Kostolac, Serbia – Enduring harsh cold and wind, archaeologists in Serbia have meticulously explored the site of a rare ancient Roman triumphal arch, dating back to the third century, making it one of the few in the Balkans.
The triumphal arch came to light in December at the Viminacium site, a Roman city situated near the town of Kostolac, approximately 70 kilometers (45 miles) east of Belgrade.
Miomir Korac, the lead archaeologist, revealed that the discovery occurred during the excavation of the main street of Viminacium, which served as the capital of the Roman province of Moesia.
“This is the first triumphal arch of its kind in this region… Its origins can be traced back to the early decades of the third century AD,” stated Korac in an interview with Reuters on Monday.
Viminacium, a vast Roman city boasting a population of 45,000 residents, featured a plethora of structures such as a hippodrome, fortifications, a forum, palace, temples, an amphitheatre, aqueducts, baths, and workshops. The city flourished between the first and sixth centuries.
Korac emphasized, “When we stumbled upon square foundational footprints composed of massive limestone pieces, there was no doubt that this was a triumphal arch.”
A marble slab fragment inscribed with the letters “CAES/ANTO” indicated that the arch was dedicated to Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, commonly known as Caracalla, who ruled from 198 to 217 AD.
Mladen Jovicic, another archaeologist, expressed optimism about finding additional artifacts. “We have discovered a finely crafted pillar, beams, but we are eager to uncover more related to the inscription on the arch.”
Despite ongoing excavations at Viminacium since 1882, archaeologists estimate that they have explored only 5% of the sprawling 450-hectare site, larger than New York’s Central Park. Notably, the site remains unique as it is not obscured beneath a modern city.
Previous findings at Viminacium include two Roman ships, golden tiles, coins, jade sculptures, religious items, mosaics, frescoes, weapons, and the remains of three mammoths.