The team of the Butrint Project in Vagalat

From 3/06 to 15/06/2022 the team of the Butrint Project embarked in its first survey campaign exploring some of the mains sites of the Pavla River Valley along with the fortified villas of Chaonia. The site surveyed are the following: 

Malathrea: fortified villa located on the road going from Konispol to Butrint, and first excavated by Luigi Maria Ugolini and Pirro Marconi. It is formed by a central structure with four angular towers and a series of rooms built around the central body, probably used as storage rooms. Its chronology goes from the second half of the 3rd century BC up to the Diocletian age. Malathrea and its surroundings were systematically surveyed by the Butrint Project team, both by intensive surface survey and by drone.

Çuka: fortified villa inside the modern residential area of Çuka, near Saranda. Due to the expansion fo the modern settlement, the building is badly preserved: just three of the four sides of the building with the central tower are still visible. It can probably be dated to the Hellenistic age. The team surveyed the site by drone. 

Çumpora: another fortified villa, located north of Çuka, first built during the second half of the 3rd century BC and occupied until the Roman age. It was excavated for the first time by Dh. Budina. The main building is almost completely preserved: a stone stair and two passages covered with lintels are still in place. Around this, the structure that could have enclosed the complex on the south-west and south-east sides disappeared, while only the foundations of the later rooms on the north-west and north-east sides are still visible. The site was involved both in the drone survey and in the topographic survey using the laser scanning methodology. 

Malçani: fortified settlement located south-west of the modern village of Malçani. Its most prominent features are the two wall circuit encircling the hill along the east and south side. The outer Hellenistic wall circuit is characterised by 15 rectangular, equally spaced strongholds. The inner circuit, probably built during Late Antiquity, encloses the summit of the hill. Malçani is one of the biggest sites in the Pavla and Leshnica Rivers Valleys, which makes it particularly interesting for the survey project. The drone survey was able to locate several buildings on the hill, part of which had already been identified during the last survey here conducted by E. Giorgi and J. Bogdani. The site was analysed by drone survey and surface survey, the latter, however, limited to the summit of the hill and the terraced areas along its side.  

Vagalati: several structure are visible on this site, located on the mountain at the right of the Pavla river, in the Bogazi gorge. During the survey, the team was able to locate the dry stone wall with an entrance on the northern side on the top of the mountain, which is usually referred to a proto-historic fortified settlement. To the north of it, the Hellenistic watchtower with a double curtain wall on its south-west side climbing the slope of the mountain. Given the difficulty of accessing the site, the team was only involved in the drone survey.

Ripësi: located near the village of Zëmnec, on the Greek border, this fortified settlement is naturally fortified on three sides, while on the fourth (the south-west one) a long emplekton wall can be found. What seems to be a later terrace wall is also visible on the eastern side of the wall circuit, partly built outside it. Its chronology is still debated, probably going from the 4th-3rd century BC to the 2nd-1st century BC. The Butrint Project team surveyed the site by drone.  

Duka: located near the village of Zëmnec and the site of Paleomanastiri, this site is characterised by one wall defending the only accessible side of the hill and one stronghold. The site is badly preserved, being nowadays mostly a heap of rubble. The drone survey was considered to be the best option to understand the extent of the site.

Paleomanastiri: a settled fortification located near the village of Karroq, just behind the end fo the Bogazi gorge, on the left of the Pavla river. The morphology of the site has deeply influenced the construction fo the wall circuit: on the northern side, it is founded directly on the bedrock plummeting on the Bogazi gorge, while the other parts of the wall circuit just follow the natural slopes of the hill with a sawtooth pattern. The southern side, on the other hand, follows a curved line. Two gates are still visible, the main one on the south-east and a second one on the north. Several structures are visible on the inside of the wall circuit. The surface survey was limited to part of the terraces created by the wall circuit near the main access gate. The whole site was interested by drone survey. 

At the end of the campaign, the team embarked in a study trip in Greek Epirus visiting the sites of the Nekromanteion, Ephyra, Nikopolis, as well as the Archaeological Museums of Ioannina and Nikopolis.