The history of the island of Murter

Murter island was inhabited in the ancient times and in the times of Ilyrians. Liburnians and Romans that lived on the island left clear traces of their presence. Architectonic remains of roman structures, contraptions used in the harbour and mosaics all speak about the importance of the island in the antiquity.

The first mention of the origin of the name

The island was first mentioned by Pliny the Elder under the name Colentum. Croatian name of the island Srimac (Srimač) was mentioned in 1251 when the Croato-Hungarian king Bela prescribed the boundaries of the Šibenik commune. Since 1740 the island is called Murter.

colentumAlthough it still hasn't been scientifically proven, recently it is considered more likely that the name Murter is related to the ancient excavated trough, part of the oil press, which was called mortarium. The word mortar, mortario translates to Croatian as "mužar", "stupa" – they are names for containers used for hand grinding crops, while "stupa" is also used as a name for a press.

Another idea has to do with the toponym of Murtar bay, located on the southwest of the island, after which the whole island was subsequently named.

The ancient city of Colentum

The Roman town of Colentum was situated close to where the modern settlement is today, its remains, now largely submerged under the sea, lie at the foot of the hill Gradina, on the north side of the Hramina cove. Colentum probably experienced prosperity during the rule of Roman emperors Nero (37 – 68) and Vespasian (9 – 79) whose money was found during the first archaeological researches conducted in the period from 1907 to 1909.

The city had the typical Roman architecture, multi-storey buildings, water tanks, thermae and cobbled narrow streets very similar to the streets in old towns of the cities of Dalmatia, including Murter. Archaeologists have discovered luxuriant buildings, most likely villas, terraced down the Gradine hill, with facades facing the sea. It is assumed that pirates demolished and pillaged Colentum in the 2nd century, and there are signs which show that it might have been hit by an earthquake. Part of the ruins by the sea was rebuilt, but Colentum did not regain its initial splendor ever again. What happened next to Colentum is not known.murter-selo

The mediaeval Murter was founded where today's Selo stands, some distance from the sea, while Hramina harbour was built much later, at the time when the inhabitants of Murter became, through buying off of the land, most numerous owners of the Kornati islands. Since they could reach the islands only by boat, they needed a corresponding harbour infrastructure. Source: http://www.tzo-murter.hr/ 

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