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Saimir Shpuza

Saimir Shpuza is a classical archaeologist working on the ancient territory of Illyria. His main ongoing project on the Nymphaion of Apollonia and the Bitumen in the Mediterranean combine interdisciplinary approaches such as: landscape and religious archaeology, ancient mining techniques, and environmental studies.

Host University: Aix Marseille University, France

Host research group or department: Institut de Recherche sur l'Architecture Antique - IRAA

Co-host University: Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy

Secondment institution: Institute of Archaeology in Tirana, Albania

Advisor: Professor François Quantin

Co-advisor: Professor Marco Galli

Secondment mentor: Dr. Albana Meta

Saimir Shpuza
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My research

The Nymphaion of Apollonia and the Bitumen in Central and Western Mediterranean.

Multidisciplinary and Diachronic Study

This project focuses on the exploitation and uses of bitumen in southern Albania in the ancient times.

Bitumen deposits are known and exploited in the lower valley of Vjosë since Antiquity and some of them

are still active today (Selenicë). By its uses (the sealing of ceramics, caulking of ships etc), by the

peculiarities of its extraction and its treatment, by its lasting effects on the environment and health as

for its symbolic or religious value, the bitumen offers a prism to observe in the long term the nesting and

the radiation of a region on the Mediterranean scale. The research project presented here combines

different approaches: historical, archaeological, geological, physical (fluids and gas), geographical and

environmental. The chronological amplitude is very large because it leads from Antiquity (sacred

character of the site, exploitation of the bitumen deposits) to present day. Thus, the project seems large

but it represents a unity of space and a thematic coherence: it’s about understanding how the bitumen

was exploited in this region of the ancient world and why its extraction and the perpetual flame

associated to it, had a link with the religious dimension through an oracle sanctuary whose vestiges

remain to be discovered. The originality of the project lies above all in its ambition to link disciplinary

approaches: religious archaeology, ancient mining techniques, and others. It is also based on the dual

objective of building a long-term overview of the impact of a natural resource on its environment and of

converting it into a virtual museum.

Date started – Date End

01.10.2022 - 30.09.2024