The old fortress in Niksic, a centuries-old place of struggles, continues to keep the secret of its creation unknown.
While world-renowned archaeologists and historians claimed that the Romans or Goths built the ancient city of Onogost, science did not go along with them and offered concrete proof - during the last survey, a Byzantine coin from the end of the ninth century was found, which may or may not be a confirmation about the age of Bedem, as citizens of Niksic call the fortress.
A coin found earlier which originates from the late ancient times on the west side of Onogost was just a random finding and as such it could not be brought into the context of the age of the walls, experts say.
The town from the Turkish period consisted of the Upper Town (fort) with six towers and the Lower Town which had one tower less. While explorations of the Montenegrin archeologists from 1988 and 2015 have been largely concentrated on the Lower Town, a team of ten experts from the Center for Archeology and Conservation of Montenegro, led by archeologist Mile Bakic, started investigating the Upper Town in March this year, in order to find out whether there are any older remnants beneath the walls that exist today.
But, in researching the fourth century and ancient times, they have encountered a Byzantine coin from the end of the ninth and the beginning of the tenth century. "Unfortunately, we have only deepened the doubts that exist. For now, we have not succeeded in proving or rejecting the claim that Bedem was built in Roman times. We were looking into the fourth century with the old thesis that Anagastum was here. In two places we have found some sort of older wall that, due to the lack of solid evidence, could not be accurately dated. The Byzantine coin we found was from the late ninth to the early tenth century. It is a bronze folis of the Byzantine Emperor Lav VI (ruled from 886 to 912). The coin was not found in the right context, but in the layer of waste from the last phase of the Turks, so it did not clearly show us if there is something from that period, but it pointed out to us that there is a great probability that there is," explains archaeologist Milos Zivanovic.
The coin, as he said, was found on the path to the citadel, so further research will be continued in that area.
"There is a great deal of probability that this coin found itself there because the layers that were underneath were dug up and so it emerged at the top, and not under the Turkish grounds. We are looking for it and we hope to be able to determine its date. The Citadel is the only place where one can expect something older because there are other places on the rock where older material could not be saved. I am completely convinced that these walls are older and we are focusing all our attention to investigating it," said Zivanovic, who found the coin last week.
In addition to the coin, several exhibits from the Turkish period were found interesting from the museum but not the archeological site, which would enrich the setting of the Niksic Museum. These are pipes, coffee cups, a knife handles.
"We saw coffee and tobacco only with the arrival of the Turks. The first finds of these Turkish pipes are from the 17th century, and these pipes found here are from the 19th century and are interesting from the museum side. We also found a small knife-handle, on which there is written the exact date - 8 May 1789," Zivanovic said.
Most of the time during the research, which is funded by the Ministry of Culture, has been taken away by removing the accumulated material.
"After the first removal of waste, we came to original levels from the Turkish period, which are perfectly preserved, which is very important for further ideas on revalorising this site. All the walking paths, a small square, even the original floor in the Dizdar's house, are in very good condition. In these layers, a lot of recent material has been found that speaks enough about the times the Turks were here. At that time, they were very innovative for this whole area, which we can see at the Niksic fortress where we have furnaces with all heating systems, tanks. This fortification was very well designed and served well in the time it was built."
The famous English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, who liberated Niksic in 1877, considered that the Romans built the old town of Onogost in the 3rd or 4th centuries.
Historians Konstantin Jiricek and Milan Suflaj considered that the Goths raised Onogost at the end of the 5th or early 6th centuries and that the city was named after the Gothic Army Commander Anagast.
When it was really built, may be known after the research, or Bedem, which was neither saved by the people nor time, will still keep the secret of its foundation.
Sobajic described the Upper Town in detail
How the Upper Town (Fortress) looked was described in detail by Petar Sobajic in the book "Onogost" from 1938. "The Upper Town was a fortress that still lies on a cliff and stretches about 250 meters in length. The walls of the city are one meter thick, somewhere even two meters and four or more meters high. Everywhere on the walls are loopholes. In the south, there was a pentagonal and three-floored Nebojsa tower, which defended the access to the south side of the city. In the northern part, there is an octagonal tower and behind it, there is a wide platform from which several cannons could operate on all the sides. In the middle of the Upper Town, there are two square-shaped squares, five meters long and wide. In the fort are two buildings, now the walls, and they served as residential apartments of the city’s dizdar and guard. Next to the canons, there is a deep basement buried in the rock and on the vault. Closer to the tower Nebojsa, above Pop, is the second basement where the Turks closed serious prisoners. It was named Petkovaca after the protagonist Petko Kovacevic, who served his sentence there and who the Turks had taken to Mostar and hanged in 1864."
Text by Svetlana Mandic, on May 5th, 2019, read more at Vijesti