Early Prehistoric Landscape and Landuse in the Fier Region of Albania


  • Curtis Runnels Boston University
  • Muzafer Korkuti Albanian Academy of Sciences
  • Michael L Galaty Millsaps College
  • Michael E. Timpson Natural Resource Group, LLC
  • Sharon R. Stocker American School of Classical Studies
  • Jack L. Davis American School of Classical Studies
  • Lorenc Bejko University of Tirana
  • Skënder Muçaj Albanian Institute of Archaeology




Albania, Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, chipped stone tools' regional studies, palaeoenvironmental studies


Little was known until recently about regional patterns of early prehistoric occupation in Albania, making it difficult to situate the Albanian record within existing, general models of early prehistoric landuse. An intensive regional survey, the Mallakastra Regional Archaeological Project (MRAP), carried out in the Fier region of central Albania from 1998-2003, gathered widespread evidence for human occupation during the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods, from the Myzeqe Plain to the Mallakastra hills. The Pleistocene and early Holocene landscape of Fier differed considerably from the present landscape, and at times the Adriatic shoreline was much farther inland than it is now. As a consequence, Palaeolithic and Mesolithic foragers were able to exploit coastal-wetland and estuarine environments that have been buried only recently by alluvial sediment as a result of river avulsion and soil erosion. The landscape studied by MRAP is only a fragment of the total landscape once exploited by early humans in this part of the Balkans, whose home range may have included much of soutwest Albania and parts of northwest Greece. Our reconstruction of early prehistoric landuse in central Albania, based on collection and mapping of the locations of 1593 lithic artifacts from a 35 sq km area, indicates patterns of logistical foraging that span the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic and match those modeled in other Mediterranean countries, such as Greece.

Author Biographies

  • Curtis Runnels, Boston University
    Curtis Runnels is Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Archaeology at Boston University and Editor of the Journal of Field Archaeology. He has directed or has participated in regional survey projects and excavations in Greece, Turkey, and Albania, most recently on a Palaeolithic and Mesolithic survey of Plakias, Crete.
  • Muzafer Korkuti, Albanian Academy of Sciences
    Muzafer Korkuti is former Director of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology. He is currently Vice President of the Albanian Academy of Sciences, and has directed excavations throughout Albania, with a primary focus on prehistory.
  • Michael L Galaty, Millsaps College
    Michael L. Galaty is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. Since 2004 he has directed the Shala Valley Project (SVP) in the high mountains of northern Albania (www.millsaps.edu/svp).
  • Michael E. Timpson, Natural Resource Group, LLC
    Michael E. Timpson received his PhD in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Tennessee. He has conducted geoarchaeological research in Greece, Albania, and at various sites in the United States.
  • Sharon R. Stocker, American School of Classical Studies
    Sharon R. Stocker holds a PhD in Classics from the University of Cincinnati. She directs a team that is republishing finds from the Palace of Nestor in Greece, and has co-directed fieldwork in the Durrës area in Albania (2001), as well as excavations of a new Greek temple discovered at the Bonjakët site, near Apollonia (2002-2005).
  • Jack L. Davis, American School of Classical Studies
    Jack L. Davis is the Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. He has directed or co-directed regional archaeological projects at Nemea, in the area of the Palace of Nestor, and on the island of Kea in Greece and in the Durrës area in Albania. He has been co-director of excavations at Bonjakët.
  • Lorenc Bejko, University of Tirana
    Lorenc Bejko is a Professor of Archaeology in the Department of History at the University of Tirana. He has directed archaeological projects throughout Albania, most recently the Korça Basin Archaeological Survey (KOBAS).
  • Skënder Muçaj, Albanian Institute of Archaeology
    Skënder Muçaj is director of the Late Antique and Early Medieval division of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology. He directs excavations at the site of Byllis.






How to Cite

Runnels, C., Korkuti, M., Galaty, M. L., Timpson, M. E., Stocker, S. R., Davis, J. L., Bejko, L., & Muçaj, S. (2010). Early Prehistoric Landscape and Landuse in the Fier Region of Albania. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 22(2), 151-182. https://doi.org/10.1558/jmea.v22i2.151