Sunday, April 26, 2009

Transitional archaeology in a Transitional Country (1)


I will use this article as a basis for providing a brief overview of Macedonian archaeology and its dynamics between 1986 and 2006. The longer version of this paper was presented on 13th Annual Meeting of EAA held in Zadar, Croatia.

1986-2006

The archaeological politics of the Republic of Macedonia during the period of coexistence as part of ex-Yugoslavia displays few common features:

* The Government (Ministry of Culture) is funding the excavations
* The Museums and Institutions for protection of the excavating of the cultural heritage
* They only excavate necropolises

Excavations on the territory of Macedonia, 20 years ago as well as today, are mainly (90%) undertaken with funding provided by the Ministry of Culture. This tendency is starting to change in the past couple of years, by seeking other possibilities out of this sphere, but the fact remains that the Government is the major sponsor, so to speak, of every type of archaeological excavation in Macedonia.



Research is exclusively performed by the Museums of Republic of Macedonia as well as the Institutes for Protection of Cultural Monuments. But this research is limited due to several factors. The Museums, trying to enrich their collections with artefacts, prefer necropolis excavations, because every attempt to research a settlement, for example, would involve long-term physical planning for which they lack both the financial resources and the qualified staff.

The most frequent form of such excavations is protective excavations. Provoked by the dangers to the locality for various reasons, they are not different from any other type of excavation neither in their objectives nor in the character of the methodology of the archaeological work.

That is their legal interpretation, since they result from funding intended for research of a space marked for investment construction (roads, bridges, buildings, railway lines, etc.), because the main purpose of the research is to give an investor a building permit.

These protective excavations are limited to a small space of a methodological character that is mainly performed by probes (I want to emphasize this) and is without exception almost always vertical. The absence of a horizontal stratigraphy in the excavations of an archaeological locality (a settlement for example) and the funding that does not allow physical planning of the excavation results in serious effects on the later results that are not complete due to the fact that they are limited and do not involve methods of systematic researches.

The conclusion of the politics of the archaeological excavations in Macedonia towards the end of the 1980's and the middle 1990's is that there is not a systematic and long-term research of a larger space that would be covered by a horizontal stratigraphy. This remains a problem today.

continue ...


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