I am field archaeologist, researcher, heritage manager and blogger from the Republic of Macedonia. I am engaged professionally in archaeology and cultural heritage. I write and publish scientific and popular articles on this issue, participate in public debates and symposiums, I train colleges about new media in archaeology, I review books and give professional advice. Since 2012 I am co-founder/owner of in HAEMUS - center for scientific research and promotion of culture (http://haemus.org.mk), and co-founder/owner of HAEMUS Journal (http://haemus.mk), an academic e-journal devoted to archaeology and history of Balkan Peninsula. I finished M. Sci. studies at the Department of Archaeology in Belgrade in 2011. My field of interest in archaeology is prehistory, mainly stone tools. I support the application and use of non-destructive methods in archaeology applying digital field documentation. I am a member of the EAA and AARG. I also support the use of CC licenses and am an advocate of free and open access to knowledge on the Internet.

From Monumental War to the Monuments of War – Archaeology of the Great War in the Republic of Macedonia

Couple of weeks ago I went on a field trip to Mariovo region (Novaci municipality) for searching the remains of the First World War in the Republic of Macedonia. Field activities were based on surface prospecting of the Macedonian front remains during the Great War. The visit included the 1050 elevation, the upstream of the Black River (Crna River today or ancient Erigon), the villages Skochivir and Slivnica where the hospitals were settled during the WW1 and the field near the village of Bach which was used by the Air Forces. Immense photo and video documentation for some future research was made.

Oh, no, I am not a historian, nor will ever be engaged in modern history, since I am a prehistoric archaeologist and I love working with stone tools. But I am a director of HAEMUS, which is a very big center for scientific research and promotion of the culture based in Skopje and I manage many projects on different heritage topics, including this one about the WW1.

HAEMUS_field_trip_First_World_War_Macedonia

Regarding the Great War, I could surely say that Republic of Macedonia is definitely an open-air museum. “Eastern Front”, known under many names in historical records but mostly as “Macedonian front”, has great importance for the history of Macedonia and the Balkans. I’ve had to pass through hard battles in the last three years in order to promote the archaeology from the First World War in the Republic of Macedonia. As an organization we’ve ran few projects, public debates and we organized very big conference on topic ”First World War in the collective memory – Exchange of experiences in the Balkans”. Still it wasn’t enough. I was devastated to show to everybody that on the modern territory of the Republic of Macedonia took place some of the biggest battles that killed thousands of soldiers of many nationalities and religions, which today are buried on more conceptual organized necropolises/cemeteries. The architectonic remains in places where battles took place, includes parts of the destroyed complexes of bunkers, positions, machine gun nests and trenches that can be seen today. They comprise the physical remains of significant points in European and world history in order to explain the reasons that led to the creation of ‘Modern Europe’. On the entire front line length of about 450 km there are thousands and thousands of artifacts and monuments everywhere, waiting to be explored, excavated, identified, cleaned, preserved and displayed in the museum, to tell the piece of the unknown European history.

WW1_Macedonia_conference_2015_promo WW1_Macedonia_conference_2015_poster

Archaeology of the First World War in the Republic of Macedonia so far has been completely unknown for both, the public and experts. But we won’t give up so easily from this topic. We are trying to contribute to the creation of some domestic archives of materials, as well as the exchanging of international experiences. Building human capacities who would participate in the dialogue for peace and reconciliation in the Balkan countries through scientific research and understanding of the past of this period, is also one of the aims of our work. We would like to express our gratitude to the of Embassy of France in Skopje, the French Institute in Skopje, cooperation Normandie/Macédoine, many municipalities, the citizen associations and all those scientists who actively helped us with own research or as logistics. And we are very happy bringing on daylight a topic less known but very challenging for many colleagues.

Vasilka Dimitrovska
Director of HAEMUS
Center for scientific research
and promotion of culture

For more info check: ww1conference2015.com

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This article was written as part of the action for ‘Day of Archaeologists’ (August 04, 2016). The goal is to raise public awareness of cultural heritage and the responsibility that archaeologists have about it.

A Day with Field Archaeologists in the Republic of Macedonia

6:00 am
I wake up. My colleague who came from the Archaeological Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia is my guest these days. We drink our first cup of coffee and exchange opinions about today’s trip. We have a really busy agenda and we begin slowly to sort out and prepare all the equipment we need for the field.

Prospecting St. Atanas site, Macedonia

07:00 am
We are on the highway from Skopje to Eastern Macedonia. The road to the small town of Kochani takes no more than 1 hour and 15 minutes. Our colleague, archaeologist Ilinka Atanasova is already waiting for us. Together we leave Kochani towards the archaeological site of St. Atanas located a few miles from this city. The prehistoric site of Eneolithic period with outstanding findings of female figurines has been attracting the attention of the scientific community for several years, since it was prospected and excavated in 2008. But we are more focused on the chipped stone material that is my subspecialty in archaeology. While our colleague is explaining the artefacts of the site, we are observing profiles of the trenches where in the soil there are still embedded flint tools.

Eneolthic figurines from the Republic of Macedonia, St. Atanas site

10:30 am

The stone collection from mine Opalite

Our visit to the mine “Opalit” is scheduled before. This mine for non-metals (opal, agate, chalcedony, opalized tuffa) is located 1 km from the site of St. Atanas. Several years ago this mine was my topic of interest as a possible location where prehistoric communities of the region and beyond obtained raw material for their stone tools. The same goes for my colleague from Bulgaria, who tests the assumption that some raw materials for stone tools found at prehistoric sites along the Struma in Bulgaria came from this deposit. We walk around and observe the surface deposits in search of possible quarries made by prehistoric communities. We take photos and document the information for my doctoral dissertation.

13:30 pm
We arrive at the Institute of History and Archaeology at the University of Stip, my home institution. A meeting with prof. d-r. Blazo Boev, my mentor for the thesis, is very useful. The long talk covers all my notes from today and personal opinions on the subject of local resources for stone in prehistoric Macedonia. Any information fills in and shapes my thesis towards this topic.

14:45 pm
Driving to the city of Vinica, our final destination for today. In a local “Terracotta Museum” there is a small collection of ground and abrasive stone tools from the archaeological site ‘Vinica Fortress’. I feel a moral and professional responsibility to help with this topic, since I’m the only archaeologist in Macedonia working with stone artefacts from prehistory. While I am getting all information about the field notes and stratigraphy, I am thinking about possibility to come again with my mentor. We could work together and process this collection for scientific publication. In the meantime we managed to visit the site ‘Vinica Fortress’, the fortification from the time of Justinian I, which is a trademark of the town of Vinica.

Ground and abrasive stone tools vrom Vinica Fortress (Eneolithic)

17:00
We get back to Skopje. We are home and I began to check and answer emails, facebook and twitter messages. My archaeological day has not yet been completed. I need to sort all impressions, notes and photos from the past day in the folders to be usable in the future for me or for someone else.

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This article was written as part of the action for ‘Day of Archaeologists’ (June 29, 2012). The goal is to raise public awareness of cultural heritage and the responsibility that archaeologists have about it.