Sirmium: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sirmium in Pannonia should not be confused with Sirmio on Lake Garda.
Ruins of Sirmium in Sremska Mitrovica.
Julian solidus, ca. 361, from Sirmium mint.

Sirmium (modern Sremska Mitrovica, Vojvodina province, Serbia) was a city of ancient Roman Pannonia. Sirmium originally was founded by Celtic in the 3rd century BC and conquered by the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC. In the later Roman Empire, it was the economic capital of Roman Pannonia and one of the four capital cities of the Roman Empire. The present day region of Syrmia (Srem) is named after it.



Archaeologists have found traces of organized human life on the site of Sirmium dating from 5000 BC. The city was found in the 3rd century BC by the Pannonian Amantini[1] and the Celtic Scordisci[2]. The Triballian King Syrmus was later considered the eponymous founder of Sirmium, but the roots are different, and the two words only became conflated later.[3]

With the Scordisci as allies, the Roman proconsul Marcus Vinicius took Sirmium in around 14 BC.[4][5] In the 1st century AD, Sirmium gained a status of a colony of the citizens of Rome, and became an important military and strategic center of Pannonia province. The war expeditions of Roman emperors Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, and Claudius II were prepared in Sirmium.

In 103, Pannonia was split into two provinces: Upper Pannonia and Lower Pannonia, and Sirmium became the capital city of Lower Pannonia.

In 296, Diocletian reorganized Pannonia into four provinces: Pannonia Prima, Pannonia Valeria, Pannonia Savia and Pannonia Secunda, and Sirmium became the capital of Pannonia Secunda.

Map of the praetorian prefecture of Illyricum, 318–79, with capital in Sirmium.

In 293, with the establishment of tetrarchy, the Roman Empire was split into four parts; Sirmium emerged as one of the four capital cities of Roman Empire, the other three being Trier, Mediolanum, and Nicomedia. During the tetrarchy, Sirmium was the capital of emperor Galerius. With the establishment of praetorian prefectures in 318, the capital of the prefecture of Illyricum was Sirmium. Sirmium was capital of this prefecture until 379, when the western part of the Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum (including Sirmium) was attached to the Praetorian prefecture of Italia. The eastern part of Illyricum remained a separate prefecture with the capital in Thessalonica under the East Roman Empire.

From the 4th century, the city was an important Christian centre, and the seat of the Episcopate of Sirmium. Five church Ecumenical Councils, the Councils of Sirmium, were held in Sirmium. The city also had an emperor's palace, horse racing arena, mint, arena theatre, theatre, as well as many workshops, public baths, temples, public palaces and luxury villas. Ancient historian Ammianus Marcellinus called it "the glorious mother of cities".

At the end of the 4th century, Sirmium was brought under the sway of the Goths, and later, was again annexed to the Eastern Roman Empire. In 441, Sirmium was conquered by the Huns, and after this conquest, it remained for more than a century in the hands of various other tribes, such were Eastern Goths and Gepids. For a short time, Sirmium was the center of the Gepid State and King Cunimund minted golden coins there. After 567, Sirmium reverted to the Eastern Roman Empire. The city was finally conquered and destroyed by Avars in 582.

Roman emperors

Traianus Decius, Roman Emperor (249–51), born in village Budalia near Sirmium.

Ten Roman emperors were born in this city or in its surroundings:

The last emperor of the united Roman Empire, Theodosius I (378–95), became emperor in Sirmium. The usurpers Ingenuus and Regalianus also declared themselves emperors in this city (in 260) and many other Roman emperors spent some time in Sirmium including Marcus Aurelius who might have written parts of his famous work Meditations in the city.

Archeological findings

  • In early 1970s American archeologists sponsored by the US Government made an offer to the citizens of Sremska Mitrovica to completely rebuild the town on another location so that the town could be excavated. The town government refused the request immediately, under pressure from the then socialist Yugoslav government.
  • During work on the new Sremska Mitrovica trade center in 1972, a worker accidentally broke into an old Roman pot, about 2m deep, over the site of an old Sirmium settlement. 33 gold Roman coins enclosed in a leather pouch were found inside a Roman house wall, probably the hidden savings of a wealthy Roman family stashed centuries ago. Of this extraordinary rare find of Sirmium minted coins were 4 Constantius II era coins, considered the most valuable examples from the late Roman empire of the fourth century AD. Ironically, the worker's name was Zlatenko (meaning Golden, or Golden Man in Serbian).
  • The only known unexcavated Roman horse racing arena in the world is in Sirmium. A colossal building about 150m wide and 450m long lays directly under the Sremska Mitrovica town center and just beside the old Sirmium Emperor's Palace (one of just a few Sirmium publicly accessible archeological sights). The presence of the arena has clearly affected the layout of the present town (Sremska Mitrovica is today about 2–4m above ground line of former Sirmium settlement). Recently announced cultural and archeological projects for preserving and popularising Sirmium sights haven't included any activity dealing with the arena, probably due to the extent of the large arena — the entire present town center might have to be excavated.

Famous residents

  • Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor (161-180), used Sirmium as a residence in between Pannonian military campaigns 170-180
  • Maximinus, Roman emperor (235-238), ruled from residence in Sirmium.
  • Herennius Etruscus, Roman emperor (251), born in Sirmium.
  • Hostilian, Roman emperor (251), born in Sirmium
  • Decius Traian, Roman emperor (249-251), born in village Budalia near Sirmium.
  • Ingenuus, Roman emperor (260), proclaimed himself emperor in Sirmium.
  • Regalianus, Roman emperor (260), proclaimed himself emperor in Sirmium.
  • Claudius II, Roman emperor (268-270), born in Sirmium and spent most of his life there.
  • Quintillus, Roman emperor (270), born in Sirmium
  • Aurelian, Roman emperor (270-275), born in Sirmium and also proclaimed emperor there.
  • Probus, Roman emperor (276-282), born in Sirmium.
  • Maximianus Herculius, Roman emperor (285-310), born near Sirmium.
  • Galerius, Roman emperor (305-311), ruled as Caesar during the Tetrarchy from residence in Sirmium (293-296).
  • Crispus, a Caesar of the Roman Empire. He was proclaimed Caesar in Sirmium in 317.
  • Constantine II, a Caesar of the Roman Empire. He was proclaimed Caesar in Sirmium in 317.
  • Vetranion, Roman emperor. Proclaimed himself emperor in Sirmium (in 350).
  • Constantius II, Roman emperor (337-361), born in Sirmium.
  • Gratian, Roman emperor (367-383), born in Sirmium.
  • Theodosius I the Great, Roman emperor (378-395). He became emperor in Sirmium.
  • Valerius Licinius, prefect of the Diocese of Pannonia with residence in Sirmium (308-314).
  • Apricanus, prefect of the Pannonia Secunda province with residence in Sirmium (355).
  • Mesala, prefect of the Pannonia Secunda province (373).
  • Petronius Probus, prefect in Sirmium (374).
  • Aurelius Victor, prefect of the Pannonia Secunda province (369), and author of a History of Rome until the reign of Julian.
  • Leontius, prefect in Sirmium (426).

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Fanula Papazoglu, The central Balkan tribes in pre-Roman times, Hakkert, 1978. ISBN 9025607934. p.74.
  4. ^ Ronald Syme, Anthony Birley, The provincial at Rome: and, Rome and the Balkans 80BC-AD14, p. 204 [1]
  5. ^ Alan K. Bowman, Edward Champlin, Andrew Lintott, The Cambridge ancient history 10:551 [2]

Further reading

  • Petar Milošević, Arheologija i istorija Sirmijuma, Novi Sad, 2001.
  • Radomir Popović, Rano hrišćanstvo u Panoniji, Vojvođanski godišnjak, sveska I, Novi Sad, 1995.

External links

Coordinates: 44°59′N 19°37′E / 44.983°N 19.617°E / 44.983; 19.617



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