The main activities at Stobi in 2010 included two excavation projects and two conservation projects. Silvana Blaževska of the National Institution Stobi was the director of the projects.

2010

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The systematic excavations, sponsored by the Macedonian Government, began in 2009 and continued in 2010. The conservation of the mosaic in the “House of Peristeria” was included in the large excavation project.

 

Archaeological investigations continued in order to remove the baulks and complete the results from the previous season.

 

 

1. The Temple with hypogeum was completely excavated in the interior and phases from the 2nd to the 4th century were documented. Pieces of marble sculptures and an impressive marble vessel were discovered on the floor in the first underground chamber. The excavations also revealed oil lamps and transport amphora on the floor of the second chamber.

 

The area outside the temple remained largely unexplored, although the temenos wall, the entrance to the chambers and the two hearths in front of it were investigated. Especially important is the discovery of the front side of the temple and the remains of the steps which lead to the pronaos. 

 

The complex around the temple was also in the focus of the excavations. The documentation of different settlement phases is just the beginning of the research in this very important urban area.  

 

The most exciting discovery in the Temple sector was the previously unknown city gate in the southern part of the fortification. The gate, which has steps made of theatre seats, was closed during the 6th century. Two paved streets lead from the gate to the center of the town and along the inside of the fortification wall.  

 

An inner tower was also excavated in the southeast corner of the city wall.  Remains of an earlier defensive wall were found beneath the floor of the tower.

 

Jovan Radnjanski from the National Institution Stobi coordinated the excavations of the Temple.

 

 

2. In the Theatre sector, buildings from the second half of the 6th century and their phases were investigated.  The pottery kiln from Late Antiquity, located at the east end of the scene building, was also excavated.

 

The excavations completely revealed the lower part of the cavea, while the upper part was investigated between the radial walls. The bedding for the diazoma, the vaults connecting the radial walls and three arched entrances in the radial corridors below the cavea summa were documented. Since only the arches are revealed so far, it is clear that the floor of the corridors is covered with at least 3-4 meters of debris from Late Antiquity.

 

Goce Pavlovski from the National Institution Stobi coordinated the excavations of the Theatre.

 

 

3. The so-called North-Western Necropolis was excavated for the first time in 2010. The necropolis is located next to the northwestern part of the defensive wall. The burials date from Late Antiquity and the deceased are placed in arched tile graves with very few or no offerings. 225 of the 252 excavated graves belong to children.

 

Zlatko Kovancaliev from the National Institution Stobi coordinated the excavations of the NW Necropolis.

 

4. Test trenches were placed along the Northwestern Fortification Wall in order to investigate the foundations. Besides the foundations and the burials from the previously described necropolis, the test trenches revealed remains of earlier buildings mainly destroyed by the construction of the city wall.  Some of the remains may belong to an earlier fortification. 

 

Petre Kostov from the National Museum of Veles directed the excavations of this area.

 

5. The removal of most of the baulks at the area above the Semicircular court revealed a complete picture of the urbanization of this part of Early Byzantine Stobi (second half of the 6th century). The results are based on the research of the undisturbed context of at least ten houses and the streets between them. The houses have several phases but only the last one is fully documented. Besides the material from Late Antiquity, the two stratigraphical trenches revealed Hellenistic and Iron Age sherds in the lowest layers.

 

One of the most important achievements of this year excavations was the complete excavation of the so-called “House with a triclinium”, the largest and most beautiful building from the second half of the 6th century.  The conservation of the house will begin in 2011.

 

Hristian Talevski from the National Institution Stobi, Dimitar Nikolovski from National Istitution Stobi and Ljubinko Ðekić coordinated the excavations.

 

 

 6. The excavation of The Building with Arches continued inside the building while four trenches were also set outside the walls. These trenches will reveal the outer side of the walls, which are needed for the planned conservation. Inside the building, a few arched tile graves were excavated.

 

In addition to the excavation, there was a preventive conservation of the opus sectile floor in the second apsidal hall of the building.

 

The excavations were coordinated by Mila Shurbanovska from the Museum of Macedonia and Antonio Jakimovski from the Institute of Art History and Archaeology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje. Dragan Vergovski Alpi and Momchilo Trajkvoski from the National Conservation Centre coordinated the conservation.

 

 

7. The excavations in the south isle of the Episcopal Basilica revealed the south wall of the Old Episcopal Basilica from the 4th century, on which important layers of wall paintings with geometrical motifs are preserved. Remains of an older wall were documented as well but there is no further explanation for them due to the limited excavation area.

 

Valentina Todoroska was in charge of the excavations in the Basilica.

 

 

8. The first phase in the conservation of the mosaic in the “House of Peristeria” was finished as part of the large excavation project. In this phase, the conservation team removed the mosaic from the original location, cleaned the damaged hydrostatic mortar and replaced it with new mortar. It is expected that the mosaic will be placed back in the building in April 2011. 

 

Dragan Vergovski Alpi and Momchilo Trajkovski from the National Conservation Centre coordinated the conservation.

 

 

In the last quarter of 2010 the conservation of the Early Christian wall paintings from the Old Episcopal Basilica began. The project is financed by the Embassy of the United States through the 2010 Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Heritage Preservation. These are the oldest Christian wall paintings in the Republic of Macedonia and they are invaluable for the general research of Early Christian art. Raman Spectrometer analyses and removal of the frescoes from the south wall of the Old Episcopal Basilica were the main activities during the first and the second phases of the project. The third and the fourth phases will begin in 2011; all of the frescoes from the church will be conserved and placed on aluminium honeycomb panels. In the final conservation and the general presentation of the building, all of the frescoes will be returned to their original walls. 

 

The project is coordinated by Momchilo Trajkovski and Dragan Vergovski Alpi from the National Conservation Centre.

 

After the project is finished in 2011, the planned exhibition will introduce the wonderful Early Christian frescoes of Stobi to the public.  

 

 

One of the main achievements of the collaboration between NI Stobi and the Balkan Heritage foundation was the International Archaeological Field School, which took place at Stobi in August. Over four weeks, students excavated at two different locations.

 

The first location was the Temple sector where the so-called “House with a well” from the 5th century was investigated. The second location was the Western Necropolis. The participants excavated 25 different graves with cremated or skeletal remains. Particularly exciting was the excavation of the grave with nine terracotta bulls. One of the bulls was made very differently from the rest of the finds of this type at Stobi. So far, this is the most beautiful artifact of its kind.

 

 

The results of the excavations at Stobi in 2009 and 2010 were presented for the first time in October 2010 in Strumica, at the 21st symposium of the Macedonian Archaeological Society. The preliminary reports of the excavations will be published in the 4th volume of the Studies of Antiquities of Stobi, which is expected to be printed in 2012.

World Monuments Watch

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