ARCHAEOLOGICAL COLLECTION ISSA
HISTORY OF THE COLLECTION
In 1983, the Archaeological Museum Split
set up the Archaeological Collection Issa. The Collection is housed on
the upper floor of the Austrian fort called Our Lady's Battery, built
in 1842 in the middle of the spacious bay of Vis. The Collection includes
articles found on the site of the ancient Greek town of Issa that was
located on the southern slopes of Gradina and on the Prirov peninsula
in Vis. On view are also rare prehistoric finds from the island, finds
from the Hellenistic cistern in Velo Zlopje in the interior of the island,
as well as submarine archaeological finds from the wreck in the Vela Svitnja
cove north of town. This is one of the most extensive collections of ancient
Greek monuments in Croatia.
The Museum is planning to expand the collection so as to include the ancient Roman period and the submarine archaeological finds dissevered in the waters of Vis. On the site of this ancient town preparations are being done to present the Hellenistic necropolis at Martvilo and the ancient Roman thermae at the foothills of Gradine close by the sea.
A Greek town on the island of Vis is mentioned in ancient written records in the second half of the 4th c. B.C. Pseudo-Skymno, a Greek author who lived in the 2nd c. B.C., tells us that Issa was a colony of Syracusan Greeks from Sicily. It existed as an independent city-state from the 4th to the mid-1st century B.C. when it came under Roman domination. During the period of independence bronze coins with various designs were minted. These coins and ancient written records including an inscription contain information on Ionius, a hero who was the king of the island . Issa was the largest Greek colony in Croatia.
The Greek town ((((, later Roman ISSA, was situated on the coast at the southern slopes of Gradina at the bottom of the Bay of Vis on the northern side of the island. The ruins of the town with an area of approx. 10 hectare are enclosed with 800-metre defensive walls.
Located on the western side is the Martvilo necropolis that has been turned into an archaeological park, while over the eastern necropolis situated on the Vlaska njiva the "Issa" Hotel was built in 1984
Both cemeteries date back to the 4th c. B.C. and were used as burial places until the 4th c. A.D. In the waters around the Prirov peninsula and in front of the Vlaska njiva ruins of an ancient Greek and Roman one kilometre-long quay are to be seen. Located on Prirov are also the ruins of a Roman theatre (over which the Franciscan monastery of St Jerome was built in the 16th century), cisterns with white floor mosaics and damaged pythoi (large ceramic containers for storing grain) testifying to ancient storehouses. The town square was situated at the bottom of Gradina close by the sea, as evidenced by the remains of Roman baths with ruins of different rooms, polychrome mosaics, and a portico with niches in from or which statues of Roman emperors and deities were found.
So far only some necropolises and parts of Roman baths have been researched, with the largest part of the town still remaining to be extensively studied, which is particularly important in view of the fact that this is the only Greek colony in Croatia in which such archaeological research is possible. Most of the finds are on display in the Archaeological Collection Issa on the island of Vis and in the Split Archaeological Museum. The ancient town of Issa is a protected culture monument of the highest grade.