By Michael Galaty, RAPID-K co-director
The inaugural 2018 field season of RAPID-K exceeded all expectations, which bodes well for 2019. In 2018, three field teams covered 15.4 square kilometers in three zones, collecting 4638 artifacts and identifying 15 new sites, including a new, very large Bronze Age settlement called Pepaj. In 2019, RAPID will field four teams (see map below), two of which (D and E) will extend last summer’s survey zones, and two of which (F and G) will operate in brand new territory. One goal is to determine whether emerging settlement patterns extend into adjacent river valleys. Another is to assess evidence for prehistoric occupation in areas to the east and south, in areas where tumuli (burial mounds) have been previously recorded.
In addition to expanded surveys, we will undertake additional targeted investigations. First of all, survey data collected in 2018 indicate that Bronze Age Pepaj may be as large as 1 square kilometer, which is extremely large. In order to refine that size estimate, we will conduct gridded surface collections in various parts of the site, and will retrieve core samples using a bucket auger. Gridded collections will refine our interpretation of the site’s size and periods of occupation, while coring should reveal the extent of subsurface archaeological strata, identified and dated in 2018. Second of all, one interesting pattern revealed in 2018 was an almost total absence of chipped stone artifacts, including from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic ages. We may still identify such artifacts in the future through survey, but will also aim to target caves sites in the hills and mountains, with the help of local speleologists. Finally, we know that prehistoric and historic forts are located at the tops of hills in the western portion of our study region, but they are very difficult to access and survey. We hope to visit many of these forts in 2019, which will help us determine how best to document them in the future, perhaps through the use of drones and/or LIDAR.
One of the very best things about the 2018 field season was The Team, which included faculty and students from four countries: Kosova, Albania, Canada, and the United States. We are excited that we will once again be joined by students from the University of Prishtina, the University of Tirana, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Michigan (from both UMMAA and IPCAA). Like last year, RAPID will be co-directed by Michael Galaty and Sylvia Galaty, from the University of Michigan, and Haxhi Mehmetaj, from the Kosova Institute of Archaeology. Last but not least, we look forward once again to fabulous accommodations and food at the Hotel Karagaq in the beautiful city of Peja.