The study of Greek inscriptions in Albania

Woman in Southern Illyria has been considered independent from the male world, contrary to the woman in ancient Athens, whose tutors were the men of the family.

This interesting revelation is unfolded by the French professor, Pierre Cabane, after studying over 1700 Greek inscriptions in Southern Illyria and in Epirus since the fifth century BC.

All of these inscriptions have been collected into a corpus with 4 volumes with the Albanian professor Faik Drini as co-author. The inscriptions are also accompanied with studies which were presented in the past few days in Tirana.

The director of the Albanian Archeological Institute, Luan Perzhita not only praises the work of the two professors, but also the 90 years of work between Albanian and French archeologists.

Meanwhile, Melsi Labi, the head of the National History Museum says that the inscriptions in Greek shed light on antiquity. “Documentary sources of Albania’s ancient history are few in number, as a result of the historical circumstances through which the Albanian people has gone, therefore with these written ancient inscriptions written in old Greek, light is shed upon the period of antiquity”.

Labi also comments this corpus with 4 volumes. He says that the authors, Prof. Pierre Cabanes and Prof. Faik Drini, have done a proper scientific work to come to these conclusions.

“A part of these inscriptions were written on stone plates, bronze plates and different metals. The epigraphic material has reduced with the passing of the centuries. This was affected by the numerous wars, earthquakes, etc-thus, objective causes, – but also human carelessness”, says Nensi Labi. He adds that “the epigraphic material of the book offers information on historical events, the construction of ancient objects, etc.

Authors of the four volume corpus, Pierre Canabes and Faik Drini, say that work for “Ancient Albania discovered through inscriptions in old Greek” started 40 years ago. They admit that this demanded much time and commitment.

Prof. Faik Drini says that the publication has authentic information. All 1700 inscriptions have been found in a number of antique cities such as Amantia, Butrint, Finiq, Antigonea, etc. Professor Pierre Cabanes says that the old inscriptions have been mainly found in the south of Albania and very few in central or Northern Albania, where the influence of the Greek language was not present.

As far as Kosovo is concerned, researchers said that it has been completely excluded from the influence of Greek culture, but the Danubian influence has been present in that country.

Professor Cabanes says that Greek has been a dominating language in the region. This doesn’t mean that everyone spoke Greek, because all other nations used their language, which could only be spoken.

Professor Cabanes has been studying and publishing on the antiquity of Illyria for 40 years and he has been the first foreign researcher who has managed to enter Albania before 1990.

But what is the biggest discovery according to professor Cabanes?

“The most important thing that I have discovered in these inscriptions is the place of woman in the ancient society, which is completely different here as opposed to Central or Northern Greece. Woman in Illyria is independent and she needs no tutors. This is an interesting originality, because in this period, in Athens, the woman was under the tutelage of the husband or the father. This is particularly noted in Butrit, where the women could grant freedom to a slave without the intervention of the male. This independence of the woman in Illiria has been possible because the man was often absent in the family. He used to work as shepherd and this forced him to be on the move”.

What about the population, what was its composition? Dr. Cabanes explains: “It has a local population. In mortuary inscriptions in Apolloni, we discover a mixed population. The names are mixed. We often see a character with an Illyrian name, although he has Greek origins or the contrary.  Illyrian names are often used among the residents of the area”. He also says that “dominating culture and the written language is that of the Greek colonies in this area”.