Scupi it is an archaeological site located between Zajcev Rid (Rabbit hill) and the Vardar River, several kilometers from the center of Skopje, in Republic of Macedonia. It was a Roman colony founded in the time of Domitian (81-96 A.D.) and it was abandoned in 518 A.D. after an earthquake completely destoroyed the city.


Scupi grew up as colony of legionnaires, mainly veterans of the Legio IIV Claudia in the time of Domitian (81-96 A.D.), even though it is presumed that a camp of two legions, IV Scythica and V Macedonica existed from 168 B.C. when the Romans conquered Macedonia serving as a base for further conquering of Moesia. Scupi was incuded in Moesia Superior after the province was formed in 6 A.D. From 272 A.D. it was colony inside the Roman province of Dardania after Dardania was established. Scupi was ravaged several times by barbarians, in 269 A.D. by the Goths, in V century A.D. by the Huns and finally in the year 518 A.D. was completely destroyed by an earthquake. The life in Scupi stopped after the earthquake and it is assumed that the people from Scupi moved to live on Kale, a hill in the center of Skopje.

The moving of the city is often connected with the founding of Justiniana Prima. Justiniana Prima was a legendary city founded by Justinian I, who reigned with the Byzantium (the Eastern Roman Empire) in 527-565. The connection is based on the assumption that the village Taor which is located near Skopje is Taurisium, Justinian I's birthplace, and by the description of Justininiana Prima by Procopius that suits Skopje's fortress (Kale), the Old Bazaar and the aqueduct which are still landmarks of Skopje.

"He therefore built a wall of small compass about this place in the form of a square, placing a tower at each corner, and caused it to be called, as it actually is, Tetrapyrgia. And close by this place he built a very notable city which he named Justiniana Prima, thus paying a debt of gratitude to the home that fostered him. In that place also he constructed an aqueduct and so caused the city to be abundantly supplied with ever-running water. And many other enterprises were carried out by the founder of this city - works of great size and worthy of especial note. For to enumerate the churches is not easy, and it is impossible to tell in words of the lodgings for magistrates, the great stoas, the fine marketplaces, the fountains, the streets, the baths, the shops. In brief, the city is both great and populous and blessed in every way." (Procopius' description of Justiniana Prima in The Buildings)


The excavations on the archaeological site started in the period between the two World Wars. Radoslav Gruić discovered the early Christian basilica in 1925 and the most important discovery was made by Nikola Vulić, a Serbian archeologist, when he found the antique Roman theater. Nikola Vulić was the archeologist that published most about Scupi.
Excavations on the site were done in 1959-61 by Duje Rendić-Miočević that were published in 1981 and by Ivan Mikulčić published in 1971 and 1973.

The Museum of the City of Skopje begun new excavation and conservation works on the site from 1966 leaded by Milutin Garašanin. From 1980 the responsible for the excavation and conservation works on the site is Dušanka Koraćević.

In July 2008, a well-preserved statue of the Roman goddess of love, Venus. The statue measures 1.7 meters in height.


There are four building periods. The first is the time of the alleged camp of two legions from 168 B.C. The second is the foundation of the Roman coloniae that ended with the Goths invasion in 269 A.C. The third period is most distinguished and represented by the remains of one civil basilica, complex of baths (thermae) and one townhouse. The last, the fourth period that begins roughly after the Ostrogoths invasion from 472 or 489 A.C. is represented by remains of an early Christian basilica and a townhouse with apse. Scupi is completely destroyed in 518 A.C.
Today, only the early Christian basilica, the civil basilica, the baths and townhouses along the road are recognizable. The Roman theatre is completely withered.

Roman theater

The theater is estimated to be built in the II century A.C. by the signs Colonia Scupi Aelia on the seats. It is assumed that the theater was built for Hadrian, the Roman emperor, who was visiting the Balkan cities. The decoration of the Roman theater was on the highest level, comparable to the world metropolis from that time. Ivan Mikulčić writes that in the 1000 years of the antique period in Macedonia there is no building that has reached the refined level of art as it is in the Roman theater in Scupi.
Nikola Vulić claims that the theater in Scupi is larger then the one in Stobi and Duje Rendić-Miočević claim that is the largest on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia. The theater was used only for theater performances, comedies and tragedies. There is no architectural proof that the theater was used for gladiator games as it is the case in the theater in Stobi.


  • Koraćević, Dušanka (2002) Scupi. Skopje: Museum of the city of Skopje
  • Procopius. (1940). The Buildings, Book IV (Part 1). Retrieved from the website

See also

Scupi marked as city on the Peutinger table Tabula Peutingeriana (image).

External links

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