Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of an Alexander the Great-era city at Kale, southern Serbia, ten kilometres southeast of the town of Bujanovac. It dates back to the 4th century B.C.
Celtic ceramic artefacts turned up during the excavation, leading researchers to redraw the southern border of the area previously believed to have been under Celtic influence. Originally this area was thought to end with the Sava and Danube rivers, and the northern border of what was once believed to have been the empire of Alexander the Great.
Lead archaeologist Petar Popović from the National Museum in Belgrade told Southeast Europe: People and Culture that the settlement was discovered near the village of Krševice and that it "is the oldest urban dwelling in Serbia.”
Popović said that though Kale has existed since the fifth century B.C., the most beautiful and recognisable items discovered by archaeologists are from the time of Alexander the Great, including every building found so far.
According to Popović, the ancient city of Kale is the northernmost city "of the empire once ruled by Philip II of Macedonia and Alexander the Great. The city's architecture is purely Greek." Popović said that experts are still debating whether the ruins might be those of the ancient city of Damastion, charted by Greek geographer Strabo as the northernmost city of Alexander's empire, known for its mint and silver trade.
The remains of the discovered city show that it occupied four hectares of land, had an acropolis, and numerous public buildings surrounded by a wall. One part of the settlement is located on the slopes of a hill, while another area is located near the Krševička river along with a huge compound with buildings, walls and a water reservoir.
Popović explained that the building is believed to have served as a water tower for the city and that it is also the oldest fully-preserved building in the central Balkans.
The foundation of the building "is a semi-circle with an arched roof and it is 10.5 metres high and six metres wide, composed of hewn stone blocks about 60 centimetres thick, which fit perfectly into each other" and “we have yet to reach the bottom,” said Popović. He added that large quantities of water are currently the biggest obstacle to archaeologists.
Nenad Radojčić, another archaeologist working on the site, says that last summer, archaeologists dug up a wall adjacent to the water tower, which is believed to be part of a large building. Between this wall and the building with the arched roof was found a large number of crudely-fashioned ceramic dishes.
Archaeologists are still unsure about the population of the 2,400 year-old city. The city's water tower was built to supply a population of 3,000 people, which would have made the city a metropolis in its time.
Popović pointed out that the site has yielded an abundance of luxury ceramic artefacts from the north Aegean, along with over 1,500 weights used in textile looms, millstones and furnaces made of cobalt, and nearby volcanic stone.
The Kale excavations started in 2001. Archaeologists from the National Museum in Belgrade, the Institute of Archaeology in Belgrade and the Vranje National Museum are currently working there.
Over past eights years, archaeologists have also excavated hundreds of priceless artefacts, including a number of perfectly-preserved luxurious ceramic objects with seals from the northern Aegean, along with a number of coins and some jewellery.
One thing that can be said for sure is that in the time of Alexander the Great, the city was a nest of civilisation, a place of good food and drink, as wine amphorae from the island of Thasos and a number of small ceramic plates used for sauces indicate.
The single most valuable coin found at the site is estimated to be worth EUR 50,000.