Albania Archaeology 1978
For about thirty years now, Albanian archaeologists have been carrying out an intense activity, not only as regards excavations and related discoveries, but also in the studies and interpretation of the data. They are especially interested in the problems concerning the history of the Illyrians, seen as direct descendants of the Albanians.
According to topschoolsintheusa, the oldest known evidence so far is that of the marshes of Maliq (district of Korça): rectangular huts of the recent Neolithic (first half of the 3rd millennium BC) and lake settlements on stilts of the Eneolithic: respectively Maliq I and Maliq II. The place was inhabited without interruption even during the Bronze Age. An intermediate phase between Maliq I and II is given by the town of Kamnik (Korça district). The inhabited areas of Tren and Cakran, the tumular necropolises of the Middle and Late Bronze Age of Pazhok near Elbasan (in the grave goods, some Mycenaean imported objects) and of Vajza near Vlora are the other main prehistoric testimonies. Taken together, these testimonies foreshadow (shape of the mounds, type of pottery, etc.) characteristics of the Illyrian civilization of the Iron Age; they appear to be included in the great Balkan-Anatolian cultural complex. The Illyrians have therefore been in the region since the time of the first Indo-European settlements.
During the Iron Age, the Illyrian civilization developed considerably. The main evidences are constituted by tumular necropolis: for ex. those of the Mati valley, attributed to the warrior tribe of the Pirusti, or of the plain of Korce, attributed to the Dassareti; and above all from fortresses located in strategic points, such as those of Gaitan, Tren, Rosuje, with walls of “Cyclopean” or “Pelasgic” type with large irregular blocks. These fortresses flourish mainly in the 7th-5th century BC. C. (we can speak of a first phase of the Iron Age in the region); the real settlements are still simple rural agglomerations. The excavations carried out in the burial necropolis of the Mati valley are important: the grave goods mainly include iron and bronze weapons and ornaments.
Since the end of the 5th century BC, Greek colonies have been established on the southern coast of the country: Epidamnos-Dyrrhachion, Apollonia, Buthroton, Orichon. They are endowed with rather remarkable monuments: walls with doors and towers, temples, theaters (Buthroton), houses decorated with mosaics (similar to those of Pella are represented in Dyrrhachion in the 4th-3rd century), necropolis (the mounds of Apollonia testify to the presence of Illyrian influences in an environment of Greek colonization). At the same time, in the Illyrian tribes (for which we can now speak of the second phase of the Iron Age) there is a new impulse, with the birth of an urban life, in which cities are points of reference for rural ethnographic units. The presence of important monuments (3rd-2nd century stadium in Amantia, portico with niches in Dimala, theater in Byllis, peristyle dwellings in Antigonea, monumental rock tombs in the lower Selza, enclosure with doors in Lissus, thesauros in Finiqi), the materials found (local and imported ceramics, metal tools, building materials), the testimonies of agricultural life (large granary in Rosuje) and commercial (issuance of money in Skodra and Lissus) give the image of a developing society (based on the slave economy) and in good relations with the southern Greek colonies. The types of pottery found, the onomastics witnessed in the inscriptions, etc. reveal the active presence of the Illyrian element in the life of these cities. The period of development of the Illyrian civilization extends up to the 2nd century BC; during the phase of greatest prosperity (about 335-230) “kingdoms” are formed,
After the Roman conquest, the prosperity of the coastal cities continued, which even in the imperial age were enriched with new monuments: monumental fountain in Apollonia, thermal baths and amphitheater in Dyrrhachium, reconstruction of the theater in Butrint. Even in the interior regions the Romans extended their sphere of influence, however concentrating economic activity in a few large centers such as those of the Elbasan region: Ad Quintum, Skampini, Belësh. The right of municipium it is given to Lissus by Caesar; Italic colonists are sent to Dyrrhachium, Byllis, Buthrotum, Skodra. An important artery, the via Egnatia, leads from Apollonia and Dyrrhachium to Edessa. In spite of all this, however, it seems that the Romanization was on the whole less profound than elsewhere: for example, the not excessive quantity of inscriptions found testifies to a relatively limited penetration of the Latin language.