Vardarski Rid (Вардарски Рид)

Vardarski Rid (Вардарски Рид)



Location: Gevgelija Map


Vardar Hill or Vardarski Rid is an Archaeological Park situated near a town of Gevgelija near Republic of Macedonia. This is a settlement from an Early Antiquity that held a strategic high ground over Lower Vardar Valley. Numerous artefacts including bronze jewellery were found here that date as late as 7th century BC. Several coins from the time of Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great and Antipater were also discovered here. However Roman layer yielded no results. It might due to the fact that the city didn't survive Roman conquest and died out or it might be that archaeologists dimply didn't find anything yet. Archaeological digs still continue on the site.


The first archeological findings from the Gevgelija region are individual bronze forms of jewelry from the VII and VI century BC. AD from the Raul and Rid sites (probably Vardarski Rid). These finds, most likely contributions from scattered graves, in 1917. Rafael Popov collected them and transferred them to Sofia, where they are still kept in the Archaeological Museum.

In 1979, surveys were conducted by the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Museum, Skopje, while in 1984. probes from the National Museum of Gevgelija. Systematic research on Vardarski Rid began in 1995. and continuously to this day, under the leadership of Dr. Dragi Mitrevski. The excavations in the first years were carried out within the joint project of the Museum of Macedonia, Skopje and the Texas Foundation for Archaeological Research from Houston. The research was concentrated in two sectors, Sector "South Terrace" and Sector "Acropolis". During those initial research campaigns, individual control probes were undertaken at several different locations on the site. From 1998 to 2000 the research was continued in the same sectors, but within a new scientific-research project, at the Faculty of Philosophy, Skopje and the Museum of Macedonia, Skopje. Since 2001, the research has been concentrated on a new point - in the Sector "East Terrace". The research in this sector was ordered by the results of the so-called Protective archeological excavations carried out in 1999, which enabled the cutting off of the entire northeastern periphery of the site in the service of the construction of the new highway for R. Greece. Research in the East Terrace Sector is still ongoing. In the last three years, they have been performed as a scientific-teaching project at the Faculty of Philosophy, Skopje, with all the conveniences for practicing field teaching - archeological practicum, for students of Archeology.


The deposit of Vardarski Rid consists of two rocky hills, the higher and steeper west (Rid 1) and the lower and milder eastern hill (Rid 2), joined by a common gentle saddle, open on one side towards the riverbed of Vardar, and on the other towards the low terrains towards today's Gevgelija . With this position and morphological features, Vardarski Rid was the only suitable place for settlement living through the centuries of prehistory and early antiquity. Thus, on its entire surface were accumulated remains of living or burial from different periods, which created one of the most complex archaeological sites with complex stratigraphy, diverse and contemporary cultural remains.

Until the late 5th century BC. BC, the area of ​​Amfaxitida was a separate principality in which the ancient Macedonians stood out as a separate ethnic group. This lower Macedonian area consisted of several cities, including Idomenae, Gortinia and Atalanta. According to architecture, urbanism, culture and art, they were economically highly developed cities.

One of these cities, which most archaeologists claim to be the city of Gortinia, is located on the Vardarski Rid site. It is a multi-layered settlement and necropolis from which the genesis of its overall development can be seen in one continuity.

Remains of a fortress, walls of numerous buildings have been found on its southern part of Vardarski Rid, among which the remains of a public monumental building from the 5th century BC occupy a dominant place. AD, built of massive stone blocks. This part of the city was a small shopping center from III - II century BC. AD Archaeological findings indicate the existence of well-equipped workshops for metal, ceramics and textiles, as well as other facilities for various purposes (warehouses, shops). Part of the palace was discovered, as well as a small house sanctuary with movable finds. The excavated buildings and their layout indicate a city with an incorrect urban plan.

Among the many moving finds discovered at this site, the numismatic fund is particularly interesting and significant. It consists of the discovered coins of all Macedonian rulers, among which the most numerous are the silver tetradrachms, and of special importance are the coins of Alexander I and the coin of the Paeonian tribe Oreski (end of VI - V century BC), which are extremely rare findings.

From the ceramic findings, the most common are the terracotta representations of certain deities, various anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures, as well as other ceramic objects, all of domestic production. The discovered small samples of imported ceramics date from the V to VI century BC. AD From the metal movable finds, the most characteristic are the weapons, then the jewelry and tools, the large number of keys, kitchen utensils and others.

Vardarski Rid is the central area in Gevgelija, where people have lived continuously for more than 1000 years, from the end of the Bronze Age (XIII century BC) to the arrival of the Romans (II century BC). Through six successive settlements, starting with a small prehistoric settlement on Hill 1, during the 5th century and the 4th century BC. The ancient Macedonian city of Gortinija grew up, a city attested in historical sources as one of the centers of Ancient Macedonia. After the cessation of the settlement, more than 1000 years in the full Middle Ages (XI century - XIII century BC), the necropolis sector was again used for burial of the population of Vardarski Rid. The findings from the six researched sectors are the remains of the ancient Macedonian city that existed from the V-I century BC, and in the "Necropolis" sector are the burials from the oldest-initial settlement from the medieval horizon.

The oldest recorded residence of the Acropolis dates back to the early 4th century BC. According to the coins of Amyntas III. The central complex of the Acropolis is part of the great construction activity observed in other research sectors, which occurred in the time of Philip V when the city on Vardarski Rid is experiencing its great prosperity. Traces of a strong fire, recorded by most of the buildings on the said living horizon, would link it to the Roman conquests in the time of Philip's successor Perseus. After these events, the existing buildings were renovated with some partitions, extensions and reinforcements, new floor levels and new roofs. At the same time, the rampart was renovated and the tower was built. Both construction phases, apart from the stratigraphy, are confirmed by the numismatic material discovered on the floors of the complex.


In addition to the coins of the above-mentioned Macedonian kings, there are many of the autonomous coins minted in Amphipolis, Pella, Paroreia, Thessaloniki, and the youngest numismatic materials are the Roman republican coins. After this renovation, the Central Complex existed until the 1st century BC. when life in the city ceases, except on the east terrace where it continues in the I century AD after which it is abandoned. The highest part of hill 2 is the central and most exposed part of the sites. The buildings discovered in the Central part of the Acropolis are actually a series of rooms with different landmarks and inventory that point to different purposes. They were all closely interconnected in a unique and very complex architectural environment. The complex was in use almost during the entire development of the last, sixth settlement during the III century and II century BC.

Remains of various buildings were found here, such as rooms for grinding cereals, rooms for storing grain and food, room for cult needs as well as entrance gates and corridors that led to other purpose rooms. All the findings discovered in the Acropolis (coins, pottery, terracotta) indicate that the objects belong to the Hellenistic period of the III century and II century BC.

Inner rampart
The inner wall was discovered along the northern edge of the Acropolis. It is explored in a length of 30 meters, together with a rectangular tower, located at the most protruding northern point of the Acropolis. The rampart in some places is preserved at a height of over 1 meter on the outside and at the level of walking on the inside. The tower was 2 meters high with dimensions 6x3.40. It gave a clear view of most of the city and its surroundings with the river Vardar. The rampart surrounded the Acropolis from the north, but also from the west. He and the tower not only had a protective function but also a role to emphasize the dominant position and importance of the Acropolis in relation to other parts of the city, perhaps as the center of the city administration.

Among the numerous findings of fragmented ceramic vessels (especially embossed molded cups with various motifs, handles of amphorae with master stamps and others) interesting is the invention of a ceramic wall appliqué with a relief representation of a griffin (mythical animal with head, body and wings of of a lion). The Acropolis is literally a city on a hill.

The central and most monumental building in the current phase of research on Vardarski Rid is certainly the building that based on the architectural-construction features and movable findings we have identified as Stoa. The remains of this building date back to the V century and IV century BC. It has a base in the shape of the Latin letter "L" with dimensions: 48 × 13. The stoa was divided longitudinally into two parts, north and south. 4 rooms were located in the north, while the south was open. Evidence for the period in which this building was built we get from most coins of Philip II, Alexander III and Cassander.

Iron and bronze door elements (nails, locks, rivets, etc.), iron blades, knives, sharpener, ceramic vessels, several hats, ichthy, shallow plates, cantaros, medical vessels, coins and the like were discovered in the four rooms. The stoa on Vardarski Rid is in any case a solid example of a Macedonian stoa from early antiquity, which gives the strongest expression of the early urban character of the settlement.

The collector's house
In many ways one of the most interesting objects discovered on Vardarski Rid is the building called the Collector's House, discovered in the sector of the East Terrace in 2002. By its architectural features, it is one of the most beautiful examples of pre-Roman residential construction, while according to the inventory it is by far the richest and most provocative whole. Hence the character of this building, as well as its significance in the scientific and cultural sense. On the one hand, it was an ordinary living house with all the necessary departments and contents, with a beautiful position in the city and somewhat better equipped than the others. On the other hand, the richness, character and layout of the movable finds speak of a specific object, in which, among other things, objects with special aesthetic values ​​were collected and carefully preserved, from different time periods.


In special circumstances, significantly older objects from the building itself were discovered, and based on the coin findings, it dates from the II century BC. The collector's house has 6 rooms, the first three of which made up the residential or residential part, the rest the economic part or the storage of materials. Both parts have no direct communication so they were connected to an external porch. Thus, among other things, specific fireplaces were discovered in that area in the form of pits with hard-sealed sides and strong remnants of burning inside, in which, probably, a fireplace was prepared for the kitchen needs and the heating of the house.

The fact that it was a house where a collector lived was proved by most artifact finds such as small pendants in the shape of a bird and a deer, a set of wine, beads, decorated bones, glasses with embellished decoration, terracotta figures, a pendant-mane sharpener that was probably excavated. from a grave because at that time it was an inevitable toilet props in men's graves. However, the most significant find in this house is the marble sculpture of Aphrodite with a broken left forearm. According to the stylistic features, it can date back to the IV century and is a top artistic achievement of which the collector himself was undoubtedly aware. A special category of finds in the Collector's House were coins. A total of 24 specimens have been found, mainly from the autonomous cities of Amphipolis and Thessaloniki and from Kings Philip V and Perseus. It is assumed that life in this house and at the same time on Vardarski Rid died somewhere around the 1st century BC. The poverty of the findings from that phase indicates that the economic level and cultural achievements necessary for living were no longer reached.