People’s Museum of Sveti Nikole

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The excavation of Bylazora is co-led by the People’s Museum of Sveti Nikole. Since we are technically not allowed to bring any of our finds out of the country, all of our finds go into storage at the Museum at the end of every season. I did some work at the Museum in the last week, working on the typology of each of the



Not a seal, but a bird

Loom weights! I love loom weights, they are so cute.


Someone doodled a face onto the base of a pot

Doggy paw on a roof tile…adorable


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Every day, we find hundreds of pottery shards. Since most of them do not form a complete vessel, we tend to only preserve the diagnostic pieces (rim, base, handle) and decorated pieces.
These pieces are brought back to the hotel and soaked in water. Every day at five, we scrub the two thousand year old dirt off of these pottery shards.
Right after pottery washing, we perform pottery reading. This is when everyone sorts the pottery finds in their locuses and present the classification of these pottery pieces.


The more interesting pieces are set aside for photographing and drawing. In my last week on the dig, I had to do a lot of drawing because we are nearing the end and still had a lot of work to do! Finally, the sketching lessons I tool in high school come in handy for something.



Masking tape comes in handy..

Excavation update

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Dear Friends and Supporters of TFAHR:
We ended our penultimate week of excavating only to prove the old archaeological adage, that the most interesting finds come towards the end of the season. On the Second Terrace of Bylazora, down from the acropolis, we opened up a five by eighteen meter trench in what we presumed was the habitation quarter of the city. We did, indeed, find many walls of what appears to be a large house. But most of the walls were built directly upon virgin soil, and were in a bad state of preservation. Pottery finds were scarce, but we did retrieve a well preserved iron spear from the ruins.

We also continued with our excavations in Sector 3 on the acropolis. In an early Classical room, which was later destroyed when the acropolis fortifications were built, we unearthed the remains of two small terracotta ovens. In one, a loom weight was found on the floor of the oven. Further south on the acropolis, we continued excavating a large room that, at present count, contains 9 terracotta pithoi (large underground storage vessels). These pithoi date from a pre-Classical era of Bylazoran history. Later walls of the 3rd and 2nd century BC were built right over these pithoi. We cleaned out each of the pithoi; most contained very little in the way of finds. But one pithos yielded a sizable part of a late Iron Age “cut-away spout” vessel. In another pithos, a skyphos (wine drinking cup) was found. In the roof tile fall which covered this building, we found a badly damaged figurine of a seated woman.

The most intriguing find came just before quitting time on Friday. In 2010, in Sector 6 of the acropolis, we unearthed a stretch of a massive city wall and the western gate of Bylazora. Next to the city wall we found a mass of limestone blocks from a Doric order building, which we have tentatively dated on stylistic grounds to the late 4th century BC. These stones were all chopped up and were about to be burned down into lime, probably by Romans, who were quarrying away the ruined buildings of Bylazora. We think that the stones were part of a stoa. Where the stoa was located was something of a mystery to us. About 10 meters away from the pile of stones, we opened a small trench this week and discovered the corner of the foundation of a very substantial building, which appears to extend at least another 12 meters to the west. This building might be our elusive stoa, or perhaps even our more elusive temple. Next week will tell . . .

Next week will be our last week of excavations this season. Besides last minute excavating, we will be busy with preparing documentation, drawings and final photographs for our upcoming publication.

We thank you for your continuing support. Please feel free to forward this update to any interested parties.

Best regards,

Eulah Matthews and Bill Neidinger


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We found a spearhead at the middle terrace on wednesday. I wasn’t the one who discovered it but I excavated it thus I took some of the credit…
The Amys admiring the spearhead

Birds on the balcony

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Why I dig

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This is a belated post, but I thought that I would explain a bit as to why I decided to come on this dig.
Most the volunteers here are students or teachers in archaeology, history, and classics, etc, thus everyone is surprised when they hear that I just graduated with a degree in economics, and will be starting work with a financial services consulting firm in the fall. Out of laziness, I just shrug and say that a dig is something I’ve always wanted to work on, and it this summer is the perfect time to do so as I don’t know when I would be able to do this again. While this is a true statement, I actually do have a backstory that pinpoints the exact moment that I began feeling the urge to excavate.
It all goes back to approximately ten years ago, when my back then family of three took a month long trip to Mexico and Guatemala. There I was exposed to the wonderful culture of the ancient Mayans and Aztecs. Their descendants still live in these nations, but their glorious old cities have been consumed by the jungles as time passed. We visited a few of these sites but the one that made the biggest impression on me was Tikal. Tikal is located at the north of Guatemala, and my family flew into the town via a small shaky jet from Guatemala City. We stayed at one of the three hotels at the site. Tikal was a true jungle experience, complete with monkeys, snakes, and parrots. The guide led us through the labyrinth that is the jungle and showed us the temples, pools, courts, and pyramids built by the Mayans. We climbed the tallest pyramid in the city, where the priests used to make their sacrifices. Up at the tallest point in the visible horizon, I beheld the land and the other smaller pyramids that jutted out of the jungle. I also noticed several mounds in the otherwise flat land. After a few moments, I realized that these were in fact pyramids that have not been excavated yet. It was then that I felt an urge to dig out the great structures that were still in the earth. For a long time, I aspired to become and archaeologist, and although I discovered my passion for economics later on, I never forgot the rush I felt when I stood on the pyramid and beheld the jungle, seeing not just trees but the great city of Tikal.
Thus, going on a dig has always been a dream of mine, and I am very lucky to have a chance to do so before I start working full time, thanks to Macedonia and the Texas Foundation for Archaeology and Research!

My last day…

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Today is my last day as an amateur archaeologist. Sad!! The past four weeks have flown by. This also means that this blog will be retiring soon… Even sadder! 😦 there are a few more things that I would like to write about, so I will try to do so this weekend while I am in Sofia, before catching my flight back to Taiwan.

Macedonian life


Last weekend, Amy, Phil, and I stayed at Sveti Nikole at a home stay with the Panevski’s. They are a family of four that generously offer their home to bylazora volunteers over the weekends. More than a “hotel”, they show us the real Macedonian family experience. This includes involving us in their social activities (going out for coffee twice a day, hanging out with their friends, sitting on the porch playing with their pets), and making us FOOD!
Pane ski dog and puppies!


Kitty cat

thirty year old Yugoslav car 20110718-033546.jpg

Food galore:
Breakfast, Saturday

Lunch, Saturday



Lunch, Sunday




We ate soo well….


Everything was better when we were Yugoslavia

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This was the phrase that our host mom Violeta kept saying over the weekend when we stayed at a local Macedonian home stay. She said that back then, there were plenty of jobs and people came knocking on their doors asking whether or not they wanted to work. She would make eight hundred euros a month and her husband made two thousand. After Yugoslavia disintegrated and firms were privatized, jobs were difficult to come by.
Growing up in a capitalistic, democratic nation, this is the kind of “blasphemy” that you would never come across. Things like this indicates that although we live in a free, politically correct country, our education – what we are taught and what we are told to read (ie animal farm) nonetheless tells us what to think (ie communism/socialism is bad)
Now I am not passing judgement on what’s a better political or economic system for Macedonia. After all, a country’s performance is closely linked with other countries’ development. A capitalistic Macedonia has surely has its virtues, but one wonders how well it is working out for the country when country folks like Violeta make statements like these.

Spying from the balcony

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Horse eating out in the fields for two days…

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I keep thinking that I wouldn’t mind being an animal in sveti nikole

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