Diachronic Frontiers: Landscape Archaeology in Highland Albania

  • Robert Schon University of Arizona
  • Michael L. Galaty Millsaps College


The modern practice of archaeological surveyregional, intensive, diachronic, and interdisciplinaryis well-suited to the study of frontiers. In this paper we provide the example of the Shala Valley Project, which studies the northern Albanian mountain valley of Shala, home to the Shala tribe. Northern Albania is the only place in Europe where tribal societies survived into the 20th century. We attribute their survival to the frontier position of northern Albania, wherein tribal chiefs controlled access to and through valley systems. Shala provides a classic example of a refuge society, perched within a strongly contested peripheral zone. The tribe actively and creatively resisted state incorporation during both the Ottoman (Early Modern) and Modern periods. The northern Albanian frontier may have formed much earlier, though, perhaps as early as the Bronze Age. We bring a broad array of evidence to bear on this question, drawn from the ethno-historical, excavation, and of course, survey-archaeological records.
How to Cite
Schon , R., & Galaty, M. L. (2006). Diachronic Frontiers: Landscape Archaeology in Highland Albania. Journal of World-Systems Research, 12(2), 231-262. https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2006.370
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