Trebeništa – Trebenishte

At the end of the First Worl War, the Bulgarians discovered in occupied South Serbia on Ohrid Lake shore the Archaic necropolis and took and transferred all excavated artifacts and items to the National Museum in Sofia. The discovery of the rich treasures in Trebenista village in 1918, located on the road from Ohrid to Kicevo, was like something out of a movie : ancient aristocratic graves loaded with gold and silver items, beautifully adorned burial – funeral masks and gifts fit for a king….

The site of Trebenista with necropolis, dating from the 7th – 4th centuries BC was discovered accidentally by Bulgarian soldiers in the field called Grobac, beneath the Gornic hamlet. Trebeniste Necropolis is regarded as one of the most interesting archaeological sites from the Iron age on the Balkan Peninsula. It is believed that the necropolis was used by the people from the ancient town of Lychnidos. In the past, the Trebeniste region was renowned for its rich silver bed – the Damastius silver mines mentioned by Strabo were nearby. The most important Balkan roads used to intersect there as well, as the important Via Egnatia road stretching in all four directions of the world. Three and a half kilometers west of Lake Ohrid lies a plain crossed by the Drin river. The mountains of present day Albania separate this area from the Adriatic Sea. Two rivers, Shkumbin (Genesis) and Semeni (Aspus), connect this land to the shore.

Fifty six tombs were discovered of which most significant and the oldest are the 12 princely tombs, a whole dynasty that was buried with all the marks of their power, or tombs of warriors of high social status. Four wonderfully crafted golden burial masks, approximately in the size of a human face, golden hand with a ring, sandals, golden gloves, gold, silver, and bronze vessels and jewelry and rosettes have been discovered on three male and one female skeleton in Trebenista village. Trebeniste site finds are housed in the Archaeological Museums in Ohrid, Sofia and Belgrade. A very similar funeral mask was discovered in 2002, by Pasko Kuzman, in the Samoil Fortress in Ohrid. Trebeniste necropolis remains today one of the most important archaeological finds in Macedonia, and a vivid reminder of the style and sophistication of past cultures. Nikola Vulic