Excavations at the burial tumulus of Lofkënd in south-central Albania in 2004

The excavation of the burial tumulus at the site of Lofkënd in the Mallakastra region of southern Albania was carried out as a collaboration of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), the International Center for Albanian Archaeology (ICAA) and the Institute of Archaeology, Tirana and co-directed by John K. Papadopoulos, Sarah P. Morris (UCLA) and Lorenc Bejko (ICAA & Institute of Archaeology). A total of twenty-eight burials were uncovered during the first season in late June and July 2004 in the uppermost meter of the tumulus (fig. 1), including a cluster of early modern infant graves (fig. 2) and inhumed animals on the east side of the mound, together with several adults. The largest number of tombs belonged to the Early Iron Age, most of which were in the characteristic “flexed” position, with several of the tombs containing more than one individual. All of the burials encountered in 2004 were inhumations. Finds included whole vessels of the handmade matt-painted style, several “spectacle” fibulae of a type familiar in sanctuaries and tombs in Greece, Italy and the Balkans in the 10th through 8th Centuries BC, as well as various other bronze, iron and bimetallic small finds. A number of typical Early Iron Age and modern burials are presented in the overview of graves. A particular focus of the 2004 season was the physical anthropology of those buried in the tumulus and the nature and composition of the fill (see Project Aims). One of the most interesting results of the 2004 excavations was the large number of prehistoric stone tools re-deposited in the tumulus fill (fig. 3), including Neolithic and Bronze Age types, and also some Paleolithic examples.

Fig. 1: The Lofkënd tumulus at the conclusion of the 2004 season
Fig. 2. One of the infant skeletons after cleaning in the lab
Fig. 3. Selection of prehistoric chipped stone tools from the surface and fill of the tumulus