The Romans

The Romans conquered Hvar and the period of Greek domination ended. The question remains why did they keep the Greek parcellation system.

The Greek parcels were rectangular at a ratio of 1:5, adapted to the topography of Stari Grad’s plain. The neighbor island Vis had a ratio of 2:5, adapted to another landscape. Also, the position of Stari Grad’s fields was adapted to the land surface.
This means that the parcels weren’t positioned northwards but rotated 12 degrees in a clockwise direction (Kirigin 2003).

The Roman surveying (centuratio) was based on a parcellation of rectangular areas (710 x 710 m). In short, the Romans continued using the old Greek parcels, 12 millions square meters of fruitful land. The reason for not destroying the Greek fields could be, that Hvar wasn't that important to the Romans.

Meanwhile, the Roman Empire had much bigger problems, because of its enormous extension. This was during the reign of the Imperator Diocletian. He was born in Salona near the Dalmatian town of Split. Diocletian was reluctant to destroy and change the system that was working.

Moreover, he didn’t want to reign in Rome and solved his own and the Roman Empire’s problem together in a genius way. He divided the Empire into two parts. The western empire (Rome) and the eastern one (Constantinople).

This decentralization made the Empire much easier to rule. He was responsible for the eastern part and made his seat in Nicomedia (present-day Izmir). For his retirement, he chose Split, far away from the always threatened external borders.

Was the separation of the Empire one of the most important reasons for the geographical division of religions to Christianity and Islam? Even though the later Imperator Constantine the Great was responsible for the protection and propagation of Christianity?

It’s due to Diocletian's efforts that the Roman Empire got stability. He continued dividing the Empire - to four parts.

Furthermore, he established a new tax system, “capitatio-iugatio”, which based on working capacity and the quality of the land. The prototype of the progress based taxing systems of today? Per this system, the taxes were fixed for five years, giving farmers a certain amount of legal security.

Diocletian is considered the actuator of the transition from late Antiquity to the Middle Ages.

Diocletian’s administrative reforms were revolutionary. Will the acting prime minister of Croatia, Andrej Plenkovic, whose roots are also from Hvar Island, have the Midas touch like Diocletian too? Let’s hope for the Dalmatian genes!

By the way, Diocletian was the only Roman imperator who abdicated of his own volition! Many national leaders should follow his example and step down at the right time, when they are past their best.

*Author: Leo Birg