Heraclea

Heraclea Lynchestian, located near Bitola, was named after Heraclitus, a mythic hero and founder of the Macedonian royal dynasty of Argheads. Lynchestian means that the town was located within the territory of an early Macedonian tribe called Lynchests. It was erected on a dominant cone-shaped hill, on the lowest north-east branch of Mount Pelister. As for now, the earliest excavated archaeological artifact is a group of vases of the type late Arethian terra sigilata. Macedonian king Philip V, trying to hold back the Romans, built outposts - army stations - on the border line with the Ohrid and Prespa region, inhabited by Desaretians. It is believed that he was the one who fortified the small plateau, of a less of a hectare area, on the above mentioned hill. Indeed, no artifacts from the IV or III century B.C. were found there, meaning that the purpose of this position originally had been strictly combative - defensive. Later, however, during the period of the Roman reign, this site, which was located between two very important communication routes, will become much more important because of its economic and trade aspects. Of course, the Romans did not favour the position of the Lynchests' capital, Lynk, which was located in the swamp area of the large curve of the Crna Reka river, near the village of Bukri. So, numerous legions marched through Heraclea on their way to conquest the East and the North. Again through Heraclea many Roman commanders return on their triumphant way back to Rome. Heraclea was also important for its numerous merchants who arrived in the Pelagonia Plane at that period. Because of that, this Roman town had spreaded down the southern and eastern slopes of the hill and covered an area of about 7 to 8 hectares. During both early and late Roman periods, beautiful public buildings were constructed. The theatre, although the smallest of all currently excavated in Macedonia, is best preserved and presented. In the monumental portico that contains honorary and votive statues, particularly distinguishing is the statue of an esteemed citizen - Titus Flavius Orestius. Also remarkable is the portraying bust of the same person in the shrine of Tyche in the neighbouring Pelagonian town of Stybera.

During the late Classical period, the city will be given a new urban shape - several basilicas, a housing compound for clergymen, a bishopric, an attractive city drinking fountain attached to the theatre. It was the bishopric Christian centre of the Southern Pelagonia. Its traditions were so intense that the contemporary city of Bitola was named after it. Namely, the Slavonic word for a Christian community was "obitel", meaning a family. This word gradually transformed into Bitola. Prominent Christian priests were: Bishop Eugarius (or Eugenius?, Synod Council in Serdica, 343 A.D.), Bishop Quantilus (participated in both the II Synod Meeting in Ephes, and the IV Eccumenist Council in Halkedon, 451 A.D.), Bishop Benignus (mentioned in the document of Pope Vergilius dated 14 May 553 A.D.).

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