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2,000-Year-Old Forgotten City Of Bassania Unearthed In Albania

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Archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of a long-forgotten city dating back to 2,000 years ago sitting on top of a quiet hill in Albania.

Finding The Lost City Of Bassania

Roman historian Livy described the Illyrian city of Bassania in his accounts of battles waged between the Roman troops and the army of Gentius, the last king of Illyria.

Until today, however, no word has been made about the whereabouts of this ancient lost city. However, it is surmised to be somewhere in the northwestern regions close to the ancient Greek colony of Lissus.

In May, a team of archaeologists from the University of Warsaw discovered that what they once thought were natural rocks are actually part of the thick, defensive wall that surrounded the city.

Fortress City Had Huge Walls

Bassania is a fortress city that is surprisingly three times larger than the city of Shkoder, an important trade and military center captured by the Roman invaders in the 2nd century AD.

"In recent years, we have begun to look around Shkoder for settlements and fortresses that were its economic and military base," says Piotr Dyczek, director of Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre at the University of Warsaw. "Thanks to the use of various methods, including non-invasive ones, we have located relics of a huge ancient city."

The city wall is massive. Measuring 3 meters thick, the wall is made from huge stone blocks packed tightly against each other. In between the stone blocks are earth and small stones filled in to close off any gaps.

Dyczek says the construction is typical of fortress walls and other defensive structures built during the Hellenistic period. This suggests that Bassania was part of the Illyrian kingdom that came under Roman rule in 165 BC and became no more during the 1st century AD.

Ancient coins and portions of ceramic artifacts recovered near the walls date back to the 4th to 1st century BC, providing further confirmation of the age of the city ruins.

Why There's No Word On Bassania

Archaeologists have long wondered about the lack of clues about Bassania from the historical accounts of travelers in the region, even though a wealth of records exists about smaller, less significant sites. The silence may be due to the city having been destroyed so long ago that it has been forgotten.

New research, in fact, confirms this hypothesis. Bassania fell into Roman hands during the reign of Octavian Augustus at the turn of the 1st century AD and was promptly destroyed or abandoned.

The ruins had been dismissed by archaeologists for many years because the site looks like a natural rock formation. Dyzcek says two millennia of erosion have caused the sandstone structure to look like natural rocks instead of a man-made object.

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