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Liburnian cippus

These cylindrical structures with calotte-shaped endings represent grave stones or grave markings time bound to first few centuries of Roman rule in the eastern Adriatic coast in the time when the town of Krk carried the name Curicum. These simple monolithic structures are actually unique throughout the ancient world and their distribution does not exceed the limits of a territory once inhabited by a prehistoric community of Liburni who inhabited the territory which spreads from river Raša in Istria to river Krka in Dalmatia. Although the genesis of the cippus is yet to be clarified, the most valid theory brings it in relation with Liburnian prehistoric tumuli. Tumuli were in fact a form of burial “architecture”, prevalent not only with Liburni but also with many other prehistoric communities in Europe and Asia Minor where above the tomb a stone or earth mound was erected in order to mark the burial place. Even today traces of these stone mounds, final resting places of indigenous inhabitants of the old town of Krk can be spotted in the olive groves along the road which leads from Krk to Punat. Looking at the form and function alone, we can define cippus as a romanticised version of grave mounds transformed into a simple monolithic stone. Although their shape separates them from the standard form of ancient tombstones such as stela, their differences here come to an end since they both serve as grave marks and as such they bring basic information about the deceased. These are briefly name and age of the deceased, name of the dedicator who erects the monument, everything accompanied by various posthumous formulas.
Some cippuses are characterized by a concave dent at their base and it is possible to assume that in that niche rested the incinerated remains of the deceased.

According to their shape, size and type of treatment, it is possible to distinguish three basic groups of the Liburnian cippus, and these groups coincide with three zones of their distribution. These are the territory of ancient city of Asseria, the town of Zadar and its surroundings and finally, the island of Krk. According to these territories of their greatest concentration the cippuses were assigned with the typology names as Asseriat, Zadar and Krk group of cippuses.
Asseriat group of cippus is the most numerous. Basic characteristic of this group is primarily their extreme grandeur. All of these cippuses are monolithic, carved very carefully and with remarkable sense for proportion and ornamentation. They are very often decorated with astragal, braids, twisted molding, acanthus leaf or other floral designs. Calotte is decorated with squamae (decoration which resembles to fish skin), which is indispensable feature of this group. 

Zadar group of cippus differs from Asseriat group mostly by size, since Zadar cippuses are a lot smaller. Inscription field on their bodies is almost always edged with festoon while their calotte was like in Asseriat group ornamented with squamae, but their appearance in this case does not constitute a strict rule.

Cippuses found on the island of Krk are by the looks of their decorations the most simple group, whose only decoration is fold profile which separates the body from base and fold profile inscription field.
A total of ten cippuses has been found on the island of Krk. Their discovery was never in situ because through the centuries they were reused for non sepulchral purposes, mainly for construction purposes. We will never know where they have been originally located, but the discovery of ancient necropolis near villa Šinigoj and under city council west of the old city center has helped assume their original location.

These five featured cippuses can be dated to 1st and 2nd century AC.
The text begins with a dedicating formula D(is) M(anibus) to Manii - deities in charge for the souls of the deceased, that is to divine souls. The formula helps date these cippuses in era from Augustan period onwards when this formula enters in use.
Post-mortem inscriptions are found on three exemplars while the other two do not have an inscription. The lack of posthumous inscription can be interpreted by the possibility that the manufactured monuments have not been put to their original function or they might have been erected as cenotaphs, for example to a missing seaman.

D(is) m(anibus) OPPIAE
L(uci) F(iliae) PROCLAE
AVRELIA P(ubli) F(ilia)
V(iva) F(ecit)

To divine souls. To very pious Prokclae, daughter of Lucius, erected by Aurelia Maxima, daughter of Publi during her lifetime.  

D(is) M(anibus)

To divine souls. To father Lucius Fonteio Eutycheto, erected by his son Sextilian and his brothers.