The Texas Foundation for Archaeological & Historical Research
TFAHR Archaeology Projects
|Click on photo to enlarge.
Phase 3: Bylazora is attacked and the propylon is destroyed, but a small Doric style building (a temple?) is built on another part of the
acropolis. The best candidate for the destroyer of the propylon is Philip II of Macedon, who attacked and conquered the Paionian kingdom in
Phase 4: Squatters move into the ruins of the propylon and adjacent buildings; this part of the acropolis (Sector 3) of Bylazora seems to have
gone derelict at this time. Pottery from one of the squatter buildings built into the ruins of the propylon gives this First Squatter Period a
lifespan of roughly mid-fourth century BC to ca. 275 BC. We can tie the end of the First Squatter period, then, with the invasion of the
Danubian Celts (Gauls) in 279 BC.
Phase 5: This is a period of partial abandonment of at least the northern part of the acropolis.
Phase 6: A nearly 0.5 meter thick layer of sterile soil is laid down over the ruins of the First Squatter Period, and a Second Squatter Period
commences, people again living in the ruins of the former public structures of the city. Squatters utilize the still standing lateral walls of the
propylon, as well as the magazines in the casemate wall of the acropolis. This appears to be the final phase of habitation at Bylazora; pottery
from the Second Squatter Period dates to the early second century BC.
We started the 2010 season with certain set objectives:
- to bring to completion our exposure of the propylon;
- to clarify the relationship of the propylon to the city wall;
- to find the source of certain stones that clearly came from a temple, probably located somewhere on the acropolis;
- to attempt to co-relate the archaeological data with what we know of the city and Paionian history from the ancient Greek and
Roman literary sources.
|Evidence of burning and
quicklime production was
found in significant
concentrations in Sector 6.
Bylazora Sector 3 at the
end of the 2009 season:
|Sector 3: the Phase 1 casemate wall
and remains of the Second Squatter Period.
(click for larger plan)
Phase 7: The destruction of Bylazora came in two waves.
Bylazora itself was left desolate by the wars between the
Paionians, Dardanians, and Macedonians of this time. The
Romans may have turned the city into ruins with their
conquest of the Balkans in the early second century BC. But
a further dismantling of the city came later.
What always struck us as odd in excavating the Bylazora
acropolis was the lack of architectural debris around the site –
there was little in the way of masses of large fallen stones
from the defensive walls, for example. The reason why
became obvious this season. Whether it was Dardanians or
Macedonians or Romans who finally destroyed Bylazora is not
known. But someone came back to Bylazora after the city was
abandoned and used the ruined and abandoned city as a
quarry. Large useable stones were carted away, hence no
piles of stones fallen from walls. Smaller fashioned stones
(our Doric style building) were cut up and burnt down for lime
to make mortar. Large amounts of quicklime and extensive
signs of stone burning were found all across Sector 6, where
we spent the greater part of this season. Since mortar is
unknown at Bylazora, the limeburners must have come from
elsewhere. Our guess: Roman Stobi. An ancient road
bypassed Bylazora on its way to Stobi, about thirty kilometers
away. Stobi started coming into prominence after Bylazora
was reduced to ruins. Bylazora must have been a convenient
quarry for Roman Stobi, both for stones and mortar. In any
case, by the time Ptolemy writes his Geography in ca. 135 AD,
he lists Stobi amongst the cities of Paionia but no mention is
made of Bylazora.
In Search of a Temple. In 2008 and 2009 we had
uncovered triglyph and metope stones re-used in the Second
Tower and in a First Squatter Period building, indicating that a
temple (most likely) had fallen into ruins somewhere on the
acropolis and its stones were reused. We had hoped that the
propylon might lead into the temple precinct, but, rather, it
merely opened onto a large public area. But the very building
of a structure like a propylon suggests that it was oriented and
aligned to something important. So we sighted directly up the
middle of the propylon, then across the open area, then
across the acropolis. A narrow trench was excavated more
than fifty meters following this alignment (towards Sector 6).
Interestingly enough, almost nothing ancient was uncovered in
this exploratory trench: we discovered modern churned-up
debris from when the site was private farmland, then fairly
sterile undisturbed ancient soil with just a few potsherds and
roof tile fragments, and then the sandy gravel that is the
subsoil of the plateau of Bylazora. This means that the center
of the acropolis was a large open area and that the buildings
are going to be found along the fortified periphery of the
Left, trench dug across the acropolis, along the axis of the propylon.
|A FULL DESCRIPTION OF THE STRATIGRAPHY AND
CHRONOLOGY WILL BE PROVIDED IN THE 2010
REPORT, AVAILABLE IN OCTOBER 2010.
June - July 2010. Bylazora (Sveti Nikole), Republic of Macedonia.
- Rectangular room.
- Inclined ramp.
- Towers (east tower
- Propylon ramp
- Phase I acropolis wall
- Remains of Phase I altar
- Remains of propylon altar
|Uncovering the stones of the Doric style building. These included parts of
the architrave, column drums and a column capital.
|The foundation of
Further to the west (in Sector 6) TFAHR discovered the western acropolis defensive wall. Here
the acropolis wall was much more massive than that section of wall uncovered in Sector 3. In
Sector 6 the extant wall was more than three meters thick in some parts and still standing to a
height of almost 3.5 meters. On the last day of the dig we struck upon what may be the western
gate of the acropolis.
In the 2011 season we hope to clarify many of the fascinating mysteries we uncovered this past
After about fifty meters of nothing, we hit several stones of a building of the Doric order; more than
likely from a temple (other possibilities: a stoa, colonnade, ceremonial gate, treasury). But whether
the temple was located exactly here is problematic. The “temple stones,” as we came to call them,
had clearly been cut up and were on their way to a lime kiln. Beneath the temple stones is a large
“foundation” that might be the interior stones of the temple stereobate (leveling course). Only
further excavation will tell.
|Excavating the massive western
|Beginning to dig out what may be
the western gate of the acropolis.
|Sector 3 excavations in 2010:
Let’s start with the last objective first.
In 2009 we proposed a tentative chronology that still holds up fairly well after our 2010 discoveries.
Phase 1: The acropolis is surrounded by a defensive casemate wall. The inner wall of the casemate wall was discovered this season. A large
tower (First Tower) flanks an entrance into the acropolis; an altar was erected beside this entrance. Ceramics from houses that were probably
destroyed to build the wall date to ca. 400 BC, giving us a very rough date for the construction of the wall and First Tower. This is not to suggest
that there are not habitations at Bylazora pre-dating Phase 1, since scattered pottery finds date back to at least the seventh century BC.
Phase 2: The First Tower is largely dismantled as the propylon is constructed; remnants of the First Tower were discovered beneath the base of
the Second Tower. A new altar was built roughly in the same location as the old one, but at a higher level. What occasioned the construction of
the propylon is uncertain. The propylon consisted of (1) an upper rectangular room (purpose unclear) whose paving stones were laid flat; (2) an
inclined ramp of massive paving stones. The ramp and the rectangular room were separated by (3) a threshold with sockets for a gate. Stones of
the threshold show signs of vehicular wear. At the bottom of the ramp (the entrance to the propylon) were (4) two small towers that were clearly of a
ceremonial and not defensive nature. The foundation of the western tower is still extant, but the eastern tower (and much of the eastern part of the
propylon itself) was quarried away in antiquity. The eastern tower seems to have rested on part of the Phase 1 acropolis wall. A gate closed the
entrance to the propylon. Phase 2 can be dated to the early fourth century BC.
|Uncovering the casemate
wall from Phase I.
Reused triglyph and metope
fragments found in Sector 3
structures in 2008 and 2009.
June and July 2010 was TFAHR’s third season excavating the site most archaeologists now regard as the
ancient Paionian city of Bylazora. Since 2008 TFAHR has been excavating on the acropolis of Bylazora
(Sector 3). Starting with a trench that had been backfilled from a 1980s test sounding, TFAHR went on to
expose a 25 meter length of the city’s defensive wall and came upon the remains of a propylon (monumental
gateway). Various buildings flanking the propylon and built on terraces were uncovered in the 2009 season.