Illyrian Shas -Šas -SvačTranslated by Anida Resulbegu

Albanian civilization lies more under than above it. In ethnic Albanian areas in Montenegro, such as Ulcinj, are large number of monuments from our early history, which takes place in the ancient city of Shas / Šas / Svač.

Shas / Šas / Svač is ancient Illyrian residence, which rises in the mountain with the same name. At the time an old road connected Ulcinj and Shkodra. Shas in literature is known as: Suatio, Suaço, Savocci, Svaciao, Fshas etc. The basis of the ancient city is built from large stones, while the surrounding wall had been badly damaged. This wall carries great architectural and artistic values. Even today two city gates remain.

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Shas / Šas / Svač was mentioned for the first time in the Pope Alexander II decree in 1067 . The Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja conquered Svatsh in 1183. In 1242 it was conquered by the Mongols and finally in 1571 the Ottoman Empire totally invaded and destroyed it. Since then, Svatsch has belonged to the category of „dead towns“. In this year Ottoman Empire invaded Ulcinj and Bar, where residents were killed and cities set on fire.

However, when it comes to ecclesiastical act, Shas / Šas / Svač has had churches as much as a year has days which is an unique occasion in the whole world while there were found the ruins of only eight ancient churches, among which two can be regarded as monumental, although they were ruined. The Church of St. John (Shen Gjoni) was built inside the fortress somewhere in the XIII century. The second church, St. Mary (Shen Mrise) was built in the XIV century outside the fortress, towards the North-East.

The remaining parts of the castle were found in rocks. In the Venetian period around Lake Skadar were cities like Trishti, Danja and Sarda.

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Archdiocese of Bar (over 900 years) was the main base of Catholicism in Northern Albania, but Shas Eparchy played the same role in their zone. In 1443 Shas bishop was Pale Dushmani.

If an underwater research could be done, it would be found more of Shas(Svatsh). This unexplored heritage was hidden by Slavs for centuries. There are also facts to prove that during the summer, when the level of water is very low you can see wall parts of an old residential house.

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Illyrian period of Shas / Šas / Svač

Archaeological findings prove that the city of Shas / Šas / Svač was affected by early Christianity till the eighth century.

Earlier Shas(Svatsh) turned into fortified sites, which is shown by his position in war between Papacy and Byzantinium. Researches in the locality of old Shas(Svatsh) proves the existence of prehistoric residence. Since the discovery of the Koman culture, through which the dating determination was made more accurate – sacral objects existed from the VI-VII centuries.

This ancient dwelling place except strategic importance also offers an appropriate life conditions, special conditions as farming and agriculture.

Based on unknown writer and his manuscript “Secondo l’Antica Dulcigno descrizione …” he stated that in this territory is found a very old city called Shas(Svatsh) where the footsteps of all 365 churches are seen 15 miles from Ulcinj. Furthermore it is written “near the city are found the lake, caves, water source, Lisnj mountain, Shas levee and gates where the Caesarea captain died, dreadfully fighting against Pompej.

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Gothic Shas / Šas / Svač

There is no doubt that the medieval Shas / Šas / Svač developed city is also immortalized in numismatics, because they made their own coins, which held the inscription Suacium but also presents St. Paul Baptist image, as a guardian of the city.

Montenegrin versions of this period indicates that Stefan Nemanja(XII century) destroyed Albanian Churches achieved violently to convert the residents into the orthodox, which matches with verbal tradition of Shas(svatsh) wherein the village residents say that “ all churches were first Catholic”

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The first Yugoslavian archeology research, belonging to 1980, revealed a greater precociousness than the one that is known. It was Illyrian culture heritage of Shas(Svatsh) that frightened Belgrade archaeological school. In 1985 the Serbian Academy of Sciences hastily interrupted the research when they noticed that were dealing with ancient Albanian city. The Illyrian city with 365 churches which was destroyed by Slavs, and the truth of its ruins were also hidden by them.

Only the ones who know the very truth not denying one’s roots are able to retell the history as it is.


Fahri Xharra