I’m sure you know that Montenegro is a country with a rich cultural and history heritage. This time I decided to write about archaeological sites which tell a lot about the past, but focusing on the little known but none the less important site, monastery Zlatica in Doljani. But, first to mention these important facts about our past:
The most famous archaeological site in Montenegro is Crvena stijena from Palaeolithic, not too far away from Nikšić, in Petrovići village. The shallow cage on the left shore of the Trebješnjica River was discovered in 1954. Duklja (Doclea, lat.) is an old roman city conquered by Octavian in 35 BC. It is located 4km from Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro. First examinations ordered by King Nikola began in 1890, and were carried by Pavle Rovinski.
The site is surrounded by a stone wall with a tower. Precious discoveries such as glasses, ceramic bowls, jewellery, old coins, arms, tools, etc. are part of permanent exhibition of the town’s Museum. Antic Doclea became part of the world archaeology with the entry of ”Podgorica’s cup ”(mne. podgorička čaša), in Hermitage Museum collection in St. Petersburg.
Odmut is an archaeological site near the town of Plužine, at the mouth of the river Vrbica and the river Piva. The Cave was discovered in 1968 and dates back to the Mesolithic era. During the excavation bones of the wild animals were found, stone tools, clay bowls, arrows and axes.
Now, back to the main focus of my story…
Among all the traces of a long history of today's Montenegrin capital, undoubtedly the most important, although the least known is the monastery of Zlatica in Doljani.
The long and, in many ways hidden, history of this sacred place - an ancient monastery and the episcopate leaves the open question whether the first Slav-Serb who destroyed Duklja was baptized in it, and then renewed what was destroyed- rising it again in the name of Christ.
The monastery of Zlatica is located in the suburb of Podgorica, 3 kilometers from the ancient city of Doclea or Duklja. In the mountainous hinterland, there is another ancient fortress called Medeon or current Medun. Probably, in the Middle Ages, here was a settlement with the market, which, in written sources, was first mentioned in a list of Skadar Sandzak in 1485. Zlatica is a Christian part of the extension of the ancient and pagan Duklja.
In contrast to the dark at the beginning of the pagan Duklja, there was the pious Zlatica. They were separated and connected by the Morača River. In contrast to Duklja, which entered science through reports from archaeological examination, Zlatica entered the textbooks without field examination. It is presumed that in Zlatica, in the place Drpe near Zlatica, to be precise, St. Sava raised and established the centre of the Zeta episcopate. Jastrebov and Šobajić were first to report on this issue, although someone before them wrote that St. Sava enthroned the first Zeta diocesan named Ilarion in the monastery St. Michael in the place Prevlaka. Some authors wrote about Zlatica as the center of episcopate, but not before the middle of the 13th century but the mystery of this question was slightly in favor of the monastery of Zlatica.
The destruction of two basilicas in Duklja, during gothic attacks in 490 and during a great earthquake in 518, and then the establishment of two new churches in Zlatica, one of which possessed a richly decorated sarcophagus, which was considered to be an Episcopal and the other one with a baptistery, were the reason enough for J. Kovačević to point out, in his book "The History of Montenegro,” the possibility that the Episcopal centre of Duklja was moved to Zlatica in the VI century. The first significant archaeological examinations at the site of the monastery of Zlatica began in 1954. At that time, the church was discovered and excavated, and inside and next to it, at different depth levels were found a great number of graves with stone structures. Based on the brickwork of the baptistery, stone ornaments and comparisons with similar constructions in Carica city and Kursumlija, V.Korać dated the masonry of the church at the time of Justinian's reign, therefore, between 527 and 565 years.
The recent history of the monastery of Zlatica begins with the transition of Kuči's brotherhood of Ivanovic to this place. Kuči's Duke and Colonel Vaso Bracanov Ivanovic built his house next to the ruins of the monastery grounds. On the big doorpost facing the monastery, the inscription, of the year in which the house was built-1886, is still legible.
Since then, it has come to pass that the ruins of the monastery and the roofless house of Sava Ivanovic are now used as the foundations of the liturgy. In fact, since 1997, on the day of Cvijeti, his Eminence the Metropolitan of Montenegro and Littoral, Amfilohije served a Liturgy on the foundations of the monastery. At the event of the day of Duhovi, the foundations were laid in 2001 for the newly established Spiritual counselling centre "St. Vasilije Ostroški". Today, sister Eugenia lives in the monastery. The number of believers who visit it, during the day of Cvijeti, the patron saint of the monastery, is the best proof of how the monastery of Zlatica fulfils its spiritual quest once again.