Major archaeological excavations have started at four ancient sites around Macedonia.
The archaeology excavations, funded by about 20 million euro by Macedonia’s government, will take place at the sites of Heraklea Lynkestis, Skopje’s Kale Fortress, Stobi and Isar, the Dnevnik newspaper reported. It is expected that the sites will be completely explored, Pasko Kuzman, Director of Cultural Heritage Protection in the Macedonian Ministry of Culture, told the publication.
About 100 people already started excavating unearthed parts of the Heraklea Lynkestis site, which is located at about two kilometres from the town of Bitola in south-western Macedonia. The work on one of the best preserved ancient cities in the country is led by archaeologists Anitsa Georgievska and Engin Hasud from the Institute, Museum and Gallery in Bitola.
Founded in the fourth century BC by the ancient Greek ruler Philip II of Macedon – the father of Alexander the Great, and conquered by the Romans two centuries later, Heraklea Lynkestis stood on the Via Egnatia and became one of the key stations on this trading route. Some of the remains that archaeologists have discovered at the site so far are impressive mosaics (in the photograph), Roman baths, town walls, a portico, ancient basilicas, an Episcopal church, a Jewish temple and a Roman amphitheatre which is often used for summer concerts and theatre shows.
Research teams, led by Professor Dragi Mitrevski, also began work at Skopje’s Kale Fortress, situated on a hill above the capital. Today’s remains date to the sixth century, when Byzantines used stone blocks from the destroyed city of Skupi nearby to construct it. After the 1963 earthquake, Kale’s circular, rectangular and square towers were conserved and restored.
The exploration of the Roman city Stobi, near the town of Veles in central Macedonia, also began, under the leadership of archaeologist Silvana Blazheva, director of the newly formed institution Stobi.
The ancient town was built where the Erigón River (present-day River Crna) joins the Axiós river (present-day Vardar), making it a strategic trade and warfare centre.
Hundreds of people will also be excavating the Isar site at the village of Marvinci, near the town of Velandovo in southern Macedonia. A team, led by Zlatko Videski, headed there last weekend in order to begin preliminary field work.
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