The Archaeological Department of the “National Institute Museum Kumanovo” has completed this year’s research at the Gradishte-Bislim site near the village of Pchinja. A 5th century Church was discovered.
According to the officials of the national institution, the research confirmed the assumptions of the archaeologists of Kumanovo from last year that there is a church building at this point.
The altar part of the church was discovered during the excavations. The floor of the church is about 1.5 meters below the current surface and is made of quality bricks that are attached to a mortar or clay base. According to current indicators, the old sacred church building is about 20 meters long and almost nine meters wide.
The discovered construction and expansion phases of the church are interesting. After the arrangement of the fragmentarily preserved fresco decorations, two construction phases (expansion) of the church itself are visible, in which the floor level was raised to almost two meters. This speaks for an intensive construction activity, but also for a longer useful life of the church. The first signs of this are that the church was built in the fifth century and existed in the early Middle Ages, which of course should be confirmed by future research – explains the head of the excavations, Dejan Gjorgjievski.
The church is located at the far east end of the fortress, in direct contact with the fortress bastion, which Gjorgjievski said has a symbolic meaning – the residents wanted to protect the fortress from attack by drawing God’s power directly into the protection.
During the excavations, in addition to the previously known rectangular and pentagonal tower, a circular bastion was uncovered at the top of the fortress, i.e. at its most protruding part.
Excavations show that the fortress in Bislim was by no means a short-lived military fortress, but rather a larger settlement inside and outside the fortress that has existed for a long time.
Since there is a smaller fortress north of Gradishte-Bislim from the same period, it is clear that an important ancient road ran along the Pchinja River, even in the seemingly inaccessible gorge, through which the northern part of the Balkans could be reached fastest. The so-called “Via Aksia”, i.e. the Vardar Street, and further to reach the rich ancient centers in the south – said Gjorgjievski.