Ancient States & Regions

Iapodes: The Ancient Dwellers of Croatia and Bosnia

Strabo in his Seventh book mentions the cities of the Iapodes: Metullum (likely Vinica in Josipdol), Arupium (Vitali in Prozor), Monetium (likely near Brinje), and Avendo (Kompolje). Other sources mention the cities of Terponos (Likely Trojverhi in Plashke), Ancus (likely Strazhbenica near Verbacit), Ausancalio (likely Medaku), Bivium (likely Josipdoli), and Epidotium (likely Kvarte). The poet Tibulus (55-19 B.C.E.) sing to the “brave Japodian soldier” (Tib. 3. 108). 

The Japodians bordered the Noricians and the Carnians in the north and north-east. In the west, they bordered with the Pannonians and the Dalmatians (or Dalmatae). The river Telavium (current Zermanja) marked the southern border of the Iapodian lands. 

Considering all accounts, the Iapodians dwelled in a territory 17,000 square kilometers in surface; that extended 200 km in north/north-east to south/south-east direction; namely from the Razdrzto gorge into the river Zermanja. The east/south/east-west/northwest direction run for 100 km, from the shores of the Adriatic Sea into the river Sava in the interior. 

Internally, the Iapodes were divided into two groups: Cisalpine and Transalpine. The river Colapin (current Cupa) served as the division line between these two internal groups. From these two groups, Appian signals out the Transalpine Iapodes as a “powerful and wild ethnos that had conquered Aquilea (171 B.C.E.) and sacked the colony of Tergeste (App. III. 18). These northerners preserved their independence even when the Cisalpine Iapodes fell under the Roman control. Specifically, the southern, Cisalpine Iapodes appear as Foederati, connected with a treaty (Foedus) with Rome (Crc, Balb. 14). The northern, independent Iapodes were led, meanwhile, by a local Iapodian leader, chieftain (praepositus Iapolodum (CIL 3. 15064).

Iapodian Territory
Iapodian Territory
Japodian woman - Illustrated by S. Bogojević Narath.
Japodian woman – Illustrated by S. Bogojević Narath.

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