The site of Golemo Gradishte, located in the area of the village of Konjuh in Kratovo, is the location of the largest Late Antique city between Scupi and Pautalia, which undoubtedly was an important and rich administrative, industrial (mining), commercial and ecclesiastical seat in this part of the province of Dardania. The city covered an area of about 17 ha, making it the second largest, after Skupi.
It had an acropolis, located on a high oblong hill with east-west direction, which rises 100 m above the river Kriva, and two residential terraces on the north and south side of the hill, of which, on the north terrace the main city core is located. The whole area was protected by strong ramparts. Two necropolises are located on the wider territory of the city, within the chronological frame from the Iron Age to the Late Roman period. However, although few, the discovered movable finds from the Neolithic are an important data that this area (site) has been inhabited since early prehistory.
The systematic archaeological excavations of Golemo Gradishte have been carried out continuously for more than two decades, in cooperation with Gettysburg College, from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA. Undoubtedly the most significant moment is the discovery of the central city basilica, on the northern terrace, in 2008.
To date, research has shown that this is a large church complex, with a church with impressive dimensions of 35 x 15 meters, a separate baptistery on the south side, and a large adjoining building with rooms on the north side, with an area of approximately 550 m2, (approx. 26×21 m). This year, the excavation continued on the northern end of the building, where a monumental entrance with pillars connected with a brick and mortar arch was discovered. It is assumed that, at some point, this was the main entrance to the church.
On its eastern side is a residential building, the largest of its kind to date, whose proximity and connection to the church suggest that it was probably used by the church clergy (the so-called Episcopal Residence).
Further research in the northwestern part of the residence completely revealed another in a series of commercial premises (shops) within it. These are important (new) data regarding the architecture and organization of the rooms in the large residential buildings in this Late Antique city. The central location of these buildings, the wide street that runs from the north side of the residence, and the empty space to which it leads are indicators that this may have been the central square of the city, which remains to be asserted by future research.
The excavated remains of public and private buildings that can be seen on the ground today are dated mainly between the 6th and the beginning of the 7th century. The architecture, the extensions and the discovered coins indicate a strong economic growth of the city towards the middle of the 6th century, which coincides with the construction investments in this area, ie. the reconstruction of the cities by the Emperor Justinian.
Project managers are: Goran Sanev, MA, curator advisor at the Archaeological Museum and Prof. Carolyn Snively, of Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania, USA. The expert team consisted of Trajan Zafirovski, MA, senior curator and Radomir Ivanovic, curator at the Archaeological Museum.