A Day with Macedonian Archaeology – “Arheo Park Brazda” (VIDEO)

This short documentary about the first archaeological park in R. Macedonia “Arheo Park Brazda” was recorded for the celebration of international day of archaeology “Day of Archaeology 2014” by association “Archaeologica” ‘with the support of Ministry of Culture of Republic of Macedonia, Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, Cultural heritage protection office and Via Magna.

association Archaeologica

Goran Sanev, MA
Irena Kolistrkovska Nasteva
Radomir Ivanovic

Camera, Assembling, Music, Graphics:
Jane Kacanski

Author – Screenwriter – Producer
Radomir Ivanovic

Elena Karanfilovska

Arheo Park Brazda

Skopje, July 2014

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology – Overview of antiques from Dobri dol village, Karshijak, municipality of Sopishte, Skopje

“We do not dig up objects, we dig up people.”

 – Sir Mortimer Wheeler

 The need to go back to the past is process of rejuvenation of memories or their placement in time and space anew, as well as a realization and replenishment of the complete picture of a certain geographical ambient.

The seeker directs his interest of a certain space towards its deeper perception and befriending forgotten experiences, discovering, stone by stone, that which his forefathers before him have sawn.

For each individual, the mounting of Vodno, as any other mountain, is a goal to reach. To that end, there is a possibility to walk the marked mountain road, others have walked before you, or to boldly take the unmarked road full of various challenges and obstacles.

Climbing up the steep eastern slopes of Vodno, one can reminisce of the old road stretching from the great Stone Bridge on the river Vardar to the south towards Kisela Voda village. There it split in two directions, one continuing south-east (villages of Taor and Zelenikovo), whereas the other turning more to the south towards the gentle hills to the east and south-east of Vodno (villages of Soptishte, Rakotinci, Dobri dol and further down to Pelagonia). (Evans 1885, 98; Hadzi-Vasiljevic 1930, 24-25; Shkricanic 1974, 80.)

This geographical area was known as Karshijak or “on the other side”, “across the river Vardar or opposite Vardar” (Hadzi-Vasiljevic 1930, 33). Once road passes by Markovo Kruvche, or medieval Chrnche, one would arrive at the old quarry where blue limestone (limestone deposits from the third Mesozoic shallow sea dating around 150 million years ago) was excavated and used to tile the streets in the center of old Skopje (Radovanivic 1937, 75; Trifunovski 1958, 84; Herak 1973, 314-317). Remnants from that time can be found even today, a time when the noise, dust, smoke and clatter of the craftsmenwere companions to every weary traveler. Most probably, Sir John Arthur walked this same road while exploring the Roman remnants in this region.

Next are the village of Sopishte, and then the village of Rakotinci, both spread over the long valleys and dry trenches shaped by the long hand of the wild spring and summer rain.

The village of Dobri dol is located south of Skopje, at a distance of around 10 km from the city center. It is situated in a valley shaped as a horseshoe in the southern slopes of Vodno, ridged by the two small rivers, Krushka and Rakotinski Dol (made up of Buturec and Cimkoec springs) that contributed to the fertility of the soil and the ease of its processing, and a little higher up, on the neogene terraces, the soil is dry, sandy and perfect for growing Dobridol grapes. It is protected from the cold north winds, but through the valley of the river Markova reka, open to the warm south wind (South-Razvigor breeze or Lodos) (Hadzi-Vasiljevic 1930, 18; Trifunovski 1958, 15, 130).

In the area surrounding the village Dobri Dol the following toponyms can be found: Preku dol, Preku rit, Ciganski grobishta, Gola Rudina, Kocho padina, Pitoma rupa, Po rogoi chuki, Pargoi chuki, Kushica, Gorni Zabel, Dolni Zabel, Perkoec, Dushkov dol, Opal, Bel Krst. Mankoec, Kojdui rupi, Grashishta, Crna shuma i Drmos (Skok 1936, 104-105; Trifunoski 1958, 138).

fig. 1 Topographic map from the vilage of Dobri Dol

Preserved testaments of the first settlements dating from the early Stone Age can be found in the area surrounding the nearby villages of Rakotinci and Govrlevo. Two settlements were located to the east of Dobri Dol, in the terraces of the Orlovica hill and above the two small river-streams flowing from Dobri dol and the neighboring Rakotinci, the first one dating from the early Stone Age and the second one form the Copper Age, Orlovica 1 and 2 (Bilbija 1996, 380; Mitrevski 2013, 139; 32, 155)

In the middle reaches of Markova Reka, near the village of Sushica (Kolishtrkovska-Nasteva and Videski 1996, 42), deep in the sandy shore, the traces of Mycenae pioneers who most likely were in search of rivers rich in gold, lie hidden.

Fragmented (Mycenae) vessels belonging to the Bronze Age of the Vardar Valley are found in Govrlevo (according to Bilbija 2012; Mitrevski 2013, 184), west of Dobri Dol.

Settlements and fortified stations, small forts and shelters have been woven into the landscape since Ancient times and the Middle Ages. Old cemeteries, stone markers, stelas and crosses. Slanted or excavated. Lonely or attached, one can find them on the hills and fields. Christian or Muslim religious temples tower over the red tile rooftops of the village houses. But, also holy and healing springs and creeks that bring peace and tranquility to the weary travelers and eternal seekers under the deep shadows of the centennial trees and the on road resting places reminiscing of times past.


  1. Archeological site Krushka,

is situated in the vicinity of Krushka spring (Kushica) (Vuchkovich-Todorovich 1958, 289; Jovanova 1996, 370), 500 meters north-west of the village church St. Spas. A double tomb dating from the late Antique was found in the 50’s of the last century and six secondarily used stelae intended for the double tomb construction inscribed in Latin letters, and one inscribed in combined Latin and Ancient Greek. Bricks were used for the floor of the tombs. Bricks with larger dimensions, were a little elevated than the rest were set as the headrest.

Fig. 3 Arch. loc. Krushka-Kushica

Burial gifts were found in both chambers:  a coin (Constantine), gilded crossbow fibulas, a golden earring, golden ring, glass vessels- vials and two ceramic vessels (Vuchkovich-Todorovich 1958, 295-296).

The stelas most probably belonged to high class decedents who held lands in the horseshoe-shaped valley, but served their professional and life course in the administrative, religious and transit center in the province of Upper Moesia, in Skupi. They originate from the period at the end of the 1st to the beginning of the 3rd century (Vuchkovich-Todorovich 1958, 290-295, Dragojevich-Josifovska 1982, 68-69, 81-82, 86, 99, 118; Petkovski 2013, 182, 197, 198, 209, 213).

The following names are mentioned:

– Decedent (soldier in the Flavian cavalry-ala) Vanno, Iulius Vanno Missicius and the dedicator – establisher Flavius Antiocus,

– Decedent (centurion veteran) Antonius and the establisher, free slave Simphorus,

– Decedent Drutie Mestulae and the dedicator Maema Dioscuridi,

– Decedent (veteran of the VII legion Claudia Pia Fidelis), Publius Caetennius Clemens and the establisher, free slave  Simphorus and heir Publius Caetennius Felicianus,

– Decedent Publius Aelius Posidonianus and the establisher Antonia Saturnina,

– Decedents (sons, praetorian soldiers Caio Valerio Pudinti veteran and Caio Iulio Celeri, the son-in-law, who was Augustales (priest of the royal cult in Skupi) Caio Valerio Maximo and the establisher mother Iulia Victorina (Vuchkovich-Todorovich 1958, 290-295, Dragojevich-Josifovska 1982, 68-69, 81-82, 86, 99, 118).

On this very spot, atKushica near the high poplars, ceramic pipes – tubules most probably belonging to an ancient water supply system were excavated while repairing and constructing a new water supply system for the village, thus this place got the name Old Spring.


  1. Archeological site Grmadi

is believed to be the settlement or one of the village estates belonging to some of the abovementioned persons located at a distance of around 500 meters from the double late-antique tomb. While reconnoitering this are numerous rocks and tegulae were found, as well as house foundations that were probably ripped out in the process of ploughing the fields. (Vuchkovich-Todorovich 1958, 295)

Fig. 4 Arch. loc. Grmadi


  1. Archeological site Smilanci,

situated around 1.2 kilometers to the south-east of the village, on the slopes of a flattened plateau and above a deep valley and an aqueous spring scattered stones and pieces of Corinth tegulae can be found. Maybe this was also the location of a village estate from the Roman period.

Fig. 5 Arch. loc. Smilanci and Bel Krst

  1. Archeological site Bel Krst (White Cross),

a gentle hill at a distance of less than one kilometer to the south-east from the center of the village. On the top of the hill, a wide ditch was dug where most likely a roughly caved stone block was set with a recipient in the middle. Nearby the stone block, there is a stone cross inscribed in Old Slavonic letters.

 Fig. 6 Arch. loc. Bel Krst



The little horseshoe-shaped valley which is the resting place of Dobri Dol village is also a meeting point for several communication routes, connecting the Skopje region to the south and vice verse. The good and fertile soil and the closeness of the forests and higher pastures have provided conditions for a secure and good life for the population inhabiting this area in different time periods.

The presence of quality drinking water gushing from the several watery springs (a few of which are completely dried out today) as well as the favorable and mila climate were a precondition for forming the first settlements ever since the early Stone Age.

This short review of the few archeological points in the village and its vicinity is merely a starting point for further, more scrutinized and comprehensive research into the archeological past of the village of Dobri Dol.


This text was finished on the day of † Venerable Martyr Fevronija;

Venerable Dionisiy Kosturski, 2014

By Igor Tolevski –

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology

Archaeologists in Macedonia, under the leadership of Association Archaeologica, have joined together for the third time to celebrate the International Day of Archaeology 2014.

The purpose of this event was to promote archaeology and present current archaeological excavations throughout Macedonia.

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The Day of Archaeology is an annual event that is celebrated worldwide. The project aims to provide a window into the daily lives of archaeologists from all over the world. On this day we ask people working, studying or volunteering in the archaeological world to participate by recording their day and sharing it through text, images or video. The resulting Day of Archaeology project demonstrates the wide variety of work our profession undertakes day-to-day across the globe, and helps to raise public awareness of the relevance and importance of archaeology.

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For that purpose, “Archaeologica “ organized an event in the cinema hall of the Museum of Macedonia where there were series of lectures in various topics of archaeology, presentation of documentary film, photographs, exchange of ideas and experiences, as well as some music and entertainment in front of the museum.

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“Archaeologica” invited several archaeologists from the country to present their current work.

The event was attended by: Pero Ardzanliev, MA , Archaeological Museum of Macedonia – “The golden faces of the Macedonian aristocracy: from finding to presentation”, Goran Sanev, MA, Archaeological Museum of Macedonia – Promotion of the new book “Ancient Demir Kapija” by Phd. Victoria Sokolovska and the new web site for archaeological site Golemo Gradiste, v. Konjuh, Dejan Kebakoski, MA, Institute for Оld Slavic culturein Prilep – Antique period in Pelagonia, Dejan Gjorgjievski, Museum of Kumanovo – The period between VI and III century BC in Kumanovo, Radomir Ivanovic, Association Archaeologica – “Arheo Park Brazda” (VIDEO), Igor Tolevski – Retrospective of antiques from the village of Dobri Dol, Karshijak, Sopiste Municipality, Ph.D Lidija Kovaceva – Forms of fatalistic beliefs among ancient Macedonians, Mimica Velkova Graorkovska – Epigenetic features of the medieval population of Crkvishte village, Morodvis, Elena Karanfilovska, Assotiation Archaeologica – “Archaeology in Progress 2014

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Also, during the event, there was a small exhibition of photographs from the current archaeological excavations on the sites “Antique Theater in Scupi”, Skopje; “Gradishte”, Mlado Nagoricane and “Stybera”, v. Cepigovo.

This event was funded by the National Cultural Programme for 2014 of the Ministry of Culture and was supported by the Museum of Macedonia.

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A Day with Macedonian Archaeology – Promotion of the new book “Ancient Demir Kapija”

Promotion of the new book of PhD Viktorija Skolovska “ Ancient Demir Kapija“.

PhD. Sokolovska is well known name in Macedonian Archaeology, first as curator at the Archaeological Museum in Skopje, then as a director of Museum of Macedonia from 1991-1995, that all her professional life she devoted to research the antique period in Macedonia and published in more than 90 texts.

The book has a volume of 118 pages, 110 illustrations, including 7 maps, 84 photographs in color and black and white, 4 plans, 6 boards, 9 drawings and findings. The content is organized into two major parts.
This is the link where you can download the book

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.


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



The copper hoard from the XIII century was discovered as a whole X.9.5.1, in a pit from Block: XXI, in the course of archeological excavations at the Skopje Fortress in 2009. It contained 50 copper coins, including 5 items of Bulgarian imitations (no. 1-5) and items presenting rulers, namely 2 items presenting Ivan Asen II (no. 6-7), 2 items presenting Theodore Comnenus-Ducas (no. 8-9), 2 items presenting  John Comnenus-Ducas (no. 10-11), 9 items presenting John III Ducas-Vatatzes with (no. 12-20), 4 items presenting Theodor II Ducas-Lascaris (no. 21-24), as well as the most numerous, 24 Latin imitations (no. 25-47). (more…)

A day with Macedonian archaeology “Educational ceramic workshop”

The Student Archaeological Association “Axios” was established to perform activities in order to promote archaeological values in society and to raise the awareness about cultural heritage and its protection.


The purpose of the project “Educational ceramic workshop”, which is in the field of experimental archaeology, is to familiarize and to bring closer different segments of the lives of the people from the past to the students from the Department of Art History and Archaeology. This training allowed the students through creative work to enter into a different world and try to express themselves following the examples of a given material culture.

With longstanding systematic archaeological research, the number of items of movable cultural heritage significantly increased. Especially notable is the number of pottery items which are already exhibited in the museums.

Therefore, acquiring knowledge about the preparation of the pottery in the Bronze and Iron Ages, undoubtedly contributed to a better understanding of history, and also to increase the level of professionalism in the field.

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Getting to know the method of manufacturing pottery objects from the Bronze and Iron Age went through a practical part by making the same objects used in those periods. It must be mentioned that during the project activities we implemented methods, techniques and authentic materials for the above mentioned periods.


Due to the specifics of the matter, the planned activities were carried out at the Museum of the City Negotino, on an open space and in a pottery workshop. All the activities were conducted in collaboration with experts in the field of applied art, cultural heritage protection and museology: sculptor-expert in the field of pottery, senior curator-archaeologist and a potter.

On this occasion, we would like express our special thanks to Peter Rizov for the permission to use the premises of the Museum in Negotino; to Branko Velickovski for his generous help with the project; to Ilija Kostadinov for the permission to use his pottery workshop and for the procurement of the materials, and to Association Archaeologica who gave us the opportunity to present our project within this manifestation marking the Day of Archaeology 2013.


A day with Macedonian Archaeology “Arheo Park Brazda”

The archeological site “Gradiste – Brazda” is situated nearly 15 km north of Skopje, on a humble hill that rises over the village of Brazda. According to information (data) obtained through past researches, the site is classified as a fortified early antique settlement, dating from the 5th to the 3rd century BC and spreading over an area of 3.5 ha, which make it the largest settlement in the Skopje valley.

With the excavation of the monumental architectural edifice, known as “The Royal tomb” in 1986, the archeological site Gradiste claims a significant place in the archeological circles as well as the wider public.

brazda plan

With its specific characteristics, the Royal tomb at Brazda represents a unique instance of its kind on the wider Balkan peninsula.

It is a representative structure with a rectangular chamber with dimension of 9.8 by 6.6 meters and a dromos (passageway) with over 20 meters in length that steeply descends toward the west entrance of the tomb. The entire structure is built from large travertine blocks with an average weight of 500 to 1500 kg. Although it is a structure buried in the ground, the chamber blocks are decorated with a smooth rectangular frame encompassing the salient middle. The exquisite decoration of the rock, as well as the fact that the closest travertine mines are on a distance of 20 km from the site, are arguments enough to determine the economic power of the deceased and the settlement at large which was one of the more important settlements in the 5th century BC.


Nevertheless, the city’s name, its function, meaning and regional administrative status are still unknown. Who were the citizens of Gradiste? This cannot be determined with certainty as well. The presence of red-figure vases among the ceramic findings is a confirmation of the existence of cultural and economic relations with Athens. Whether it is a matter of colonists from the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula who inhabited the settlement or maybe it is a result of the driving development of the local Paionian inhabitants are question left to archeology to resolve.

The idea for the project or to turn this place into a tourist attraction so it finally receives the attention it deserves was born when we first visited this archeological site as archeology students. A monumental royal tomb dating from the 5th c. BC towered before us with it massive stone blocks, but the entrance to it was nearly impossible and the whole place was overgrown with wild vegetation and buried under year and years of piled garbage. There were no signposts or information panels, thus the visitor can neither be led to nor informed about the immense historical heritage that they unknowingly pass by. The general public was completely unaware of its existence and more importantly so was the world.

Picture3    Picture2

Picture1 DSCN6471


After many years and many tries to realize the wishful idea, in 2012 the association “Archaeologica” in partnership with the Museum of Macedonia and supported by ELEM through its social responsibility program, finally started working on the field in order to change the appearance (image) of this important cultural heritage turning it into the first archeological park in Macedonia – the Archeo Park Brazda.

The Archaeologica team toiled for months to arrange the site and its surroundings.

– The interior of the tomb and the passageway (dromos) were completely cleaned from wild vegetation and debris which increased the visibility of the site,


– The plateau in front of the tomb was cleared and leveled,


– An approach to the tomb was ensured by building an access path with two bridges,


– A small square was built and wooden benches were placed,


– A voluntary action was organized to clear the riverbeds of garbage


– The landscape around the park was horticultural refined


– Information panels and signposts were placed,

info tabla brazda

patokazna tabla brazda

– Informative flyers were printed and distributed

– The opening of the Arheo Park was covered by media – A web site about the park was developed (


We paid particular attention to using natural materials in the realization of the project, materials that do not stand out from their surroundings.

By opening the first archeological park in Macedonia, ”Arheo park Brazda”, we strive to bring archeology closer to our fellow citizens, to raise the standards of archeology in Macedonia and to simply enrich the offer of cultural landmarks.


The aim of the project is to protect as well as present a rare example from the world cultural heritage to raise the cultural and environmental awareness of the local authorities and the local population in the municipality of Chucher-Sandevo and to develop the tourism in this rural environment.

This kind of development and widening of the touristic offer of Skopje would contribute to the development of the village of Brazda se well, and of the surrounding area in this vivid and picturesque region.


The short distance to the city and the well organized road infrastructure enable a fast and simple approach to the attractive recreational locations such as, the village of Banjani, the village of Gornjani, restaurant Chardak, etc. Simultaneously, in the vicinity of village Brazda numerous cultural and historical monuments dating from the 14th to 19th century can be found, dispersed through the foothills of Skopska Crna Gora: the church of St. Nikita in Gornjani village, the church of Holy Salvation and the monastery of St. Archangel in Kuchevishte village, the churches of St.

George and St. Ilija in the village of Banjani, etc. And finally, by adding the Gradiste site to this group of cultural landmarks, we arrive at an unforgettable whole-day experience, a tourist walk through the past in Skopje and the vicinity, from the beginnings of ancient times to today.


The interest in this cultural monument significantly rose after mounting the signposts and the official opening of the “Arheo Park Brazda”. Apart from casual passersby that would learn about this place from the signpost, organized groups also visit the park. As the local inhabitants inform us, the site receives daily visits from foreign and domestic tourists who are in awe of everything this site has to offer from a cultural aspect as well as from the natural beauties that abound. The undertakings so far are just a part of the overall conceptual solution for this arheo park. Due to the heightened interest in the park, as well as the increased number of visitors, we are planning a realization of the second phase of the project that would include: setting up a wooden gazebo which would serve as an educational nest for the students of archeology and the pupils from primary schools located the vicinity of the site, as well as for larger groups of tourists; building access paths to Gradiste; setting up litter bins and additional horticultural enrichment along the paths and around the tent, as well as maintaining the park; mounting new signposts on key crossroads so as to alleviate access to the site, printing informative leaflets, etc.

We wholeheartedly hope that we will have an opportunity to realize these steps i.e. the second phase of the project, which would raise the Arheo park to world standards and contribute to the protection and promotion of the Gradiste site as a significant cultural inheritance, attract even higher numbers of foreign and domestic visitors, and encourage the development of rural tourism.