Infobox World Heritage Site
WHS = Butrint

State Party = ALB
Type = Cultural
Criteria = iii
ID = 570
Region = Europe and North America
Year = 1992
Session = 16th
Extension = 1999
Danger = 1997-2005
Link = http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/570

Butrint (Albanian: "Butrint" or "Butrinti") is an Ancient Greekcite book | first= Eugene N. | last= Borza | title= In the Shadow of Olympus: the Emergence of Macedon (Revised Edition) | publisher= Princeton University Press | location= Princeton, New Jersey | year= 1992 "Speakers of these various Greek dialects settled different parts of Greece at different times during the Middle Bronze Age, with one group, the 'northwest' Greeks, developing their own dialect and peopling central Epirus. This was the origin of the Molossian or Epirotic tribes." " [...] a proper dialect of Greek, like the dialects spoken by Dorians and Molossians." "The western mountains were peopled by the Molossians (the western Greeks of Epirus)." ] cite book | first= P. Mack | last= Crew | title= The Cambridge Ancient History - The Expansion of the Greek World, Eighth to Sixth Centuries B.C., Part 3: Volume 3 (Second Edition) | publisher= Cambridge University Press | location= Cambridge, UK | year= 1982 "That the Molossians [...] spoke Illyrian or another barbaric tongue was nowhere suggested, although Aeschylus and Pindar wrote of Molossian lands. That they in fact spoke greek was implied by Herodotus' inclusion of Molossi among the Greek colonists of Asia Minor, but became demonstrable only when D. Evangelides published two long inscriptions of the Molossian State, set up p. 369 B.C at Dodona, in Greek and with Greek names, Greek patronymies and Greek tribal names such as Celaethi, Omphales, Tripolitae, Triphylae, etc. As the Molossian cluster of tribes in the time of Hecataeus included the Orestae, Pelagones, Lyncestae, Tymphaei and Elimeotae,as we have argued above, we may be confindent that they too were Greek-speaking."] cite book | first= NGL | last= Hammond | title= Philip of Macedon | publisher= Duckworth | location= London, UK | year= 1994 "Epirus was a land of milk and animal products...The social unit was a small tribe, consisting of several nomadic or semi-nomadic groups, and these tribes, of which more than seventy names are known, coalesced into large tribal coalitions, three in number: Thesprotians, Molossians and Chaonians...We know from the discovery of inscriptions that these tribes were speaking the Greek language (in a West-Greek dialect)" ] city and an archeological site in Sarandë, Albania, close to the Greek border. It was known in antiquity as Βουθρωτόν "Bouthroton" or Βουθρώτιος "Bouthrotios" [An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis by Mogens Herman,ISBN 0198140991,2004,page 343,"Bouthroton (Bouthrotios)"] in Ancient Greek and "Buthrotum" in Latin. It is located on a hill overlooking the Vivari Channel. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint has been the site of an Epirus city, a Roman colony and a bishopric.

Ancient history

"Bouthroton" was originally a town within the ancient region of Epirus. It was the one of the major centres of the local Greek tribe of Chaonians with close contacts to the Corinthian colony on Corfu and Illyrian tribes to the north. According to the Roman writer Virgil its legendary founder was the seer Helenus, a son of the king Priam of Troy, who had married Andromache and moved West after the fall of Troy. The Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus as the Latin poet Virgil wrote that Aeneas visited "Bouthroton" after his own escape from the destruction of Troy.

First archaeological evidence of sedentary occupation dates to between 10th and 8th centuries BC. The original settlement probably sold food to Corfu and had a fort and sanctuary. "Bouthroton" was in a strategically important position due its access to the Straits of Corfu. By the 4th century BC it had grown in importance and included a theatre, a sanctuary to Asclepius and an agora.

In 228 BC "Bouthroton" became a Roman protectorate alongside Corfu and Romans increasingly dominated "Bouthroton" after 167 BC. In the next century, it became a part of a province of Illyricum. In 44 BC, Caesar designated "Bouthroton" as a colony to reward soldiers that had fought on his side against Pompey. The local landholder Titus Pomponius Atticus objected to his correspondent Cicero who lobbied against the plan in the Senate. As a result, "Bouthroton" received only small numbers of colonists.In 31 BC, Emperor Augustus fresh from his victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium renewed the plan to make "Bouthroton" a veterans' colony. New residents expanded the city and the construction included an aqueduct, a Roman bath, houses, a forum complex, and a nymphaeum.

In the 3rd century AD, an earthquake destroyed a large part of the town, levelling buildings in the suburbs on the Vrina Plain and in the forum of the city centre. Excavations have revealed that city had already been in decline and was becoming a manufacturing center. However, the settlement survived into the late antique era, becoming a major port in the province of Old Epirus. The town of late antiquity included the grand "Triconch Palace", the house of a major local notable that was built around 425.In the early 6th century AD, Buthrotum became the seat of a bishop and new construction included a large baptistry, one of the largest such Paleochristian buildings of its type, and a basilica. Emperor Justinian strengthened the walls of the city. The Ostrogoths under King Totila sacked Buthrotum in 550. Evidence from the excavations shows that importation of commodities, wine and oil from the Eastern Mediterranean continued into the early years of the 7th century when the early Byzantine Empire lost these provinces. In this, it follows the historical pattern seen in other Balkan cities, with the 6th to 7th century being a watershed for the transformaiton of the Roman World into the Early Middle Ages.

By the 7th century, following the model of classical cities throughout the Mediterranean, Buthrotum had shrunk to a much smaller fortified post and with the collapse of Roman power was briefly controlled by First Bulgarian Empire before being regained by the Byzantine Empire in the 9th century. It remained an outpost of the empire fending off assaults from the Normans until 1204 when following the Fourth Crusade, the Byzantine Empire fragmented, Butirnt falling to the breakaway Despotate of Epirus. In the following centuries, the area was a site of conflict between the Byzantines, the Angevins of southern Italy, and the Venetians, and the city changed hands many times. In 1267, Charles of Anjou took control of both Buthrotum and Corfu and renovated the walls and the basilica.

The Republic of Venice purchased the area including Corfu from the Angevins in 1386; however, the Venetian merchants were principally interested in Corfu and Buthrotum once again declined. In 1490, they built a tower and a small fort. The area was lightly settled afterwards.

In 1797, Butrint came under French control when Venice ceded it to Napoleon as a part of the Treaty of Campo Formio. In 1799, the local Ottoman governor Ali Pasha Tepelena conquered it, and it became a part of the empire until Albanian independence in 1912. By that time, the site of the original city had been unoccupied for centuries and was surrounded by malarial marshes.

Archaeological excavations

The first modern archaeological excavations began in 1928 when the Fascist government of Mussolini's Italy sent an expedition to Buthrotum. The aim was geopolitical rather than scientific, aiming to extend Italian hegemony in the area. The leader was an Italian archaeologist, Luigi Maria Ugolini who despite the political aims of his mission was a good archaeologist. Ugolini died in 1936, but the excavations continued until 1943 and the Second World War. They uncovered the Hellenistic and Roman part of the city including the "Lion Gate" and the "Scaean Gate" (named by Ugolini for the famous gate at Troy mentioned in the Homeric "Iliad").

After the communist government of Enver Hoxha took Albania over in 1944, foreign archaeological missions were banned. Albanian archaeologists including Hasan Ceka continued the work. Nikita Khrushchev visited the ruins in 1959 and suggested that Hoxha should turn the area into a submarine base. The Albanian Institute of Archaeology began larger scale excavations in the 1970's.

After the collapse of the communist regime in 1992, the new democratic government planned various major developments at the site. The same year remains of Butrint were included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. A major political and economic crisis in 1997 and lobbying stopped the airport plan and UNESCO reclassified it as a "Site in Danger" because of looting, lack of protection, management and conservation.

The Albanian Government established the Butrint National Park in 2000. With the support of Albanian institutions and the Butrint Foundation the situation was improved to the point that UNESCO removed the site from the danger list by 2005. The National Park was also made a UNESCO World Heritage Site during these years as well as a Ramsar Site.

Butrint may yet provide a model of how local communities in developing countries can be empowered through the sustainable exploitation of cultural heritage. The Park Directorate ensured that the Park was able to establish an international position. In 2005 the Butrint National Park in collaboration with the Butrint Foundation and Leventis Foundation reopened the Museum which had been destroyed in 1997. The Butrint National Park has become an important educational resource. Annually a field school for Albanian University Students is run in collaboration with the Butrint Foundation and is directed by Ilir Gjipali of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology and The Butrint Foundation. The annual Theatre Festival is also held every summer in the ancient city with the ancient theatre at its focus.


Butrint is accessible from Saranda, along a road built in 1959 for a visit by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination, attracting day-trippers from the nearby Greek holiday island of Corfu. Hydrofoils (30 minutes) and ferries (90 minutes) run daily between the New Port in Corfu Town and Saranda. Many visitors from Corfu use chartered coach services to visit Butrint from Saranda, which are often included in tickets to Albania from Corfu, and additionally, a regular public bus service runs between Saranda port and Butrint.

ee also

*List of cities in Albania
*Tourism in Albania


Further reading

* Ceka N., "Butrint: A guide to the city and its monuments" (Migjeni Books, Tirana 2005)
* Crowson A., "Butrint from the Air," "Current World Archaeology", 14 (2006)
* Hodges R., Bowden W. and Lako K., "Byzantine Butrint: Excavations and Surveys 1994-99" (Oxbow Books, Oxford 2004)
* Richard Hodges and Matthew Logue, "The Mid-Byzantine Re-Birth of Butrint", "Minerva" 18, #3 (May/June, 2007), pp. 41-43.
* Jarrett A. Lobell, "Ages of Albania" ("Archeology" magazine March/April 2006)
* Ugolini L. M., "Butrinto il Mito D'Enea, gli Scavi" (Istituto Grefico Tiberino, Rome 1937, Reprinted Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Tirana 1999)

External links

* Photo Albums: [http://www.butrinti.com] [http://www.shqiperia.com/foto/butrinti2.php]
* [http://www.historychannel.com/classroom/unesco/butrint.html More information] on Butrint from The History Channel
* [http://www.albanian.com/information/history/roman.html Rome and Albanian history] from Albania.com
* [http://www.butrintfoundation.co.uk The Butrint Foundation]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/6278418.stm Albania's Long-lost Roman City] , BBC
* [http://www.butrinti.com Butrinti]

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