Stobi
See some of the sculptures from Stobi

The town of Stobi developed from a small Paionian settlement established as early as the Archaic period, and covered an area of about 2.5 hectares located on the northern side of a hilly terrace. Its position at the mouth of the rivers Ergion and Axius, at the fertile region of the Central Vardar Valley, and the vicinity of gold deposits of Mount Kozuv, enabled fast development of Stobi, particularly during the nonwarring period of the I and II centuries A.D. In addition, the town was close to Mount Klepa, i.e., its eastern and southern slopes, rich with deposits of gray - white and pink marble. However, it seems that the native Paionian ethnic element was particularly strong and compact, so that the newly settled citizens with Roman civic rights did not manage to obtain a colonial status. That, of course, did not hinder the construction of all public buildings typical for the Classical towns of the Roman Empire on the town's agglomeration that covered about 20 hectares: a theatre and thermal baths, an aqueduct, temples, court halls, etc. Rather early, during the reign of Emperor Augustus, Stobi was originally granted the rank of oppidum civium Romanorum, and slightly later of municipum. On the coins stamped at Stobi, a rank of municipum Stobensium is imprinted.

At Stobi there are numerous cult depictions of the Greek - Roman pantheon: Apollo and Artemis, Asclepius, Dionysus, Nemesis, Zeus, Tyche, Aphrodite, Hygieia, Telesphor... These are either bronze and marble statues or relief depictions carved on small stone icons. Also numerous samples of architectonic stone plastics that originate from the early Roman temples were discovered. Unfortunately, the archaeological excavations have not as yet revealed the shape of the Roman town, so that today there are no ruins from that period, except two to three buildings, among which the theatre is the most prominent one. The coins stamped at Stobi suggest the existence of at least two town temples. The Stobi coinage workshop was active in the period between the reign of Emperor Vespasian (69 - 79) to that of Elagabalus (218 - 222). It is believed that the earliest coin depicts Victoria - the genius of victory, and an ox figure. Dating of this so-called autonomous type is not explicitly defined. The coins from the Vespasian time on the obverse bear the profile of the Emperor, and on the reverse there are: four-colons temple with a miniature figure of Asclepius in the centre; Bonus Eventus -the genius of good luck; an unknown genius that holds small Victoria in one hand and has a cornucopia; a helmet; a shield and a suit of armour; a woman - genius of the town of Stobi with a wreath in her hair, holding a small Victoria and cornucopia in her hands. There is one type of coins from the times of Titus and Domitian that on the obverse contain the profiles of both emperors facing each other, and on the reverse a 4-column temple. The coins of Domitian (81 - 96) have 4-column temple and a small figure of the emperor wearing the suit of armour, holding a spear and a skypthron. There are also coins with a profile of his wife Domitia. On Trajan's coins there are: a 4-column temple with a figure; and one rather significant symbolic scene depicting the woman - genius of the town with corona muralis (the town's crown) in her hair, who is holding small Victoria and a scepter in her hands. Underneath her, to her left and right sides, two bearded figures are laid down, holding pots with water pouring out of them. The figure on the right side holds a reed stalk. These are the river genii of Ergion and Axius. Marcus Aurelius's (161 - 180) coins have the same depiction, and also: a figure of Jupiter holding a scepter and a pathera (shallow cult plate); a figure of Victoria, the woman -genius of Stobi, holding a spear and a pathera. There is one type of coins of Marcus Aurelius's wife Phaustine with a profile of Fortune with cornucopia and a helm. The coins from the time of Septimius Severus (193 - 211) have a profile of Victoria with a wreath and a palm; there is also a depiction of Pluto seizing Persephone, who is portrayed in a quadriga (a chariot drawn by four horses). On the coin of Julia Domna, the second wife of Septimius Severus, who committed suicide by depriving herself of food, there are her profile and the scene of Persephone's seizure. On the coins of her firstborn son Caracalla (198 - 217) there are: Victoria in a number of variations; Jupiter on the throne, holding a scepter and small Victoria; Pluto seizing Persephone; Jupiter standing; Demetra standing; Mercury who holds a sack of money in one hand and sits on a rock. On the coins of Getus (209 - 212), the second son of Julia Domna, there is a figure of a soldier between the two nymphs or Victorias. On the coins of Elagabalus (218 - 222) there are: a seated figure of Jupiter who holds small Victoria and a scepter; a figure of a boy (perhaps an athlete) with a victor's wreath and a palm; Victoria in a number of variations; a figure of a warrior; Pluto seizing Persephone. All currently known coins are made of bronze. Bearing in mind the modest array of the coin types, scientists believe that the Stobi workshop coined jubilee coins for special occasions exclusively.

Both Stobi and Skupi, as well as a number of our Classical towns, did not escape the III century barbarian raids. Stobi was reconstructed in the IV century, but was again devastated during the invasions of Attila's Huns, and subsequently during the invasion of Ostrogoths lead by Theodoric in 479 A.D. The Christian community revived the town at the end of the V century, and the life continued. However, its easily conquerable position brought decadence to Stobi during the tumultuous IV century, and the only bright spot is the monumental Episcopal basilica. Classical sources describe several Christian priests from Stobi: Bishop Budius (Nichean Council, 325 A.D.); Bishop Eustatius (shown on the floor mosaic of the Old Episcopal basilica, between 343 - 381 A.D.); Bishop Nicholaus (4th Ecumenical Council at Halkedon, 451 A.D.); Bishop Philip (the reconstructor of the large Episcopal basilica at Stobi, around 500 A.D.); Bishop Focus (participated at the 5th Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, 553 A.D.). Surprisingly late is the earliest mention of Bishop Jovan of Stobi who participated in the 6th Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 681 A.D., as well as of his successor, Bishop Margarit, who participated in a council in the same city in 692 A.D. Some analysts comment that in the newly created circumstances, with the Balkans overwhelmed with the Slavs, the Christian priests certainly had to withdraw - emigrate into the safety of the late Classical metropoles of Thessaloniki and Constantinople.


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