Antique city of Butrint is situated on a peninsula of the lake of Butrint, in the south extremity of Albania. At the beginning of the XXth century, Italian archaeologists began systematic archeological excavations there. After the liberation of Albania, in 1944, Albanian archaeologists began more ambitious works. The mud and the vegetation which recovered Butrint had protected it from the ravages of time, and all the city appeared almost intact. Important stage on the commercial roads, the site knew a peak of activity in the IVth century BC, in the course of which it mattered among the main maritime and commercial centers of the antique world.
The view of its surrounding wall, which is dated from the VIth century BC, is enough to remember the economic and commercial power of the city during this period. The hill occupied by the Acropolis is surrounded by a wall, built in huge stony blocks. The amphitheater shows interests of the inhabitants of the city : stony seats, among which 23 rows are preserved, could welcome 1 500 spectators. The theater is at the foot of the Acropolis, close of two temples; one of them is dedicated to Asclépios, the medicine Greek god, who was the object of a cult on behalf of the city inhabitants. Under the Roman domination, the city lost gradually importance.
However, three monumental fountains, three public thermal baths, a gymnasium decorated with mosaics and, quite particularly, the aqueduct built in the course of Auguste’s reign, prove that the site was far from being abandoned at this time. Two basilicas and a baptistry were built there during early Christian period. Later, the city knew a difficult story in the medieval time: it was taken in the power struggles, between Byzantium and successively Norman, Anjou and Venetian States, then in the conflict between Venice and the Ottoman Turks. Infiltrations of groundwater forced its inhabitants to leave the site, and the abandoned city became covered little by little with mud and vegetation, allowing its preservation.
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