Tumulus-burial in Albania and Epirus (Part2)

Tumulus-burial in Albania and Epirus (Part2)


All this pottery, hitherto unknown in Albania, was found in the Maliq Ilia layer, together with other objects peculiar to the Eneolithic period at Maliq. Of the latter, one may mention vases with an S-shaped profile, often decorated with shallow grooves on the shoulders and dishes with rolled rims, designs in black paint or incised, a number of anchor-shaped amulets, which had appeared for the first time at Maliq in the Eneolithic layer as indications of the Aegean Early Bronze Age, terracotta spoons with short handles, numerous weights for fishing-nets, and some cruciform figurines of terracotta in the Maliq II style, and many stone, bone and horn implements in the Eneolithic tradition.

The fact that we find in the Maliq Ilia level the material peculiar to the previous autochthonous foundation mixed in an unexpected and abrupt way with large quantities of the new ceramic material which we have described above, indicates that we have here the appearance of a new ethnic element which penetrated this area of south-east Albania towards the end of the Eneolithic period and the beginning of the Bronze Age, and did not destroy the local Eneolithic population but intermingled with them or lived amongst them, creating certain changes in their economic and ethno-cultural structure by an internal development which was able to assimilate or reject particular features, the Early Bronze Age civilization of Maliq took a developed shape and close-knit form. It can be said that some pottery shapes and styles of this period at Maliq, including the corded ware, is most closely associated with the Armenokhori group in Pelagonia, which in terms of Aegean chronology is dated towards the end of the Early Bronze Age. Some particular features of Maliq Ilia and Illb pottery are seen too in other Early Bronze Age sites in Macedonia such as Servia, Kritsana, Ayios Mamas and elsewhere, and similarly in Epirus.(p. 213)

According to Prendi the invasions had a limited effect on existing settlements. The same settlements from Eneolithic period continued their life. Important settlements like Maliq, Neziri, Treni, Benja show no interruption in cultural layers. Pottery, as indicated above does show an impact from the the invasions that occurred at the end of Neolithic period. But at the same time, Prendi refers to the existence of material that was characteristic of the previous period, indicating that the autochthonous population was an important composite of the population and culture that evolved. The cultural effects of this population could also be seen in the continuation of burial ritual, in which the dead bodies were placed in sleeping positions within their dwellings, and the use of terracotta in a crosswise design. It would be reasonable to assume that the Albanian territory was not overwhelmed by the people from the steppe at the same degree as were other territories in southern Balkans. (Ceka, N.,Iliret, p.35)

According to Prendi, the invasions did not interrupt cultural affinity of Albanian territories with Macedonia and the Aegean. He indicated that some pottery shapes and styles at Maliq related to the Armenochori group in Pelagonia, and that some particular features of Maliq Ilia and Illb pottery are seen too in other Early Bronze Age sites in Macedonia such as Servia, Kritsana, Ayios Mamas and elsewhere, and similarly in Epirus.(Prendi, F., p. 213)

In reality, there in an increase in Creto-Mycenaean arms and pottery in Albanian at this time. Albanian archaeologists attribute this to the active trading relationship between the Albanian area and the Aegean. They indicate that this trade is related of the demand of area’s tribal aristocracies for luxury products. (Ceka, N./Korkuti, M., Archeologjia, p. 55)

Some, on the other hand, see this area as having been colonized by Creto-Mycenaeans. In the view of Albanian archaeologists, there is no evidence of an invasion from south, and the only impact has been from the settlers of a different culture that came from the north, mentioned above, and that to a limited extent. Commenting on this subject, Prendi would conclude: attempts to interpret in any other way the Middle Helladic elements in Albania have, it seems, no solid foundation. Thus, for example, one cannot possibly explain the presence of these elements so typical of the Greek Middle Bronze Age by the assumption that the early Mycenaeans colonized Albania in the seventeenth and sixteenth centuries B.C. The fact that these examples of Creto-Mycenaean civilization are found not only in the border areas, but equally in the interior, in geographically isolated places such as Mati, and often too in association with locally made pottery of native tradition in the tombs, goes to show that these burial-grounds belong to a native population and not to one originating from the south. (Prendi, F., p. 219)