Palace of Illyrian rulers unearthed in Montenegro

The first known palace of Illyrian kings was discovered in Rhizon, Montenegro, by Polish archaeologists. The researchers uncovered a complex of monumental buildings dated to the 3rd century BC, that was built built before 260 BC, the second after 250 BC. These are the first structures of this type uncovered in the area of Illyria, which could belong to Illyrian rulers King Ballaios and Queen Teuta.

One of the palace's rooms (by P. Dyczek)
One of the palace’s rooms (by P. Dyczek)

Archaeologists from the Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre of the University of Warsaw are working at the site since 2000. They unearthed the buildings which location, scale, plan, and used building techniques are completely unusual and unique, when compared with the previously known examples of Illyrian architecture, including the structures already discovered elsewhere in Risan. The unearthed parts of the palace form a megaron with a fireplace located at the centre. In the foundation of the hearth, scientists discovered a hidden deposit – possibly an offering – consisting of 30 coins. On the axis of the hearth, on both sides there were marble columns. Storage rooms for amphorae and fragments of luxury Hellenistic tableware were discovered next to the megaron.

Walls of the palatial complex (by P. Dyczek)
Walls of the palatial complex (by P. Dyczek)

A second, younger building was built over the ruins of this first palace. The former megaron was converted into a kitchen or a banquet hall of the new palace complex with walls built of large, carefully crafted limestone bossages, bonded with the Greek anathyrosis technique. Its interior was divided into at least three areas. The floor was first made from flat slabs of limestone, and later in one area limestone was replaced by fine pebbles, forming a mosaic floor. The building had wide entrances closed with wooden doors.

Excavations at the site (by P. Dyczek)
Excavations at the site (by P. Dyczek)

The second palace was destroyed and looted in ancient times, and the surviving remnants of walls demolished in the early 20th cent. when a sawmill building was built in this part of Rhizon. Thanks to the Polish excavations at the site it was also possible to establish that the Illyrian ruler King Ballaios was not Queen Teuta’s successor, but her predecessor as dating of his reign was moved back a century.

(after Nauka w Polsce & P. Dyczek)

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