The Necropolis of Aghios Panteleimonas (Pateli)
The only knowledge we have acquired about the Iron Age in the region comes from the burial sites of that period and more specifically from Pateli (former name of the village of Aghios Panteleimonas, in the Municipality of Amintaio). There is a necropolis of tombs in Pateli, which was spotted during the expansions of the railway connecting the towns of Edessa and Florina and the first excavations took place in 1898-99 from the Archeological Institute of Constantinople. The findings of this excavation are kept in the Archeological Museum of Constantinople. The next excavation took place after a whole century, in 2001 with the supervision and guidance of the Doctor of Archeology Mr. Chrysostomos Panikos as an attempt to preserve the archeological site.
Since then, hundreds of graves which belong to 18 tombs were found. Hundreds of objects made of copper, iron, stone, clay, and ivory were found and collected from the site of the Necropolis. Most of them are ceramic jars, jewellery, pieces of clothes, iron or copper weapons, tools and several objects whose use remains unknown. Because of the excellent condition in which the objects were found, the archeologists were able to get an informed idea of the way the inhabitants of the area decorated their body, of how they made their hair and how they dressed during the Iron Age.
The Necropolis of tombs is without doubt the largest Necropolis in the Balkans and one of the most important burial sites in Macedonia. The completion of the excavation will help us to acquire more knowledge about the life and culture of the inhabitants of Pateli. It will also make known to the public how this culture influenced and aided the intercultural contacts of the inhabitants of the Aegean islands, Macedonia and the West Balkans.
All the findings of the excavation are kept in specially designed facilities in Aghios Panteleimonas for their reception, processing, study and preservation.
The Hellenistic City of Petron
The archeological site of Petron is at a close distance from the settlement of Petron and not very far from the Lake Petron.
The Hellenistic city of Petron used to be situated in the borders of the ancient department of Eordaia and Ligistida, actually the borders of upper and down Macedonia. It was built at a strategic position on a trapezoid-shaped hill at an altitude of 720m. The hill is still dominating over the Lake Petron and the fertile plain. This city was, most probably, built in the middle of the 4th c. B.C. by Philippe II with the purpose of gaining control over the north and west borders of the Macedonian Kingdom by uniting the local tribes.
The oldest findings and ceramics, which prove the existence of a settlement in this area, date from the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age (1200- 600 B.C.). The next settlement, of which only few remains have been found, most probably dates from the second half of the 4th c. B.C. Then, in the 3rd c. B.C. buildings on islets were constructed, while the most important period for this city was in the 2nd c. B.C., when it developed greatly due to the construction of Via Egnatia in the area. Via Egnatia was built in 130 B.C. and it passed through the flatland of Amintaio, south from the hill. This has been proved by six road-signs that have been found in this area.
During this period of the city’s great growth, in the 2nd c. B.C. the simple agricultural economy of the past was replaced as the settlement acquired an urban character and a high standard of living. There are ceramic and wax workshops and metalwork in the city, as it is indicated by several parts of raised jars and figurines which have been found during the excavation. Thus, by gaining the control over Via Egnatia, the city of Petron became a remarkable centre of commerce and they traded goods with several other cities such as: Pella, Thessaloniki, Amphipolis, Akarnania, Rhode and Dirrachio, a fact that is proven by the coins of these areas which have been found here. However, it wasn’t an independent city, but it belonged financially and administratively to Pella, the capital city of the Macedonian Kingdom. All the findings of this excavation are kept in the Archeological Museum of Florina.
Lake Settlements of Anargiroi (6,500- 5,800 B.C.)
The basin of Amintaio in Florina has been put dynamically in the archeological map of Greece for 15 years now, due to a new significant research done by the General Directorate of Antiquities of Florina. The most important part of this project is the excavation- preservation programme of the mines of Amintaio in the region Anargiroi, where the facilities of DEI (Public Electrical Power Coorporation) are located and which started in 2012. This is a huge project not only for the Greek reality, but in an international scale too. 150 archeologists, 50 collaborators specializing in different fields and 1,100 workers- either qualified or trainees- take part in this project. Moreover, in Aghios Panteleimonas the appropriate facilities were created for the reception, processing, study and preservation of those numerous findings.
Through this extensive research, different aspects of an unknown- until recently- prehistoric civilization are being revealed. This civilization dates from the mid 7000 B.C. and it is referred to as the “Civilization of the four Lakes” because the aquatic element played an important role in the development of its unique characteristics. Actually, 13 settlements of the Early New Stone Age (6,500- 5,800 B.C.) have been spotted and this fact sheds new light into the research regarding the first stages of the development of agriculture and stock-farming in Greece. It seems that this ancient settlements played a crucial role in the development, propagation, and transfer of the Neolithic way of production in the regions of Thessaly- West Macedonia- Balkans in the mid 7000 B.C.
The excavation of the prehistoric lake settlements in the area of Anargiroi is the greatest of its kind that has ever taken place in Europe. Based on the research at the edges of the settlements and part of the central region, it has been proven that the houses were built on above-ground, wooden platforms over the surface of the lakes. The most impressive findings regarding the organization of the settlements are the stake-poked paths of the southeast region, which had a length of 120m (and maybe longer) and which enabled the residents of the settlement to access the neighbouring shore. A double stake-poked wooden fence, surrounding the settlement, has also been found.
In the remains of the dozens of houses, which have been excavated in these prehistoric settlements of the area, and which were either abandoned, burned or collapsed, thousands of items were found which were used by the farmers, such as stone, bone, horny and clay tools, which were used for stock-farming, household, fishing and hunting activities. Also, the archeologists found huge clay jars in different shapes and techniques of making, which were used for the preparation, consumption and storage of food, as well as carbonized seeds, cereals, wild herbs, fish bones and bones of domestic or wild animals, many of which were found in ovens and fireplaces. Moreover, the humid conditions in several layers of the lake settlements resulted in the preservation and then discovery of a unique variety of tools, such as complex farming tools (mattocks, ploughs, hammers etc.), the wooden stool from Limnochori Π and the very rare and intact Neolithic wooden tool for the grinding of nuts (pestle).
Due to the numerous findings and evidence in the area of the 4 lakes, such as anthropomorphous and animal-like clay figurines, jewellery and accessories- made of various materials-, ornate patterns on ceramic utensils, stamps made of clay and signs with engravings with what experts define as Neolithic “early writing-system”, the existence of a sophisticated world in this area is proven.
Apart from the wealth and variety of the tools, figurines and jewellery, made of stone, clay, bones and horns and the uniquely decorated clay jars, two dugout boats have been found, along with other wooden art crafts. A very rare phenomenon regarding prehistoric excavations is the discovery of gold jewellery (foils and ring-shaped amulets) belonging to the Late Stone Age and which were most probably used as status symbols by their owners.
All the findings of the excavation are kept in Aghios Panteleimonas, in specially designed facilities for their reception, processing, study and preservation.