The Illyrians and the Grapevine Cover Image

Iliri i vinova loza
The Illyrians and the Grapevine

Author(s): Marin Zaninović
Subject(s): Archaeology, Agriculture, Social history, Ancient World
Published by: Akademija Nauka i Umjetnosti Bosne i Hercegovine
Keywords: Illyrians; Illyrian settlements; cultivation of grapevine; agriculture; archaeology; Adriatic coast;

Summary/Abstract: The Eastern Adriatic as part of the Mediterranean world, could not be a white map in the ancient geography as far as the cultivation of grapevine (vitis vinifera) was concerned. For this reason it would be hard to believe that the viticulture appeared on our coast as late as the arrival of the Greeks and the founding of their settlements in the fourth century B. C. Both this and other similar assertions are sometimes found in the archaeological and historical literature. The Illyrians knew the grapevine, because the seeds of the vine grapes had been found in prehistoric Bronze and Iron Age lake settlements at Ripač near Bihać and at Donja Dolina near Bosanska Gradiška, Bosnia. We can not be sure about whether this fruit was obtained from cultivated or wild grapevine. It is true that there are no vineyards in these regions to day. There is a possibility that these grapes were imported from the Adriatic coast. It is known that the neolithic peoples of Egypt, Palestine and Greece were familiar with wine production (new finds of wine grapes seeds at the site of Sitagroi, the Thracian region of Greece in the middle-neolithic strata). Across the Illyrian coast there was Oenotria, the Wiineland, as Italy was called by the Greek settlers even before their arrival there . So the Illyrian Adriatic coast and other regions were surrounded by the most ancient wine regions, such as Thracia, Greece and Italy. The recent archaeological discoveries confirm very ancient contacts of the Jugoslav section of the Adriatic coast with the Eastern Mediterranean world, Palestine and Egypt as well as with the Aegean and Minoan civilizations. Thus we can conclude that the ancient inhabitants of our coast were also familiar with grapevine, as well as with the most beautiful pieces of painted pottery imported from these regions. The climate of this coast is most favourable for the growth of viticulture, whereas rather different situation exists in the interior of the land, behind the coastal mountain ranges. There the winters are mostly long, cold and snowy and therefore not favourable for the growth of grapevine. The Illyrians of these regions drunk mostly beer, like other ancient peoples of continental Europe, and those on the coast drunk wine. This was confirmed later by many ancient authors, when wine, as the result of a more intensified cultivation of grapevine, became a very important asset in the economy and commerce of the Greek and Illyrian settlements on the coast and was exported to the interior as well as abroad.

  • Issue Year: 1976
  • Issue No: 13
  • Page Range: 261-272
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: Croatian