Salona, modern Solin, near the city of Split in Croatia, was once the capital and by far the largest city of Roman Dalmatia, with an estimated population of 40-60,000 at its peak. It sprang from a small Hellenistic-era settlement, which in time developed into the most important city of the region. Salona hosted a Roman conventus c. R. which supported Caesar in the Civil War, and shortly after became a Roman colony and the provincial capital of Dalmatia. In later antiquity, Salona was an important Christian centre. The spread of Christianity was connected with a personality of the early fourth century, the bishop and martyr, later saint, Domnio (Croat. Dujam). The earliest archaeological work in Salona was conducted in the late 19th century by Spalatan archaeologist Frane Bulić, while the excavations and publications of Danish scholar Ejnar Dyggve made Salonitan ancient heritage more approachable to the international audience.1
The work under review continues an ongoing and fruitful collaboration between the Archaeological Museum in Split and the French School in Rome. It is the fourth volume in the series, as well as being the 12th book in the series of monographs on Salona published by the Archaeological Museum in Split. It is worth reminding readers that previous publications of this Franco-Croatian collaboration were concerned with the cataloguing of early Christian sculptures in Salona, early Christian architecture of Roman Dalmatia outside Salona, and an in-depth archaeological study of Manastirine, one of the most important sites in Salona, from pre-Roman finds to the late antique necropolis and Christian basilica.2
These two volumes present in total 825 inscriptions from Salona: 742 Latin and 83 Greek, spanning the period between the years AD 306 (the advent of Constantine) and c. 640, when the city was, for various reasons, almost fully abandoned by its inhabitants. The first volume begins with four introductory chapters, and is followed by the catalogue of the inscriptions, which extends into the second volume. The catalogue of inscriptions is followed by the concordances and indexes.
The first chapter introduces the reader to the history of research on ancient Salona, the corpus of inscriptions, and the most important sites – Manastirine, Marusinac, Kapljuč, Crikvine, and generally the entire wider area of the ager Salonitanus. This chapter also deals with the criteria used for this selection of inscriptions and their classification. The focus of the second chapter is the actual physical monuments. It analyses the places and contexts in which the inscriptions were originally placed, most frequently as public inscriptions or funerary monuments. Funerary monuments are treated in more detail, especially their typology, while some space is also devoted to funerary formulas in both Greek and Latin. The third chapter deals with the people and their origins through research of nomina and cognomina. This chapter also looks at broad social structures in late antiquity, the position of Salona within the empire, its municipal administration and the social structure of the city, including military presence, Salonitan collegia, and presence of foreigners. The presence of ecclesiastical structures and the cults of the Christian martyrs in Salonitan inscriptions are also covered in some detail. Chapter four summarizes the finds and investigates further perspectives for research. This introductory section is followed by appendices listing sarcophagi, questionable inscriptions, and major types of letters used in late antique Latin palaeography.
The inscriptions are listed according to their language – Latin and Greek. Each entry is illustrated with an image of the actual inscription (usually a photo, but for those inscriptions which are today lost, a drawing is provided), the original text with a French translation, the context in which the inscription was originally discovered, existing bibliography, and brief commentary. The Latin corpus is subdivided into public/pagan and Christian inscriptions, with the latter further subdivided according to their contexts and types of monuments (mosaics, sarcophagi, stele, etc). The Greek inscriptions are divided in a similar way, but without public and pagan inscriptions. The catalogue of inscriptions is followed by concordances with major epigraphic collections in which these inscriptions can be found, such as the third volume of CIL, or the collection of ILJ (Inscriptiones Latinae quae in Iugoslavia inter annos MCMII et MCMLXX repertae et editae sunt) and the catalogue numbers of the items from the Archaeological Museum in Split, where the overwhelming majority of these inscriptions are kept. Finally, the second volume ends with detailed indexes of names and the words used in the inscriptions.
It is difficult to find any substantial general flaws in these volumes. Personally, I find the title Les inscriptions de Salone chrétienne slightly inadequate and misleading, as the volume catalogues non-Christian inscriptions as well. The use of ‘Late antique’ instead of ‘Christian’ in the title would be certainly a much happier solution. This is overall an impressive work, which would represent a real delight for any student of late antiquity or early Christianity, not only in Salona or Dalmatia, but in a more general context, taking into account the quantity and quality of the available evidence. Apart from epigraphists, these volumes are a goldmine for researchers of different aspects of late antique urban society, such as the expression of personal identities in funerary contexts or social structures of the cities in late antiquity.
1. E.g. E. Dyggve, J. Brøndsted, F. Weilbach, Recherches a Salone. Tome I-II. Publié aux Frais de la Fondation Rask-Ørsted (Copenhagen 1928-33); E. Dyggve, History of Salonitan Christianity (Oslo 1951). For more recent works see: J. Mardešić, ‘Excavations at Salona between 1970 and 2000’, in D. Davison, V., Gaffney, E. Marin (edd.) Dalmatia: Research in the Roman Province 1970-2001. BAR – International Series 1576, (Oxford 2006) 81-88.
2. C. Metzger, P. Chevalier, N. Duval, M.-P. Flèche-Mourgues, E. Marin, Salona I: Catalogue de la sculpture architecturale paléochréttiene de Salone, Collection de l’École française de Rome, 194/1 (Rome and Split 1994). P. Chevalier, Salona II: Ecclessiae Dalmatiae. L’architecture paléochréttiene de la province de Dalmatie (IVe – VIIe s.) (en dehors de la capitale Salona), Collection de l’École française de Rome, 194/2 (Rome, Split 1995). M. Bonačić-Mandinić, N. Cambi, A. Šarić-Bužančić, Salona III: Manastirine. Etablissement préromain, nécropole et basilique paléochrétienne, Collection de l’École française de Rome, 194/3 (Rome, Split 2000).
3. Earlier historiography assumed that ancient Salona was captured and burned to the ground by the Slavs and Avars, sometime between 610 and 640. Criticism of this assumption was comprehensively presented by I. Goldstein Bizant na Jadranu (Zagreb 1992) 83-111, cf. recently D. Dzino Becoming Slav, Becoming Croat: Identity transformations in Late Antique and early medieval Dalmatia (Leiden, Boston 2010) 92-117, 153-154, in English.