Doctoral dissertation – Synopsis




Level of exploration of the region


For many centuries the Mediterranean and Adriatic navigation routes functioned rather like a body's blood supply system, making possible the exchange of ideas and technologies, that is, contacts between economy, politics, culture and religion between coasts of some parts of the Mediterranean and the interior.

The shrine of Our Lady of Loreto in Italy is one of Europe's Marian shrines to which, for centuries, hundreds of thousands of believers have made pilgrimage. In addition to travelling by land, journeys across the Adriatic to this historic-cultic shrine of Christian- more precisely, Catholic- tradition were also very frequent. This may mean that in Western Europe, especially in the Mediterranean area, other Marian shrines were also systematically appearing. Insufficient inclination of maritime culture towards the study of religious phenomena resulted in the neglect of some of its segments in historical sciences, geography, cartography and even, with regard to semiology, in the history of art. This is why, in the context of maritime navigation routes, it is interesting to inquire into the impact of these disciplines upon the mediaeval urban and sacral topography and, especially, upon the development of Marian maritime shrines. The dissertation is also intended to provide an answer as to whether these shrines are related to the Marian shrines in the hinterland of Europe and, if so, what kind of a relation is this.

The research is based on the geographical elements of cartographic description of the legendary carrying of the Holy House of Mother of God from Nazareth to Loreto – DESCRIPTIO TRANSLATIONIS SANCTAE DOMUS BEATISSIMA VIRGINIS E NAZARETH IN DALMATIAM ET INDE LAVRETVM, assumed to have originated in the 16th century, at present in the Pinachoteca of the museum in Loreto (Pinakoteca Santa Casa).

This subject was never before researched on this way with this method, and therefore has potential to be even further investigated.


The methodology of the research


Based, even in Phoenician times, upon stargazing, and being incorporated in classical philosophical, mathematical and astronomical thought, as well as into medieval Arabian and, afterwards, European science, the period under observation left deep traces in today's geographical arrangement of key points in navigation and of land corridors of the Mediterranean and Europe. Like a thousand or two thousand years ago, it is possible nowadays to compare the astronomical arrangement of the stars with the actual position of the coastal towns and the geomorphological coastal capes. This could mean that the found geographical condition corresponds to the initial geographical perceptions of the researched areas, which is why it could nowadays be possible to reconstruct the routes of goods and travellers  in the Mediterranean. It is without doubt then that, being relatively unsettled, its first colonies on the coast, and later towns as well, might have been established as the then furthest points of sailing according to certain systems of astronomical orientation. This is a very important finding which will define the methodology of research.

Because the trade routes were at the same time pilgrimage routes, there can be no doubt that religious infrastructure developed along their routes, not by accidental and arbitrary choice of a sacral object's position, but by systematically applying the model of sailing and travelling by land. This is why the basic research had been conducted with the help of the scientific method of  comparing the Loreto original map from the 16th century with the modern map of the Mediterranean produced in the 1 : 7 500 000 scale and in vertical conforming cylindrical projection, originally constructed and used by Gerard Kremer Mercator. The results of the application and development of the projection of the original map to a modern map of the Mediterranean is a starting point for new views concerning the systematically built coastal-urban network of towns, beginning even in the Phoenician period, as well as religious, notably cultic centers of Western Europe and the Mediterranean. These results confirm the view that there existed a model of measuring the coastal boundaries of the Mediterranean against the gravitating continent, whose basic matrix makes isolated trajectory with 8 mathematical points defined by the golden ratio and, curiously enough, just two angular values, 69° and 51°.

Proceeding from the assumption that such a scientific research can not be done properly by unidisciplinary testing, the interdisciplinary approach, along with semiological analysis, offers itself as a second methodological feature.


Spatial and temporal  parameters


The spatial parameters of the research are defined by the Mediterranean basin, reaching from the Atlantic to the coasts of Asia Minor, as well as by Western Europe delimited by the high Alpine and the Pyrenean massifs. In an indirect way, the research is transferred to all interior seas east of the Mediterranean as far as the Sea of Azov. Therefore, I take the original map as a starting point of the development of the modular system which, in the dissertation, is called master key.

As a result of the cumulative-historical perception of the Mediterranean, the temporal parameters clearly rest on the layers of pre-ancient, ancient and mediaeval sea and land routes. Of course, the importance of the Eastern coast of the Adriatic, as well as the location of the Croatian towns of Zadar, Rijeka, more precisely Trsat, is specially emphasized. Because of this, the results reflect in the contribution which, in historical, scentific and geographical terms, demystifies the role of Tarsatica in regard to its influence upon the Adriatic and especially the Western Mediterranean. It therefore becomes the key for resolving the relation between what is called the historical legend and the reality of sea and land routes. Recent knowledge, as shown in the dissertation, helps in providing the picture of a possible development both of the urban matrix of the Mediterranean in an original and culturally articulated fashion, and of the religious infrastructure; these could be revealed by a thorough co-operative survey of the Mediterranean coasts.

Above all, the dissertation contributes to a better understanding of the role that the Mediterranean played in the development of Christianity. Its contents are the result of the six-year long research of the original Loreto Map. The findings confirm that behind this description of the legendary transferring of Mother of God, as just one among many of them, there lies the encoded geographical measuring of the wider Mediterranean, which may influence some of  the habitual views in the sphere of historical geography and cartography.

The dissertation clearly represents original work, since similar or equivalent disclosures have not, so far, been published either in Croatia or, as far as I know, in Europe. 


Ahilej in the whirpool of Vrtolom

In the series Troja, Myth and Reality, which is here called Ahilej in the whirpool of Vrtolom, and was published in the daily Zadarski list from July 19, 2011 to February 9, 2012, Mr. Sipic and Mr. Bilosnic published a study with a final goal of showing that the sites Ljubacka vrata and Ljubljene (Ljube) and Venac, are central locations of the Meditarranean sea, and these sites play a major role in the toponymy of Troja. In this study, scientific evidence proves that at this location in Ljube „even before Homer's Troja an exceptionally important town had to exist“, probably even more important than Anatolian Troja. Along with indisputable scientific results, this study will show the perfection, significance and beauty of this important area within the Mediterranean borders.


Actuated by Bilosnic's historiography, reputable sources, tradition, legends and scientific insights, Dr. Sc. Igor Sipic, uses planimetric methods to establish the geometric matrix of the Mediterranean area in contrast to the geomorphology of the shore and its geographic objects, which is indicative of the possibiliy that this area has origins far older than the Antique philosophy, in fact prehistoric ones. This method in some other studies gave excellent results, such as in determining the arrangement of shrines to the Virgin Mary. Thus this study, is based on the idea of connectivity of eponimic towns directed at the name Troja in the Asia Minor, such as Paris and Troyes, Troia in Italy and Troia in Portugal, and this study gives equally powerful results. The topografically powerful characteristic of the Ljubacka location convinces us of that, indeed.