The Shala Valley Project

Michael L. Galaty, Ols Lafe, Zamir Tafilica, Charles Watkinson, Wayne E. Lee, Mentor Mustafa, Robert Schon, Antonia Young, 2009

Data copyright © Michael L. Galaty unless otherwise stated

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Michael L. Galaty
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Millsaps College
1701 North State Street
Jackson, MS
United States of America

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Michael L. Galaty, Ols Lafe, Zamir Tafilica, Charles Watkinson, Wayne E. Lee, Mentor Mustafa, Robert Schon, Antonia Young (2009) The Shala Valley Project [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] (doi:10.5284/1000103)


Each summer 2005-2007 the SVP put several teams into the field. In 2005 we focused our efforts on upper (north) Shala, the village of Theth specifically, and in 2006 and 2007 on lower (south) Shala. A team of archaeologists (the IAS) conducted intensive survey in farm fields and pastures (generally at 15-meter walker intervals). All artifacts, unless obviously very modern, were collected, including pottery, lithics, and small finds. This led to the identification of ten archaeological sites. At the same time a team of historians (the EHS) conducted an architectural survey, which included very basic interviews with heads of household. In 2005, the IAS and EHS managed to completely survey all of the village of Theth, including all cleared fields and every structure. In 2006 and 2007, a sample of fields and structures were surveyed. In 2005 and 2007, a team of ethnographers (the EGS) subjected 36 heads of household to lengthy, detailed interviews concerning family history and the history of the valley, settlement and economy, and tradition and change. Finally, in 2007 a team of archaeologists (the EAS) conducted extensive survey in regions south of Shala, thereby identifying eleven new sites.

In 2006, 2007, and 2008, we conducted excavation at several sites in the valley. The primary target for excavation was the Iron Age site of Theth Grunas (Site 006), discovered in 2005. Two sites - 005 and 008 - were excavated because we thought they, too, might be prehistoric. Two sites were excavated in order to provide interpretive and comparative contextual information for the results from Grunas: 009, an historic house, and 010, a modern shepherd's camp.

SVP results are archived in a relational database. There are three "tract" files (2005, 2006, 2007) that present the results of intensive archaeological survey, two "structures" files (2005, 2007) that present the results of ethnohistoric survey, and six ethnographic files (three per year, 2005 and 2007) that present the results of the ethnographic interviews. There are two site files (for the IAS and EAS) that describe sites discovered in Shala and to the south. Finally, all of our excavation results are presented in a series of "level" files, organized by year and site. In order to protect the identity of our informants, we have made every effort to strip their names from the databases.

All database files are linked to photos via photo databases, which provide descriptions of each photo. The tract and structures files are also linked to PDFs of all field ("log book") notes, and the structures files are linked to drawings and plans of all primary structures. Ten of the ethnographic interviews were recorded and audio files of these recording have been archived along with translations of nine (prepared by Sylvia Deskaj, Michigan State University). We have also archived our annual field reports, in PDF format.

Data about the artifacts collected by the SVP are stored in three database files: "pottery", "lithics", and "small finds". These are linked to pertinent photos and drawings.

We have also archived our GIS files. There are two geo-referenced IKONOS satellite photos that serve as base layers in the GIS. Both are projected slightly differently to account for the valley's length and extreme topography. The "Theth" image should be used when viewing data for northern Shala, collected in 2005. The "Gimaj" image should be used when viewing data for southern Shala, collected in 2006 and 2007. All tract, structure, and site data can be mapped and queried. In addition, there are various artifact layers that can be displayed. Finally, there are four 1:50k topographical maps that can be used also as base layers.

Dissemination (as of May, 2009)

Galaty, Michael L. 2007 "There Are Prehistoric Cities Up There": The Bronze and Iron Ages in Northern Albania. Between the Aegean and Baltic Seas: Prehistory Across Borders. Proceedings of the International Conference held at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, 11-14 April 2005, edited by I. Galanaki, H. Tomas, Y. Galanakis, and R. Laffineur, 133-140. Aegaeum 27. Université de Liège and University of Texas at Austin.

Galaty, Michael L. 2006 From Points A to B: The Shala Valley Project and the Albanian Middle Paleolithic. New Directions in Albanian Archaeology: Studies Presented to Muzafer Korkuti, edited by L. Bejko and R. Hodges, 18-30. International Centre for Albanian Archaeology Monograph Series No. 1. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Galaty, Michael L., Ols Lafe, Zamir Tafilica, Wayne E. Lee, Mentor Mustafa, Charles Watkinson, and Antonia Young 2006 Projekti i Luginës së Shalës: Fashata 2005 Hyrje [The Shala Valley Project: Results of the 2005 Season]. Shkodra në Shekuj, 232-240. Historical Museum of Shkodër. In Albanian with English abstract.

Mustafa, Mentor 2008 What Remained of Religion in an "Atheist" State and the Return of Religion in Post-Communist Albania. MESS and RAMSES II, Mediterranean Ethnological Summer School, vol. 7. Jaka Repi, Alenka Bartulovi, and Katarina Sajovec Altshul, eds. Zupanic's collection nr. 28, 51-76. Ljubljana: University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts.

Mustafa, Mentor, and Antonia Young 2008 Feud Narratives: Contemporary Deployments of Kanun in Shala Valley, Northern Albania. Anthropological Notebooks XIV/II: 87-107.

Schon, Robert, and Michael L. Galaty 2006 Diachronic Frontiers: Landscape Archaeology in Highland Albania. Journal of World Systems Research. Volume 12(2): 231-262.


The SVP was supported by grants from Millsaps College, the National Science Foundation (BCS0713730), the National Endowment for the Humanities (RZ50715), the United States Embassy in Tirana, the Global Partners Project, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), the International Peace Research Association, the University Research Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Louisville, Colorado State University, and several private donors: Bud and Judy Robinson, William and Susan Jeanes, Robert and Dee Leggett, and John Stevens.

SVP fieldwork is conducted by permission of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology, Tirana, and the Albanian Academy of Sciences and with the support of the Albanian Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth, and Sports and the Shkodër Historical Museum.

We would like to thank the many Albanian and American students and volunteers who participated in SVP field work: graduate students Sasha Caufield (University of Louisville), Anna Cohen (University of Chicago), Greg Daddis (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Francois Dengah (University of Alabama), and Sylvia Deskaj (Michigan State University); undergraduate students Nadia Al Hashimi, Ellen Beilmann, Matthew Black, Esmerelda Brahimaj, Jack Brock, Lauren Cospelich, Anna Keegan, Katelin Koon, Benjamin Ossoff, Jesse Quinn, Anisa Selimi, Catherine Scott, Jeff Smith, Caroline Stover, Ajrina Tafilica, Jordan Taylor, and Chelsi West; and volunteers Gwen and John Backwell, Richard and Jane Hargreaves, Agnes and Roger Sherman, and Helen Winnifrith. Mario Delia and Petrit Imeraj provided invaluable logistical support. Finally, Fran Frashnishta and his family were wonderful hosts. We could not have conducted the research we did without their steadfast support.

I falenderoj shokët tonë nga Shala. Ju pershendes me dashuri dhe me respekt.

The SVP Field Research Team

  • Adnan Bushati, illustrator, Shkodra, Albania
  • Ann Christine Eek, photographer, Museum of Cultural History, Oslo, Norway
  • Christopher Fisher, geoarchaeologist, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
  • Michael L. Galaty, project co-director, Millsaps College, Jackson, MS, USA
  • Attila Gyucha, field technician, Kulturális Örökségvédelmi Szakszolgálat, Szeged, Hungary
  • Ols Lafe, project co-director, Albanian Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth, and Sports, Tirana, Albania
  • Wayne E. Lee, ethnohistoric survey leader, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  • Mentor Mustafa, ethnographer, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA
  • William Parkinson, lithic analyst, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL, USA
  • Heather Rypkema, soil chemistry, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA
  • Robert Schon, extensive archaeological survey leader, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
  • Zamir Tafilica, project co-director, Shkodra Historical Museum, Shkodra, Albania
  • Joanita Vroom, Byzantine-Modern ceramics analyst, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • Charles Watkinson, intensive archaeological survey leader, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
  • Antonia Young, ethnographer, Bradford University, Bradford, United Kingdom