Mature Middle Ages

The emancipation of the kingdoms of Western Europe determined the occurrence of external aspirations for occupation of the territories and treasures of the renewed empire and concentrated military conflicts in the first zone of Byzantine rule, which included Macedonia. The dynamic historical conditions resulted in rapid and numerous changes of the historic plan, against whose background developed numerous settlements concentrated around major fortresses. The mature Medieval culture developed between 1000 and 1206 AD and terminated with the fall of the Byzantine Empire, or specifically its capital Constantinople, to the Latins. On the territory of Macedonia, we extend this period until the eighth decade of the XIII century, marked by numerous struggles for prestige and various territorial conquests followed by a rapid change of the aspirants: Byzantium, the Bulgarian kingdom, the Serbian kingdom, West European rulers, and local Macedonian aspirants.

Showcase 154 reflects the quality of life in the turbulent times of the mature Middle Ages, developed under intensive influence of Byzantium and squeezed by the crisis of military turbulence. Pottery is a major component, primarily that designed for domestic use, which includes cups and pots of similar form and different dimensions. Frequent among archaeological finds, they are presented on the highest level in the showcase. The distinctive bread pans form a recognizable type; one example is displayed as a prototype, which evolved from high quality Early Byzantine pans to massive and coarse ware forms, which survive in local use until today. Here also belong various jugs and a higher quality production of glazed pottery as a substitute for exclusive metal vessels, which unfortunately the museum does not possess, so they are not presented in our exhibit.

An important component for describing that period of time consists of items for personal use, e.g., multiple strands of colorful necklaces made of glass beads and decorated with large multicolored glass pearls, which represent popular jewelry, and with additional strands of silver pearls, phylacteries and other amulets, reflecting the social distinction, religious orientation and superstition of their wearers. An illustration of that time is provided by the unique jewelry from grave number 4, from Koreshnica, Demir Kapija, X-XI centuries, which includes glass and bronze bracelets, a pair of large silver grape cluster earrings, silver rings, and a unique diadem composed of multiple applications originally sewed on a ribbon with a large central ornament and a series of pendants that fell across the forehead. The creativity of the makers of women’s jewelry is inexhaustible; it is represented by another group of items from several sites, shown in delicate harmony of blue and white glass, mainly from the XII century, which is the date of the bottle for aromatic extracts from the Levant, presented together with a find from the fortress at Skopje. The religious component is shown by bronze reliquary crosses or encolpia from the X-XI centuries and a lead ampoule for sacred myrrh brought from a distant pilgrimage to an unknown sanctuary of the XII or maybe XIII century.

M.A. Ljubinka Dzhidrova, custodian advisоr