of the Finds
The material from the Early Iron Age graves thus far excavated
can be dated from the 11th/10th through the later 7th or 6th
centuries B.C. All of the pottery
deposited in tombs is handmade and includes both matt-painted and burnished
wares, as well as vessels with plastic decoration. The matt-painted pottery
shares much in common with similar vessels from southern Albania and northern
Epirus (as well as western Thessaly and Macedonia), and some of the material
may prove to be imported. In addition to the material found in tombs, Early
Iron Age pottery fragments were encountered throughout the fill of the tumulus.
The metal finds include bronze, iron, and gold. Among the bronzes,
so-called spectacle fibulae of a type familiar in sanctuaries
and tombs in Greece, Italy,
and the Balkans in the 10th through 8th centuries B.C. were common. The iron
objects included a variety of dress pins, fibulae, and small tubular beads. There
were also a number of bimetallic bronze and iron objects. The only gold objects
found in 2004 and 2005 were two gold disks, in situ one on either side of the
cranium and more or less at the position where the ears of the deceased would
have been. The disks were decorated with repoussé concentric circles and
finely incised strokes.
The only object of stone deposited in a tomb was a small bead of
sardonyx or carnelian. Chipped stone tools, however, were relatively
the fill – and on the surface – of the tumulus. A number of examples
dating from the later Bronze and Early Iron Age may be discerned, but also types
that are characteristic of the Neolithic period and the earlier stages of the
Bronze Age, as well as some that are Mesolithic and Paleolithic. The quantity
and chronological range of these tools is such that they cannot be easily accounted
for and it seems likely that the chipped stone tools derive from the debris of
earlier sites that was intentionally brought to Lofkënd, presumably with
the deceased, to be used as fill.
The other prominent type of find recovered from the general fill
of the tumulus
was what was entered into the Lofkënd database as “fired clay not
pottery.” Many of these pieces and lumps of clay are amorphous, but a good
many of them preserve reed, rod, or stake impressions suggesting that the clay
had been used as a lining material in wattle-and-daub architecture. Similar pieces
of fire-affected or hardened clay were found at the Neolithic site at Cakran.
Whether or not such material was used in the Early Iron Age remains unknown,
as there are to date no verified Early Iron Age sites in the Mallakastra region
contemporary with the Early Iron Age tombs in the Lofkënd tumulus that have
yielded any significant evidence of habitation of the period. The combination
of chipped stone tools and remnants of wattle-and-daub architecture raises the
intriguing possibility that those burying the dead intentionally brought material
from other sites in order to use as tumulus fill.
The other material encountered in various contexts in the Lofkënd tumulus
was bitumen (or asphalt). In one of the inhumations (Tomb 50), traces of bitumen
were encountered over and around part of the skeletal remains of the deceased,
and next to Tomb 35 was a large coarse vessel containing lumps of the hydrocarbon.
In addition, a number of sherds recovered from the fill of tumulus were coated,
or partially coated, with bitumen. The preserved bitumen on these sherds varies
in thickness, depending on the state of preservation and the original thickness
of the coating. The bitumen was presumably applied as viscous liquid while it
was heated, and in most cases it appears to have been finished to create a smooth
surface with no visible tool marks. The importance of bitumen in the prehistoric
and, particularly, the historical context of this part of Illyria – including
the reasons behind the colonization of Apollonia – will form part of our
ongoing analysis of the site and region.