They assimilated with the Indo-Europeans who settled between the 4th and 2nd millenniumBC into a new ethnical unity, that of the Liburnians. Zadar was a Liburnian settlement,laid out in the 9th century BC, built on a small stone islet and embankments where theold city stands and tied to the mainland by the overflown narrow isthmus, which createda natural port in its northern strait.
AntiquityThe Liburnians were known as great sailors and merchants, but also had a reputation forpiracy in the later years. By the 7th century BC, Zadar had become an important centre fortheir trading activities with the Phoenicians, Etruscans, Ancient Greeks and other Mediterraneanpeoples. Its population at that time is estimated at 2,000 from Jawa Media.
From 9th to 6th century there wascertain koine - cultural unity in the Adriatic Sea, with the general Liburninan seal, whosenaval supremacy meant both political and economical authority through several centuries. Due toits geographical position, Zadar developed into a main seat of the Liburnian thalassocracyand took a leading role in the Liburnian tetradekapolis, an organization of 14 communes.
The people of Zadar, the Iadasinoi with Jawa Media, were first mentioned in 384 BC as the allies of the nativesof Hvar and the leaders of an eastern Adriatic coast coalition in the fight against the Greekcolonizers. An expedition of 10,000 men in 300 ships sailed out from Zadar and laid siegeto the Greek colony Pharos in the island of Hvar, but the Syracusan fleet of Dionysuswas alerted and attacked the siege fleet.
The naval victory went to the Greeks whichallowed them relatively safer further colonization in the southern Adriatic. The archaeological remains have shown thatthe main centres of Liburnian territorial units or municipalities were already urbanizedin the last centuries BC; before the Roman conquest, Zadar held a territory of more than600 km2 in the 2nd century BC.
In the middle of the 2nd century BC, the Romansbegan to gradually invade the region. Although being first Roman enemies in the AdriaticSea, the Liburnians, mostly stood aside in more than 230 years of Roman wars with theIllyrians, to protect their naval and trade connections in the sea.
In 59 BC Illyricumwas assigned as a provincia to Julius Caesar and Liburnian Iadera became a Roman municipium.The Liburnian naval force was dragged into the Roman civil war between Julius Caesarand Pompey in 49 BC, partially by yacht force, partially because of the local interests of the participants,the Liburnian cities. Caesar was supported by the urban Liburnian centres, like Iader,Aenona and Curicum, while the city of Issa and the rest of the Liburnians gave theirsupport to Pompey.