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Monday, October 22, 2012

Archaeological sites in ALBANIA

Archaeological sites in ALBANIA

 archaelogical-parksFor more info visit http://www.albaniantourism.com/
Due to its Mediterranean location and geographical proximity to some of the centers of world civilization, a number of important archaeological discoveries have been made in Albania. The sites that are found in the North as well as in the South are great tourist destinations for those interested in ancient history as well as for the merely curious.
Ancient Durres
The city of Durres dates to the 7th century B.C., according to traditional reports from ancient sources in the year 627. The modern city is built on top of the ruins of ancient Epidamnos or Dyrrachion, the latter transformed into Dyrrachium in the Roman period. According to Thucydides, the city was colonized by Corcyreans and Corinthians, who named the city Epidamnos. The founder (oecist) was Phalius, a Bacchiad, son of Eratocleides from Corinth and a descendant of Heracles. The first coins of Epidamnos in the first half of the 5th century B.C. were with Corinthian symbols, Athena and Pegasus with the archaic epsilon. According to Appian, a non-Greek king who lived in the area before the Greeks arrived, by the name of Epidamnos, built the first city and called it after himself. Dyrrhachos, the son of his daughter Melissa and it is said Poseidon, build a port for the city and named it Dyrrachion.
For the duration of 435-404 B.C. Epidamnos is involved in the Peloponnesian War, as the people (demos) expelled the men of influence (dynatoi) who were in their turn helped by the native nearby Illyrians and attacked the city back. After the war we also attest the transition of the name from Epidamnos to Dyrrachion. This was changed the political and economic relations of the city which is well documented in the archaeological record. During the 3rd century B.C. the relations of the city with the Illyrians was prospering, while Illyrian names account about 30% of all names engraved in grave stones found during excavations in and around the city.
Dyrrachium became a central battle place between the legions of Caesar and Pompey during the Civil War of 49-48 B.C. and suffered damage as a result of the war operations. During the reign of Augustus, in 30 B.C. Dyrrachium became a Roman colony, by the name of Colonia Iulia Augusta Dyrrachinorum. During the 2nd century A.D. the city was furthers strengthened by the construction of the well-known Via Egnatia, linking the Adriatic with Thessaloniki in Northern Greece and in later times with Constandinople.
The largest of all public buildings were constructed in Dyrrachium during the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. The amphitheater, partially excavated starting since 1960, has a seating capacity estimated between 15.000-20.000 people and is situated on the middle of the modern city, while other important buildings are the public baths of the 2nd century A.D. discovered in 1966, the remains of the aqueduct about 15 km long, built during the reign of Hadrian, the Byzantine walls and the round forum-macellum, build in the 5th-6th centuries A.D.
One of the most interesting finds from the city is the "Bukuroshja e Durrësit"  the beauty of Durres mosaic, situated at the National Historic Museum in Tirana. The mosaic belongs to the 4th century B.C., and it is definitely one of the most beautiful of its kind in Albania.In the 9th century A.D. the Theme of Dyrachium is created, one of the two themes in the western Balkans, while in 1071 and 1081 the Normans attacked the city. From 1204 the city came under the Venetians and in 1501 the Ottomans managed to take it
Fortification of Gorica
This archeological site is located on the junction of the Osum River and its branch Velabisht, while serving a two-fold function. From one part the fortification encloses totally the Osum valley, having in front of it Berati Castle and from the other side it controls the Velebisht river. From the north part the castle is defended from the natural rock, while from the other sides exactly from east and south and partly in west it is possible to clearly spot the fortification wall, that may be followed in its entire length.
Referring to the construction technique and the pottery, this fortification wall dates to the 4-3 century B.C. There are indications that archeological remains found earlier on the site, date to the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age, indicating that the site dates earlier to the 3 century B.C. The interruption of life in Gorica is strongly connected with roman occupation in the 2nd century B.C.
The fortified hill of Peshtan
The hill of Peshtan is located near the homonymous village. The settlement has been localized on top of the hill, covering an area of about 2 ha, and several narrow terraces at the east, south and west sides. These sides of the hill are relatively smooth, while the northern side, which is the narrowest one, constitutes the natural defense of the hill. This wall line was constructed with quadratic blocks made of sandstone on which is possible to see the technique construction of the Illyrian period.
Archaeologists, based on the construction techniques and surface finds date this citadel to the 4th century B.C. To this period also belong large quantities of pottery fragments found on the southern side of the hill that may be related with the existence of a pottery kiln.

Mbjeshova Castle is situated near the village of Mbjeshova, in the northern part of Shpiragu mountain and it covers a surface of about  1,5 - 2 ha. The surrounding wall is well maintained along the length of the hill.The fortification is double, formed by an inner wall serving at the same time as a staging ground for soldiers and a lookout. At the east side are situated three towers and an entrance. Based on the construction technique of the surrounding wall, the towers and typical entrances of the late antique period, the castle dates at the 4-5 centuries AD. This castle is considered as one of the best maintained archeological centers of the area. 

The fortress of Vokopola
The castle of Vokopola  known as Ali Pashë Tepelena's castle, is located on a hill at northern-west part of Vokopola village near the city of Berat. The fortification is situated on a hill 765m above sea level. The castle's technique construction shows that the structure may have served as a military garrison.
Early Christian Bazilica of Shën Mëhill in Arapaj.
Situated on the Shën Mëhill (Saint Michael) hill, 6 km distant from the city of Durrës, during archaeological research conducted in 1974, were discovered the remains of an Early Christian church. This church is known as Shën Mëhilli church. The church is a 3 naves basilical construction, with three apses, with an atrium at the west side, and auxiliary areas at the south side of naos.
The mosaic inside the basilica, covers a surface of about 54 m, and is well maintained despite a small damaged part at the southern part.  An important addition to the finds are the architectonic sculptural remains that date to the 5-6 centuries A.D. The numismatic material that has been found at the Arapaj Basilica is also rich and dates from the 5-th century A.D until the 13th-14th centuries A.D., thus showing that the basilica was in use for about 10 centuries.

The Monumental Tombs of Selca e Poshtëme
These 2,400 year old tombs are located 40 km from Pogradec. Selca was a town of the Illyrain tribe of Desartes founded in the sixth century B.C. It is thought that ancient Pelion, residence of Illyrian king Klit was here. Selca reached its zenith in the fourth and third centuries B.C., when the surrounding walls encircled an area of 3 hectares.
This archaeological site is located 1,040 meters above sea level. Five monumental tombs in Ionic style have been excavated there. Four of them have been carved into tunnels. They are very rare in the Balkan Peninsula but can often be found in Southern Italy. A great number of personal possessions in gold and filigree have been found there.
Albanopolis ( Zgërdhesh)
The ancient town is located to the right of the Fushë Kruja to Kruja road by Halil village. In 1871 the famous Austrian albanologue Han visited the Illyrian castle of Zgërdhesh and hypothesized that this was the ancient Albanopolis, capital of the Albans from whom the country is named.
The city was built on a hill in a 10 hectare area. Strong 1,400 m long walls protected it although only 90 m survive to date. The acropolis takes up one third of the area. Among the terracotta excavated here, the small marble statue of Artemis is particularly beautiful. The ancient city flourished for three or four centuries but then was abandoned on the second century A.D.

Nikaia (Klos)
The ancient city of Klos (Nikaia) it is situated in the proximity of Byllis (ca.1 km), with a wall about 1850m long, covering an area of ca.18 ha. The wall represents one of the earliest fortifications of the second half of the 5th century B.C. in Albania, being 3-3.5m wide, with polygonal and trapezoidal blocks. There is a single entrance to the city and three defensive towers. Among the most important monuments are the small theatre, a stoa, and the traces of a stadium. The theatre had a capacity of ca. 800-1000 spectators and has preserved also 14 citizenship-granting inscriptions, dating to the 3rd century B.C. The stoa was long 40m and 10m wide, being a simple one story building. Life in Nikaia ends abruptly in 167 B.C., when the army of Paulus Aemilus ravaged Epirus and parts of Southern Illyria.

Sofratika Theatre
Located in Drino valley in Gjirokastra region by a village bearing the same name, this is Roman Adrianopolis of the second century A.D. The theatre was excavated in 1984 and has a capacity of 4,000 seats in 27 steps.
The first excavations began at the site in 1963 and since then a 30m long Stoa has been unearthed. The monument clearly resembles the Stoa of Apollonia, indicating the strong links between these two cities. Many stamped tiles have been found, bearing the names of the workshop owners but also the name, DIMALITAN showing that the workshops were property of the city. The ancient writer Polybius mentions the city in the Second Illyrian-Roman war, during 219-218 B.C., when the city was fortified. The Roman historian Titus Livius, mentions Dimal again in the events of 205 B.C. when the city was ruled by Romans. Several inscriptions found during the excavations shed light on the political organization of the ancient city.    

Situated near the modern town of Cakran, the site of Gurë zeza, dominates the plain of Vjosa and the view extends to the Karaburun peninsula and the island of Sazan in the bay of Vlora. The partially preserved walls cover an area of over 15 ha, while the ancient name is still to be found. Three different phases of settlement have been revealed at the site, starting with the Protourban phase, continuing with the Urban period and finishing with the Late Antique period. Several important coin hoards have been found in the vicinity of this site, one with about 2000 bronze coins from Apollonia and Epirus, 200 silver coins, forty of them belonging to the Illyrian king Monunios, thus making some archaeologists believe that the site may have been his residence.

Aulon (Vlora)
The remains of a rectangular castle have been brought to light just behind the Independence Monument square in Vlora, which belong to the ancient city of Aulon. The castle itself seems to have been built in the 4th century A.D. to withstand gothic invasions, while other finds bring the earliest date of occupation in the area to the 5th-4th centuries B.C. The best known find from this period is a sculpture known as the Vlora girl, depicting a girl wearing an Illyrian dress. Historical sources mention Aulon only in the 2nd century A.D, which seems to be related to provisions that were taken by the Roman empire to strengthen road communications in this part of the western Balkans. In various itineraries Aulon is mentioned as a principal stopping place on the main road from Dyrrachium to the direction of Butrint in the south.
After the gothic invasions, in the 5th century A.D., an archbishopric was built inside the castle, while during the reign of Justinian the castle was fortified by his direct orders. During the late 6th century A.D. the city was heavily damaged by Slavic invasions and many citizens left to the island of Sazan across the bay of Vlora, where traces of a settlement of that period have been found. The name Aulon reappears in 1082 and 1205 in Byzantine documents but its importance is diminished and other centers nearby overshadow the city.

Excavations near the cape of Treport have revealed traces of an ancient settlement dating from the 7th century B.C. Over the centuries the settlement extended and a new wall was built around it in the 4th century B.C. Between the 4th and 2nd centuries B.C. is the period when the city prospered economically while there are still speculations with regard to its name, with indications pointing towards the name of Daulia. On the other hand it is still unknown why the city was abandoned after the 2nd century B.C., but this may have been connected to the Illyrian-Roman wars and the relative peace that followed.

Onchesmos (Saranda)
The name of the ancient town derives from Anchises, the Trojan, whose union with the goddess Aphrodite resulted in a son named Aeneas. Aeneas together with his father and his son Ascanius escaped the sack of Troy, and journeyed throughout the Mediterranean. Dionysos of Halicarnassus calls Onchesmos the harbour of Anchises, while the Byzantile historian Procopius mentions that Anchises died at Onchesmos. In the late Republic and early Empire the city is mentioned again in connection to seafaring and the harbor. It is sometime in the 6th century A.D. that the town changes name to Hagia Saranda or Forty Saints, but it is unclear under what circumstances this happened. This may be related to the construction of a great basilica on a hill overlooking the modern city of Saranda. Various monuments and archaeological finds from the city have came to light during many years of research, such as the synagogue/basilica, a portion of a Roman Imperial archway, a late antique house, an apsidal building, an Odeon, a cemetery, and a building with an elaborate mosaic, the so-called Dolphin pavement.
Fortified settlement of Gradishta e Belshit 
The settlement of Gradishta e Belshit is located near the Belsh village on the west side of Devolli river. The first excavations started in 1969. The main phases of identification at this settlement are dated from the Late Bronze Age period until the Late Antique period, including the refortification of the settlement. Inside the necropolis of the city materials date from the 4th-1st centuries B.C. and 4th-6th centuries A.D.  
The roman road station of Ad Quintium 
The roman road station of Ad Quintium is located on the Egnatia road near modern day Elbasan. The remains of this road station have been uncovered in Bradashesh village in the vicinity of Elbasan city, which is situated on the 7th km of the national road Elbasan-Peqin, near the place known as Kalaja. Based at the construction technique this site dates at the 2-4 centuries A.D.
The Persqop fortress
The Persqop fortress is situated near the Petrela Castle, on the Vila mountain.The first phase of construction dates in the Illyrian period while on the Roman period the fortification was extended further.Perhaps this fortification was used at some point by the Petrela castle's inhabitants.Remnants of an aqueduct are situated to the northeast of the fortification.
early christian bazilica of sh??n m??hill in arapaj_mozaiku_big
The fortification of Rosuja
The fortification of Rosuja is situated 6km to the southwest of Bajram Curri, near the Binjaj village.The settlement offers good natural protection on a subsidiary of the Valbona river.From the excavations has been revealed that this site has been inhabited from the Early Iron Age until the 5th century A.D.
Inside the fortified area buildings of the Roman and Late Roman period have been found.
The cave settlement of Rrëza e Kanalit
The cave with a view over the bay of Vlora was first discovered in 1939.Eneolithic stone tools, pottery and animal bones indicate the use of the cave in early times,but also in later Medieval periods.
The tumuli burials of Shtoj
The plain of Shtoj is situated about 5 km to the northeast of the city of Shkodra,between the villages of Boks, Drago and the Bridge of Mesi, on the western side of the Kir river. The excavated tumuli date from the Early Bronze Age until the Late Iron Age.
The most representative period of funerary activities dates in the Iron Age, especially between the 7th-5th centuries B.C.

The cave settlements of Himara
Near Spile, on the side of the hill facing the sea, to the left of the national road Himara-Saranda, are situated three cave settlements. The deposits inside the caves date from the Eneolithic, to the Bronze Age and the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

The fortified settlement of Karos near Qeparo
The fortified settlement of Karos is situated 490m above sea level, on a hill along the Qeparo river. The hill side of the Qeparo village is about 1 km long and continues toward the western slope. All sides are rough, except the eastern side where the main settlement has been concentrated.
The main defense line follows the natural contours and has an entrance (1.8 m wide) placed in the middle, facing the east side. This wall is 340 m long and 3 m wide. The best preserved height is 1.5m.Behind the entrance are two more defense lines with the aim of reinforcing it.The material collected from the archaeological excavations give a wide dating range starting from the Early Iron Age to the 4th century A.D.  

The Kratul fortification
The Kratul fortification is situated on the homonymous hill, 143 m above the sea level, 6 km to the northeast of Shkodra and 600 m distant from the Bridge of Mesi. The fortification wall encloses an elliptical shape area, which covers about 0.5 ha. The wall was built using large blocks on both curtains, while the core is filled with smaller stones.The blocks are unworked and no mortar has been used. The width of the wall gets at 3.35m while the height is 2.55m.
Three gates which served for communication have been identified. Two of them are across each other respectively on the north and south side, while the third one is on the east side. From a typological point of view the Kratul fortification is similar to that of Gajtan,
although there are substantial changes in plan such as towers and the regular elliptic shape, which make it an interesting site. So far, there have been no trace of houses found inside the settlement. The archaeological material indicates that life at the settlement is active from the Early Iron Age until the 1st century A.D.

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