The first archaeological digs in Narona were recorded back in 1877 and were led by the Archaeological Museum of Split. Major archaeological research was initially conducted by the Austrian archaeologist Karl Patsch, who published his findings in 1907 as a part of the first monograph on Narona. Further research was continued only after World War II and was conducted by experts from the Archaeological Museum of Split. Research resumed in the 1950s, 1970s and 1980s. The most remarkable was the discovery of a Roman temple – the Augusteum – excavated at the Plećašove štale site in 1995 and 1996. Seventeen statues of Roman emperors and their family members stand out as the most attractive finds. Archaeological research has brought about radical changes in the village of Vid and led to the idea of developing a museum pavilion above the Augusteum.
Ample archaeological material has been gathered as a result of all these research efforts, the most typical specimens being displayed as a part of the permanent collection of the Narona Archaeological Museum. Some of the outdoor exhibits can be seen on the patio in front of the Museum building, including fragments of architectural temple ornaments as well as functional and decorative parts of the forum’s furnishings. The main exhibition hall consists of the temple area itself, including the architectural remains of the Roman temple in situ and featuring the statues of emperors and their family members, mounted on a gallery overlooking a black-and-white mosaic floor as the most remarkable exhibits. Five showcases feature the archaeological material (sculpture fragments, coins, glass, metal and bone artefacts, pottery and oil-lamps) discovered in the wider temple area.
Furthermore, the archaeological material is divided into Narona’s public life and architectural components, while four rows of showcases feature the material found at specific sites including the ramparts, Erešove bare, the necropolis, the basilica on the aqueduct route, Njive-Podstrana and St. Vitus. Chance finds are divided into sub-groups thematically dedicated to everyday life, the military, the necropolises and the cult.
The Museum tour continues outside the building. In addition to a small archaeological park, the terraces feature stone monuments of cult and sepulchral nature and fragments of architectural decorative sculpture. The tour concludes with a mosaic which is displayed in situ underneath a glass floor and most probably belongs to a Roman taberna. The exhibition includes a total of roughly 900 finds, allowing us to track the city’s history from the end of the third century BC through the fifteenth century AD.