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Archeologists Discover 2,000-Year-Old City In Albania Once Thought To Be Just A Pile Of Rocks

Travelers Today       By    MJ De Castro

Updated: Jun 21, 2018 12:56 PM EDT

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A 2,000-year old archeological site has just been uncovered in the rocks of Shkodër, a city in Albania. What many people believed to be the long-lost city of Illyria was found unexpectedly.

The discovery by Polish archaeologists has provided insights on what used to be the thriving Illyrian civilization that controlled most of the Balkans in Antiquity.

Aside from being known as one of the cheapest countries to migrate to, Albania also boasts a rich history. The 50-acre site found in the northwestern part of the country is said to belong to the Illyrian city of Bassania and was described by the Roman historian Livy in his discussion of battles with the last king of Illyria, Gentius.

The archeological dig unearthed ancient stones with large bastions that are said to belong to a fortress. They also found 10-foot wide gates and stonewalls that were externally made of profiled stone blocks with spaces filled using small stones and soil.

Piotr Dyczek of the University of Warsaw said that these kinds of defensive structures are common in Hellenistic architecture.

Also part of the archeologists' discovery were ceramic vessel fragments and coins that date back to as early as fourth century B.C., the same time the Illyrian kingdom flourished. 

Dyczek said Bassania and the Illyrian kingdom were not mentioned in the writings of later travelers. He suggested that its name could have been forgotten because it was consigned to oblivion after its downfall in the hands of the Romans during the beginning of the first century.

Furthermore, the kingdom's location and geological infrastructure also played a big role why it was forgotten. The ruins found on a hill called "lips of viper" go unnoticed because of erosion. To other spectators, it just resembled other stones in the area instead of man-made structures.

Following the huge stones led to more artifacts belonging to the city. Large stone walls covered a vast area of 200,000 square meters which made archeologists believe that Bassania was three times as big as the 70,000-square meters ancient Shkodër.

About Illyria

The Illyrians were an influential tribe that held power for numerous centuries in the western Balkans. They had contacts with the Greeks and were influenced by the culture of southern neighbors.

The region of the Illyrians was divided into kingdoms, which struggled to overpower each other. When the great Illyrian king, Gendaius was defeated and captured by the Roman in 168 B.C., the invaders made a series of client republics in the kingdom.

In time, it eventually became a province of the Roman Empire and their culture was overshadowed by the Romans.

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Archeology, albania, bassania, illyria
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