Oricum
Ὤρικος, Ὤρικον
Oriku , Orikumi
The site of Orikos.jpg
The site of ancient Orikos
Oricum is located in Albania
Oricum
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
Typeharbor, settlement
History
Periods
  • Classical
  • Hellenistic
  • Roman
Cultures
  • Greek
  • Roman
Site notes
OwnershipGovernment of Albania

Oricum (Ancient Greek: Ὤρικον, Ὤρικος or Ὠρικός; Latin: Oricum or Oricus; Albanian: Oriku or Orikum) was a harbor on the Illyrian coast that developed in a Greek polis and later became an important Roman port at the south end of the Bay of Vlorë on the southern Adriatic coast. In Hellenistic times it was located in the transboundary area between Epirus and Illyria,[1] and later on the borders of Epirus Vetus and Epirus Nova in Macedonia and Illyricum. It is now an archaeological park of Albania, near modern Orikum, Vlorë County.[2] Oricum holds such a strategic geographical position that the area has been in continuous usage as a naval base from antiquity to the present-days.[3]

It appears that the site of Oricum was uninhabited before the 6th century BC.[4] In the early period contacts between the Greeks and the local Illyrians were evidently absent in the hinterland of the site.[5] Early literature classsify Orikos as a harbor (Greek: λιμήν, limen). It is firstly identified as a Greek polis in the Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax (mid-4th century BC), which locates it within the territory of Amantia in Illyria.[6] The polis was founded as a southern Greek colony rather than an indigenous foundation.[7] At the beginning of the 3rd century BC Pyrrhus gained control of Oricum, incorporating it into Epirus during his rule.[8][9] After the Roman victory against the Illyrians, in 228 BC Oricum became part of the Roman protectorate in Illyricum.[10] During the Macedonian Wars Oricum was involved in the conflicts between Rome and Macedon in the Illyrian territory that Rome had aimed to protect and control periodically for thirty years, since the First Illyrian War.[11][12][13]

Oricum experienced a phase of great prosperity in the period between the late 3rd and the early 1st centuries BC.[14] In the Roman period Oricum was one of the principal harbors of the new province of Epirus Nova, in the province of Macedonia.[15] During the conflicts of the Great Roman Civil War between Caesar and Pompey in Epirus and Illyricum, Oricum was an important naval base used by Caesar, who described the inhabitants as Greeks.[16][17]

Location

Oricum, placed at the end of the Karaburun Peninsula (ancient Akrokeraunia), constitutes the eastern point of the narrowest stretch of the sea – the Strait of Otranto – which connects the Iapygian promontory in southeastern Italy with Albania. From pre-colonial times until the Hellenistic period the Strait of Otranto was the main east-west sea route, which, with a distance of around 72 km, required about twelve hours of navigation with very favorable wind. In Roman times, a shift to the north took place, using the Brundisium-Dyrrachium route, which was considered safer, although being longer.[18]

The harbor at Orikos ensured the link to the northern routes, while the routes to Korkyra and to the southeastern destinations, such as the Ambracian Gulf, were granted by Panormos, a harbor located in the middle of the Ceraunian Mountains.[19] Orikos is located on the large valley of Dukat, at the foot of the Karaburun Peninsula and on the road leading to the Llogara Pass. This mountain pass connects the valley of Dukat with the ancient Palaeste to the south of the Karaburun Peninsula in open sea. However the Llogara Pass is difficult to cross.[20]

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.[21]

History

In the early period the findings from the hinterland of Oricum reveal no contacts between the Greeks and the local Illyrian population.[5] Archaeological evidence has shown that the site of Oricum was not inhabited before the 6th century BC.[4]

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).[22][23] 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.[6]

During his rule Pyrrhus of Epirus gained control of Oricum.[24][25]

The city seems to have been completely independent in the period 230–215 BC.[26] After the Roman victory in the First Illyrian War, Illyrian Queen Teuta was forced to retreat to the Bay of Kotor, and in 228 BC the Romans imposed a protectorate on the islands of Issa and Corcyra, as well as on the cities of Epidamnos, Apollonia and Oricum. The protectorate area corresponded to the usage of the Roman concept of Illyricum.[10] 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). In 214 Philip V of Macedonia raided the Illyrian coast with 120 lembs, briefly taking Oricum and besieging Apollonia.[12] Oricum asked Rome protection against Philip,[27] and the city was quickly recovered by Roman propraetor of the fleet Marcus Valerius Laevinus.[12] Laevinus crossed the sea to Illyria, intervening immediately because in Philip V's hands, Oricum and Apollonia would have been good naval bases for a Macedonian attack upon Italy.[28]

Oricum was the first city taken by Julius Caesar during his arrival on the Acroceraunia, and he provides a vivid description of its surrender in Book 3 of his De Bello Civili:[29]

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.[30] As the Provincia Jericho et Caninon, it appears in the imperial chrysobull granted to Venice in 1198 by Alexios III Angelos.[30]

During the Ottoman Empire the harbor of Oricum was renamed Pashaliman, 'the Pasha's harbour', and the lagoon still bears this name, as does the nearby Albanian navy base.[31][3]

Orician terebinth ("Oricia terebintho") is mentioned by Virgil[32] and Sextus Propertius.[33]

Mythology

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.[34][35] As a Euboean foundation it would date back to about the mid 8th century BC,[36] probably established as an Eretrian emporium,[37] or as a harbor by Eretrian refugees from Kerkyra after this island was conquered by the Corinthians, although the latter hypothesis is less likely.[38]

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.[39]

Coinage

From around 230 to 168 BC the city issued its own coins with the Greek legend ΩΡΙΚΙΩΝ ('of the Oricians').[40]

Archaeological remains

Monumental fountain
Monumental fountain

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.[41]

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.[42] 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.

Church

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

References

Citations

  1. ^ Cabanes 2008, pp. 164–165; Hatzopoulos 2020, p. 227; Hernandez 2017, pp. 257–258; Funke, Moustakis & Hochschulz 2004, p. 342; Malcolm 2020, p. 350: "Orikum, on the south-western side of the Bay of Dukat (below the Bay of Vlorë), is close to the site of the Illyrian and Roman port of Oricum."; Morton 2017, p. 15: "The 200 BC Roman campaign was not only an extension of the First Macedonian War politically, but topographically as well, as it concerned the same Illyrian ports of Apollonia, Corcyra, and Oricum. However, Roman concern with these Illyrian ports had not begun with the First Macedonian War, but in fact had been a Roman military concern since the First Illyrian War in 229 BC. In 200 BC, the Roman army returned to Illyrian territory that Rome had been fighting to control and protect periodically for the past 30 years. However, the Romans now led a land army further inland than they ever had before."; Katz 2016, p. 421: "Oricos: Illyrian port, on Epirus' border."; Bereti et al. 2013, p. 98: "With regard to the site's nature the literary sources are unanimous: from the 5th cent. on: Orikos is considered to be among the prime maritime harbours, the safest in the region.12 No doubt thanks to its size and to its proximity to the Italian coast it becomes the main bridge-head for the Romans during the Illyrian and Macedonian wars."; Shpuza 2014, p. 59: "De tout temps situé aux confins de provinces, Orikos s’est trouvé pendant la période hellé-nistique sur la frontière entre l’Épire et l’Illyrie ; également pendant la période romaine, où la ville constitue la limite entre les provinces de Macédoine et d’Achaïe, puis, plus tard, au II e s. apr. J.-C., entre la Macédoine et la nouvelle province de l’Épire qui se sépare de l’Achaïe. C’est aussi là qu’ilest convenu de placer la limite entre la mer Adriatique et la mer Ionienne."; Shpuza 2022, p. 553: "Cette po-sition frontalière a probablement occasionné des malentendus parmi les auteurs anciens sur son po-sitionnement en Illyrie ou en Épire. Cependant, tous ceux qui connaissent la géographie imaginent mal que le territoire d' Épire puisse aller au-delà des Monts Cérauniens, qui représentent une frontière naturelle difficilement franchissable. D'après les données à notre disposition, Orikos n'a fait partie de l'Épire que pendant le Royaume de Pyrrhos au début du 3e siècle avant J.C."; Eckstein 2008, p. 421: "Oricum (Greek town on Adriatic)".
  2. ^ Tusa 2010, p. 8
  3. ^ a b Cabanes 2008, p. 164.
  4. ^ a b Përzhita 2017, p. 245
  5. ^ a b Kirigin 2006, p. 41: "...the finds from the hinterland of Oricum offer no proof of any contacts of the Greeks with the local Illyrian population ."
  6. ^ a b Hernandez 2017, pp. 257–258.
  7. ^ Hernandez 2010, p. 51.
  8. ^ Shpuza 2022, p. 553: "Cette po-sition frontalière a probablement occasionné des malentendus parmi les auteurs anciens sur son po-sitionnement en Illyrie ou en Épire. Cependant, tous ceux qui connaissent la géographie imaginent mal que le territoire d' Épire puisse aller au-delà des Monts Cérauniens, qui représentent une frontière naturelle difficilement franchissable. D'après les données à notre disposition, Orikos n'a fait partie de l'Épire que pendant le Royaume de Pyrrhos au début du 3e siècle avant J.C."
  9. ^ Stephens 2011, p. 203
  10. ^ a b Ivetic 2022, p. 44.
  11. ^ Morton 2017, p. 15: "The 200 BC Roman campaign was not only an extension of the First Macedonian War politically, but topographically as well, as it concerned the same Illyrian ports of Apollonia, Corcyra, and Oricum. However, Roman concern with these Illyrian ports had not begun with the First Macedonian War, but in fact had been a Roman military concern since the First Illyrian War in 229 BC. In 200 BC, the Roman army returned to Illyrian territory that Rome had been fighting to control and protect periodically for the past 30 years. However, the Romans now led a land army further inland than they ever had before."
  12. ^ a b c Burton 2017, pp. 24–25: "In late summer, 214, Philip raided the Illyrian coast with 120 lemboi, attacking and taking Oricum and laying siege to Apollonia. The Roman propraetor in charge of the fleet, M. Valerius Laevinus, quickly recovered Oricum and sent a detach-ment of troops to Apollonia, which easly slipped into the city by night. Another night attacks, this time on the Macedonian camp near Apollonia, followed."
  13. ^ Eckstein 2008, p. 86: "Indeed, Laevinus’ intervention was a highly risky operation, coming at a point when the two best harbors on a difficult coast were already denied to the Roman fleet (Oricum in Philip’s hands; Apollonia besieged by the Macedonians). But the reason given for Laevinus’ crossing to Illyria is explicit: Oricum and Apollonia would be good bases for an attack upon Italy (Livy 24.40.5)."
  14. ^ De Mitri 2020, p. 197
  15. ^ Shpuza 2014, p. 59: "De tout temps situé aux confins de provinces, Orikos s’est trouvé pendant la période hellé-nistique sur la frontière entre l’Épire et l’Illyrie ; également pendant la période romaine, où la ville constitue la limite entre les provinces de Macédoine et d’Achaïe, puis, plus tard, au II e s. apr. J.-C.,entre la Macédoine et la nouvelle province de l’Épire qui se sépare de l’Achaïe. C’est aussi là qu’ilest convenu de placer la limite entre la mer Adriatique et la mer Ionienne."
  16. ^ Longhurst 2016, pp. 132–134.
  17. ^ Hernandez 2010, p. 31.
  18. ^ Santoro 2012, pp. 10–11.
  19. ^ Volpe et al. 2014, pp. 290–291.
  20. ^ Volpe et al. 2014, pp. 291–292.
  21. ^ Hansen and Nielsen, An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis, p. 347.
  22. ^ Bereti et al. 2013, p. 97
  23. ^ Funke, Moustakis & Hochschulz 2004, p. 342.
  24. ^ Shpuza 2022, p. 553.
  25. ^ Stephens 2011, p. 203
  26. ^ Eckstein 2008, p. 53
  27. ^ Eckstein 2008, p. 53
  28. ^ Eckstein 2008, p. 86.
  29. ^ "McAdams's Kennedy Assassination Home Page Index".
  30. ^ a b Zakythinos 1941, p. 219.
  31. ^ Gillian Gloyer, Albania (Bradt Travel Guides, 2008: ISBN 1-84162-246-X), p. 212.
  32. ^ Aeneid, X, 136.
  33. ^ Elegies, III, 7.49.
  34. ^ Bereti et al. 2013, pp. 95, 98
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ 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 .
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ Malkin 1998, p. 80.
  39. ^ Bereti et al. 2013, p. 98
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ "Open Explorer Albania". OpenExplorer. 2016-09-12. Retrieved 2016-12-24.
  42. ^ "Të dhëna historike për Gjirin e Vlorës – Gazeta 55 Online". gazeta55.al. Retrieved 2016-12-24.

Bibliography