Vane P. Sekulov

Building II, Paprite at the site of Crveno Pole: burnt, not completely excavated, yet provocative

The site of Crveno pole is located at 37 km south east of Strumica, at the utmost south-east part of the Republic of Macedonia, at the very border to R. Bulgaria, i.e. at 15 km north of the municipality center of Novo Selo and 8.5 km north of the village of Barbarevo in the surroundings of which it is situated. (fig.1)

Situated high in the bosom of the Ograzden Mountain at about 1200m above sea level (fig.2), it is a separate micro-geographic region composed of several hills in a row, with south-east--north-west orientation.  The hills are connected among each other by mild ridges so that one gets the impression of a small plateau which is inclining to the south.  Such a position, protected by the high peaks of the Ograzden Mountain, and the inclination of the hills to the south, provides all-day exposure to the sun and at the same time offers protection from the north winds, particularly in the winter period. In the proximity there are several fountains, as well as two smaller rivers - the former divides the plateau in two while the latter frames the south part.  

 Along the banks of the rivers there are pastures and fertile land. The surrounding higher mountain ranges are grown in thick beech wood rich in various game. It also serves as a source of building material and firewood.

Thus this micro-region is an excellent place for living. It can be confirmed by the fact that seven out of 13 households from Barbarevo spend the summer at Crveno Pole, breeding livestock and growing potatoes and corn.  

This has always been the case, which is shown by the five sites where architectonic, spiritual and material traces from the past have been noted to testify about organised life going on for over six centuries (fig.3). 

The necropolis is located on the peak of the first hill in the row starting from the south-east and is known by the local population as Gusterova Cukarka (Hill of the lizard).   From the north side the hill inclines steeply to the spring Belogazica, to the west via a mild saddle it is connected to the neighbouring hill, Spasova Cukarka; to the east it is protected by a larger range of the Ograzden Mountain, whereas to the south via the deep valleys it goes down to the very foot of the mountain.   The necropolis is located at the top of the hill, which is at 1186.45m above sea level.  It comprises an area of about 5000m2, of which 750m2 have been treated so far, including 81 graves, densely arranged to each other.  In all of the graves the cremation funeral rite of the deceased had been employed.  They have been precisely dated from the end of I up to the end of III century AD.

At about fifty meters to the west, on the top of the hill Spasova Cukarka, a necropolis with another funeral rite was discovered, namely inhumation was carried out into cists hollowed in the rock and then covered with stone plates.   Although only several of the graves have been treated by control research, it is almost certain that this necropolis was in use in V and VI century AD. 

At about one hundred meters to the south of the two necropolises, on the top of a high and dominant hill with steep and inaccessible sides a refugium was built, a place to protect the inhabitants in case of danger.  The remains from foundations speak about the strong fortification of the place.

To the west of the necropolises, bordered only by Belogazica, in the central part of Crveno Pole, there is an open type settlement located on a larger plateau. On this area, which inclines to the south and is comprised of several hectares, a couple of dozens of housing and economic buildings have been observed.  Belogazica divides the settlement into two parts: north one - "Janina cesma"[1] and a south one - "Papri".

The building which is the subject matter of this research is located in the south part of the settlement on the site "Papri" The place where the building was erected is in accord with all conditions prescribed by ancient authors regarding buildings of this type: various semi-mountain relief rich in pastures, a river terrace with fertile land, proximity of water, good position protected by winds and a healthy climate.[2]

The building was erected on the river terrace; Belogazica flows only at a few meters away, with its bank almost perpendicularly inclining to the riverbed at a height of about ten meters.  In the same direction, on the north bank, there is one of the several fountains situated along the river, enough to supply a large settlement with drinking water.  The terrace inclines mildly to the south, where at a distance of several hundred meters the left (north) bank of another, smaller river ends, along which there are also several fountains.   In the near and distant surroundings of the building, along the two rivers, on a space where no traces of other buildings are noticeable there is a fertile area which is cultivated in the present day.

The basis of the building was noticeable on the surface, so that with the first excavation the upper portions of the walls appeared.  Although it was treated in two campaigns, only a part of the building was discovered.[3] The building stretches to the west, while to the east there is another smaller building which has been completely explored, as well as several buildings that can be traced in their foundations and that were for certain a part of a larger housing and economic complex. 

Description of the building

With the excavations done so far, five premises have been explored, terraced in the north-south direction, the floors being at a height of 1.5m one from another, comprising an overall area of 159.41m² (fig.4). The central position belongs to the largest premise, Premise No1, while the rest of the premises are arranged to the west and to the south of Premise No1.  According to the way of organizational positioning of premises and the way of their construction, we conclude that premises No1, No4 and No5 were built first, while premises No2 and No3 together with the porch were added to them later.  The remains of the walls do not allow calculating the height of the ground floor and the upper floor, nor do they allow defining the window dimensions.  Only in Premise No3 we can assume the existence of an upper floor. 

It was built in massive construction with walls of stone and clay in the construction technique opus incertum.  The walls were founded upon the rock following its inclination to the south, hollowed into it, with a substructure as deep as 0.50m.  The maximum preserved superstructure of the building is 1.15m.  The thickness of walls is from 0.60 to 0.70m (fig.5). 

To construct the walls they used broken and half-chiselled stones, river stones, stones split from rock and a small amount of quartz.  From the outside the walls are composed of middle-sized stones, while from the inside they are filled with small stones.  Beside stones, unbaked bricks were used as a construction material, both in the walls on the upper floor and around the windows.  These bricks were made of red clay mixed with small pieces from the slate rock.  Clay was used as an adhesive.

All of the discovered walls are with preserved doorways with width ranging from 1.10 to 1.20m so that the entrances and the communication among them have been determined.

All of the premises have a floor finish of pressed earth with width of about 5 cm except for the premise designated as porch, where remains of the floor paved with stone tiles have been found. 

According to the fallen leftovers found in the interior of the building, the roof construction was made of tegulas and imbrexes of different size. The remains of tegulas with round opening in the middle testify that there were fireplaces in the building, i.e. the tegulas arranged on the roof had the role of a chimney.

Premise No 1

Premise No1 occupies the south east part of the building.  It is almost square in form, with the exception that its east and west walls are a bit shorter.  The south and the north walls are with a length of 8m each, the east is 7.40m long, while the west is 7.20m long (fig.6). They are 0.60m thick, except for the north wall, which has a thickness of 0.70m.  The substructure is founded in the rock and is of varying depth: from 0.20 to 0.50m.  The superstructure has been preserved with height of 1.00m in the east and the south wall, up to 1.10m in the west and the north wall.  All walls are mutually connected, except for the north and the west wall, which are divided by a joint.  The walls were constructed in opus incertum, the outer parts being composed of larger stones sized from 0.30m to 0.40m, while the inner part of the wall was filled with smaller stones.  The stones are either broken or half-chiselled and clay was used as an adhesive (fig.7).  In the nether portions of the east wall, and particularly in the whole of the north wall, the effort for horizontal construction is visible.  There are preserved doorways in the south and in the west wall, toward premises No2 and No4.   The doorway in the south wall leading to Premise No2 is 1.10m wide, while the doorway to Premise No4 located in the west wall is 1.20m wide with preserved wooden threshold or nether part of the wooden door frame.  In the south wall, east of the door, there is a triangular opening at floor level which penetrates the wall and appears in Premise No2.  The opening is triangular in form, composed of two tegular fragments identical in height and width - 0.40m. It is possible that the walls were spread with two layers of clay, the upper of which was decorated with vertical flutes to give them an impressive look. The floor of the premise is right above the rock, made of pressed clay with an average depth of 5cm.  The rock was not flattened, so the builders used the natural inclination of the land, which is a meter going from the north to the south.  Only along the whole of the north wall, in the direction east-west there is a layer from 1.10m to 1.30m wide, where the rock was flattened, and where the floor is 5cm above the rock level. South of this layer, to the east and to the west part there are two fireplaces respectively.  The fireplaces are quite simple in construction, raising right from the floor superstructure, composed of a tegular fragment, the east being rectangular and the west triangular, both with short stone plates positioned at their sides (fig.8). These fireplaces may have been built of adobes, as around them, above the layer of cinder and the clay floor, there are considerable remains of compact adobes.  It is here, on the north third of the premise, where the majority of the artefacts are concentrated.  The entire rock surface is hollowed by pits different in size and depth (fig.6).  Most of the pits are round but irregular or oval in form with diameters ranging from several centimetres to 0.80m, and depth from 0.10m to 1m.  Only in the south west corner of the premise there is a pit of irregular rectangular form and dimensions of 1.30x0.75m and depth of 1m.  At the bottom of this pit, in its corners there are 4 smaller round pits with diameter of 0.20m while in the middle of its side parts there are oval pits about 0.35m long.  The roof construction of the premise was made of wood, which is proven by the remains of burnt beams found on the floor.  Most probably, the roof was with two slopes, and it was covered with tegulas and imbrexes of different size.  The tegulas are curved, most often with length ranging from 0.83m to 0.84m and width from 0.45m to 0.47m, with a standard thickness of 0.025m. There have also been found tegulas with circular ring-like opening in the middle - so called komini, which functioned as a chimney (fig.9). The imbrexes are most often with two dimensions: their length ranges from 0.52m to 0.74m, and their width is from 0.20m to 0.21m, with thickness like that of the tegulas.  They are with semicircular and angular diameter.

Premise No 2

Premise No2 is attached to the south east of Premise No1, and they share the north wall. The east wall is protruded by 0.15m to the east compared to the direction of the east wall of Premise No1.  The premise has an east-west orientation and is almost rectangular in form, with the exception that the west wall is a bit shorter. The premise is 4.80m long, while its width is 2.80m in the west end and 2.95m in the east end (fig.10).  All walls have the same thickness, which is 0.60m.  They were built on the surface of the rock without being dug.  The superstructure is varying in height: 0.55m at the west, 0.70m at the east, 0.80 at the south and 1m at the north wall, which is shared between Premises 2 and 1.  The construction technique is identical as in Premise No1, i.e. Premise No2 was built in opus incertum, with broken and half-chiselled stones which are a bit smaller in size. Very rarely brick fragments arranged in rows are visible, particularly in the east wall, which is of best quality. Clay was also used in Premise No2 as an adhesive.  The south wall, in its west half, due to earth pressure, is deformed and inclines to the south by 0.40m.  Out of the premise dimensions it continues to the west into a narrower wall which is 1.80m long, 0.45m thick and 0.35m high.  The premise has two doorways: one to Premise No1 already described above, while the other is in the west wall and leads to the porch paved with stone plates.   The west doorway is 1.15m wide. Similar to the west doorway in Premise No1 here also the burnt wooden beam from the threshold is preserved.  In the east half of Premise No2 there is a canal dug in the rock and covered with stone plates.  The canal enters the premise through the east wall at 0.45m from the north wall, then it continues to the west for 1.80m, and turns to the south at an angle of 90°; it cuts the premise by width for 2.50m, and across the south wall it enters in a big pit outside the premise[4].  The premise, like the rest of the building, was founded upon a rock.  Because of its small size, it inclines to the south for 0.23m.  Here also the floor is made of a layer of pressed clay with varying thickness, depending on the position.  The layer of clay is thicker in the south parts of the premise.  Two pits with large dimensions are dug in Premise No2.  Both pits have irregular circular bases with diameters of 1.55m.  Pit 1, which is in the east part, is 1.44m deep, while pit 2, in the west part of the premise, is a bit deeper and goes down to 1.52m.  Around these two pits there are several smaller ones with diameters of 0.20m; they resemble picket foundations, which might mean that the pits were fenced with pickets.  On the south-west of pit 2 there are two quite small extensions set at different levels whose function is to provide an easy access to the pit.  When the pits were discovered, they were both filled with earth, while pit 2 had the same content in stratification as the rest of the premise.  The roof construction was made of wooden beams, of which large burnt fragments have been preserved.  The roof was probably one-sloped and it was inclined to the south.  It was covered with tegulas and imbrexes identical in form and size as those from Premise No1. 

The entrance to Premise No2 was through the porch from the west.  The porch is with dimensions of 3x1.80m in the direction north-south; from the north it is closed with the west half of the south wall of Premise No1; its south wall is 1.80m long, 0.45m thick, while its preserved height is 0.35m.  It does not follow the direction of the south wall of Premise No2, but diverges by 0.20m to the south.  It was built in the same manner as the rest of the walls.  Unlike the other floors which are made of pressed clay, the porch floor is paved with massive stone plates (0.90x0.50m) with trapezoid form.  As expected, at about 20cm beneath the tiles there is rock also filled with pits.

Premise No 3

This premise occupies the north-east part of the building. It is rectangular in form with inner dimensions of 4.15x3.15m in the east-west direction. The thickness of walls is standard - 0.60m.  The substructure is founded in the rock as deep as 0.30m.  The preserved superstructure is of varying height: 0.87m at the south and the east wall, 0.90m at the west wall, up to 1.15m at the north wall (fig.11).  Excluding the south wall, which is the most damaged one, this is the most beautifully built premise.  The other three walls were built in the technique opus incertum, with neat horizontal rows, whose face surfaces are flatter and more compact. The stone used is half-chiselled with irregular rectangular form and dimensions of 0.40x0.30m.  The space among them is filled with tiny broken stones and clay which was used as an adhesive.  The entrance to this premise is in the west wall, in the south-west corner. It is 1.20m wide, built of half-chiselled stones. The threshold is paved with stones with dimensions of 0.40x0.20m.  Burnt wooden beams, which were part of the doorframe, have also been preserved here.  A layer of well-preserved specimen of unbaked bricks has been discovered next to the north doorpost (fig.13). The bricks are with dimensions of 0.22x0.14m and thickness varying from 0.05m to 0.08m.  On their wider surfaces all bricks have rectangular sockets to get a better hold of the adhesive layer (fig.14). They were made of red clay mixed with chippings of broken rock. The bricks were used to finish the construction of the upper part of the door and probably to frame the windows. Along the entire east wall, right above floor level a compact mass of clay was found, with average width of 1m and thickness of 0.10m (fig.15).  It was neatly smoothed from above, and when it was lifted impressions of beams were found from beneath.  The width of these impressions is from 0.04m to 0.08m (fig.16). In fact, they are traces of construction portions built in the technique bondruk (post and pain), i.e. a wooden frame filled with a thick layer of clay, which was used to build the upper floor of this premise.  The floor is made of pressed clay with varying thickness that depends on the position in the premise, but is 0.06m on average. As in the other premises, it is set on the rock which slopes down from north to south by 0.28m; yet one gets the impression that the floor in this premise was more carefully levelled.  Along the entire surface of the rock there are pits with varying size and depth.  Yet, it is evident that the larger pits, whose diameter ranges from 0.60m and 1.2m are concentrated in the east half of the premise. In the west half, especially in its central part, there are several smaller pits with a diameter of about twenty centimetres.  There is also a large oval pit located in the north-west corner of the premise, with a diameter of 1.10m.  It is noticeable that the pits, particularly the four pits beside the east wall, are connected among each other through shallow canals.  The roof construction is standard as well, most probably on two slopes, made of tegulas and imbrexes with the common form and size, plus a type of imbrexes with dimensions of 0.43x0.17x0.025m. One specimen of the so called komini bricks, a tegula with a round opening in the middle, has also been found in Premise No3 (fig.17). It has not been preserved in full length; it is 0.43m wide, 0.003m thick, the diameter of the ring is 0.14m and its preserved height is 0.045m. As no fireplace was noticed on the ground, we conclude that it was located on the upper floor.

Premise No 4

This premise is located between Premise No3 and Premise No1. Although not fully explored, we can define its dimensions[5]. It is rectangular in form, i.e. it is 4m long in the east-west direction and 2.7m wide.  It shares its north wall with the south wall of Premise No2, while its east wall is attached to the west wall of Premise No1.  Only parts of the west and the south wall have been excavated to a degree that does not allow a relevant description of the premise. In addition, no floor has been noticed in the explored area although rock level has been reached. Also no entrance has been discovered in the excavated parts. A thick layer with great concentration of construction ceramics is visible in the remaining profiles.

Premise No 5

This premise has also been scarcely explored, even less than Premise 4[6]. Technically speaking, only a few spots have been discovered by means of which the premise dimensions could be determined. The south-west, the south-east and the north-east corner have been excavated so far. It shares the north wall with Premise No4, while its east wall is attached to Premise No1 towards which there is an entrance already described above. The premise is trapezoid in form and it stretches in the direction north-south.  It is 5.40m long while its width is 4m in the north and 3.60m in the south.   In the excavated area a floor has not been discovered, i.e. the rock level has not been reached. In the unexplored profiles a thick layer with great concentration of construction ceramics is visible, as well as remains of unbaked bricks and adhesive clay. The condition in which Premise No5 is left does not allow determining whether the construction elements are part of it or simply pieces fallen from other premises. 

The building had suffered in a fire

In all of the treated premises there is a layer of cinder and ashes even above 0.50m thick. Moreover, the vertical stratification is exactly of the kind that could be created only in a building wrecked as a result of a strong fire. The layers are easy to recognize. Going from the top, the first layer - up to 0.70m thick - is composed of stones wrecked from the walls (fig.18). Beneath the stones there is another layer composed mainly of roof ceramics (fig.19) and larger chunks of burnt beams, while further beneath, on the floor, there is the last, third layer composed of cinder. The roof ceramics is most often concentrated beside the south parts of the north walls. When the roof construction caught fire, the south part yielded first, while the beams of the north part lasted a bit longer. Under the weight of the tiles the entire roof was destroyed but first its south part was wrecked, following the inclination of the land, which is proved by the fact that tegulas and imbrexes are placed diagonally one over the other.  On the north wall of Premise No1 there used to be wooden shelves. At the foot of this wall remains of burnt boards were found. The wooden doors from the entrances of all rooms were also caught by the fire. The wooden thresholds together with remains of the wooden framework have been preserved above the stones. A considerable number of large massive iron nails traced with obvious burns have been found in the proximity of all of the entrances. The nails were part of the door constructions and their size inevitably points to the fact that the doors had been made of thick massive boards. Above the threshold between Premises 1 and 5 we have found a key to one of the doors, which was in the lock while it was burning together with the rest of the building.


Almost the entire inventory of artefacts has been found in the layer of cinder and ashes, i.e. between the floor and the layer of the wrecked roof construction. The strong fire and the fall of the roof caused the damage of objects: the metal objects were intensively burnt, while the ceramic ones were damaged due to the pressure caused by the fall of the roof. However, this was a good way to protect the entire inventory as in the following centuries the objects remained where they had been when the fire started, i.e. in their everyday places. At the same time, according to the material found in the premises, which is abundant in some of them, we can determine the use of a given premise with a great certainty.

As usual, the ceramics is the most numerous.  Ceramic objects can be found in almost all of the premises although varying in concentration and forms[7]. The greatest concentration of ceramics can be seen in Premise No1, particularly in its north part near the wall or next to it (fig.20). Probably there were wooden shelves on the wall where the vessels were arranged. The shelves were burnt by the fire and the vessels fell next to the wall. Then the roof fell and pressed upon the vessels, which caused damages to most of them. Although fragmented, the vessels have been preserved in their original forms. 

In this part of the premise a total of 25 vessels have been preserved.  They are most often made on a pottery wheel, but there are also some handmade specimens. By their form, most of the vessels are pots, various in form, colour and quality of creation. Among the pots, the most numerous are those with one vertical handle, a round or spherical body and a wide brim most often projected outwards (fig.21).  The colour palette ranges from light brown to brown-red, with visible burning traces. The decoration is simple, with shallow engraving, usually placed beneath the brim or across the body of the pots. 

Second by concentration are the jugs (fig.22). Their bodies are spherical or slightly elongated, while their bottoms are flat or concave. They all have one handle and a wide but short neck which sometimes has a brim slightly projected outwards. The decoration is very simple, with a ring-like thickening beneath the brim and with engraved parallel lines across the neck and the body. There is only one specimen with a wide, almost biconical body, a flat wide bottom and a high conical neck with a ring-like expanded brim. This pitcher has one vertical handle which starts from the widest part of the body and ends in the brim. At the root of the handle there are engraved two parallel lines which proceed around the whole body. 

We should emphasize the two specimens found for the first time on this site[8].  They are spherical in form with a wide flat bottom. Their brims start directly from the body and are diagonally projected outwards. They both have two strip-like vertical handles which end at the root of the brim. What makes them special are their lips that start right beneath the brim (fig.23). One of the vessels has a lip that is short and cylindrical, while the other has a lip that rises remarkably above the brim and widens in a form of a funnel.  Both lips end in the form of a ring.  One of the vessels has no decoration at all, while the other has a body with plastically emphasized parallel ridges.  

The handmade ceramics can be found in fragments across the three completely explored premises, while wholly-preserved specimens are present only in Premises No1 and No2. Although made by hand, these are nicely shaped vessels made from medium-cleaned clay, usually dark or sometimes black in colour.  They are of two types: jugs and pots[9] .

The jugs have elongated bodies, flat bottoms and short conical necks that end in trefoil expanded brims (fig.24). They have one vertical handle which starts from the widest part of the body and ends in the brim. No decoration is present.   

The pots have bodies that can be spherical, elongated spherical or even biconical. Their bottoms are either flat or concave. The specimens without necks have wide brims that are either flat or slightly indented inwards. The specimens with elongated spherical bodies have conical necks with a slightly projected ring-like brim. All types of pots have horizontal handles, slanted upwards (fig.25). Most often they have no decoration.

There are also a lot of lids in the inventory of artefacts.  Most often they are fragmented but some of them are completely preserved or in a state which helps to determine their form. Several types of lids have been found, different one from another in the shape of their bodies. Yet predominant are the lids with spherical, calotte or conical shape. Their brims are simple and usually not projected.  The lids have emphasized ring-like grips. 

The large vessels are represented by 4 specimens, two of which were discovered in Premise No4 and the other two in Premise No5 (fig.26), but both premises have not been fully explored yet. The large vessels are pitoi with smaller dimensions with a height up to 0.70m. Two of them, the ones found in Premise No5, had been half-broken and then covered by stone plates[10]. In one of them a handmade jug with a trefoil brim has been found. One of the pitoi from Premise No4 was completely dug in the rock, while the other was only partially dug in the rock. The former had been closed by a massive circular stone plate.  The pitoi have round or spherical bodies with small but massive apples at their bottoms additionally dug in the ground to function as stabilizers. The two completely preserved specimens have short ring-like necks with flat brims.

Table ceramics, like plates or platters, have not been found in these five premises, not even in fragmented forms.     

The lamps are represented with two specimens only. One of them has been fragmentally preserved in the disk part. It is round in form, indented towards the small circular oil opening separated from the shoulder by a double plastic ridge. The shoulder is radially profiled decorated with plastic, densely arranged granules.

The other lamp is of the type of North African lucernes with elliptical body that continues into an elongated massive beak (fig.27). Its handle is missing. The shoulder is flat, decorated with a palm wreath framed in a plastically profiled rim. The disk is elliptical and depressed, with a plastic representation of a cross on it. The cross is decorated with circles which imitate the precious stones. There are two circular openings in the disk. One is in the centre, while the other is beside the cross representation, next to the beak where a large egg-like opening is found.  The lamp has a slightly pointed, ring-like leg.  Along its nether part, from the handle to the beak, there is also a slightly pointed ridge. It is 10.6cm long, 6,3cm wide and 3cm high.

The glass is also present in the inventory of artefacts. The fragments of flat thick glass with rounded edges are certainly part of the glazed windows.  They can be seen in all of the premises. In Premise No1 there are specimens of finely shaped glass. Although fragmented to a great extent, we can ascertain that they were parts of drinking glasses. It is possible to reconstruct two types of glasses very much similar to each other, the only difference being in the length of the post (fig.28). Both types have circular massive feet, concavely pointed upwards.  Their posts are of different length with round or biconical thickening. They have semi spherical bodies with mildly pointed ring-like brims. The specimens with higher posts have brims that are pointed outwards. The specimens with shorter posts have plastically attached glass ridges starting from the post thickening up to the brim where two small vertical grips are formed in the shape of a horseshoes.  The glasses are pellucid greenish in colour.  Their height ranges from 7.5 to 10cm, their feet are 4.5 to 5cm wide, while their brim is 7.5 to 8.2cm wide.

The metal objects are the most numerous in the inventory of artefacts[11]. Certain premises are characterized by certain types of tools and utility objects. The farming tools have been found only in Premise No2. They are represented with one specimen of sickle and one specimen of mattock (fig.29). The sickle is made of iron and has a typical form that has not been changed in the course of time. It has a crescent-like leaf narrowing toward both ends. At one of the ends there is a long prick where the wooden handle was settled.  In Premise No1, beside the north wall where the artefacts are mainly concentrated, two blade fragments from sickles have been found, but here their purpose was quite different.  The mattock is also iron and massive, trapezoid in form; it is 0.27m wide and it has a long handle with a rectangular diameter.  The large massive shears are represented with several specimens (fig.30), two of which - whose blade fragments have been found beside the north wall of Premise No1 - were certainly not used for sheep shearing, but like the sickle fragments were used as cutting tools. 

In Premise No2, beside the farming tools, other tools with different use have been discovered.  First of all, there are the small but well-made iron pickaxes with trapezoid diameter. Their length ranges from 0.17 to 0.29m (fig.31). They are characterized by the fact that they do not possess an opening to settle a wooden handle.  Together with them, in the same premise there are several specimens of chisels and cutters.  The chisels are 0.15m long and 0.003m wide, excluding the huge massive chisel found in Premise No5, which is 0.32m long and 0.003m wide.  The cutters are also made of iron with length ranging from 0.10 to 0.15m and width of 0.004m. 

In the already mentioned space beside the north wall of Premise No1, among the other artefacts 5 specimens of sheep bells have been found (fig.32).  They are made of iron with length ranging from 0.08 to 0.13m and width of 0.08m.  All share the same form: a slightly pressed trapezoid cylinder[12]

It seems strange, but the sheep bells were mixed with the door locks. Several sets of door locks have been preserved, made of iron, consisting of two parts, square and rectangular in form (fig.33). They were put together by iron studs. They have key holes.

One of the keys was found where it had been placed: among the burnt remains of the door positioned between Premises No1 and No5. This is a large massive iron key 0.17m long (fig.34). It has a round, ring-like head which continues into a long body with a rectangular profile and a flat prong bent under an angle of

90° to its body[13] Its prong, which is 0.065m wide has two teeth.

Beside the entrance which leads from the porch to Premise No2 two flat objects have been found, made of bronze, with a length of 0.065m and width of 0.001m, with a round hole on each end.  These objects were probably part of the door closing system, or perhaps they served to attach the door to the wooden frame.

A considerable number of large massive iron nails, with length up to 0.16m, have been found in the proximity of all of the entrances. They usually have round or calotte heads, often bent under an angle of 90°, just like their ends.  Some specimens have two-pronged ends. It is certain that they belonged to the wooden doors construction, but a great number of them - found all over the building - were used to keep together the roof construction, which is most certainly concluded by their dimensions.  The smaller specimens were also used for the wooden shelves that were present at least in Premise No1.

In Premises No1 and No2, beside some big iron round rings long nails with flat triangular heads were found.  Most probably they were the axes[14] of the cart wheels. 

There was only one specimen of weapon found[15]. It is a local variant of an iron spear of the ango[16] type (fig.35). It is 0.54m long, with blade length of only 0.18m.  The remaining part belongs to the elongated body of the spear which has a square diameter, and is attached to the wooden part by a handle which has not been preserved.  The blade has the shape of an elongated leaf with an elliptical diameter and it is bent at the top.

There was also an abundance of stone objects. In Premises No1 and No2 we found several hand grinders made of stone (fig.36).  They were made of freestone rock and are round in form with a conic diameter. In their upper part there are two perforations: a central one, placed in the handle along its whole height, which served as a link to the nether part, and a smaller perforation which is usually placed at the side and does not pierce the whole body.  The latter was used to hold a wooden handle whose purpose was to move the upper half of the grinder during the process of crushing the grains.

The stone was also used to make glasses, two specimens of which have only been found (fig.37). One of them is with a preserved bottom, which is round and massive.  Its diameter is 0.13m with thickness of 0.10m.  The other specimen has been preserved in its vertical half.  It has a flat round bottom which forms right angle with the side of the glass.  The preserved height is 0.13m with 0.09m thickness of the diameter, 0.08m bottom diameter and thickness of 0.11m.  Right above the bottom the root of the handle is preserved, which had a round form.  The glass had been cylindrical in form. It was whole-made with the handle, chiselled from a single stone, with nicely processed sides with a smooth surface.

Several stone sharpeners have also been discovered, with irregular oblong forms, indented in their middle parts and worn out from the long use.   Their length does not exceed 0.10m; they have a usual width of about 0.003m and thickness not greater than 0.025m.

Among the total of 70 loom weights, there is only one made of ceramics, discovered in Premise No2[17].  The rest of the weights are made of stone. Only six of them were found in Premise No2, while the remaining were found at a small space in the central part before the north wall of Premise No1.  They were most often discovered in groups of several specimens, but not more than 11 (fig.38). It is worth noting that they were found together with metal objects like nails, small rings or iron presses (fig.39).  They are of different size, form and weight (fig.40).  They weigh between 175 and 1500 grams.  Their forms are most varying: very rarely we can find the usual pyramid or conic forms, and very often there are the elongated elliptical weights with finely smoothed sides.  Some weights have anthropomorphic forms, which makes us think that they were not simple utility objects, but had deeper and more sophisticated dimensions.  Some of the specimens have graffiti inscribed on them.   Most often, the Roman number XI[18] is inscribed on them.  Unlike the weights, the ceramic rings for spindles are very rare, represented by only a few samples.

A genuine surprise was the discovery of two small stone axes. They have a form of an elongated trapezium with small dimensions: they are 5.5cm long, 3cm wide and 1 i.e. 1.5cm thick.  Particularly beautiful is the specimen found in Premise No1; it is smoothed and gleams with olive green gloss and it is spotted with dark green bits (fig.41). Was it placed in the wall to serve for a particular purpose to the inhabitants of the building?[19]

Purpose of the premises

Having classified the artefacts by types, it is not difficult to determine the function of each of the premises and of the whole building, as well as to determine what were the main industries of the people who lived there centuries ago.  However, having in mind that the building has not been completely explored, we would draw the conclusions with the necessary dose of reserve. 

It is certain that Premise No1 was multifunctional.  The large number of utensils whose basic function had been to store food undoubtedly point to the fact that one of the purposes of this premise had been for storing supplies.  It is also certain that the vessels had been arranged on wooden shelves that had been set on the north wall[20]. If we assume that the grains were usually kept in large vessels, such as pitoi and doliums, then probably the vessels found here had been used for liquids, particularly milk.  This leads us to the bells which were found together with the vessels and which were very probably attached on sheep.  The two open fireplaces had probably been used to cook the milk.  The fact that no ceramic strains were found does not necessarily mean that cheese had not been produced here.  The milk and cheese could have been sieved with strains made of an organic material. 

The great number of weights, 63 to be precise, certainly testifies that the weaving loom had been placed here.  We conclude this because the weights were mixed with various iron rings and nails that might have been part of its construction.  The two blade fragments from sickles had a meaningful purpose in this premise.  They had been used to cut the threads during the weaving process.  There is a little dilemma whether there had been an upper floor above this premise, i.e., if there had been one, whether the loom had been placed on the upper floor. However, if there had been an upper floor, what had been done with the smoke rising from the fireplaces?  Anyway, the discovered tegulas with openings - komini almost certainly speak that there had not been an upper floor, so the loom had been placed on the ground floor.

That this premise had been multifunctional can be seen by the discovered hand grinders.  The wheat had also been ground here and it had been kept in small quantities since in one of the pits a larger pitos fragment was found.

According to the inventory discovered in Premise No2, and according to its size, it is almost certain that the tools had been kept here.  Almost all tool items were found in this premise. Probably the upper part of the stone grinder discovered in this premise had been only stored here as there were no signs of use. 

Premise No3 is the most unclear in regard to its function. Apart from a pair of shears, no other tools were discovered in Premise No3.  It is the best constructed and it certainly had two floors.

Although only partly explored, we can certainly assume that Premises No4 and No5 had been used to store grains and other food products.  It can be confirmed by the discovery of the four pitoi, and it is almost certain that there are still more pitoi to be found in Premises No4 and No5.

Speaking of pitoiwe must mention the large number of pits dug in the rock inside and outside the building.  The rock upon which this site is located is freestone by structure, which makes it very easy to dig[21]. The pits are of varying forms, dimensions and depths.  Some of them have diameters and depths ranging from several centimetres to 1.55m, for instance the two pits discovered in Premise No2 (fig.10).  Some of the premises walls are positioned across pits, which means that some pits are even older than the building itself.  Many of the pits appear like picket beds for prehistoric houses, but except for the two stone axes no other prehistoric material was found, so that at the present stage of excavations we cannot talk about prehistoric dating.  Perhaps temporary economic buildings made of wood had been constructed on this place before the building was erected. Some of the pits had undoubtedly been used as beds for the larger vessels, i.e. the vessels had been dug into them, such as the two pitoi discovered in Premise No4 (fig.26).  In Premise No1 we have found a large fragment from a pitos which had also been dug in a pit.  Whether accidentally or not, one of the hand grinders found in this premise was discovered on top of a pit.  The greatest number of pits of various sizes and forms are located on the floor of Premise No1 (fig.6).  In the south west corner of this premise there is the unique oval pit accompanied by small pits that appear like beam beds and are located at its bottom and all around it.  We can only wonder how many of them had been in use while the building had been active.  The fragmented ceramics discovered in Pit 2 from Premise No2 was with the same stratification like the premise, which points to the fact that the pit had been open and in use when the building suffered from the fire. 

At only two meters east of the building we discovered the canal dug in the rock with north-south orientation, following the inclination of the land, with length of 10.50m and varying width ranging from 0.35 to 0.50m and depth of 0.70m (fig.42).  We have not yet completely explored the space where the canal ends, in fact it is still uncertain where and how exactly it ends.  In Premise No2, in its east half, there is a similar but smaller canal covered with stone plates, which begins and ends in two large pits outside the overall dimensions of the walls.  There are smaller and shallower canals connecting the smaller pits, particularly the pits from Premises No1 and No3, where we can see a sequence of several pits connected among each other by canals. 

The purpose of the greater part of the pits is still uncertain. We are almost sore that some of them were pits used for wooden beams and some of them served as beds for the pitoi and other large vessels.  Whether some pits had been used for direct storage of food and water[22], and whether the smaller pits connected among themselves with canals had been used in the manufacturing of certain goods, we would know from further research[23]

Production and economy

The position, the climate conditions and the artefacts discovered at the site undoubtedly speak that agriculture and stockbreeding were the basis of economy. 

Bearing in mind the high altitude, the climate characteristics and the tools that had been used, we conclude that the agricultural activities were restricted to growing cereals only.  The fact that only sickles and mattocks, and no reaping hooks or hoes were found tells us that there were no fruit trees or not even vineyards grown in this region.  In fact, today also only cereals are grown at these altitudes. 

The main industry of the inhabitants had been stockbreeding, above all sheep breeding[24] and the making of dairy products.  It is hard to say whether the production of cheese, skin, wool and wool products had been to satisfy their own needs or they produced greater quantities for trading purposes as well.  The large number of weaving weights speaks about an intensive textile production.  The solution of the dilemma about whether the pits had been used in the process of wool production might also help to solve the dilemma about the free market production.

In Premise No 2, beside everyday tools, some more specific implements were discovered.  For instance, we found three small picks that are usually used in metallurgy[25].  We also discovered cutters. Having in mind that with the excavations of the building and its surroundings, leftovers of iron slag were also found, then by all means we must consider that fact that iron had also been processed here.  Perhaps this had not been done for a great market but to satisfy the needs of the locals.  Smelting furnaces have not been discovered yet, but the whole area still needs thorough examination.  In some of the accompanying buildings that are to be excavated we may discover such instruments.

Type of the building

It is certain that the three completely explored and the two partially explored premises of Building II, at the site Paprite, located in Crveno Pole, are part of a larger construction complex.  The north-west outer corner of Premise No3 continues to the west into a wall of which 1 meter length has been excavated, with construction characteristics identical to those of the rest of the walls from explored premises.  It is certain that the building expands in this direction.  The only uncertain matter for the present is the character of Building II - we are still not sure whether it was an edifice with economic purposes only or it was a part of a larger housing and economic estate where intensive social and business life was going on at the time.  Or simply, was it pars rustica of villa rustica?  Just a brief reminder, no fragments of table ceramics have been listed in the quite rich inventory.  This would mean that the housing part of the building has not been excavated yet.  Whether the housing part was in the west part of the building, which still has not been excavated, i.e. whether it was an entity with the economic part or existed on its own will be revealed from further excavations.  Here we must mention the building that is situated at only 4.5m east of Building II (fig.43).         

Building I is rectangular in form, ending in an apse in its south part, with north-south orientation slightly deflecting from the axe, with dimensions of 8.50 x 5.00m.  It is composed of two parts: an apse part with width of 5.00m and depth of 1.50m, and a rectangular part with length of 7.00m and width of 5.00m.  The two parts communicate between each other with no separate entrance, i.e. no partition wall has been noticed between them. The foundation parts of the building have been discovered, except for a small portion in the north-east corner and the apse wall where some outer wall fragments have been preserved with height ranging from 0.30 to 0.45m and width of 0.55m. As a matter of fact, some parts are very much destroyed with no foundations at all, such as the west half of the semicircle wall.  Building I was constructed in the same way as Building II: the shallow foundations were dug first, then they were filled with stones and earth.  Furthermore, the outer part was raised to make the basis of the building.  Due to land configuration, which inclines for 0.80m from north to south, the inner part was filled with stones and earth until the desired level was reached.  The construction was performed in opus incertum with no striking horizontal rows composed of broken stones, while clay was used as an adhesive.  Because of the configuration of the land, i.e. the small depth of the foundations[26], the building is destroyed to a great degree, which makes it difficult to determine its basic characteristics and its basic function.  No other information is available except that it lies upon a rock where there are also a lot of pits and that it also has a wooden roof construction with tegulas and imbrexes.  The entrance cannot be determined either, nor the presence of an upper floor.  However, judging by its appearance, particularly by the apse at the south end, we would - although with a little dose of a reserve - classify it as a triclinium27.

Dating the building

If determining the type and structure of the building is ungrateful at this stage of excavations, then its dating is twice as much more difficult and should therefore be done very cautiously.  However, even at this stage it is clear that the building is one-layered, i.e. it has not been restored after its ruination. What we cannot define are the number of phases it was built in.  Our research proved that the five premises were built in two phases28, but we still can not claim the overall number of phases or the time range during which the building was constructed.  It is difficult to do it because the site has not been completely excavated and especially because at present the coins are under conservation. However, we can draw certain conclusions from the material gathered so far.  We have found 10 coins, all in a very bad condition, and only one of them has been interpreted for the time being.  It is a coin of the emperor Diocletian from the year 292, made in Heraclea29.  By their characteristics, the other coins could be dated throughout the IV century, as far as the first decades of the V century.  The rest of the material, especially the specimens of ceramic vessels that are more typical and easier to determine are dated from a later period.  This also refers to the vessels with lips, whose date has been determined quite precisely: from 450 to 55030. The spear of the type ango31 also originates from the middle of the V century or later. The ceramic lamp with a representation of a cross has a broader date in typological terms.  It first appeared as North African lucerne near the end of IV century, but such lamps existed until the beginning of VII century.  Our specimen, although of an excellent quality, originates from some of the local workshops from VI century that worked under the influence of the North African models32. Such dating, which comprises a period of nearly three centuries, is by all means confusing, especially because the whole material was found in a single layer, while the coin, which does not exceed V century, was found at about ten centimetres from the lamp.  Whether the building existed for such a long time is really difficult to say at the moment. 

It is also difficult to determine when the building ceased to exist and what the reason for its destruction was. It is certain that it had suffered in a fire. Yet, we are not sure whether it was a fire caused by accident or a fire caused by the great historic changes which began in the IV century and spread throughout the wider region?  We are not sure whether the surrounding buildings and the entire settlement to the north suffered in the same fire too? When exactly did it happen? Who set the fire? Did the spear with a bent top, which was found in front of the entrance of Premise No1, belong to one of those who set the fire?  Finally, where did they go, the people who locked the door but did not manage to take the key with them and never came back again?


1 In 2004, when the excavations at Janina Cesma began a small building, probably of economic character, was excavated

2 Найденова В., Римска вила в с.Кралев двор, Пернишки окръг, Разкопки и Проучвания, книга XIV, София 1985, стр.24

3 The building was first excavated in 2004, but for lack of time only its overall dimensions have been dug out; the excavations continued in 2005, but again, for lack of time and funds, the building has not been completely explored.

4 Outside the east wall there is also such a pit dug in the rock.

5 Only small sondes with width of 1m were opened along the north and the east wall.

6only a sonde with width of 1m along the east wall

7 while this paper is being made the ceramics is being restored and conserved, so that I could not offer a detailed description.

8 Also in Macedonia

9 such vessels have been found in the necropolis of Gusterova Cukarka, in tombs with the cremation rite

10 the south pitos was fragmented before it was used for this purpose Its parts are attached to each other with 12 lead clasps

11 the metal artefacts are also being conserved

12none of the specimens contained a clapper

13 Лилчиќ В., Прилог кон античкиот клуч, Macedoniae Acta Archaeologica №13, Скопје 1992, стр.202, ТI,4,5;  ТV, 6;

14 Чангова Й., Перник, Том III, София 1992, стр.17, обр.1, 8

15 although the author of this text is still in a dilemma whether this is a weapon or some other kind of object, especially when the specimen has not undergone the conservation process yet.

16 Христова В., Типологија на върхове на копия от Мизия и Тракия (I-VI в.), Оръжие и снаряажение през късната античност и средновековието IV-XV в., Acta Musei Varnaensis I, Варна 2002 , стр.17, обр.1-5

17 the weight has a typical pyramid form with a square basis On the opposite sides there is an inscription. Both inscriptions represent the Roman letter N, except that the diagonal line is missing in one of the letters.

18 All of them are with different form and weight

19 The axe was found when the wall was explored; it is hard to say whether it had been left there on purpose or by accident together with the clay without being noticed.

20 Such wooden shelves are noticed in villa rustica near Obelja, Sofija. Станчева М., Вила рустика в кв.Обеля, Археология 23, София 1981, стр.56-57

21 But also very sensitive. The tombs of the cremation necropolis Gusterova Cukarka were made of stones chiselled from the rock. After only a year since they were discovered and after being placed on the surface of the ground, these stones started disintegrating due to atmospheric influence.

22Though the rock is very crumbly and tiny stones might have fallen into the grains and into the water; but if the pits had been used for that purpose they had first been layered with clay to prevent the crumbling.

23At the Near East today in the small manufacturing workshops in the process of tanning leathers and wool production they use pits dug in the rock.

24 The bells and the shears are part of the equipment for sheep breeding.

25Керамидчиев А., Извори за рударството и металургијата во Античка Македонија, Macedoniae Acta Archaeologica 3, Прилеп 1977, стр.109, сл.3

26 Before the excavation the building was visible on the surface of the ground.

27Динчев В., Късноримската резиденција SCRETISCA и рановизантийското селище ΚΡΑΤΙΣΚΑΡΑ,  Разкопки и  Проучвания, книга ХХХ, София 2003, стр.43-44.

28 Just a brief reminder: Premises 1, 4 and 5 were built first, and then premises 2 and 3 were added.

29 interpreted by Marija Hadzi Maneva, curator - numismatist at the Numismatics cabinet of the National Bank of R. Macedonia

30 Raynaud C., Céramique commune grise tardive de Provance occidentale, Dictionnaire des Céramiques Antiques en Méditerranée nord-occidentale, LATTARA 6, 1993, 456      GR-PRO AB36

31 Христова В., Варна 2002, стр.17

32 Манева Е., Светилки од музејската збирка во Хераклеа, Зборник на трудови 4-5, Битола 1984, стр.54, Т III,5

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