation reported in the periegesis is to be considered as historically relevant or whether it is merely an attempt to attribute a glorious Homeric past to the city aiming to justify a Greek presence on the Illyrian coast. The first hypothesis can be supported by some other elements in literary traditions, seeming to witness to a Euboean presence in the area of Orikos dating back to the 8th century BC, but on the other hand the archaeological material found so far in the region does not precede the 6th century BC.[10]

It was originally on an island, but already in ancient times it became connected to the mainland; it covered an area of 5 hectares (12 acres), but archaeological remains are scarce.[11] It was well situated for communication with Kerkyra,[12] and was only 65 kilometers (40 mi) across the sea from Otranto, making it a convenient stopping point on the journey between Greece and Italy.[13] From around 230 to 168 BC it issued its own coins with the legend ΩΡΙΚΙΩΝ ('of the Oricians').[14]

It had military importance under Roman rule, serving as a base during Rome's wars with the Illyrians and with Macedonia (which occupied it for a time); it was the first city taken by Julius Caesar during his invasion of Epirus, and he provides a vivid description of its surrender in Book 3 of his De Bello Civili:[15]

But as soon as Caesar had landed his troops, he set off the same day for Oricum: when he arrived there, Lucius Torquatus, who was governor of the town by Pompey's appointment, and had a garrison of Parthinians in it, endeavored to shut the gates and defend the town, and ordered the Greeks to man the walls, and to take arms. But as they refused to fight against the power of the Roman people, and as the citizens made a spontaneous attempt to admit Caesar, despairing of any assistance, he threw open the gates, and surrendered himself and the town to Caesar, and was preserved safe from injury by him. (III:12)

After this, Oricum "became more of a civilian settlement, and the few remains which can be seen today date from the 1st century BC or later.

In the 11th–12th centuries, Oricum, now known as Jericho (Greek: Ἱεριχὼ), formed a Byzantine province along with Kanina and Aulon.[16] As the Provincia Jericho et Caninon, it appears in the imperial chrysobull granted to Venice in 1198 by Alexios III Angelos.[16]

The Ottomans renamed Oricum Pashaliman, 'the Pasha's harbour', and the lagoon still bears this name, as does the nearby Albanian navy base."[17]

Orician terebinth ("Oricia terebintho") is mentioned by Virgil[18] and Sextus Propertius.[19]


A previous misconception of the city is that it has an amphitheater. It is actually a monumental fountain or a public place that was also used as a water tank. There is also no drinkable water spring around, so the city had to collect rain water in order to survive.[20]

The city was almost entirely carved in stone, which lead to the base of the tank having a diameter of 10 meters (33 ft) Below, there is also an as yet unexcavated temple, and at a certain distance lies an altar that is dedicated to Dionysus.[21] A large portion of the city found is still underwater, as a helicopter ride can show the outlines of houses underwater, indicating that the coast around the port of Oricum had slowly submerged into the sea.

Traces of walls have been found around the city, evidence shows that it was repaired during Byzantine times.


Near the city can be found the Marmiroi Church. This is a church of dating back to the reign of the Byzantine emperor Theodore I. It has a small 6 by 9 meters (20 by 30 ft) main hall and a dome approximately 3 meters (9.8 ft) in diameter that is supported by four Roman arches. The inner walls feature fragments of typical Byzantine murals.[1]

See also


  1. ^ Hatzopoulos 2020, p. 227; Hernandez 2017, pp. 257–258; Bereti et al. 2013, p. 95; Funke, Moustakis & Hochschulz 2004, p. 342
  2. ^ Bereti et al. 2013, p. 97
  3. ^ Funke, Moustakis & Hochschulz 2004, p. 342.
  4. ^ Hernandez 2017, pp. 257–258.
  5. ^ Bereti et al. 2013, pp. 95, 98
  6. ^ Robin Lane Fox, Travelling Heroes: Greeks and Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer (London: Allen Lane, 2008, ISBN 978-0-7139-9980-8), p. 123.
  7. ^ Antonaccio, Carla M.; Cohen, Beth; Gruen, Erich S.; Hall, Jonathan M. (2001). Ancient Perceptions of Greek Ethnicity. Center for Hellenic Studies, Trustees for Harvard University. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-674-00662-1. The maritime routes toward the Strait of Otranto were frequented by Greeks as early as ca. 800 B.C., and the Euboeans settled in Corcyra and Oricum in the Bay of Valona (facing Otranto) about the mid - eighth century .
  8. ^ Keith G. Walker, Archaic Eretria: A Political and Social History from the Earliest Times to 490 BC (Routledge, 2004: ISBN 0-415-28552-6), p. 151.
  9. ^ Malkin 1998, p. 80.
  10. ^ Bereti et al. 2013, p. 98
  11. ^ Hansen and Nielsen, An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis, p. 347.
  12. ^ Walker, Archaic Eretria, p. 151.
  13. ^ Lane Fox, Travelling Heroes, p. 123.
  14. ^ Mogens Herman Hansen and Kurt A. Raaflaub, More Studies in the Ancient Greek Polis (Franz Steiner Verlag, 1996: ISBN 3-515-06969-0), p. 149.
  15. ^ "McAdams's Kennedy Assassination Home Page Index".
  16. ^ a b Zakythinos 1941, p. 219.
  17. ^ Gillian Gloyer, Albania (Bradt Travel Guides, 2008: ISBN 1-84162-246-X), p. 212.
  18. ^ Aeneid, X, 136.
  19. ^ Elegies, III, 7.49.
  20. ^ "Open Explorer Albania". OpenExplorer. 2016-09-12. Retrieved 2016-12-24.
  21. ^ "Të dhëna historike për Gjirin e Vlorës – Gazeta 55 Online". gazeta55.al. Retrieved 2016-12-24.