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Summer ’24 with the Centre

As is customary each year at the beginning of May, the time has come for the Centre for Ancient Studies to embark on its annual archaeological tour of the Balkans. This year, the first to set off were three gentlemen in an Amarok, towing a trailer packed to the brim with excavation equipment: Krzysztof Narloch, Bartosz Wojciechowski, and Janusz Recław. Adhering to traffic regulations and crossing the borders of six countries, avoiding any mishaps and road checks, they reached the warm climes of southern Europe in just under 48 hours.

For many seasons now, the first stop on the quest for discoveries for our Centre’s team has been Albania, specifically the lost Illyrian city located on the hills known as the “Serpent’s Mouth” (alb. Bus Dziarpen). The archaeological site in Bushati, which we are referring to, welcomed us with exceptionally kind weather this year – mild and almost rain-free, though not scorching. It must be said that the weather at this time of year can sometimes be quite unpredictable, causing unexpected interruptions to our work.

Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by our Albanian colleagues: Saimir Shpuza from the Institute of Archaeology in Tirana, with whom we collaborate on the excavations, and Helidon Sokoli from the Regional Directorate for Cultural Heritage in Shkodër. Without delay, and mindful of potential weather changes, we immediately set to work. Since Monday, we have been continuing the exploration of Sector 5, where last year we uncovered the foundations of a large building with a public, and possibly cultic, function, which might be interpreted as a type of prytaneion (the seat of the city’s highest officials). Most of the physical labour is carried out by hired workers. This small but robust and disciplined team is well-versed in the challenges of stratigraphy and handling masses of ceramics.

We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the remaining members of our mission – the experienced draughtswoman Agata Momot, who will join us next week, and last but certainly not least, Professor Piotr Dyczek, the director of the Centre for Ancient Studies.

In the meantime, we send our greetings from sunny Albania and ask you to keep your fingers crossed for exciting new discoveries!