Archaeology in Albania

We decided to write this blog in order to present the work we have been doing through the summer. After having a nine-month experience at MSU campus, on May 6 we traveled back home to Albania. We were very curious to see how it would be to be back in Albania after being in the US, which is very different from our home country. After 21 hours of traveling, we finally made it back home. We noticed some changes but in general, things have remained the same.

On May 17 we celebrated Danny Galaty’s first birthday in Tirana with many colleagues and friends. It was a fun party!

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After spending some time with our families and friends we travelled in Ioannina, Greece to attend the International Aegean Conference, AEGAEUM 16, from 18-21 of May. Attending this conference was very enriching as we were able to get up to date with the very latest works that prehistoric archaeologists from many countries from all over the world have done in the Aegean area. Papers given at the conference were mostly focused on pottery analysis. There were also papers focused on metals, jewelry, glass, and textiles. In particular, Albania was a hot spot in the discussions at this conference. For example, our advisor Dr. Michael Galaty and Rudenc Ruka of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology gave the paper “The position of Albania in Mediterranean obsidian exchange spheres.” Considering the strategic geographic position that Albania has in Europe, many human activities, like trade, have affected this area, allowing archaeologists to study interactions between tribes during prehistory, especially during the Bronze Age. We met many people at the conference, which will be very helpful in the future. Through this experience, we got a better idea of the recent work in the field of archaeology in Aegean region.

After the conference, we left Ioannina and drove to Shkodra, Albania in order to finish one of the test excavation units at the prehistoric site of Gajtan. In Gajtan, we dug with the Shkodra Archaeological Project’s director Dr. Michael Galaty, Cobb archaeologist Sylvia Deskaj, and one of the local archaeologists Zamir Tafilica. Mike and Sylvia’s son, Danny, was also there. He stood for the first time on his own two feet while trying to sieve the dirt. After almost one week of digging at Gajtan, we found many prehistoric pottery sherds, stone tools, and house remains, like daub, which was very exciting for us. After we finished with the digging process, Mike drove the materials to the University of Tirana. Now we are at the phase of processing the artifacts.

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Anisa Mara & Zhaneta Gjyshja

Archaeology MA students

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