Tumulus-burial in Albania and Epirus (Part1)

Tumulus-burial in Albania and Epirus (Part1)


Decades of 60 and 70 of the past century saw extensive archeological work in Albania which previously had not received attention. Albania was part of the area which was assumed to have been overwhelmed by XIII-IX B.C. invasions from the north. The well known Albanian archeologist, Frano Prendi contradicted this view on the basis of unearthed evidence, indicating that there was no basis for identifying XIII-IX B.C invasions as Illyrian, and magnify the effect of these invasions on Albanian territories.

According to Albanian archaeologists important changes had taken place around 2600 B.C. in the life of Maliq/Korce settlement. Copper work tools are seen to be in use, such as hatchets, needles and fishing hooks. This evident economic advance is manifested in indications of inter-regional trade, as indicated by the southward spread of Albano-Dalmation axe. Finds of many Myceanian objects indicates that trade with Hellas and the Aegean area had also increased. (Korkuti, M., Parailiret, Iliret, Arberit, 2003, p. 49)

The characteristics of culture were evidence beyond Maliq, could be observed in settlements at Drin and Mat River valleys. Similarities in decoration and cult objects are also noted with settlements in Dardania (Hisar I, Glladnice Bubanj Hun Ia), Pelagonia (Servia, Armenohori). More general affinities are observed Dikili-Tash (Thessaly), Sulkuca (Rumania), Krividol (Bulgaria) and as far as Troy. (Ceka, p. 32) Examination of ground layers in Dersniku and Barci (in Korce area) indicates elements of locally developed Neolithic culture. (Ceka, p. 32)

At the same time, Archeologist Frano Prendi discerned elements of regional differences during the Neolithic period. He concluded that it appears that culturally these settlements related to three distinct centers. The settlements of Podgorie and Veshtemi with shinny monochrome pottery or with white over a red background relate with Thessalo-Macedonian Neolithic period. Kukes area settlement with its clay pottery and use of brown color over a red base relates to eastern Dardania and beyond (Starcevo IIb). Mat area is characterized with ‘ impresso-cardium’ decoration and a variety of motives, and a monochrome pottery usually grey to black in color decorated with cardium impressions relates to eastern Adriatic cultures (Smilcic I). (Prendi, F., The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume III, Part 1, 2008, pp. 192-93)

The discovered settlements, extending from Podgorie and Vashtem in plain of Korca, in Kolsh of Kukes, or use of caves in Blaz in Mati and Katundas of Berat. T he multiple cultural layers, and specifically the increasing number of tools made from flintstone, sharpened stone or bone, points to an increased population with an active economic role. As a reflection of this economic reality there are indications of an active ritual and spiritual activity also. Finds of anthropomorphic idols, made of baked clay of Magna Mater type, point to a spiritual life based on concepts relating to origin and community. These cult-rhytones are found in a area from Split (Danilo) in the north to Korith in the south (Elateia), from central Bosnia (Kakanji), in Kosova (Reshtan), in Korce basin (Dunavec), and as far as Thessaly (Drahmani). The improved economic productivity, as well as the active cultural/religious life must have contributed to the integration of the population of this wide area. (Ceka, N./Korkuti, M., Arkeologjia, 1998, p. 41)

Dunavec and Cekran have a similar pottery, as well as objects of cult such as sat terracotta woman and four-legged zoomphoric shoots. The latter are an essential element also in the culture of Kolsh II, which together with Blazi II, Katundas II and Kosovar settlement at Rudnik IV relates fully to the Adriatic cultural area. To this tradition of pottery as well as cult impressions should also be mentioned the cult of burial under the dwelling floors in sleeping positions (Dunavec, Cakran, Rudnik and that of Bosnia). Thus, in a reality of divergences started to develop convergences, in a space that was later to be identified as Illyrian inhabited. (Ceka, N., Iliret, pp. 30-31)

The next significant change after 2600 B.C. occured at about 2100 B.C. as new cultural effects have impacted the existing Neolithic culture. At Maliq entirely new elements appear, especially in pottery, which is distinguished from that of the Eneolithic period by its generally more primitive character. Frano Prendi summarizes the evidence relating to this period as follows:

The most common shapes include vases with two handles above the rim, of Armenohori type; cups with handles level with or rising above the rim; vases of various shapes with two small handles below the mouthpiece, jugs with tall cylindrical necks, bowls with four small handles below the rim, little cups shaped like a truncated cone with a lip on the rim, and bowls with inverted rims (fig. 38). Other new elements in the pottery of this phase are tongue-shaped handles with decoration, finger-impressions, jug handles, etc. Conspicuous in the decorative styles of this phase are decorations in relief: impressed cords, simple circular bands with V or U shapes, buttons, nipples, and clusters of parallel ribs. Common too is the decoration made by the impression of the finger or nail, or spattered ‘pseudo-Barbotine’. Of particular chronological and cultural interest are some fragments of vessels decorated with stippled triangles, whose decoration recalls the most typical pottery of the Kostolac group (above, p. 155).