North Macedonia: Another Site Of Ancient Illyria Is Discovered – OpEd
By Peter Tase
On February 23rd, Shqiptarja newspaper, an Albanian national paper, reported about the important discovery of an ancient Illyrian tombstone, and other unique artifacts, from the period of third century B.C. in one of the oldest cemeteries of Skopje.
Currently the site is being used to accommodate a large apartment complex that could hinder further research on this primary archaeological site that has valuable information about one of the highly structured Illiryan tribes such as the Dardanians.
The revelation of this emblematic cultural discovery was made outside the public’s eye and local authorities are making every effort to avoid impartial analysis of these Illyrian jewels. The current archaeological excavations, done by accident, are considered as critical and helpful for documenting the Illyrian history of Skopje.
According to Shqiptarja: “The new inscription from Skopje, the capital of Illyrian Dardania, between 500-600 A. D. belongs to a person named Dardanus. This inscription is significant because it provides solid evidence that the natives of the region still called themselves Dardanians and called the country SKUP in Albanian until the end of antiquity. The epitaph written in Latin is clearly visible on this stone block. The word SCUPA is seen – Skopje, LA VIX AN XXV (just commemorated 25 years), CARR (Chariot) UN CELER (quickly) FILIO (child, son) VALME (many) SECUNDA (second) VX OR F.C. (Filio Christi – Son of Christ). “THE BELOVED SON, JUST 25 YEARS OLD, BURIED IN SKOPJE WITH THE GLORIOUS CHARIOT OF THE SON OF CHRIST” can easily be appreciated.
For the First Deputy Prime Minister Artan Grubi, the recent discoveries will suspend the current project of apartment development and making sure that all cultural artifacts are preserved accordingly.
Ancient Skopje was founded in the Bronze Age and throughout various periods it has been an important settlement for all cultures that have influenced the Balkans. The city was also the capital of Dardania, an important Illyrian kingdom.
Various International Historians and archaeologists, such as renowned Prof. Dr. Neritan Ceka and Prof. Dr. Apollon Baçe have expressed elevated concern about the current intentions of local Macedonian authorities to allow the area to be turned into a construction site. Therefore, completely pulverizing the Illyrian archaeological riches that Skopje harbors underground.
Director Arian Asllanaj also emphasized that these cemeteries in this territory are from the 6th century, and inside the cemeteries, as he said, rings, swords and arrows can be found.
According to ancient history, the Dardanians were an Illyrian tribe located in the middle of the Balkans, mainly in today’s Kosovo and its surroundings, and they were the founding tribe of the Kingdom of Dardania around the 4th century BC.