Të dhëna të reja rreth fortifikimeve paraurbane në Shqipërinë jugperëndimore

Authors

  • Kriledjan Çipa
  • Mariglen Meshini

Abstract

The coastal facade of Chaonia, in antiquity, used to lie along the Ionian Coast, which nowadays includes Southwestern Albania. In an important part of this coast lies the area of the Himara Coast, which begins from the Karaburun Peninsula and ends to the Cape of Qefalia, creating a unique geographical unit. The earliest traces of life in this area belong to the Mesolithic period as evidenced
by the archaeological excavations carried out in the Himara cave. However, this area experiences a great living intensity during the late Bronze Age, a period in which a large number of fortifications appear. These fortifications, which have attracted the attention of foreign archaeologists since the early 20th century, begin to be archaeologically excavated and studied more in depth with the emergence of Albanian archaeology after the 1950s. The late Bronze Age is considered as the period of major social and economic changes in South Illyria and Epirus. The scientific information obtained from excavations of tumulus tombs simultaneously built with these fortifications shows that during this time begins the process of social differentiation, the tribal aristocracy is born and there are consolidated the tribal federations such as the Chaones and Thesprot in the Epirus region. Social differentiation and the need for
asset accumulation caused conflicts and intertribal warfare. This period fortifications appearance is seen as a result of these conflicts. Their main characteristic is the walls built in dry, with blocks being little or no refined, with two sides, and between them a medium and small stones fill. They are arched, circular or multiple-row walls, with no towers or angles. Among the most representative and most studied of the coast prehistoric fortifications are Karos in Qeparo with multiple-row walls and Badhra
near Borsh, which has the shape of a circle with a number of dwellings located outside it. To better understand from the topographic viewpoint the relation of this area with the border areas around it, observations were made in the areas of Orikum as
well as in the valleys of Shushica and Kalasa, where some new fortifications and new unknown settlements were discovered. Their identification creates opportunities for a better reading of the territory's organization in Southwestern Albania during the late bronze and early iron period, as well as obtaining new data for some previously known fortifications. In the Himara area, in the west of the village of Vuno, on the hill of Kastrisa (Fig. 2), a fragment of about 27 m long and 1 m wide prehistoric wall was discovered
(TAB I, 1). (TAB III, 1), belonging to a fortification ruined by the construction of several cell phone buildings. The fortification of “Qyteza”, which is located on a hill about 300 m above sea level, east of the city of Himara has a plan similar to a half-arched wall about 60 m long, with a maximum thickness of about 2.50 m and an entrance of 1.50 m in the South (TAB I, 2 and 3) (TAB III, 2). In the Sopot castle (Fig. 3) in the north of the Borsh village, a wall fragment was integrated into the plan of the Hellenistic city, which by construction technique resembles the archaic wall of Butrint's Acropolis (TAB I, 4). The fortification of Gjashnjar, in the village of Lukova, preserves only a wall fragment in the northern part of the fortification, which seen by the construction technique belongs to the Early Iron Age (TAB I, 6). The plan of this fortification has been with several walls, which divided the interior into three spaces.
Maja e Qytezës (The top of Town), in Karaburun Peninsula, is a semi-archedB prehistoric fortification with ruined walls (TAB V, 1). The wall is about 120 m long. It was thought that this fortification controlled the roads leading from the Vlora Bay to the Himara's coast, but in fact this fortification only controls Ravenna's plateau. The fortification that played this role was that of the Sofe Castle, which controlled the Llogara pass, which connects the Orikum area to that of Himara. In the hinterland of Himara, some new settlements of the late bronze and early Iron Age were identified in the valley of Shushica river. In the place called "Moçalet" in the village of Brataj, an open settlement of the late Bronze Age was excavated. The stratigraphy of the settlement had only three layers (Fig. 5), of which only the layer numbered 002 had archaeological finds. In the archaeological material layer besides the ceramics (TAB VIII), were also found flint and animal bones. In the village called Vranisht in a rocky natural ridge (Fig. 6) (TAB V, 3) called “Guri i Qytetit” (City Stone), ceramic material of the Bronze Age and late antiquity was found (TAB VII, Nr. 7, 8, 9, 12). On the right bank of Shushica river on the side of Valthi mountain lies the Castle of Kuç. It occupies a surface of slightly larger than 3 hectares and has about six enclosures (TAB VI, 1). The plan of this fortification is similar to that of Karos in Qeparo, Haderaj in Vlora, Mbolan in Berat and Trajan
in Korça. The maximum wall width is about 4 m. The best preserved walls are those of the first and the fourth enclosure. Within the fortification are found the ruins of some dwellings (TAB VI, 2 and 3). This fortification dates back to the Bronze as well as the Iron Age. It controls the outfalls that connect the Shushica valley to the coast. In the south of it, on a cliff called “Maja e Katafiqit” (The Top of Katafiq) were found the remains of another prehistoric fortification, which controlled the outfall that connects the Shushica valley with the Kurvelesh area. On the hill called “Qyteza” (the Town) in Tatzat (Fig. 7), on a hillside in the west of this village it was identified a prehistoric wall fragment about 87 m long and 1 m wide (TAB II, 5) (TAB V, 2), surrounding the southern side of the hill.
This fortification along with that of Shqevia and the Castle of Hito, played the role of fortifications controlling the roads that connected the Coast with the valley of Kalasa river. These observations allow us to have a more complete framework about the distribution of fortifications and to draw some conclusions about their function as well as their role in the territorial organization.
It is thought that one of the main functions of these fortifications was the housing of livestock, but from the observations carried out we conclude that these fortifications in large part served as settlements. Based on their function, they can be divided into fortified settlements, as evidenced by the residential structures in Badher, Kukum, Cip, Gjashnjar, Borsh and Karos and refugees and checkpoints such as Pirgu, Qyteza, Kastria, Vatoria, Cikopula ect. Another category include the open settlements, consisting of Karavaja near Ilias, Cuka near Saranda and “Moçalet” in Brataj, which in relation to fortified settlements are fewer in number due to the uncertainties and conflicts which characterize this period. In contrast with the other areas of South Illyria and Epirus, a characteristic of the Ionian coast fortifications are their small dimensions. From their plan forms there is a somehow similarity with settlements in the aforementioned territory, but they are different from fortified prehistoric villages of Molossia, which have a clear organization of inhabited areas and witness a continuity of uninterrupted life from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic one. The archaeological material of the Hellenistic period and the later antiquity found on the surface near these fortifications but also from the archaeological excavation in some of them, relates to the establishment of Komai (rural villages) nearby, which should have used these abandoned structures only in case of danger. It must be emphasized that the archaeological material from the eventual
excavations does not support a direct evolution from the fortifications of the late Bronze Age to the Fortifications of the Classical and Hellenistic period. There isno trace of continuity between Prehistoric and later Hellenistic structures. Such continuity can be traced through secure stratigraphic material in the area of Himara, only in the Cave of Spile. In Borsh, it can be traced an evolution of urban planning from the Classical to the Hellenistic period. In this ancient city, the ridge of the hillside, which in the Classical period is fortified with its perimeter walls, during the Hellenistic period, turns into the city's acropolis, while the part of the hillside suitable for housing are fortified with strong trapezoidal walls, equipped with towers and angled curves. Regardless of the fact that in the field of construction there does not appear to be a direct link between the late Bronze Age and the beginnings of urbanization,
in the aspect of territorial organization this period precedes the beginning of the organization of the territory and the creation of later Chaonia and Amantia koinon.

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Published

2023-08-04

How to Cite

Çipa , K., & Meshini, M. (2023). Të dhëna të reja rreth fortifikimeve paraurbane në Shqipërinë jugperëndimore. Iliria, 40(40), 59–95. Retrieved from https://albanica.al/iliria/article/view/2624

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