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A Day With Macedonian Archaeology – The period between VI and III century BC in Kumanovo, R. Macedonia

Until recently, the period of transition from the Iron Age into early Antiquityfor the region of Kumanovo was nearly unidentified. It is in this period that the influence of the achievements attained by southern civilizations– both Hellenic and Macedonian, becomes evident for the first time in this part of the Balkans.

Presently, the most explored site in the mentioned region that features a defined stratigraphy and best reflects the transition from the 7th into the 6th century is Gradishte near Pelince.  We can record the penetration of southern influences though the occurrences of matte painted earthenware and colored in lines, found in the lower reaches of the river Vardar, that nearly simultaneously occur in the necropolis near river Bregalnica, and date from the same time as the autochthonus, hand-made pottery decorated using incising tools. As a logical development, what follows is the dominance of grey ceramics from the 5th century. This site most probably existed until the end of the 5th / the beginning of the 4th century, but signs of settlements are absent up until the Roman period (2nd – 3rd century) when it was most likely used as a small guard post for overseeing the Pchinja road.

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A Mummy from Lipkovo, R. Macedonia

Something similar can be noted on the Glauchica site, near Lipkovo. The Iron Age settlement experienced southern influences through the use of pottery made on wheel, but it appears that later this settlement was abandoned and consequently there are no characteristic forms of ceramics from the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. The inhabitants of this settlement were buried in Kisela Voda, a place where owing to the content of the water passing through the caskets the bodies are naturally mummified. Unfortunately, due to political reasons only, this necropolis is not yet excavated thus its chronological frames are not determined.

Kostoperska Karpa and Gradishte in Mlado Nagorichane share a different fate. The former site used to be and still is located on the spot where the road that led from Nish to Thessaloniki met the road from Skopje to Bulgaria. The early-antique settlement there continued to thrive into the Hellenistic period, and its location contributed to the occurrence of ceramic forms that clearly reflect the commerce with the south, as well as the imitation of the imported luxury pottery vessels.

Kostoperska Karpa

Kostoperska Karpa

Gradishte in Mlado Nagorichane is a site made know upon Z. Georgiev’s survey, around 30 years ago. These have set the chronological frame of the site, that certainly lived through the Celtic invasion of 280 – 279 BC., and immediately after that life in the settlement was renewed, although in a more modest volume. The recent surveys done by V. Lilikj also support this chronology.

We can see that not all early-antique settlements were abandoned in the 4th – 3rd century BC, as was claimed thus far. Some have lost their significance in the 5th century, others continued to live on after the Celtic invasion and there are no discernable differences that would suggest Dardani raids and settlements. Consequently, we cannot easily discern the origin of the population settling this part of our country. The theories suggesting the Agrianes, Paeonians, Dardani and the Thracian-Triballi tribes have their support and claim, but they also have serious shortcomings especially because the history sources place all these tribes in different locations at different time periods. The overview of the material culture says that in different time periods, the ethnic landscape of the population would change, which has always been the border zone between the large Balkan peoples.The contemporary understanding of national identity as unique and unaltered since the ancient days, as well as its uniformity and homogeneity throughout the entire territory of the Republic of Macedonia does not coincide with the real picture obtained by archeological digs. If we combine this picture with the antique sources there is a possibility to gain a more realistic display of history, without the subjective view that is more and more present in Macedonian archaeology.

By Dejan Gjorgievski – Museum of city of Kumanovo

Paeionian coin Audoleon from Mlado Nagoricane

Paeonian Silver Coin from Mlado Nagoricane17