Bylazora (Macedonie): Explorations Unveil Civilization Dating Back to 5th Century BC


BylazoraBylazora explorations – Cultural Heritage Protection Office

Explorations of Bylazora, a city from the period of early classic antiquity, located near the village Knezhje which is part of the municipality of Sveti Nikole in Macedonia, are continually under way.  The city is undoubtedly the biggest and the most important Paeonian city. This year, the quintessential object of the city-the Ruler's Palace will be explored and the results should complete the story and satisfy the curiosity of the archaeologists and historians.

Explorations of this area first started in 1976 by professor Dr. Ivan Mikulcic. After a few years of neglect, about 10 years ago, the American explorer William Neidinger and Eulah Matthews from the Texas Foundation for Archaeological & Historical Research registered the first palace elements.

Path 4527In 2013, professor Dragi Mitrevski started his explorations and began unveiling the early antiquity story of a city that used to be full of life and most probably the capital of the ancient Paeonians.

Easily Accessible for Tourists

This archaeological site has the potential to become a tourist attraction due to its history and because of its accessibility.

"Macedonia has many archaeological sites, like Scupi, Stobi, and Heraclea, but those are cities dating from Roman times. The Romans conquered Macedonia in 168 BC and turned it into a province. What is interesting in relation to this site is that we had cities 300-400 before the Romans came. We had a civilization dating back to the 5th and 4th century BC. The city of Bylazora is a part of that civilization. We should be especially proud of it, and I am expecting wonderful things to emerge from this archaeological site", said the director of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office professor Viktor Lilcic Adams.

According to him, it is of great benefit that the road Stip-Skopje, which runs beside the site, is under construction.

"This will make it easy for local and foreign tourists to visit the site. A museum or gallery should be built on site, where the most beautiful archaeological findings can be showcased. I also hope that a souvenir shop can be established, so tourists can acquire something that will remind them of the Bylazora city", he said.

Path 4528More than Half of the Palace has Already Been Explored

The chief of explorations on site, Dr. Dragi Mitrevski, said that over 60 percent of the Ruler's Palace has already been explored. He also added that by the end of the year it will hopefully be fully explored.

"This means that the end of the research, through explorations of the traits of every room, the stratigraphy of the area, and the object's way of destruction, will connect with historic moments and all the segments will give us a clear picture. This year explorations will be carried out towards the west and north. The work is done systematically, and the whole area is divided in quadrants going west and north. We are currently working on them, even though the project is expanding toward the south as well. We still do not have access there because of some unsettled property issues", Mitrevski said.

At the moment, Mitrevski and 10 other archaeologists are intensively working on the above-mentioned two areas of the Ruler's palace, where new rooms are being discovered and their contents add a whole other dimension to the story.

"The way of discovering the contents, in the layers of the ruins, on the floors and in the roof construction of the structure, tells us about the purpose of the room. Piece by piece, we are putting together the whole picture. The room contents tell us that the structure was not torn down suddenly, so people were not surprised and forced to leave everything behind. The disaster was announced and people were expecting it. All valuable objects were taken from site", the professor explained.

The Celts Attacked until They Totally Destroyed the Structure  

According to him, the palace suffered a great fire which left the southern side totally burned down, while the northern side only partially damaged. All of this points to the fact that someone used arrows to start the fire on the south side. Archaeologists found hundreds of arrow heads in the roof construction among the tiles.

Path 4529"The floors burnt down, and even though a lot of findings have been uncovered, it would have been different if the whole structure was intact. This points to the fact that all valuables were removed. But contents such as fragile dishes, coins, and pieces of jewelry which held no particular value to them were left behind for us to uncover now. Our discovery of coins dating back from the time of Alexander III and Leon, a local ruler, led us to the conclusion that the destruction was caused by the Celts. They managed to totally destroy the palace. After that, the city became economically weaker and this lasted until the last decades of the 3rd century when, according to historic sources, Philip V started using the palace to station his army. The remnants of his army base are just being discovered, and they lay on top of the palace's remnants. These findings which have occupied us over the last two weeks will help us put the whole story together", Mitrevski said.

The Bylazora explorations are a major project of Macedonia's Government, which is realized through the Culture Ministry and the Cultural Heritage Protection Office in cooperation with the local self-government of Sveti Nikole, the National Museum in Sveti Nikole and the Faculty of Philosophy from Skopje.