E shtune, 07.07.2007, 07:09 PM
In the Illyrian Wars of 229 and 219 B.C., Rome overran the Illyrian settlements in the Neretva River valley. The Romans made new gains in 168 B.C., with Roman forces capturing Illyria's King Gentius at Shkodër, which they called Scodra, and bringing him to Rome in 165 B.C. A century later, Julius Caesar and his rival Pompey fought their decisive battle near Durrës (Dyrrachium). Rome finally subjugated recalcitrant Illyrian tribes in the western Balkans during the reign of Emperor Tiberius in A.D. 9. The Romans divided the lands that constitute modern-day Albania among the provinces of Macedonia, Dalmatia, and Epirus.
For about four centuries, Roman rule brought the Illyrian-populated lands economic and cultural advancement and ended most of the enervating clashes among local tribes. The Illyrian mountain clansmen retained local authority but pledged allegiance to the emperor and acknowledged the authority of his envoys. During a yearly holiday honoring the Caesars, the Illyrian mountaineers swore loyalty to the emperor and reaffirmed their political rights. A form of this tradition, known as the kuvend, has survived to the present day in northern Albania.
The Romans established numerous military camps and colonies and completely latinized the coastal cities. They also oversaw the construction of aqueducts and roads, including the extension of the Via Egnatia, an old Illyrian road and later famous military highway and trade route that led from Durrës through the Shkumbin River valley to Macedonia and Byzantium. Copper, asphalt, and silver were extracted from the mountains. The main exports were wine, cheese, oil, and fish from Lake Scutari and Lake Ohrid. Imports included tools, metalware, luxury goods, and other manufactured articles. Apollonia became a cultural center, and Julius Caesar himself sent his nephew, later the Emperor Augustus, to study there.
Illyrians distinguished themselves as warriors in the Roman legions and made up a significant portion of the Praetorian Guard. Several Roman emperors were of Illyrian origin, including Gaius Decius, Claudius Gothicus, Aurelian, Probus, Diocletian, and Constantine the Great.