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The Roman empire under Hadrian (ruled 117-38), showing the imperial province of Dalmatia (Croatia/Bosnia) in southeastern Europe
Province of Dalmatia highlighted
Dalmatia in the 4th century

Dalmatia was an ancient Roman province. Its name is probably derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae which lived in the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in Classical antiquity.



The region was the northern part[1] of the Illyrian kingdom between the 4th century BC until the Illyrian Wars in the 220s BC and 168 BC when the Roman Republic established its protectorate south of the river Neretva. Area north of the Neretva was slowly incorporated into roman possessions until the province of Illyricum was formally established c. 32-27 BC

Dalmatia region then became part of the Roman province of Illyricum. Between 6 and 9 AD the Dalmatians raised the last in a series of revolts together with the Pannonians, but it was finally crushed and in 10 AD Illyricum was split into two provinces, Pannonia and Dalmatia. The province of Dalmatia spread inland to cover all of the Dinaric Alps and most of the eastern Adriatic coast. Dalmatia was the birthplace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who, upon retirement from Emperor, built Diocletian's Palace near Salona in today's Croatia.[2]

The historian Theodore Mommsen wrote (in his The Provinces of the Roman Empire) that all Dalmatia was fully romanized and Latin speaking by the fourth century. However, analysis of archaeological material from that period has shown that the process of romanization was rather selective. While urban centers, both coastal and inland, were almost completely romanized, the situation in the countryside was completely different. Despite the Illyrians being subject to a strong process of acculturation, they continued to speak their native language, worship their own gods and traditions, and follow their own social-political tribal organization which was adapted to Roman administration and political structure only in some necessities.[3]

After the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476, with the beginning of the Migration Period, the region was ruled by the Goths up to 535, when Justinian I added all Dalmatia to the Byzantine Empire.

The first modern account of Roman Dalmatia in English was J.J. Wilkes, Dalmatia (Harvard University Press) 1969. Wilkes surveys Illyricum and Dalmatia, in its Romanized aspects, to the end of Antiquity, based primarily on the evidence of inscriptions and the ancient historians.

See also


  1. ^ Thomas Kelly Cheyne and John Sutherland, BlackEncyclopaedia Biblica: A Critical Dictionary
  2. ^ C.Michael Hogan, "Diocletian's Palace", The Megalithic Portal, Andy Burnham ed., Oct 6, 2007
  3. ^ A. Stipčević, Iliri, Školska knjiga Zagreb, 1974, page 70

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