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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Tumulus Burial at Pogoni, Epirus

The discovery and study of sepulchral tumuli at Pogoni, Epirus, brings a new dimension to archaeological research of the prehistoric age in Epirus, since this part of Greece has so far remained relatively unknown. Future conclusions drawn from the study of the tombs will prove whether this cemetery and the settlement to which it belongs relate to the first settlement of Greek tribes in Epirus, or to the descent of the Molossoi from the Northwest in the years between the Bronze Age and the early historic period. The tombs excavated so far form two sepulchral tumuli, distinguished by the letters A and B. They are located on the woody north slopes of the Koutsokrano Mountain. The systematic excavation of Tumulus A began in 1979 and was completed in 1981, the same year that the research on Tumulus B, 50 m. south of Tumulus A started. Other tumuli have also been located scattered over an area of 2 km. around Tumulus A; their size varies, while some are covered with large, irregular stones, others with earth. The existence of such an expanded cemetery that remained in use from the 10th on to the 4th century BC and after an interval was used in the early Christian age, as the finds from Tumulus A testify, points necessarily to the existence of a thriving settlement of long duration in time. The settlement was located in 1981 to the east of the large cluster of tumuli. Foundations of circular, semicircular and rectangular buildings are still visible here. Cemeteries consisting of a considerable number of tumuli – the tumuli originate from the North – are known in many countries of Northwestern Europe, the Balkans and the Dalmatic coasts. Similar cemeteries have also been discovered in Greece dating from the Prehistoric age to the 4th century BC. Tumulus A in Pogoni has a diameter of 12 metres, it is almost 1 m. high and contains 30 box-shaped tombs. The question of the origin of box-shaped tombs, which is the common way of burial during the MH and LH period in southern Greece, has not yet been answered. Most of the tombs, although looted, disclosed finds like shreds from prehistoric, hand-made pottery and parts of tools made of stone and knives made of iron. Objects and coins from an unlooted tomb date back to the 4th century BC, while the jewelry from another date in the 7th – 10th century AD and are quite close to similar finds from Albania. The Tumulus B has approximately 8 m. diameter and its height hardly reaches the 0,50 m. The tombs, that can be dated as early as the 11th – 10th centuries BC, have a spoked arrangement and are again box-shaped. The finds of Tumulus A, compared with other relevant, published material, lead us to date the tumulus in the period between the Bronze Age and that of Iron, while the Tumulus B must date earlier, that is from the 11th century BC The continuous use of Tumulus A. from the 11th to the 4th century BC, as well as the existence of a great number of other tumuli and of building foundations bear witness to a lasting and prosperous contemporary community. The group of the tumuli in Pogoni must be related to the tumuli in Illyria, not only because the sites belong to the same geographical unit but also because their tumuli have been in use from the prehistoric period to the Middle Ages. The tumuli of the western Balkans have generally been considered of northern origin, an influenced that is, by the way of burial of the tribes of the Kurgan civilization. These tribes descended from the North to the Balkans and, according to N. Hammond, reached Albania and through the coasts of Illyria and Lefkas Island moved forwards to the rest of Greece.