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Bay of the Bones – Ohrid Lake

        The first Macedonian underwater archaeological excavations were carried out in 1997, at the site of Plocha Mishov Grad, in the Bay of the Bones, located on the southern shore of the Gradishte peninsula, near the village of Peshtani. Numerous wooden piles embedded in the lake floor were discovered at a depth of 3 to 5 meters, as well as mobile archaeological material dated to the end of the Bronze and the beginning of the Iron Age.

        The second cycle of underwater research at this site was conducted in 1998, when 3.102 piles were excavated, numbered, measured and positioned. Underwater archaeological excavations were being continually carried out until 2002, whereas with further interruptions until 2005, when fragments of 6.000 wooden piles were discovered and documented.

       Based on the measurement endeavors of the largest part of the settlement, it has been established that the settlement spread over an area of around 8.500 m2. It was built on a platform of wooden piles positioned into the lake floor. The diameter of the piles varied from 13 to 30 sm. It is noted that the closest pile to the northern shore of the bay is situated at approximately 12 meters into the lake, which indicates that it is a pile from the swing-bridge which served to connect the settlement to the land.

        Within the area of this settlement, the investigations revealed that the bottom of the lake was densely covered with whole and, particularly, fragmented ceramic dishes, stone artifacts, as well as fragmented animal bones. The ceramic dishes and fragments usually represent a rough invoice and they are rarely ornamented with relief decoration, whereas the dominant among the shapes are those such as dishes with handles, narrowing at the top and protruded at an angle, overhanging the rim of the dish. Mostly represented are those with horizontally positioned handles, although there are also vessels without handles, and pots with circular openings at the upper narrow section of the neck, which probably served to thread through a rope or a leather to ease their use, i.e. for carrying them on shoulders, etc.

        Among the ceramic handles there were such that exceeded the rim vertically, while ending with a rounded or evened cylindrical column, characteristic of the Early Iron Age, namely of the proto-geometric and the geometric period on the Mediterranean. The most frequent among the mobile archaeological material are the circular ceramic slabs in various diameters, with two, three or four small spherical openings. It is assumed that these items were used as fishing equipment by the inhabitants of the settlement. Among the ceramic objects there are various forms of vertebrae, both conic and bi-conic, as well as items used in rituals-alter tables.

        The stone tools are mainly fragments of wheat hand-mills, as well as whole evened elliptical stone objects which must have served as tools for washing clothes. Among the many fragments of domestic animal bones, there are also fragments of deer antlers, presumably used as tools. Based on the results of the underwater terrain investigations and the analyses of the mobile material, it can be attested that this lake-dwelling existed in the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, namely in the period from 1500 to 700 BC.

        Since 8 December 2008, the Bay of the Bones at the Ohrid lake represents an attractive museum complex named Museum on Water, which includes a number of components: the reconstructed lake-dwelling, as assumed, at the site of Plocha Mishov Grad, positioned on a wooden platform supported by wooden piles embedded into the lake floor; a Roman castrum, which is conserved, restored and presented at the highest plateau of the Gradishte hill; an accessible rustic stone structure with underwater show-cases as well as a rustic structure for underwater tourism.