Antiquity of Southeastern Europe
Research Centre
University of Warsaw


Risan 2011
Risan 2007

    PhD studies















The fourth excavation campaign by the Warsaw University Center of Archaeological Research was carried out in ancient Rhizon (modern Risan) in the Republic of Monte Negro.
Archaeological explorations were concentrated on the Roman villa known as the Villa of Hypnos and the urban ruins of Greek and Hellenistic date. The first campaign of underwater archaeological research was also conducted in Rhisan Bay.
Verifying explorations in the so-called Villa of Hypnos (the designation comes from the main motif on one of the five mosaic floors discovered in the 1930s) had significant impact on the current interpretation of the structure. It now looks as if it was a residence, not a villa urbana ; the plan of the structure was revised and foremost another mosaic floor was discovered, a rare find in Europe today. It was found in what was interpreted as a dining room. The decoration of the floor consists of bands of geometric motifs: squares, checkers, crescents, cubes, diamonds, and floral and vegetal scrolling ornaments. The mosaic is black and white, executed in a manner that is typical of 2nd-century production, but the ancient artists employed gray cubes and different-sized tesserae in different arrangements to achieve the impression of depth and plasticity. In the 4th century, the mosaic was covered with another floor executed in a different technique, that is, with pieces of colored marble (white, red, green). In the second half of the 4th century, the building was abandoned.

Research on the Greek and Hellenistic period in the history of Rhizon brought unexpected results. A wide street paved with huge limestone slabs was uncovered. The street runs in the direction of the river where there must have been a small levee. The street passes through gigantic fortifications. These had been reported by ancient writers but had never been traced in the field. The walls were 5 m wide and built like the walls of Mycenae – cyclopean in character and built in straight sections, c. 16 m long, imbricated like in Troy to surround a round area. The walls were in existence when Rhizon was under the rule of Queen Teuta, who fought the Romans in two separate wars in the 3rd century BC.

Substantial quantities of amphora sherds and inscribed amphora stoppers of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC were discovered, along with Greek coins and lamps of the same date, and a rich collection of Hellenistic Gnathia vessels from Italic and local workshops. (This type of tableware has been discovered on a number of sites between modern Dubrovnik and Split.) A unique gemma, most likely of amber (!), was also discovered; it bears a fine representation of one of the episodes probably from the Perseus myth.

The underwater excavations were carried out in association with the Institute of Hydrobiology of Warsaw University. The main objective was to complete a survey of the archaeological remains found on the bottom of Rhisan bay. A few dozen clusters of mainly Greek amphorae were located. A cluster analysis of the finds should help to locate the seaport of ancient Rhisan . The work is planned for another four campaigns, the next one being devoted to raising finds of greatest interest for archaeological research and museum display.
The research team included Prof. Piotr Dyczek heading the expedition, his deputy Janusz Reclaw, M.A., and staff from the Warsaw University Center of Archaeological Research, the Genetics Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences (divers) and students from Warsaw University Institute of Archaeology.


Ośrodek Badań nad Antykiem Europy Południowo Wschodniej UW
Krakowskie Przedmieście 32
00-927 Warszawa