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Sixth-century tomb uncovered in Albania

By Catholic Online
September 27th, 2010
Catholic Online (

An ancient tomb dating bck to the sixth century has been uncovered during a redevelopment project in Albania. The find is being called a major discovery for a nation whose archaeological past has been ignored or destroyed in the wake of modern development.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Found in the tiny town of Durres, Vangjel Stamo of Albania's archaeological service said that much recent development had "damaged so much of the archaeology."

Two years ago, Albania created a state archaeological service, but laws meant to ensure that potential archaeological sites were excavated ahead of development were regularly ignored. Officials sadly admit that they don't know how many sites may have been lost to construction.

Archaeologists plan to build a shelter over the tomb, which contained bones but no artifacts, and to dig around it in the hope of finding an entire cemetery. Work will then proceed on the planned municipal shopping complex and coffee bar.

Durres, which was first inhabited some 3,000 years ago, is 20 miles from the Albanian capital of Tirana.

"Durres is flooded with such tombs," Skender Bushi, an archaeologist monitoring work at the site in the city center says. "They are typical of the Byzantine period when people began to abandon this area due to the attacks from Avars, Goths and later Slavs," referring to people that invaded the Balkans in successive waves.

The tomb discovery provides a good indication of archaeological remains that could lie beneath. The grave was uncovered less than four meters deep, near the retaining wall of a previously excavated second-century amphitheater.

A passerby said he was glad authorities were taking care of Albania's heritage.

"We have seen so many times that old tiles, stones and parts of ancient statues come out when excavators dig the foundations of new buildings," he said.

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