This year’s research at Golema Pest, Zdunje has been completed

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The site is located near the village of Zdunje, Municipality of Makedonski Brod, 65 km from Skopje. The cave was certainly not used by chance, which is indicated by the relief around it and the good view of the surroundings and the river Treska, today an artificial accumulation – Lake Kozjak.

The first information about the site was obtained from test excavations at the end of the last century, while the systematic archeological excavations have been ongoing since 2003. Excavations so far have uncovered an extremely rich movable archaeological material consisting of stone tools / weapons and animal bones. The findings were discovered in 21 layers with a thickness of 5.5 meters. Most of the stone artefacts consist of cores and flakes that constitute the technological process from raw material to finished tools: core reduction, testing attempts, flakes with remaining cortex, flakes with varying dimensions, flaking and retouches, flake fragments from the retouch.  Among the typical tools and weapons, scrapers, serrated tools, points, etc. were discovered. Most of them are made of quartz – white and transparent, while other used raw materials are: basalt, rhyolite, jasper, quartzite and flint.

Animal bones originate mostly from deer, and in smaller numbers from cattle, ibex, wild boars, wild bears, hyenas, birds and others. The remains of animal bones point not only to food, but also to intentional processing by the inhabitants.

The cave was used as a habitat over the course of a long period, from 40 to 100,000 years. BC, according to the archaeological findings and chemical analysis.

This year’s research was focused on the newly opened trench 5, which is located 13 meters from the entrance, in the northern part of the cave, which is more protected from natural elements. In the four square meters and a depth of 60 cm four layers are documented. Several hearths containing coal and numerous archeological material have been discovered in this area.

Compared to previous campaigns, the stone tools are more diverse in regard to raw materials and typology and are larger in size.  Regarding the cores and flakes, the Middle Paleolithic technique has been ascertained – Mousterian with Levallois and and discoid forms.

Animal bone finds are twice more than stone artefacts. In general, it can be concluded that the material findings are characteristic of the Neanderthal population.

Alongside with the archeological excavations, material was selected for several types of analysis: animal teeth with sediments for Electron Spin Resonance to be performed in the Department of Chemistry at Williams College, RFK Science Research Institute in New York and the Thomson Laboratory, USA and sediments for OSL and DNA analysis  in the laboratories of the Max Planck Institute, Germany.

The project holder is the NI Archaeological Museum of Republic of North Macedonia, funded by the Ministry of Culture of Republic of North Macedonia.

Participants in the project: Ljiljana Shalamanov-Korobar – project manager, Blagoja Kitanovski – archaeologist, Marina Spirova – archaeologist, Pero Sinadinovski – archaeologist, Antonija Sardelic – architect, Ivan Zezhovski – speleologist, Vancho Handziski – logistics.