History of the city of Gevgelija
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Gevgelija's most famous feature is the archaeological site, Vardarski Rid. With its position and configuration, Vardarski Rid readily fits the needs of settlement life in almost all prehistoric and ancient periods.
Thus, the higher Hill 1: dominantly rising for some 60 metres above the plain and the Vardar bed - easily defendable, with steep rocky slopes and a protected approach to the Vardar waters - represents an ideal point for pre-historic settlement since the metal ages. On the other hand, the lower milder-sided Hill 2: only 30 metres above the Vardar bed - with sufficient area and in direct relation to a possible road line (the old and main trans-Balkans north-south route) in its lowest area - fulfils all conditions for the development of an urban settlement since early historic periods.
The oldest findings from Vardarski Rid have been incidentally discovered. They witness life during the neolith on a limited space in the lowest southern terrace. The research of that part of the terrain has not been performed yet. The beginning of the continual life is connected with the eastern sides of the Hill 1. Remains of a settlement have been discovered dating from the very end of the Bronze Age. The graves in this settlement have been found on the opposite western sides of the Hill 1. In any case, it could be considered documented that the Hill 1 was the location for the initial prehistoric settlement from which in the centuries to come during the whole 1 millennium before Christ, successive settlements will develop and expand. From them also sprang the last historically witnessed old Macedonian town, which existed before the coming of the Romans and the Roman occupation from Macedonia.
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From the end of the Bronze Age
In certain relations with life towards the end of the Bronze Age on Vardarski Rid, the Kofilak site is brought (also known as Bogorodički Rid). It is founded 300-400 meters eastwards from Vardarski Rid. Certain archaeological research has been performed on this not easily approachable place, where remains of a small town from the end of the Bronze Age and Iron Age transition were discovered. The findings at Kofilak may easily be connected with the archaeological situation at Vardarski Rid and find their place in its stratigraphy.
The cultural layers from the following settlement from the early Iron Age and the first centuries in the first millennium B.C., have been found both on the eastern slope of Hill 1 and on the valley between the two hills. They document extended life of the previous settlement, in new, extended frames and with new cultural features. The following settlement from the mature Iron Age was spread widest. Layers with rich cultural content from the VIII to the VI century B.C. have been discovered over the whole site’s area, on the two hills and the passage between them.
An undisputable connection with the Iron Age life on Vardarski Rid is shown by the Milci, Suva Reka, Paragon, ulica Ilija Mijov and other sites, found on 300 to 600 meters distance southwards and eastwards from Vardarski Rid. These sites are well-known and already widely affirmed necropolises, from which above 200 graves have already been excavated, all dating from the VII and VI century B.C. In these centuries the most intensive life happened in the Gevgelija region and such a level of cultural and economic development that places this region among the most developed and economically strongest areas. A mighty local Iron Age culture develops and blossoms, which unexpectedly fast economic and cultural rise was based on intensive mining, metallurgy and the appropriate geo-position. The lower Vardar valley was one of the generators of the further cultural-historic development of South-eastern Europe. Not accidentally, the spreading and taking of shape of the ancient Macedonian state at that time was happening in the direction of positioning of the Lower Vardar valley as a central old-Macedonian area, by establishing the new capital in Pela.
From 600 BC
In the following centuries (V-IV century B.C.), with the gradual increase of the role of the Lower Vardar valley or Amfaxitidis within ancient Macedonia, besides Pela the neighbouring city centres north from the capital are also developing, down the Vardar Valley, such as: Evropos, Atalante, Gortinija and Idomene. These towns had a great geopolitical, strategic and economic significance and very important events for the history of Ancient Macedonia are connected with them. One of these towns was undoubtedly located on Vardarski Rid.
The remains of this town on Vardarski Rid are concentrated mainly on the Hill 2. Although taking a lesser space than the previous Iron Age settlement, the discovered buildings and their interior document an economically and culturally strong settlement with all the characteristics of urban life. The great town Stoa, separate works of art and the circulation of different coins at the end of the V and IV century B.C. are the best illustration for that. This settlement was of course a witness of the historical events connected with the campaign of the Thracian leader Sitalk against Macedonia in 429 year B.C. Also its final demolition could be documented with the Celtic southward raids in the first decades of the 3rd century B.C.
During the 3rd and 2nd century B.C., the next Macedonian town in line developed and spread over the whole area of Vardarski Rid. On top of the ruins of the older settlement a new urbanized town arose, under new criteria and with different relations, which enabled a fast economic and spatial growth. Numerous buildings have been discovered from this settlement – whole urban town blocks and a rich archaeological material. A special place is taken by around 500 coins from all Macedonian rulers and minting places, from Antigon Gonat to the first Roman coins, which have been discovered in almost all excavated buildings. The life in this town had abruptly ended somewhere around the middle of the 2nd century B.C. and was never more renewed. The most possible reason for this are the tumultuous events connected with the Roman conquest of Macedonia. Only on one part of the town of the Eastern terrace remains of extended life have been discovered, up until the 1st century B.C. Many centuries later, during the 12-13 century, on the South Terrace, in the rummages of the pre-Roman settlement on Vardarski Rid, skeleton graves from the Middle Ages have been discovered to have been dug in.
Some separate interventions happened on the site in the following centuries, as well, at the time of the Turkish dominion over Macedonia and during the 20th century, until modern times. Over the past two decades, Vardarski Rid has become a picnicking spot, featuring access paths, a large carpark, camping site and motel. The camping site is currently not in use. That is where, on the Eastern terrace, the most intensive systematic research is being performed.
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