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Maslinovik Greek Watchtower.
© Stari Grad Plain

A Geographic History of the Stari Grad Plain

Watch a short documentary with 3D visualizations derived from archaeological research depicting the history of the Stari Grad Plain and its ancient and well-preserved system of land division.

In the summer of 385 B. C., after verifying the will of Zeus the almighty in Dodona - the oldest Greek sanctuary and oracle, from the town of Paros on the island with the same name in the Aegean Sea - a group of a hundred families was sent towards the Ionic Bay, as the Greeks used to call the Adriatic Sea, to found a colony there. Their destination was the island of Hvar, previously called Fiteja, in Greek Faros and Pharos, some 700 nautical miles away from the Aegean Paros.

Okist, chosen for this occasion by the town agora, was their leader. He was responsible for the safe sailing to their destination, for the relations and agreements with the local population, for organising the colonists as a political community with all the institutions of a city state and a military force which would defend the community from the enemy. Finally, his duty was to carry out the just division of land to the settlers, the area within the town and common premises as well as the land intended for the settlers to work on within the pertaining territory of the chora.

In the middle of the field, from the point where almost the entire plain can be seen, the starting point omfalos - was marked. Using the groma, a simple instrument that enables to delimit rectangular lines and kalamos, yardsticks, the plain was measured and divided into parcels of 1 x 5 stadia, which is approximately 180 x 900 metres. The paths among the parcels were separately measured and inscribed as the town property. Boundary stones with the names of the parcel owners were also carved.

The indigenous inhabitants suspected that the plans of the Greek settlers were different from what they expected and contrary to their interest, maybe even contrary to their previous arrangements. That is why in 384 B. C., a year after its foundation, the town was attacked by the united Illyrians from the island and the coast. If by chance the Syracuse fleet of the tyrant Dionysius the Elder had not sailed nearby, the Greeks would have been overpowered into the sea and destroyed. The Illyrians lost 5000 men in the battle, and 2000 more were taken into slavery. The military victory enabled the use of the entire Stari Grad plain to the Greeks, that greatest fertile plain on the Adriatic islands.

The great enterprise that would forever determine the cultural landscape of this plain, could begin. Very soon, the settlers began to build the supporting buildings and houses. Those luxurious houses date back from the Roman times, and until today the remains of around sixty of them were found.

Learn more here.