02. 02. 2016 @ Antonija Eremut

Gardun, (Tilurium, Pons Tilurium)

Category: cultural heritage GPS: LAT: 43.611067012 / LONG 16.7184650246

On the plateau of the village Gardun today, above Trilj, a Roman military camp was built in the 1st century AD. After difficult wars between the Romans and the Delmats, and the great uprising of the Illyrian tribes from years 6 to 9, during which the area around Gardun played an important role, Romans decided to build military fortifications in the Dalmatian hinterland. This is how Burnum (Ivoševci by Kistanje), Tilurium (Gardun by Trilj) and small military strongholds in Andetrij (Muć) and Bigeste (Humac by Ljubuški in Bosnia and Herzegovina) were cretaed. The first unit in Tilurium was the VII legion. Together with the XI legion of Burnum it will play a major role in the uprising of the governor of Dalmatia, Lucius Arruntius Camillus Scribonianus, against the Emperor Claudius.

These two units did not support the conspirators, so the Emperor awarded them an honorary title to mark their allegiance to Claudius- Claudia Pia Fidelis. Chroniclers conveyed news about the event on the eve of legions' departure to Italy, when soldiers from the country could not raise their signs. That was interpreted as a bad omen, so soldiers refused to side with the rebel, Skribonianus.

When VII legion left Gardun and went to the Danube, around year 50, VIII cohort of volunteers arrived in Tilurium and stayed there until the middle of the 3rd century.

The military camp itself occupied a large area of about 12 hectares, so at the beginning of the 1st century more than 6000 legionnaires and auxiliary military units resided there. The army guarded a very important road Salona - Narona, controlled the hinterland of Salona as the capital of the province and controlled the bridge on the River Cetina (Hippus) in Trilj (Pons Tiluri). The bridge was located downstream from the present bridge and it crossed Cetina via a small island which had been there some 30 years ago. It is interesting that inhabitants of remote ancient towns in the hinterland - Rider (Danilo near Šibenik), Delminium (Tomislavgrad in Bosnia and Herzegovina), Novae (Runovići / Zmijavci near Imotski) took part in repairing the bridge during Emperor Commodus (year 184). The bridge was demolished in the late 4th or the early 5th century, and the river is in Trilj was crossed via a scaffold or a shallow spot, e.g. in Mali Drinić, upstream from the present bridge, until the mid-19th century.

Systematic archaeological research in Gardun has been in place since 1997, even though the site has been known since the 18th century. So far only smaller parts of the camp have been explored: military dormitories, a command building with a mosaic showing a bull (symbol of the VII legion.), a water cistern, fragments of the walls. Movable archaeological finds (pottery, coins, parts of weapons and equipment, etc.) can be seen, together with many other finds, at the Museum of Trilj Region in Trilj. In late antiquity, until the 40s of the 7th century, Tilurium was a strategic point from which the approach to Salona was defended. Even the early medieval finds, for example, gold jewelry from the second half of the 8th century, found near the old church of St Michael, tell us of the importance of this place.

Gardun regained its importance during the last Venetian-Turkish wars of the late 17th and early 18th century, when the Venetians, in the area around the today's church of St Peter and the cemetery, built a small fort to control the passage across Cetina and the surrounding territory.