Zvornik through the ages
According to its rare material culture remains from earlier eras, one can confidently say that the space where Zvornik is now has been covered with human settlements since ancient times.
In history Zvornik was first mentioned in 1410 under the name Zvonik (Bell tower). In one story the town is named after a lonely tower of some ruined church which was built, according to the assumptions, at the end of 7th and early 8th century. According to the second story, the town is named after Franciscan monastery’s bell tower, built at the beginning of 15th century. The third story says that the land on which town was built is in the shape of a bell. Yet there is one more version of the story and it says that it was named after the numerous sources of cold water (spring, orig. izvornik), and even at Roman time it was known as a station on the way to Sirmium. It had that name until 1519. During this period it consisted of two parts: The Fortress and Lower Town. From 1428 it started being mentioned as a place from where people were transporting silver to Dubrovnik.
Serbian despots, Turks, Hungarians and Austrians were fighting for Zvornik as an important strategic point and intersection of roads.
According to available sources, the oldest inhabitants of this region were Scordisci – people of Celtic origin, who accepted Roman rule, which was established there and throughout the Balkan Peninsula at the beginning of the first century AD.
Numerous Roman traces have been found just in the vicinity of Zvornik. An inscription from 3rd century was found in town, and on a vertical rock Ograda, where now is hotel Vidikovac, a Roman fort was discovered and it consisted of a tower for observing and a building for the guards, as well as an altar. In village Dardagan, on the way to Sapna, in one pit (Sige) were found not only traces of an earlier Roman quarry, but one late ancient tomb form 4th century, and particularly important, a monument of so-called Mithras cult, made of cave stone, with dimensions of 50 x 70 cm (significantly damaged and kept in Tuzla’s Museum). Since it has been founded, Zvornik has been a major crossroads – one road goes north along the Drina valley towards Bijeljina (from there goes across the Sava River to Sremska Mitrovica and on), and to the south across the Drinjača River towards Vlasenica, Sokolac, Han Pijesak and Sarajevo. From Drinjača, the other part of the road goes towards Bratunac (via iron bridge on Drina river and to Ljubovija) and Srebrenica. Zvornik is also connected with its much younger namesake Mali Zvornik (Little Zvornik) in Serbia by an iron bridge which was opened for all types of motor vehicles, from 1924, when it was built, until recently. Today, it is only for pedestrians, since for the other traffic the new concrete bridge is built, two kilometers away in Karakaj settlement.
The biggest part of Zvornik has developed in recent years in its northern part, where the hills start moving apart, leaving a significant expanded space at where small river Zlatica it flows into Drina river, and just by it.
Zvornik is a town of tumultuous past and one of the oldest towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was and still is a crossroads. Unfortunately, conquerors often came by these roads.