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Reconstructing the prehistoric burial tumulus of Lofkend in Albania.

Landscape, memory and tumuli

One of the most prominent types of prehistoric monuments in the modern landscape of Albania, and in many of the neighbouring lands that make up ancient Illyria (Wilkes 1992: xx-xxi, 1-27), is the tumulus. Unlike the tell of the Near East or the toumba or magoula of nearby Greece, tumuli are mounds containing the dead, not settlements of the living. The location of tumuli, and of cemeteries in general, is a conscious and carefully conceived statement on the part of the living (Parker Pearson 1999: 124). Given their prominence, burial tumuli are monuments in every sense of the terra, structures deliberately designed and built over a period of time that are part of a landscape socialised through human action (Bender 1993:11), monuments that provide a focus of memory and identity (Alcock 2002: 28). Indeed, the link between the 'past, present and future is made through their materiality' (Rowlands 1993: 144). Scattered all over the landscape, the permanence of such structures bas made them a focus of a more modern, ever-changing landscape, one that can be examined through shifting perspectives (Cosgrove 1989). In the landscape of the British Neolithic, Richard Bradley stresses the permanence of such earth-constructed monuments: 'They dominate the landscape of later generations so completely that they impose themselves on their consciousness' (Bradley 1985: 9). More than this, the construction of a tumulus in a landscape transforms a particular space into place (Tuan 1977). Landscapes constitute 'cultural images' that can tell us a lot about the ways social groups locate themselves in their environment, and constructed landscapes doubly so (Daniels & Cosgrove 1988: 1). Indeed, the commemorative framework of landscape and of monuments forms the very matrix through which memory works; people derive identity from shared remembrance or social memory (Alcock 2002: 1, 183).


The burial tumulus of Lofkend dominates a hilly and riverine landscape (Figures 1 and 2). Despite its relatively small size (20.54 x 10.54m), and its elevation only some 318m above sea level, the Lofkend tumulus is visible from substantial distances. The site is close to the main north-south highway of Albania, which ultimately leads south to the Greek border and north to the capital of Tirana, and in the middle of Albania's oil fields at Ballsh, ah area vulnerable to serious environmental degradation. The tumulus lies in the Mallakaster hills, which rise to the south-east of the modern regional centre of Fier, not far from the village of Lofkend (Figure 3). Excavations were conducted at the mound from 2004 to 2007 as a collaboration of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Institute of Archaeology, Academy of Sciences, Tirana, with the International Center for Albanian Archaeology, co-directed by the authors (for a preliminary report of the first two seasons see Papadopoulos et al. 2007; see also Papadopoulos 2006). By the conclusion of the 2007 season a total of 100 graves had been excavated, many of them multiple burials containing two, three, or sometimes more individuals, most dating to the period from the eleventh or tenth century BC down to about 600 BC on the basis of the conventional chronology (Papadopoulos et al. 2007:138-9) (Figure 4). Calibrated 14C dates from 16 charcoal samples and ten human bone samples from Lofkend carried out by Brian Damiata at the Keck AMS facility at the University of California, Irvine, have verified the conventional chronology and have pushed back the dates of some of the material in the earliest tombs to at least the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BC, that is, contemporary with the Late Bronze Age or Mycenaean era in Greece. Among the many burials we illustrate only two typical Early Iron Age burials (Figure 5).


The choice of site and the overall aims of the archaeological project at Lofkend are outlined in detail elsewhere (Papadopoulos et al. 2007). It was anticipated that the exploration of a major site in this region pre-dating and partly overlapping in time both the foundation of the Greek colonies on the coast (especially Apollonia and Epidamnos) and the so-called proto-urban centres of the hinterland (including Margellic, Mashkjeze, Byllis and Klos/Nikaia) would lead to a better understanding of the historical processes that contributed to the rise of urbanism in Illyria. Indeed, the careful excavation of an undisturbed burial tumulus such as Lofkend has provided much new information on the processes of tumulus formation and construction; it has also yielded interesting evidence for a more complex relationship with both the proto-urban centres and the colonies than hitherto anticipated, and has revealed much new data on prehistoric and proto-historic mortuary customs in this part of Albania (project website at


Continuing the monument

More than anything else it was the visibility of the Lofkend tumulus that made it such an obvious target of investigation: to understand the landscape, one must first understand the tumulus. It was also its blatant visibility and materiality that prompted the decision, from the very inception of the project, to rebuild the mound after excavation. Accordingly, funding was allocated from the beginning of the project for the ultimate rebuilding or reconstruction of the tumulus as close to its original appearance as possible.

The decision to rebuild the tumulus was in many ways determined in response to the current practice of the complete removal of tumuli from their landscape. Hundreds of burial tumuli have been excavated in Albania, among them Barc, Mati (where numerous tumuli have been located and explored), Pazhok, Dukat, Kukes, Kuci i Zi, Piskove, Vajze, Vodhine, Dropull and Bajkaj, ali of which have appeared in readily available overviews of Albanian prehistory (Hammond 1982: 624-36; Prendi 1982: 189, 211, 214, 216-18, 222, 235; for more recent bibliography see Papadopoulos et al. 2007). The policy of total excavation of these tumuli, however, has led to their eradication from the landscape. Indeed, the nearest contemporary tumulus to Lofkend, at Patos (Korkuti 1981), was removed entirely from its landscape and the spot where the tumulus stood formed the foundations of a modern house. Consequently, a landscape dominated by tumuli no longer exists.



Similar losses have been felt in many other parts of Europe thanks to the practice of the total excavation of burial mounds. In previous centuries, by contrast, prominent mounds were often tunnelled and trenched and, although much damaged, they remain an integral part of the landscape. A classic case in point is provided by the royal mounds at Gamla Uppsala in Sweden, dating to the fifth and sixth centuries AD, particularly the Eastern or Aun's--Mound (Anund et al. 1998; Graslund 2000; Klingmark 2003). In Gamla Uppsala, however, many less prominent mounds have disappeared due to farming practices and quarrying: of an estimated 2000-3000 mounds originally in the area, only some 250 barrows remain.

Elsewhere, the reconstruction and management of burial mounds have been undertaken. The mound at Ladby in Denmark, for example, complete with a ship, was totally excavated and subsequently rebuilt--together with the ship--by the Carlsberg Foundation (Sorensen 2001). Many reconstructions of archaeological sites are fraught with controversy (see various papers in de la Torre 1997) and in the realm of mounded tombs, one of the most controversial is the restoration of Newgrange in Ireland. There, a reinforced concrete retaining wall was built by the Office of Public Works in order to keep the restored material in place, and to which quartz and granite were affixed with mortar and metal pins, intended to present what the excavator thought would have been the original drum-shaped mound (O'Kelly 1979; Cooney 2006: 697). Later scholars, however, offered different interpretations, both of the stratigraphic sequence of the mound and its shape (dome-shaped, as opposed to drumshaped), as well as the role of the quartz and granite layer (for discussion and bibliography see Cooney 2006; Eriksen 2006). Such an intervention--difficult, if not impossible, to reverse--imposes onto the landscape an interpreted and often controversial vision of a monument. In the conclusion to his latest paper on Newgrange, Palle Eriksen (2006: 710) writes: 'The shape of the mound was dramatically altered when the new monument builders provided it with a flat top--a mini Irish Silbury Hill. They had, like their predecessors, their own Newgrange, as we have ours today--unfortunately!'

Our reconstruction of the Lofkend tumulus was not aimed at an interpreted vision of what the mound may have looked like at any point in its ancient history, but rather was intended to restore the mound as close to its original appearance in 2004 as possible. In this respect, our aims were closer to the management project at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, south-east England, initiated in 1992, where the various mounds, with the exception of Mound 2, were restored to their 1983 height (Carver 2005: 57). In the case of Mound 2, a more ambitious project was launched in 1997, where the mound was reconstructed on the basis of its excavation and of a mathematical equation to determine its original, seventh-century AD, height (Carver 1998; 2005: 46, Plate 15; 57). In addition to consolidation and management of the site, the reconstruction of Mound 2 at Sutton Hoo allowed the observation of its rate of erosion (Carver 2005: 57).

The primary aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the Lofkend tumulus reconstruction project. It begins with an introduction to the stratification and soil morphology of the mound, and is followed by the method of the reconstruction of the mound, for which some 2000 mud-bricks were made from the excavation soil of the mound in order to rebuild the baulks, which were then used as a flame against which the remainder of the excavation soil was reintroduced. The basic idea of our reconstruction project was that over time the sun-dried mud-brick used to rebuild the baulks of the mound would disintegrate and effectively become part of the tumulus. We also discuss the local and social benefits of reconstruction and the experimental results from the process.

Stratification and soil morphology at Lofkend

Given its dominating position in the landscape, on such a naturally imposing spot, it is noteworthy that the mound was essentially intact for well over 2500 years after its period of primary use, although some erosion of burials was noted prior to excavation around the edges of the tumulus, especially along the steep south side. Because the tumulus did not collapse or erode severely, or even wash away in the periodic storms that can be ferocious in this part of Albania, we suspected early on in our excavations that something in its composition assisted in holding it together. Perhaps this was nothing more than the existence of an underlying structure, such as a ring of stones or other means of soil retention seen in other Illyrian tumuli (e.g. Andrea 1985: 242-3, 245-6, 249-50; Aliu 2004: 22-31; 2006: 52, Figure 5: 4; Bejko et al. 2006: 312-5, Figures 3-5). Indeed, the excavation of individual tombs in the Lofkend tumulus was exacerbated by the dense, hard, cement-like quality of the soil. Although a partly preserved curved line of stone was encountered at depth in the northern sector of the tumulus (visible in Figure 2 and see Papadopoulos et al. 2007: 131, Figure 25) this alone did not hold the tumulus together and so we turned to the composition of the fill of the tumulus.

In order to explore the composition of the soil more systematically, John Foss and Mike Timpson of Soils International, Inc. were invited to collaborate on the project. Their preliminary report (Foss & Timpson 2007) confirmed our suspicions. They suggest that a fine-textured sediment obtained off-site was added periodically to help prevent erosion of the tumulus. As determined by coring, this clayey fine-textured sediment derived from soils weathered from shale, located about 30m north of the site. The basic parent material for soils occurring at Lofkend is weakly cemented Pliocene sandstone. The fine and very fine sands that weathered from the calcareous sandstone are highly erosive and would pose difficulties for stabilising the earth matrix during individual burials, as well as for the completed tumulus. It was to this parent material, in addition to soil brought in from elsewhere in the landscape, that the clayey sediment deriving from shale was added throughout the tumulus to control erosion (for detailed descriptions of the soils examined at the site and in the general vicinity of the tumulus see Foss & Timpson 2007, especially Tables 1-3). That some earth was brought to the site from the greater region of Lofkend, perhaps even in substantial volumes, is indicated by the presence of Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age lithics, as well as other finds, such as numerous pieces of clay daub (fire-hardened clay preserving reed, rod or stake impressions used as lining in wattle-and-daub architecture) contemporary with, or predating, the burials (more fully discussed in Papadopoulos 2006: 81-3, Figures 6-7; Papadopoulos et al. 2007: 134-5, Figures 29-30).

Stratigraphically, the tumulus was formed over a period of about half a millennium (c. 1100-600 BC) by a relatively limited number of soil units, which tended to be consistent over large areas of the mound. A more detailed account of the stratigraphy of the tumulus is presented elsewhere (Papadopoulos et al. 2007: 127-35), but here two aspects regarding the fill of the mound are worth noting. First of all, the process of mounding appears to have begun fairly early in the creation of the tumulus (Figure 6) and, secondly, in certain areas throughout the tumulus there were distinct localised dumps of earth. This latter feature of the stratification was in no small measure clarified by the process of backfilling the tumulus at the end of each excavation season and its subsequent re-opening at the beginning of the following season. In re-excavating our own backfill, we noticed clear variations in the soil that were the result of separate loads of earth--whether wheel-barrow or bucket loads piled on top of one another that were virtually identical to the ancient stratification of the tumulus as excavated. The process of following the ancient strata, which consisted of variations, sometimes slight, sometimes prominent, in the colour and texture of the earth, proved frustrating and in cases elusive. Occasionally, a clearly distinct type of fill could be followed for some depth, whereas elsewhere it would disappear, only to reappear within what proved to be a larger matrix of fill. Thus, what in certain points seemed to be a most confusing stratigraphy was clarified by the modern process of backfilling, within which it was possible to see different loads of dumped earth as distinct stratigraphic units that were nevertheless part of a single event. Such a process, repeated over time, gave the tumulus its distinctive stratigraphic profile.


Arguably, the most interesting aspect of the composition of the tumulus fill was the combination of chipped stone tools and remnants of wattle-and-daub architecture. Together, these finds raised the intriguing possibility that those burying the dead intentionally brought material from known sites to use as tumulus fill. Il this was the case, however, the material was not consistent with what might be expected from normal prehistoric habitation sites. Although we are still in the process of sorting through and analysing the material from the four seasons of excavations, it is clear that the fill of the tumulus does not contain any quantity of carbonised plant remains or significant amounts of animal bone. The bone that does exist seems to be primarily of animals that were associated with individual tombs or funerary customs, or else from turtles and rodents that had burrowed into the side of the tumulus. Unfortunately, relatively few habitation sites in this region have been systematically excavated to provide the nature of what constitutes a settlement site, especially through time. Moreover, it is not possible at present to confirm or disprove that the earth brought to the tumulus was ever subject to curation of one sort or another, meaning that the earth was intentionally chosen or even screened for the presence/absence of certain materials (the process of construction, repair and maintenance of mounds is a feature noted at several mound sites along the Mississippi, for which see, most recently, Saunders et al. 2006). But the possibility that material was brought to Lofkend intentionally from other sites that were already 'ancient' raises an important precept that can be tested at other tumuli. If the earth used as tumulus fill--or part of it--was brought from other sites, such a phenomenon not only bolsters the commemorative aspect of the tumulus, but it renders the mound itself something of a landscape within a landscape: a true mound of memory.

Reconstructing the tumulus

Since the tumulus was divided into four sectors each separated by baulks 0.50m wide, the process of backfilling at the end of each excavation season (2004, 2005 and 2006) was straightforward. Plastic sheeting was laid out on the unexcavated deposits and along the sides of the baulks, and the soil from the excavation dump was reintroduced to each of the sectors. The basic structure of the tumulus was indicated by the unexcavated baulks, against which the earth was piled; in essence, the baulks served as a framework for the backfill. In the process of backfilling we attempted, periodically, to compact the earth as much as possible. This method of backfilling proved both inexpensive and effective. On returning to the tumulus the following season, we noted some slight subsidence at the interface of the baulks and the backfill, but this was never more than a few centimetres. Moreover, vegetation had quickly taken root in the comparatively looser earth of the backfill and within a year a dense array of shrubs, grasses and flowers effectively stabilised the tumulus and held it together, preventing further erosion. Some erosion was noted, especially along the more exposed south side of the tumulus, but this was at the steepest point of the mound and where its height was greatest from the surrounding surface. Elsewhere, particularly to the north, the mound sloped more gently toward the surface of the ridge on which the site was located and here erosion was either minor or non-existent.

So long as the baulks were in place, the need to conceive an alternate plan of reconstruction was unnecessary. However, on account of a variety of factors including the location of numerous graves, not least of which was the central grave, it was necessary to remove the baulks. A three-dimensional digital model of the tumulus had been constructed by Chris Johanson and Itay Zaharovitz of the Experiential Technologies Center at UCLA (Papadopoulos et al. 2007: 135-8, Figure 33), so we were well-furnished with the necessary data to retrieve the original profile of the mound. Without the baulks, however, the whole issue of reconstruction was more complex.

It was clear that to be successful, any solution had to focus on materials readily available near the site and thus we deliberately avoided 'high-tech' solutions. Given our knowledge of the soils of the Lofkend region and our experience in backfilling the tumulus over a period of three successive years, we settled on the low-tech and inexpensive expedient of rebuilding the baulks and using them as a framework for retaining the excavation soil. Our method was to construct mud-bricks made out of the soil of the tumulus, and to use these to (re)construct the baulks (we hasten to add that mud-bricks were never used in the original monument). The basic idea of our reconstruction project was that over time the mud-brick used to rebuild the baulks of the mound would disintegrate and effectively become part of the tumulus, a kind of decayed skeleton holding together the structure of the mound.

Our soil scientist, John Foss, stressed the need for using the fine, clayey sediment that derived from weathered shale, but the local excavation workmen, experienced in the making of mud-brick, were sensitive to the different types of soil and had independently rejected the sandy parent soil of the area that had weathered from sandstone. They did, however, prefer a mixture of the shaley and sandy earth and in the end they essentially used the earth of the tumulus--minus the human-made material--to make their mud-bricks. Four workmen from the nearby villages of Ngrancija and Gjinoqara made approximately 1200 mud-bricks, each measuring 42 x 18 x 17cm and weighing about 20kg, over a period of some ten days in the summer of 2006 using one double mould (Figure 7). The four men worked in teams of two, having first dug two rectangular pits for the mixing of soil, water and straw. The first team, consisting of the two older and more experienced men, mixed the earth, straw and water by treading with their feet; the correct consistency was gauged by feel, with the various components added as needed in the process of treading. Once the mixture was ready, they would pile it on a sheet of plastic ready for the other team to take over. The second team of the two younger but also experienced men would throw the mixture into the mould, making sure that it was as compact as possible, smooth it off with wet hands, and then together they would lift the mould, carry it to the drying area, up-end it and let the bricks dry (the process of lifting the mould and exposing the wet bricks was compared by the workmen to the production of squares of loukaum or Turkish Delight). Every day or so, the bricks were turned to promote better drying. Under the normal summer conditions, the drying of the bricks was complete in about four days. As there is no water supply at hand on the site, all the water was brought up in large plastic containers by donkey, and the straw used for binding the mud was prepared each day from the wheat and barley chaff from the recently harvested local fields.


Our decision to rebuild the excavation baulks using mud-bricks was not initially informed by, nor was it originally intended as a contribution to, broader ethno-archaeological and experimental archaeology studies. The decision was a logical expedient, but had broader consequences, since little if anything is known on the prehistoric and historical use of mud-bricks in Albania. The process of recording the making of the mud-bricks documents a dying craft in the area, for the workmen who made the Lofkend mud-bricks may well represent the last generation of craftsmen in this part of Albania capable of making mud-bricks, since commercially manufactured bricks and concrete are now both readily available and affordable. In the context of mud-brick production in the Near East, Delougaz (1933: 6-7; cf. Moorey 1999: 305) writes: 'brickmaking does not require any special technical knowledge, so that practically every villager does it occasionally. Of course there are some men in every village specially skilled in the making and handling of mudbricks.' Delougaz goes on to mention a brick-maker in the Diyala region in the early 1930s who could make almost 3000 mud-bricks a day (cited in Moorey 1999: 305). When told about such production feats, some of the Lofkend workmen expressed awe, others scepticism.

By the end of the 2007 campaign, the steepness of the exposed bedrock ridge on which the tumulus was built, particularly to the south, bur also to the east and west, necessitated some form of retention, at least until such time as the undergrowth could take hold and help stabilise the soil. Consequently, in the summer of 2007, we made an additional 878 mud-bricks for the rebuilding of the baulks and to use them around the edges of the tumulus for retention. The process was precisely that described for the bricks made in 2006, except that we used two very slightly smaller moulds, measuring 40 x 18 x 14cm. We preferred not to make significantly smaller bricks but to keep to a more or less standard size that would be better for rebuilding the walls of the baulks. Figure 8 shows the mud-bricks built into walls replicating the baulks of the tumulus. It was against these mud-brick walls that we piled up the excavation backfill one last time.


As Foss and Timpson noted (in Papadopoulos et al. 2007: 140), the site is located in sandstone that was loosely cemented by carbonates, and the bedrock was easily dug in most cases, though some strongly cemented beds occurred at points. In this final reconstruction of the tumulus, we decided to replace the backfill directly onto the bedrock of the site, without any intervening geo-textiles or plastic sheeting. A parting view of the rebuilt tumulus at the end of the 2007 season is presented in Figure 9. By 2008, when we aim to return for a final study season, we hope that the tumulus is covered, as it has every year during our excavation, with the local undergrowth and wild flowers.


Other tumulus reconstructions in Albania and Greece


The reconstruction of the Lofkend tumulus represents one of the few monuments of this type to have been rebuilt and restored to its landscape in the Balkans. Elsewhere in Albania, the only other burial tumulus to have received any attention of this sort is the tumulus of Kamenice in the Korce Basin in south-east Albania. Unlike Lofkend, the Kamenice tumulus had a substantial structure of stone rings for the earlier burials of the Late Bronze Age, and an even more considerable stone-constructed extension for the later, post-seventh-century BC, tombs (Bejko et al. 2006:312-5, Figures 3-5). Given the size and nature of the funerary architecture, the decision was taken to prepare the Kamenice site as an open-air museum accessible to the public (Figure 10), and under the direction of Lorenc Bejko, the site was fenced, the stone-constructed elements of the tumulus were stabilised and conserved, a water channel was dug to divert rainwater away from the archaeological remains and a visitor centre was built, housing an overview of the excavation and a history of tumulus excavations, as well as replicas of the finds from the tumulus (the site was inaugurated and the museum was opened to the public in June 2007).


Perhaps the largest tumulus to have been 'reconstructed' in the Balkans, and certainly the most elaborate and expensive undertaking of irs type, was the construction of the massive crypt and museum, together with the reconstruction of the tumulus above it, at the site of the royal tombs of the late fourth century BC at Vergina in northern Greece, including the tomb considered by some scholars to be that of Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. This massive undertaking, initiated in 1983 and finally completed in July 1993 when the site and museum were opened to the public, with a total project cost of 7.02 million US dollars, involved the construction of a crypt to cover the substantial stone-built monuments, including four tombs, as well as the Heroon (Dimacopoulos 1997). The reconstructed tumulus-cum-museum at Vergina not only protects the tombs and other ancient constructed monuments, it also houses the extraordinary finds from these rich burials and provides access to thousands of people who visit the site annually.

In contrast to both Vergina and Kamenice, the dearth of architectural remains at Lofkend meant that once our tumulus was excavated, the only thing visible was the bedrock ridge on which the mound was built. There was none of the substantial stone-constructed funerary architecture of Kamenice, much less the spectacular late Classical and early Hellenistic monuments of Vergina. Our challenge was, therefore, a much simpler one and more easily met: to restore a once conspicuous mound to its landscape. Consequently, anyone travelling on the main road between Fier and Tepelene--indeed, what is still today, though perhaps not for long, the main road between Albania and Greece--will continue to notice the small but prominent mound that has taken the name of Lofkend, located in the Mallakaster Hills on the north side of the road between Patos and Ballsh.


In the introduction to this paper, as well as in the preceding section, an attempt was made to situate the aims of the Lofkend reconstruction project against the backdrop of several mound reconstruction projects in other parts of Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, the British Isles and the Balkans. These projects, like ours, are not only part of a wider debate on the preservation, restoration and reconstruction of archaeological monuments (see especially Sullivan 1997; Schmidt 1997), but testimony to the fundamental sea change in archaeology which has come about through the deepening respect for the physical and social consequences of field excavation (Lyons 2003: 299). The past is an endangered and contested commodity and one of the aims of archaeology is to reconcile three goals--scientific research, public access and long-term preservation--often at odds with one another (Lyons 2003). Cultural resource management demands participation from local community interests at all levels and the process of engaging in dialogue with stakeholders acknowledges that the concept of archaeological patrimony means different things to different people (Lyons 2003: 303). The eventual conservation and display of the site is increasingly seen as an integral part of the design phase. As Nicholas Stanley-Price (2003: 269) notes: 'In the long history of archaeological excavation in the Mediterranean region, issues such as site preservation, presentation to the public and management have tended to be addressed after the fieldwork has finished. By contrast, contemporary thinking would stress that they need to be considered in advance of any fieldwork, and especially in advance of the use of any destructive technique such as excavation.'

In the context of Lofkend, it is interesting to note what the local inhabitants of the area thought of the mound prior to excavation. When asked what the tumulus represents, most if not all of the local villagers of nearby Ngrancija and Gjinoqara considered the mound as a burial place not for the long dead, but for those just beyond the grasp of memory. The tumulus was most often conceived of as a collective grave of foreign soldiers, casualties of the First World War or one or other of the campaigns of the Balkan Wars. Ironically, that which was there the longest was considered by many as something of an import, a monument of a foreign culture. The realisation that the tumulus contained prehistoric burials did a lot more than awake a sense of local pride. It brought the abstractions of time and memory down to earth and focused them--once more--on one particular place: a tumulus dominating the local landscape. In antiquity the mound was a focus of memory and identity. It provided the Early Iron Age inhabitants of this part of the Gjanice river valley not only an image of, but an anchor to, their past, as well as offering them a conceptual point from which to approach their future (Papadopoulos 2006: 83-4). In a similar vein, the reconstruction of the tumulus restores the commemorative framework of landscape and of this particular monument within its landscape. The local and social benefits of reconstructing the tumulus lie precisely in the fact that the reconstruction satisfies the needs of the present without rendering those of the future impossible.


The Lofkend project has been generously funded by the Steinmetz Family Foundation, the Kress Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, the Friends of Archaeology at UCLA and the Ahmanson Fund of the Cotsen Institute. The authors wish to thank these institutions, as well as all the Lofkend team members, past and present, for their contributions, especially Muzafer Korkuti for initiating the project as an Albanian-American collaboration, John Foss and Mike Timpson of Soils International, Inc. for their analysis of the soils of the Lofkend tumulus and surrounding area, Brian Damiata for [sup.14]C dates from charcoal and bone samples from the tumulus and Clairy Palyvou for her advice on site conservation. Most of all we are grateful to all the workmen from the villages of Ngrancija and Gjinoqara--especially Baki Ymeri, Ndricim Beqiri, Arben Malaj and Adriatik Malaj--for making the reconstruction of the tumulus possible by teaching us to make sun-dried mud-bricks, and for producing over 2000 bricks so expeditiously.

Received: 4 September 2007; Revised: 12 February 2008; Accepted: 28 February 2008


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John K. Papadopoulos (1), Lorenc Bejko (2) & Sarah P. Morris (1)

(1) Department of Classics and Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles, USA (Email:;

(2) International Center for Albanian Archaeology, Tirana, Albania (Email:
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Author:Papadopoulos, John K.; Bejko, Lorenc; Morris, Sarah P.
Geographic Code:4EXAL
Date:Sep 1, 2008
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