A day with Macedonian archaeology – Demir Kapija

The development of the settlements and fortresses on the entrance of the Demir Kapija gorge

The geography of the Balkan Peninsula is comprised of many river valleys, ravines, uplands and passages with a great number of land routes passing through the region. One of the most important land routes traced form prehistoric times was the Transbalkanic route that leads through the valleys of the rivers Vardar and Morava. The valleys of these two rivers are spreading though the Dinaric region and they represent the shortest longitudinal land route that connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Pannonian lowland. A great number of peoples with their conquests have passed through this route in the past. The importance of this section of the road can be confirmed even today with the recent migrations form the Middle East to Europe, it was chosen as the most favorable and shortest possible route by the migrants traveling to their final destination in Central Europe.

In Tabula Peutingeriana a map compiled in the 4th century AD, we can see the exact track of this section of the road. On the map, this section is marked as Via a Hammeo Usquae Ad Thessalonicam. In large part the section moves along the valley of the river Vardar. On the map the road station Stenas is located 33 Roman miles south-east from Stobi and 65 Roman miles north-west from Thessaloniki. This station was strategically placed on the entrance of the Demir Kapija gorge. The name Stenas is of Greek origin and its meaning is a strait/gorge. Although the name has changed throughout history and in the 11th century the fortress in the gorge had a Slavic name – Prosek (meaning slit or crack), and latter a Turkish name – Demir Kapu (literally Iron Gate), the same as today, all these names have a tendency to describe the area and the gorge.

This gorge is the last and longest gorge of the river Vardar to its estuary into the Aegean Sea and thus the last and most difficult obstacle on this road. The Demir Kapija gorge is in fact formed in the north by the massif Juručki Kamen, as an extension of the mountain Konečka, and the massif Krastevec from the south, as an extension of the Mariovo-Meglen Mountains (Kožuv). In the area where the massifs Jurički Kamen and Krastavec are closest to each other, a natural gap was formed in the limestone structure where the river Vardar had made its course. The limestone structure here ascends from the river up to 200 meters in height and leaves no possibility for any road communication. The gorge is a natural border between the region of the Middle Povardarie in the north and Lower Povardarie in the south.

Demir Kapija gorge from west

This position allowed the locals to have control of this road section which, in order to pass through the gorge had to climb the steep hills of Mal and Golem Krastavec or to around them. This contributed to the rise of powerful and rich settlements that could afford the luxury of the more civilized and developed south in the beginning of the 6th and 5th century BC. The entrance of the gorge was densely populated from both sides of the river, and according to some opinions with Athenian colonists. This position and the geographical configuration of the gorge itself was limiting the movement from south to north and vice versa and very early had become a border between the Macedonian Kingdom from the South and Paeonia from the North.

In the 4th century BC, for better control of the land routes through the gorge, two powerful fortresses in the opus quadratum technique were built, one of each side of the river. The archaeological findings in these fortresses indicate that they were part of the Macedonian kingdom and they existed in the period from the second half of the 4th century BC until the plundering raids of the Celts that passed through the Vardar valley in 279 BC. The Macedonian kingdom was weakened from the Wars of the Diadochi who fought for years over the rule of Alexander’s empire and could not oppose these, as Aristotle says, best warriors among the peoples.

The theory that the life in the fortress Markova kula – Korešnica has ended with these intrusions is confirmed with the layer of intense burning on the entrance corridor of the fort dated with coins form the time of Demetrius I Poliorcetes. We have the same situation in all pre-Roman settlements on the entrance of the gorge. The settlements at the sites Varnici and Manastir, as well as the necropolis in the area Bolnica-Demir Kapija, which is on the right side of the river, also at the fortresses Ramnište and Krasavec. On the left side beside the fortress Markova Kula we have the settlements in the area of ​​Crkvište, Kamen and the refugium at Markov Grad. The life in all of these settlements has ended in the first half of the 3rd century BC. In fact, there is a similar situation in a number of other sites along the Vardar River, such as the sites of Isar Marvinci in Valandovo, Gloska Čuka and Vardarski Rid near Gevgelija, Nerezi, Brazda, Varvara and Studenicani near Skopje.

After these raids, the settlements and fortresses in Demir Kapia were completely destroyed, and in the next several centuries, almost no traces of life have been confirmed at the entrance of the gorge, but also in the wider region of the Vardar valley. None of the above-mentioned settlements were restored until the Roman conquests and the reestablishment of a stable government. This situation was probably due to the terrible raids of the Celts, but also the long and exhausting three Macedonian-Roman wars, which led to almost complete depopulation of area.

Traces of life in the gorge appear again in the second half of the 2nd century AD. This period of prosperity, stability and road safety allowed a new settlement to rise at the entrance of the gorge, but this time only on the right side where the river Bošava flows into the river Vardar. The archaeological excavations indicate that a settlement built according to the urban schemes of Roman construction existed here from the second half of the 2nd century until the 4th century AD.

This settlement probably developed from the Station Stenas, marked on the Tabula Peutingeriana. This unnamed settlement was flourishing until the second half of the 3rd century when again it experienced the fate of the terrible devastation, this time from the great Gothic raids. During the great crisis in the Empire, the population withdrew to safer locations on the hills on the edge of the gorge, and some of them occupied the fortresses and refugiums that existed here in the past. After the crisis, this unnamed settlement / station Stenas continued to live for a short period with reduced intensity, before completely dying out in the first half of the 4th century, at the expense of the surrounding settlements.

After the previous events, during the 4th century AD and with the strengthening of Thessaloniki as an administrative and capital city of the Diocese of Macedonia, later elevated to the rank of the capital of the prefecture Illiricum, serious efforts were undertaken for the restoration and strengthening of the fortresses and settlements on the entrance of the gorge, and also some new fortresses were built. Taught from the great crises in the recent past, in this period, new fortresses were built hastily, transversely through the gorge, where an “inner limes” was formed that included a system of seven fortresses and one cloister, which completely blocked the passage through the gorge, that is, the transition from the Middle to the Lower Povardarie.

In this construction project, two fortresses and a refugium were built on the left side and four(?) fortresses on the right side of the river Vardar. From the left side, starting from north to south, are the fortresses: Markova Kula and Kula, as well as the refugium Markov Grad all in the vicinity of the village Korešnica. The line of fortifications transversely through the gorge continues on the sites on the right side of the river Vardar. Four fortresses and one barrier wall were recorded here. Starting from north to south, they are: the fortresses of Kula Podstralec, Ramnište and Gorni Krastevec near Demir Kapija and Kaluđerska Čuka, near the village Dren.

Markova Kula

The restored and the newly built fortresses and the refugium on the left side of the river Vardar in the 4th century, as the last defensive line of the passage from Middle to Lower Povardarie, set the foundations for the defensive system of the gorge. These, with certain reparations, modifications and additions, will comprise the defense system throughout the entire 5th and partly in the 6th century.

With the Avaro-Slavic incursions the refugium Markov Grad, although high on the mountain was the first on the line, and was not safe enough. That is why during the time of Justinian I a new refugium was built on the site Kale-Strezov Grad in the village Čelevec, secluded and well hidden in the gorge and separated from Juručki Kamen by the deep canyon of the river Čelevečka. This refugium was well protected from the incursions from the north and was more successful in the defense. In a short while the refugium grew into a fortress with a suburb and a separated acropolis. At the entrance of the fortress an early Christian church was built with an adjacent necropolis. During this period the fortresses on the sites Markova Kula and Kula-Korešnica served as a defensive line of the main fortress on the site Strezov Grad- village Čelevec.

Sterzov Grad

While the center of gravity in 6th century falls on the fortresses on the left side of the river Vardar, the fortresses on the right side offer no evidence of activity after the 4th century. The movable archaeological material from all these archaeological sites that was collected and processed so far, gives us no indication that the fortresses were used throughout the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages only the area of the site Crkvište-Demir Kapija was active, where an early Christian basilica was built in the late 4th-5th century and where there are still some traces of life until the 15th century.

From the end of the 6th until the 12th century there were no traces of activity in these fortresses and the refugium. Only in the fortress of Kale – Strezov Grad, after the last findings from the 6th century, traces of life in the 10th century were documented, with two coins of the Byzantine emperor Romanos Lekapenos. Unlike the fortresses, on the plain east of the gorge, on the left side of the river Vardar, small settlements appear on the river  terraces, with necropolises which date to the 11th and 12th century. In the middle of the 12th century these necropolises were no longer used for burial, and at the same time the activity of the fortresses on the left side of Vardar increased. This situation was also documented in the written sources from the end of the 12th-13th century and it was due to the great political, financial and military crisis that this area fell into in the 12th century, when it was under the Byzantium rule.

This was also confirmed with the archaeological material, primarily from the fortress of Kale-Strezov Grad, but also from Markova Kula, Kula and Markov Grad. The recorded archaeological material speaks of their intense activity toward the end of 12th and 13th century.

According to the data we have for the existence of the fortresses and settlements in the gorge, the activity in the fortresses was significantly increased during the turbulent periods. Such is the case at the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century BC, the second half of the 3rd and the first half of the 4th century AD, which also continued in the 5th and especially in the 6th century AD. Lastly, the fortresses were again in function in the late 12th and 13th century, and few of them remained active until the 15th century. The placement of the fortresses and their orientation towards the Middle Povardarie opposite, the area in the gorge, indicates that they were intended for protection against the danger that comes from the west, i.e. the north. Such increased activity in these periods points to the significance of the gorge and the fortresses built at the entrance for control and safety of the roads and the passage to Lower Povardarie.

Ordance Petrov, MA, assistant-researcher

Institute for Old Slavic culture

ordance.petrov@isk.edu.mk

 

A day with Macedonian Archaeology – Arheološki Informator

 

“Arheološki Informator”

archaeological report journal

“Arheološki informator” is a report journal for the field of archeology and the other disciplines that explore and preserve the cultural heritage. Behind this project is the Association Menelaj from Prilep that primarily deals with research, promotion, presentation and protection of the cultural heritage in the Republic of Macedonia. The journal is published biannually, online on its website (informator.com.mk) and its printing is envisaged once a year as a joint edition.

We are currently expecting the first issue of the journal, which should happen soon, and also the call for papers for “Arheološki informator 2” is underway. The association Menelaj – Prilep was established in 2015 and it is accomplishing its goals through the implementation and participation in various projects such as: “Maintenance, promotion and presentation of Arheo-Park Brazda”, “Ours – a campaign for the actualization of the cultural heritage, increasing interest and raising the collective awareness for its significance, as basic preventive measures for its protection “,” Kale Lokveni – archaeological excavations “, etc.

In the recent years, the scientific areas that deal with the cultural heritage of the Republic of Macedonia have witnessed numerous and significant research, but unfortunately, we must admit that in many cases the results have not been presented in the form of professional academic papers. The shutdown of certain professional and scientific journals resulted in the localization of the results of a large number of conducted research. The professional workers have faced a lack of “fresh” reference data of interest for the issues they were working on.

The flow of information between them, to a large extent, was reduced to personal contacts and communications. The solution to this problem was apparent, we needed a professional journal that would bridge the isolation of the results and the new currents in the areas that deal with the Macedonian cultural heritage as well as the authors themselves. On the other hand, the more frequent presence in the media, primarily of the news related to archeology, “provoked” an increased interest of the wider public about the Macedonian cultural heritage.

Here, the pseudo-science saw a chance to fill this empty space created by the inaccessibility to the true scientific and professional works with various “fantastic” theories. “Arheološki informator” as a project and an idea is a product of this unfortunate situation, with the primary goal of linking the results and the scientists and professionals from the country, and with a secondary goal, to make the research of the cultural heritage available for the domestic and the international public.

To maintain the level of relevance of a journal is not a simple task and for that reason a highly professional editorial board was created. The Editor-in-Chief is Elica Maneva, Ph.D. – a full-time professor at the Art History and Archeology Department at the “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” University of Skopje, the other members are: Bosko Angelovski, Ph.D. – senior research associate at the Institute of Old Slavic Culture – Prilep; Zoran Rujak, MA  – senior curator at the NI Institute and Museum Strumica; Ordance Petrov, MA – assistant-researcher at the Institute for Old Slavic Culture Prilep; Murgoski Aleksandar – president of the association Menelaj – Prilep. During the creation of the journal, a number of experts were consulted and the editorial board would like to thank them for the unreserved support and the constructive advices and remarks.

During the preparations, we wanted to emphasize the spirit of the time in which we live in as a particularly important factor for the quality and the further success of the journal. The Internet, and with it, the easier and faster access to information enabled a more detailed look into the issues that affect large geographical regions. Thus, the need for information about the research results and the new trends in the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Republic of Macedonia was also felt outside the country borders. For this reason, the magazine is published primarily online and bilingual, that is, on Macedonian and English.

The quantity of existing, but unpublished professional materials entailed in this stage, the electronic form of the journal to be published twice a year. For the online version of “Arheološki informator”, a web site (www.informator.com.mk) was created through the Open Journal System developed by the Public Knowledge Project. Thus, on the one hand the authors would be easily informed about the form of the requested papers, as well as the way that they should be submitted, and on the other hand the readers would get a free preview and download of the current and previous issues of the journal. However, a printed version of the journal as a joint edition is also envisaged, which will be issued once a year, after the publishing of the first two numbers.

The informative character of the journal entailed that it covers a wide range of topics related to the cultural heritage of Macedonia, such as: reports from archeological field and laboratory research; presentations of significant individual and group findings; reports from conservation and restoration research; reports from surveys; book reviews; presentations of master and doctoral theses; presentations of conferences, symposiums and other scientific gatherings, as well as bibliographies of colleagues or on a specific issues. The deadlines for submitting the papers are fixed on May 31 and November 30 in the current year.

The association Menelaj – Prilep, with the project “Arheološki informator” was supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Macedonia. While this represents a kind of affirmation of this idea, the need for such a journal is also confirmed by the 26 authors who responded to the call for papers for the first issue of the journal and submitted their papers. The first issue of the journal is at its final stage and its publication is expected soon. At the same time, the call for papers for the second issue of the journal is active, and its publication is planned at the end of the year.

The editorial board of the journal “Arheološki informator” believes that the idea and the diligence of the journal will contribute to the development of the scientific thought, oriented towards the past of the Republic of Macedonia and reflected in the country’s cultural heritage. For this reason, we encourage the authors for mutual cooperation through, at the moment, the only professional journal of this kind in Macedonia, which enables them to receive international affirmation and to engage in the discussions oriented towards the larger geographical regions that cover the territory of R. Macedonia as well.

 

Aleksandar Murgoski

Menelaj – Prilep

contact@menelaj.mk

 

 

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology—Styberra, Center of Devriop

Styberra—Center of Devriop

The ancient city of Styberra is located 16 km south-west of Prilep, in the immediate vicinity of the village Chepigovo. The town is spread on the hillside Bedem, the surrounding plateau towards the river Blato, the area between it and Crna Reka, as well as on the hill Bakarno Gumno.  Styberra was an important urban center that existed for a long period of time from the end of the 4th century BC to 4th century AD. It is assumed that one of the main reasons for the city’s collapse was the raid of the Goths in 267/8 or 268/9, during the reign of Emperor Gallienus.

In the ancient written sources about the Roman – Macedonian wars, it is recorded that during the expedition of the consul Sulpicius against the Macedonian king Philip V (200 BC), the Roman  armada withdrawing from Link, arrived in Styberra, where they renewed their supplies with grain. According to the same records, we also learn that the last king of ancient Macedonia, Perseus in the year 169 BC organized his military command post in the city of Styberra, from where he started conquering the territories of neighboring Penesti, who fought with him during the battles against the Romans.

After the conquest of the city of Uscana (Kicevo), the king returned to Styberra where he sold the captured Penesti and Illyrians as slaves. Later records point to the ubication of the city in the region of Devriop on the river Erigon (Crna Reka) and that it was on the ancient road communication Stobi – Heraclea.

Between the two world wars small excavations were undertaken by Nikola Vulić, while the first more serious archaeological excavations at the site Bedem – Styberra were realized by the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia in 1953. In 1959, there were excavations by the National Museum of Prilep. After a long pause, starting from 1983 until this day the National Museum of Prilep is excavating this site.

In the past archaeological campaigns, parts of the city wall from the time of the rule of the Macedonian kings were discovered, while all other discovered buildings were from the Roman Imperial Period, i.e. from the time of the great prosperity and flourishing of the empire (the Antonine and the Severan dynasties – II century and the first half of the III century).

The city walls from the Macedonian period were found in the northern part of the hillside Bedem and were 3 m. wide and 30 m long, while in its western part the wall extends parallel to the later roman gymnasium and is recorded in the length of 63 m.

The Gymnasium complex was a public building in which the young men – ephebe were educated and millitary-trained. It was erected on the lowest terrace in the western foothill of the hill Bedem, which mildly descends to the Blato River. A large courtyard was discovered – perisitil with atrium and vestibule-proatrium where public lectures were held, an exedra, a heroon- sanctuary, a small square with a drainage channel and a small part of the athletic path.

A number of movable artefacts were also discovered, objects for everyday use, as well as  marble altars, a herma and inscriptions with writing about the functioning of the Gymnasium. Comparing the number of the mentioned ephebes on the epigraphic monuments, we can calculate the number of inhabitants in the city, that is, we can see that the city of Styberra was a large city for that time with about twenty thousand inhabitants. Certainly, according to the importance, a large number of marble findings discovered in the Gymnasium stand out – statues of meritorious citizens, statue of the emperor and sculptures of deities (Asclepius, Nike, Mercury).

The temple of the goddess Tyche, the protector of the city, is located on one of the terraces on the hill Bedem which descends from east to west. From the west end, one can enter a room with dimensions of 10 x 10 m. The walls were made of crushed stone and bricks, connected with lime plaster. In the eastern wall of the room there is a central semicircular niche, and on the side walls there are three niches. In the interior, a well was discovered, most probably used for cultic purposes. From the inscription in the central niche we found out that the temple was restored in 126 BC, while from the inscriptions in the other niches we can read the names of the people whose busts were in them. The busts of the father Orestos and the son Philoxenus were discovered, they were members of the family who founded/sponsored the temple, as well as a small statue of a young Dionysus.

This year, during the excavations an adjacent building to the temple was discovered in which we assume that some ritual processions that preceded the main ritual activities in the temple were taking place. A few facts point to this assumption. In particular, the walls of the building are three times narrower than those of the temple, which of course ranks the two buildings in their importance. The width is 13 m, which means there was a sufficient space where a large number of people who participated in the ritual can be gathered, unlike the smaller space in the temple, where only a handful of citizens and the presets could enter.

In the central part there is a platform with marble floors and fencing blocks – parapets and a well in the middle, with the same depth as the one in the temple-up to 3 m. Only one part of the well was explored, so future excavations will confirm our assumption for its purpose, which was probably cultic. Another room, a workshop for terracotta figurines of deities and ceramic oil lamps, excavated in the last two years was also a part of this adjacent building of the temple. Also a large number of pits and four furnaces, used in the production process were discovered.

Latter in the 3rd century AD, a shrine of a God with a bird face was built above the workshop. It was modest in size, with only two rooms, with poorly constructed walls of crushed rock mixed with mud. This sanctuary was in use at a time when the city of Styberra started to lose its glow as an urban Roman regional center. But its great scientific significance is that it was intended for worshiping a deity with bird attributes, whose relief was discovered on a marble plaque, part of a small “house”.

Beside the “small house” with the relief, two more small “houses” from marble plaques were found, all radially positioned towards the platform in the western wall of the building. According to the symbol of a great eye shown in profile, the deity is similar to the Egyptian god Horus. But our God has bird claws on it arms and legs, whereas Horus has human limbs. We can chronologically place this sanctuary at a time when the cults from the East are spreading to this part of the Empire, including the ones from Egypt, such as the cults of Isis and Serapis.

If this is not a representation of Horus, then it would be an indigenous local deity with bird attributes. Previous research in our country, but also in the wider Balkan region have not confirmed a similar deity, so in this case this finding from Styberra would be a unique and rare scientific discovery.

At about 60 m. north from the temple of the goddess Tyche another very important building was discovered. A monumental structure which according to its size and the discovered findings in it, was probably a building of a public character. The front room with a width of 17 m. had walls decorated with an imitation of a monumental opus isodonum performed in a stucco technique. This decoration was divided by a horizontal line, where the upper part was comprised of several light-colored fields, while the lower part was painted in red. Also a low platform and several altars were erected beside the eastern wall.

A statue of an important citizen and a several marble fragments from the building were discovered inside. The upper room, which was only partially excavated, had walls and floors paved with decorative marble plaques with floral ornaments. Beside all of the abovementioned findings, the most valuable discovery was the epigraphic monument with an inscription that mentions the city council of Styberra. A finding like this suggests that the building was the assembly (Bouleuterion) of the city, which would make it the first of its kind in our country.

Unfortunately, the building had to be buried again, because the plot where it is located, as well as all the other plots in the area are privately owned. We are currently in the process of finding a positive solution for the legal status of this property so we can continue our research in the future.

With the archaeological excavations of the ancient city of Styberra so far, a very small percentage of the city is covered.  However, the discovered buildings and findings point to the high status that the city held, especially in the Roman Imperial Period. Also a very significant data about the history and the development of the city has come to light through the inscriptions and the altars discovered. With its 20,000 inhabitants, a number obtained by comparing the records of the number of ephebes in a particular year, Styberra was, of course, a significant urban center in the Devriop area. The rich findings and the high cultural and spiritual level of development are presented through a very beautiful portraits and cult marble statues, due to which the city rightly deserves the epithet “Macedonian Pompeii”.

Duško Temelkovski

 

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology – Transition

          The transition from the Middle to Late Neolithic in Eastern Macedonia

Towards the middle of the VI millennium BC, major ethno-cultural changes occurred on the Balkan Peninsula. According to certain researchers, these changes were the result of internal migrations of people caused by the climate change. According to others, this was the so-called successive migration through which new cultural elements were brought from Anatolia, not excluding the possibility of a movement of small or large groups of people.

The second theory is widely accepted in science and some of the scientists even see the entire Balkan Peninsula and Anatolia as one huge cultural complex with sub-groups. The territory of Eastern Macedonia was not excluded from such occurrences and movements, so towards the end of the Middle Neolithic some novelties in the material culture are noticed. The ceramic material from the Middle Neolithic period is characterized by its red coloring, it is fired under oxidizing conditions and the main feature is the decoration with dark-colored curved, spiral and meander motifs, the rough pottery is decorated with barbotine and impressed ornaments.

In the last phase of the Middle Neolithic or Anzabegovo-Vršnik IV phase, despite the red pottery, the number of dark, mainly gray and black pottery increased, which will latter give the main mark of the Late Neolithic pottery. The ornamentation in this IV stage also shows the blending of the old and the new traditions.

In the late Neolithic, most of the settlements were erected on top of the Middle Neolithic ones, so we can notice continuity of living on certain positions. The ceramic material of the Late Neolithic period has quite different characteristics in contrast to the Middle Neolithic. In this period the pottery is mainly dark-colored, black or dark brown, obtained by reducing conditions in the firing process.

Between the shapes, we can notice more rounded or biconical vessels decorated with shallow channels or with incisions and punched strips, also typical for this period is the Blacktopped pottery. In the Late Neolithic period a new technology for making pottery occurs, that is, firing under reducing conditions, and with that novelty, the previous traditions disappear completely. This transitional period from the Middle to the Late Neolithic on the wider Balkan region is mainly viewed through the prism of ceramic material and the technological changes that we can notice on it.

According to some research, the change in the technology of pottery production is a result of the change in the social relations, as well as the contacts between different communities, where an integration of pottery makers might have occurred. Towards the end of the Anzabegovo-Vršnik IV phase, the population has decreased, traditional values were declining and the stylistic and technological knowledge of the pottery makers had fallen under the strong influence of the neighboring communities.

This was primarily due to the increase of the temperature and the depletion of the natural resources, which have been exploited over several centuries. Under such conditions, people had to leave their settlements and search for better locations where the conditions for agriculture and breeding livestock were better. Because this territory was densely populated in the Middle Neolithic period, we can easily exclude the migrations of foreigners from far away.

It is about local migrations from several smaller Middle Neolithic settlements into a larger one, just like the case of the Anzabegovo settlement, but also formation of new settlements from the people who left their homes due to the depletion of the natural resorts around their old settlements.

A good example is the settlement of Barutnitsa in the village Anzabegovo, where we may find the answer related to this issue. In this settlement there was a sharp increase in the population in the Late Neolithic period, the calculations showed that there were about 710 houses in the settlement and between 4000 and 7000 inhabitants. This leads us to conclude that this archaeological site was a small town and an economic center in this region in the Late Neolithic Period.

The favorable climate in the Middle Neolithic period provided a good life for the population settled on this territory. With the rise of the temperatures, many droughts occurred and the people could not produce and live as before, this has forced them to migrate and search for a better location, and thus the cultural group Anzabegovo-Vršnik has ended. All this led to the decline of the traditional and technological values of the local potters.

Towards the end of the Middle Neolithic Period, under the influence of the surrounding settlements and cultures, a new “fashion” of pottery production has taken hold over the entire Balkan Peninsula. Even though certain communities from our territory remained faithful to Middle-Neolithic traditions for some time, in the period between 5300 and 5200 BC all of the communities entered the era of the Late Neolithic.

Pero Sinadinovski

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology – Women in Antiquity: Voices of the Hushed

Irena Teodora Vesevska

Ss. Cyril and Methodius University
Faculty of Philosophy
, Skopje

The status of women in early Christianity is an inspiring topic for debating in the last few decades. The New Testament is full of texts that testify to the involvement of women in early Christian communities. In the Epistles of St. Paul, he salutes the women, addresses them as collaborators, addresses one of them as a deaconess, even one calls it the Apostle. Before trying in detail to understand exactly what these terms meant, we would make a brief overview of the role and position of women in antiquity, which, in addition to the later analysis of their place in the early Christian world, would best show whether and how much the new religion influenced their, to use here an exquisite modern word, emancipation.

Ancient Greece

In Athens, the foundations of the formalized approach to women are laid down as a creature subordinated to a man, a predisposed and projected humiliating attitude that we can follow until Homer.

Socrates, as Plato declares in the “Republic”, although it is against the division of obligations by sex, nevertheless emphasizes that in every work the woman is weaker than the husband. For his student Xenophon, the ideal woman is the one who sees as little as possible, speaks as little as she can and asks even less.

Aristotle devotes an important place in his works to the family, that is to the woman, who he sees in a subordinate position in relation to the man, that is, the male. The secondary role of the woman is obvious, which arises primarily from his understanding of a society in which a woman has no formal role. Since the life of a political state is the peak of social life and by nature is more superior than family, it is understood that men have the advantage of organizing political life and participating in it.

While Aristotle examines the place and role of a woman within the state and general social-political philosophy; his contemporary Demosthenes, a speaker and thinker, speaks of the same questions in the context of everyday life: “Mistresses we keep for the sake of pleasure, concubines for the daily care of our persons, but wives to bear us legitimate children and to be faithful guardians of our households.” (Demosthenes, Against Neaera, 59, 122)

Although women lived retreated, in the home circle and homework, especially in the classical world, it is evident that after the 3rd century BC, they begin to move in wider social circles. A number of women received primary education, which in this case involved: athletics, musical knowledge and reading. Although there are examples of women involved in philosophy, these examples were still rare and the participation of women in such schools did not mean that they did not have a humiliating and disdainful attitude towards women.

Ancient Rome

Women, or more correctly, girls, were usually married by the time they were twelve years old, sometimes even younger. Aristocratic families wanted male children to carry on the family name and lineage, and expected their wives to be perpetually pregnant. Infertility was actually grounds for divorce, and women would often offer a divorce so that their husbands would have the opportunity to have children with someone else.

Although the role of women in ancient Rome was primarily child-bearing, women also played an important role in raising the children. This differed greatly from the Athenian tradition which placed both the cultural and educational aspects of raising boys exclusively in the hands of men. In the Roman world, women were encouraged to teach their children Roman culture. When the boys grew up, the mother would spend both her money and time to advance their political careers. Even the girls would receive this sort of home education because they would be expected to teach their own children one day.

Could be seen in public, not having the right to vote, allowed in public spaces (baths, separated; amphitheatre, even to fight as gladiators, and in religious ceremonies), not allowed to act.

A dichotomy existed within the lives of Roman women. They did have some personal freedoms, but they had little chance for individuality or personal choice. They were under the constant supervision of their fathers, male relatives, and husbands, who regularly kissed them on the mouth to find out if they had drunk wine. Drinking wine was strictly forbidden for Roman women and they could be punished by death. (!!!)

Another controlling device used against Roman women was the practise of not allowing them to have personal names. Instead, a woman took her father’s middle name or nomen and feminized it. From a Roman woman’s name you could tell who her father was and therefore, her position in society.  Women existed within their families and had no identity of their own. Their fathers had absolute control over their lives and could even sell them into slavery or force them into a marriage and out of one, too. Some women were forced to get a divorce because their fathers had found more lucrative and prestigious families for them to marry into. If they had children at the time of the divorce, women were forced to leave them behind. When marriages dissolved, women had no legal rights concerning the offspring and often never saw them again. Marriages were often without manus, meaning that the father kept the property of his daughter and would therefore, retain a hold over her wealth. A marriage with manus gave power over the woman to her new husband, as well as ownership of her property. In either case, Roman women were not permitted to do anything they wanted with their own money, since personal wealth is always equated with power.

Women had to know their place, remain modest, be tireless, and both loyal and obedient to their families – emotionally, physically, and financially. That was what Roman men were looking for in a wife.

Women in Judaism

The role of women in Judaism is determined by the Hebrew Bible, the Oral Law (the corpus of rabbinic literature), by custom, and by non-religious cultural factors. Although the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic literature mention various female role models, religious law treats women differently in various circumstances.

Gender has a bearing on familial lines: in traditional Judaism, Jewishness is passed down through the mother, although the father’s name is used to describe sons and daughters in the Torah, e.g., “Dinah, daughter of Jacob”.

Marriage and family law in biblical times favoured men over women. For example, a husband could divorce a wife if he chose to, but a wife could not divorce a husband without his consent. The practice of levirate marriage applied to widows of childless deceased husbands, not to widowers of childless deceased wives; though if either he or she didn’t consent to the marriage, a different ceremony called chalitzah is done instead, which basically involves the widow removing her brother-in-law’s shoe, spitting on it, and proclaiming, “This is what happens to someone who will not build his brother’s house!”

Laws concerning the loss of female virginity have no male equivalent. These and other gender differences found in the Torah suggest that women were subordinate to men during biblical times, however, they also suggest that biblical society viewed continuity, property, and family unity as paramount. However, men had specific obligations they were required to perform for their wives. These included the provision of clothing, food, and sexual relations to their wives.

Women also had a role in ritual life. Women (as well as men) were required to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem once a year (men each of the three main festivals if they could) and offer the Passover sacrifice. They would also do so on special occasions in their lives such as giving a todah (“thanksgiving”) offering after childbirth. Hence, they participated in many of the major public religious roles that non-Levitical men could, albeit less often and on a somewhat smaller and generally more discreet scale.

Women depended on men economically. Women generally did not own property except in the rare case of inheriting land from a father who didn’t bear sons. Even “in such cases, women would be required to remarry within the tribe so as not to reduce its land holdings.”

Traditionally, Jewish “men and women pray separately. This goes back to ancient times when women could go only as far as the second court of the Temple.” The reason for this is so that the men do not gaze at the women (which in itself can be a sin) and get distracted from their prayers.

Women in Early Christianity

The New Testament Gospels, written toward the last quarter of the first century CE, acknowledge that women were among Jesus’ earliest followers. From the beginning, Jewish women disciples, including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna, had accompanied Jesus during his ministry and supported him out of their private means (Luke 8:1-3). He spoke to women both in public and private, and indeed he learned from them. According to one story, an unnamed Gentile woman taught Jesus that the ministry of God is not limited to particular groups and persons, but belongs to all who have faith (Mark 7:24-30; Matthew 15:21-28). A Jewish woman honoured him with the extraordinary hospitality of washing his feet with perfume. Jesus was a frequent visitor at the home of Mary and Martha, and was in the habit of teaching and eating meals with women as well as men. When Jesus was arrested, women remained firm, even when his male disciples are said to have fled, and they accompanied him to the foot of the cross. It was women who were reported as the first witnesses to the resurrection, chief among them again Mary Magdalene. Although the details of these gospel stories may be questioned, in general they reflect the prominent historical roles women played in Jesus’ ministry as disciples.

The letters of Paul (mid. I century CE)

Vivid clues about the kind of activities in which women engaged more generally. He greets Prisca, Junia, Julia, and Nereus’ sister, who worked and traveled as missionaries in pairs with their husbands or brothers (Romans 16:3, 7, 15). He tells us that Prisca and her husband risked their lives to save his. He praises Junia as a prominent apostle, who had been imprisoned for her labour. Mary and Persis are commended for their hard work (Romans 16:6, 12). Euodia and Syntyche are called his fellow-workers in the gospel (Philippians 4:2-3).

Paul’s letters also offer some important glimpses into the inner workings of ancient Christian churches. Paul tells of women who were the leaders of such house churches (Apphia in Philemon 2; Prisca in I Corinthians 16:19). This practice is confirmed by other texts that also mention women who headed churches in their homes, such as Lydia of Thyatira (Acts 16:15) and Nympha of Laodicea (Colossians 4:15). Women held offices and played significant roles in group worship. Paul, for example, greets a deacon named Phoebe (Romans 16:1) and assumes that women are praying and prophesying during worship (I Corinthians 11). As prophets, women’s roles would have included not only ecstatic public speech, but preaching, teaching, leading prayer, and perhaps even performing the eucharist meal. (A later first century work, called the Didache, assumes that this duty fell regularly to Christian prophets.)

Other Christian women

Mary Magdalene was a Jewish woman who followed Jesus of Nazareth. Apparently of independent means, she accompanied Jesus during his ministry and supported him out of her own resources (Mark 15:40-41; Matthew 27:55-56; Luke 8:1-3; John 19:25). Although other information about her is more fantastic, she is repeatedly portrayed as a visionary and leader of the early movement.( Mark 16:1-9; Matthew 28:1-10; Luke24:1-10; John 20:1, 11-18; Gospel of Peter ). In the Gospel of John, the risen Jesus gives her special teaching and commissions her as an apostle to the apostles to bring them the good news. She obeys and is thus the first to announce the resurrection and to play the role of an apostle, although the term is not specifically used of her.

Other women appear in later literature as well. One of the most famous woman apostles was Thecla, a virgin-martyr converted by Paul. She cut her hair, donned men’s clothing, and took up the duties of a missionary apostle. Threatened with rape, prostitution, and twice put in the ring as a martyr, she persevered in her faith and her chastity. Her lively and somewhat fabulous story is recorded in the second century Acts of Thecla.

From very early, an order of women who were widows served formal roles of ministry in some churches (I Timothy 5:9-10). The most numerous clear cases of women’s leadership, however, are offered by prophets: Mary Magdalene, the Corinthian women, Philip’s daughters, Ammia of Philadelphia, Philumene, the visionary martyr Perpetua, Maximilla, Priscilla (Prisca), and Quintilla.

Archaeological data that directly or indirectly state the place, role and involvement of the female population in Early Christian church organisation are rare and therefore even more estimated. First of all, specification of the problem requires maximum caution in interpretation and attribution of the material remains. Three didactic mosaic fields incorporated into the pavements of early Christian basilicas in Stobi and Plaoshnik, bearing inscriptions of their female dedicators shed light upon this question.

The first inscription is placed in the north-western angle of the first field of with mosaic decoration, incorporated into the pavement arrangement of the first phase of the Philip’s basilica in Stobi.

ΥΠΕΡ[….]

ΤΗΣΜΑ[….]

ΗΕΥΛΑΒ[….]

ΤΗΔΙΑΚ[….]

ΤΗΝΕΞ[….]

ΕΨΕΦΩ[….]

υπέρ ευ[χῆν]

τῆς ματ[ρώας]

η ευλαβ[εστά]

τη διακ[όνισσα]

τήν έξὲδραν

ἐψήφω[σεν]

Due to oath

Of the matrona

Most pious

deaconess

has paved the exedra

with mosaic

 

The second inscription is situated at the lower part of the third mosaic field incorporated in a decorative arrangement.

ΥΠΕΡΕΥΧΕΣ

ΕΠΟΙΕΣΕ[Ν]

[Π]ΕΡΙΣΤΕ[….]

υπὲρ εὐχῆς

εποίησεν

Περιστέρ[ρια]

Due to oath

Made by

Peristeria

 

The last mosaic with a vowel inscription is located in the deaconicon of the South Basilica at the site Plaoshnik, Ohrid.  In the middle part of the room, surrounded by a shield of black and white triangles, there is a four-edged inscription in a circular field, complemented by two ivory lists in the lower zone.

ΥΠΕΡΜΝ

ΗΜΗΣΤΗΣΟ

ΣΙΑΣΠΑΥΛΑ

ΣΤΗΣΔΙΑΚ

Ο ΝΟΥ

Υπὲρ μνήμης

τῆσ Σοσίας Παύλας

τῆς διακόνου

In memory

Of the deaconess

Sosia Paula

 

 

The chanting inscriptions bear witness to the still developed and active female clergy who maintained uninterrupted ties with the municipal elite (matron, in the case of Stobi) who practiced the new religion.

Stobi, Gradsko, R. Macedonia

Stobi, Gradsko, R. Macedonia

Plaošnik, Ohrid, R. Macedonia

 

 

Bibliography

Ancient sources:

Aristotle, Politics 1, 2 http://www.humanities.mq.edu.au/Ockham/y6704.html

Demosthenes, Against Neaera, 59.122

Plato, The Republic, New York, 1956

Xenophon, Within The Home, 1943

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A day with Macedonian archaeology – Stakina Češma

          Archaeological excavations on the site Stakina Češma – Valandovo

 

This presentation is a reminder of the previous archaeological excavations on the site and the results obtained so far, with a brief overview of the latest results.

The site Stakina Češma is located on the very edge of the small town Valandovo.  It was first recorded through archaeological survey in the 70s of the last century, and with short-term archaeological excavations by the Institute for the protection of cultural monuments from Skopje, several rooms with floor mosaics made in various techniques were discovered. The Museum of Macedonia under the leadership of Mila Šurbanoska started with excavations in 1987 (unfortunately with long interruptions) which continue to this day.

The systematic archaeological excavation of this area confirmed that it is a late roman building – Roman Domus with beautiful floor mosaics. Ten rooms with floor mosaics made in various techniques, an apsidal pool which was marble plated, part of the hydro-installation system, as well as a part of the economic premises of the building have been discovered. Due to an unsettled property claim by the owner of one part of the area, the building has not been fully explored yet, which makes it difficult to definitely determine its purpose.

The floors in all the rooms, except in the economic ones were made in opus tessellatum and opus sectile with various geometric motifs, decorated with polychromatic tesserae. In some of the rooms we have a combination of opus tessellatum and sectile. In one of the rooms on the west side of the building i.e. the assumed entrance a marble impluvium was found. On the east side of the building a large room connected with a semicircular pool was discovered, it had floors with both opus tessellatum and opus sectile. The pool was covered with marble slabs, and right in front of it, in the floor itself a marble bath was also discovered.

 

According to the stylistic features of the mosaics, the preserved architecture, as well as the several bronze coins form the second half of the 4th century, the building is dated in the Late Roman period.

During the research in the previous seasons, exploratory- trial trenches were dug in certain areas, especially in the south and west side of the building, where it is assumed that either the existing building may continue or that there are other buildings. It was concluded that in the whole surrounding area there are large amount of hydrostatic plaster, parts of collapsed walls and tesserae.

At the excavations in 2013, after the inspection of this area (west of the existing building), the following condition was determined: on 30-40 cm below the surface a mosaic floor was visible in the opus sectile technique, covered with large deposits of soil, stones and various debris.

Due to these new findings and the condition of the site, in 2015 the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia initiated new excavations again under the leadership of Mila Šurbanoska on the new area called Baknovka.

Namely, then, west of the excavated domus, in a layer of sediment and debris, a part of a new building was found, that is, a mosaic floor in opus sectile. The floor segment was with approximate dimensions of 1.00 x 1.20 m. Preventive conservation, measuring and documenting was carried out.

The discovered building was located at a distance of 29.55 m west of the threshold of the room 2 of the Roman Domus, that is, 17.15 m west of the western wall that was last excavated. The level of the newly discovered floor is 0.78 m lower than the floor in the room 1 of the house. The conclusions drawn from these preliminary records led the researchers to believe that it was definitely a new building, which requires systematic excavations.

The results from the excavations showed that it was part of a building with an apsidal form, and that the entire inner wall was probably covered with marble plates. On the outer side, on the east part, remains of fresco decoration with yellow background and ornaments in red color were preserved. The floor area on the east side ends with a vertically placed marble plate, set as a stair, which was measured and it was 10 cm below the floor. Despite the short period of excavation, it became clear that it was a significant, luxurious building and that the discovered part probably was the exedra.

This year the archaeological excavations were realized by an expert team from the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia with several collaborators, led by the same project manager.

At a depth of almost 1 m. in the room 2 (working title), a new floor appeared in the opus tessellatum technique. In the south and south-east part of the room the floor is damaged. On the floor, in front of the vertical marble plate a bronze coin was found.

The mosaic is made from polychromatic tesserae, arranged in various motifs. For the time being, we do not know how much of the mosaic floor is preserved and what are its definite dimensions.

In the west side of the room four vertical marble plates were also found. They were made from fine white marble and three of them have channelled decoration on the front side.

From the movable material, ceramic fragments mostly kitchen and tableware ceramics were found and one bronze coin.

The luxurious polychromatic mosaics with various decorative motifs and the other details revealed in the 2017 campaign confirmed that this was an extremely representative luxurious building.

Igor Širtovski

A day with Macedonian Archaeology – SAA Axios

International student journal for Archaeology and History of Art “AXIOS”

Day of Archaeology 2017

Since its foundation in 2001, the Association of Archaeology Students “Axios” – Skopje represents the main form of organization of the students from the Department of Archaeology and History of Art at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje, Macedonia. In the past 16 years, over a hundred members passed through the ranks of this Association, every one of them giving their own contribution in the realization of about 20 project with the purpose of promoting Archaeology, History of Art and their related sciences, as well as improving the quality of the studies of the same.

In that direction, one of the key activities of “Axios” was the publishing of popular newsletters through which the students could inform themselves about news connected to their studies, practical field work and getting acquainted about new archeological discoveries and methods of work in Macedonia and the world. So, the Association started with the publishing of the newsletter “Pintadera” in 2005, and in 2012, with the newsletter “Archaeofacts”.

In 2016, we decided to go one step further and at the end of the summer opened a call for papers for the first issue of the yearly student journal for scientific papers “AXIOS”. Namely, the Association set a goal for publishing a journal that will follow the format of the standard professional scientific publications, in which the students will have the opportunity to publish their first thoughts and views related to the profession that they have chosen and the topics of research that interest them.

Eligible for sending papers were all students, regardless of the type of studies that they have enrolled in – undergraduate or postgraduate, and the only precondition for the texts was that they should be written by following the usual standards for writing professional scientific papers. We have chosen an open access electronic format for the journal, as the most practical for maximizing its reach among the young internet generation.

The second important goal that we defined as key for “AXIOS” is the possibility of interconnection between the students and their acquaintance with the work of their colleagues from different countries i.e. to have an international character. We decided that the ‘skeleton’ of the journal, as well as the summaries of all the papers, will be written in English, while giving the authors freedom to write the main body of their texts in the language that they think is most appropriate or suits them the best.

An extra motive for the ‘internationalization’ of the journal was the collaboration that the Association “Axios” had that year with students from the Department of Archeology and History of Art at the Georg-August University from Gottingen, Germany, which also resulted with a published paper by them in the first issue of the journal. Besides them, several students of Archeology from the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, Serbia, also had their own papers published in “AXIOS”.

After the collection of all the papers and their technical editing and proofreading, the first issue of the international student journal for papers from the fields of Archeology and History of Art “AXIOS” was published in January 2017, consisted out of fourteen different texts that covered topics starting from the beginnings of the monetary economy on the Balkans, the ancient development of the Maleshevo region, the luxury homes of the wealthy citizens from the Roman period on the territory of Macedonia, the spiritual background of the ancient mystery cults of Mithras and the Danubian horsemen, the symbolic aspects of hermaphroditic deities in old mythologies, the political and economic ordeals in medieval Byzantium, Scandinavia and the Ottoman Empire, up to physical anthropology skeletal analyses and digital studying of some of the most valuable ‘pearls’ of the  medieval Macedonian fresco paintings.

The issuing of the journal was followed with an appropriate solemn promotion and presentation of some of the published papers, which caused a significant interest, both from the professional public, as well as from the media in the country – all reactions with positive messages of praise, support and encouragement.

With the wind in our backs from colleagues, friends and professors, as well as with the support of the Ministry of culture of the Republic of Macedonia, this 2017, with the same rapture, we started the preparations for the second issue of the journal “AXIOS”. The rules known, the call for papers opened, the date for publishing is the second part of October – we are looking forward to your applications!

Igor Eftimovski
SAA Axios