The Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha was obsessed with defending his ‘paradise on earth’. He feared invasion by NATO troops using a combination of amphibious landings and parachutists. As a result, he covered the country with thousands of mushroom-like bunkers, concealed trenches, and anti-aircraft guns. From the sea to the mountains, Albania became a fortress. This extraordinary martial investment had one unexpected outcome. During construction of an anti-aircraft installation close to Fshati i Vjetër, ‘The Old Village’ high on Mount Mile, overlooking Butrint, ancient Buthrotum, and the Straits of Corfu, an exquisite bronze statuette of the god, Pan, came to light in 1981.
Italy is in lockdown as I write and it feels like Christmas Day, such is the silence. Yet the cuckoos have dodged passport control and are here to herald each day. The fields, incidentally, are now flush with spring flowers. The government decree forbids travel, so I resort to assembling reports on old excavations for a new tome and, as it takes shape, I dwell on whom to dedicate it to. Archaeology is as much about people as it is about the past. So, just as I rework interpretations about past discoveries with each new piece of evidence, so I inevitably revise my thinking about people.
High on a hilltop near the village of Ploçe, Albania, lie the ruins of the ancient polis of Amantia. The city was founded in the 5th century BC and is first mentioned in ancient sources around the middle of the 4th century. It experienced an economic and cultural boom during the Hellenistic period, and from 230 BC started to mint its own coins.
Nearly 20 years of digging in and writing about Albania’s ancient sites has left a vivid impression on archaeologist and traveller Oliver Gilkes.
How on earth do you get the students up at 5am? That, rather than the archaeology, is the question that preoccupies my colleagues at the American University of Rome when I mention the Butrint Field School in Albania. Students are not generally known for their eagerness to rise at the crack of dawn and those […]
Today the Forty Saints sits discreetly above the crowded bay of Saranda (Hagioi Saranta), in southern Albania, overshadowed by telephone aerials. Enter the arcing harbour and your eye is drawn to a melée of small boys plunging into the water, little sun-tanned minxes in an otherwise sleepy, almost dreamy, tourist town. Saranda’s ancient history, when […]
Richard Hodges reflects upon a rich year at the glorious site of Butrint in Southern Albania, and on his search for one of its most distinguished citizens: the 1st century BC millionaire Titus Pomponius Atticus.
Richard Hodges charts the latest finds from Albania’s magical site
Richard Hodges sends his regular archaeological news, this time from Cape Styllo, a ‘no-man’s land’ between Greece and Albania
Richard Hodges sends news from Lake Prespa
A tour of Albania’s ancient city from a stunning new aerial perspective
After undergoing refurbishment Butrint’s oldest museum will open to the public on 22nd October 2005