Kriva River

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology – Promotion of the new archaeological website www.konjuh.mk

For our anniversary, 15 years of continuous archaeological excavations at the site Golemo Gradiste, near the village Konjuh, we have recently created a website www.konjuh.mk. Through the website we wanted to convey the magic of Golemo Gradiste and its beautiful surroundings to all interested professionals and admirers of natural and cultural heritage. It’s my pleasure to present our new web site at this occasion of the Day of Archaeology because in this way it will be presented to the right audience.

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I would like to point out that as an international project, which was realized with Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania, USA, and the Museum of Macedonia, today Archeological Museum of Macedonia, the research conducted at Golemo Gradiste it’s a project with the longest continuity in our country. This is due primarily to the great scientific potential of the site was recognized from the start and funded jointly by Gettysburg College, Dumbarton Oaks, the Getty Foundation and the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Macedonia.

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The archaeological site of Golemo Gradiste at Konjuh is a rare example of a city founded in the late 5th or early 6th century in the province of Dardania within the Eastern Roman Empire. Situated on a high and elongated acropolis; a broad, gently sloping terrace between the northern foot of the acropolis and the Kriva River; and a narrow area at the south foot of the acropolis, the city represents the late phase of Roman urbanism, heavily fortified and significantly altered by the insertion of ecclesiastical architecture. Its municipal plan, fortifications, and churches represent the early phases of development of European urbanism and religious heritage. Covering an area of ca 17 ha, Golemo Gradiste near Konjuh is the largest and so far best investigated town from the 6th century AD in the north-eastern part of R. Macedonia.

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On the naturally fortified acropolis, an even stronger fortress was created in the 6th century. There, through archaeological excavations 1998-2004, were revealed also gates, streets, stairs, and several residential and public buildings founded on the soft bedrock. A number of them, e.g., a large cistern for water, are visible today. With its dominant position overlooking the wider area, the hill of Golemo Gradiste was of stratigic importance for the safety of the city and its inhabitants during the restless times of the 6-th century. The site is also famous for the numerous chambers cut in the rock, found on the southwestern side of the hill. It is believed that they served as cells for monks in the past.

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Excavations since 2005 on the northern terrace have revealed two large residential complexes. One was a multi-unit structure, in which dwellings, storerooms, and workshops clustered around an internal courtyard. The second residence, displaying several spacious rooms, a kitchen area, and a colonnaded courtyard, undoubtedly belonged to a member of the elite. Between the two residences, a large, three-aisle basilica (35 x 15 m) with various unusual features came to light. Among its annex rooms a piscina for baptism is located in an apsidal hall. Fragments of exquisite relief sculpture found in both the Rotunda and the basilica point to a local, mid-6th century workshop.

Goran Sanev, MA – NI Archaeological Museum of Macedonia