The village of Dresnik is located in the central part of the Republic of Kosovo, two kilometres south of the town of Klina. It is positioned in the border between the hilly central region of Llapusha and the Dukagjini plain, at the base of Mount Zdrazhbenik descending towards Drini i Bardhë valley.
In the late 19th century, the Dukagjini Plain was mentioned by the British Archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans as a potential site for the exploration of Roman remains based on epigraphic inscriptions encountered during his research. The evidence suggested that there might be one or two sites corresponding to Roman municipiums that could have existed in the area. The inscriptions spoke of decurions, which were members of the city council of cities which had municipium status in the ancient Roman civil government and political division of the Empire. These discoveries led to decades of speculation about the probable existence of large and undiscovered archaeological remains of important population centres from antiquity in the area.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the 21st century that excavations began to shed some light into these conjectures. The first archaeological excavations have been started by the Archaeological Institute of Kosovo in 2012. These excavations which are still ongoing further clarified the character of the site, in the administrative, architectural, and urban aspects.
The archaeological site of Dresnik illustrates two different phases of development which convey a historical significance.
The first phase is called the Pre-Imperial, and consists of the remains of a villa with a surrounding vicus. This kind of the site is relevant for the study or Roman provincial archaeology of the period.
This first phase dates back to the 2nd till 3rd century A.C., and it contains the remains of the structures later destroyed for the construction of an Imperial Residence. For this reason, we see the architectonic development of this period only in a fragmented form. So far, only two structures of this period are distinguishable. One is thought to have been a Villa Rustica, and the other a Roman bath.
The Villa Rustica is located under Palace II and so far, only three rooms of this structure have been excavated. The walls were constructed using the opus incertum technique, with a thickness of about half a metre and the surface of the wall in one of the rooms painted with frescoes. These frescoes attest of luxurious spaces, however the remaining fragments are very scarce. The two remaining rooms are covered in lime mortar flooring. Characteristic of this structure are the buttresses on the western wall.
North of Villa Rustica the Roman Bath is located from which only the caldarium is explored. The caldarium floor, according to the archaeological finds, was decorated with mosaic floors found now only on the room’s threshold, while the rest of the mosaic has been probably destroyed when the floor which was suspended above the hypocaust floor collapsed.
The second phase of the Dresnik site corresponds with an expansion in the monumental characteristics of the structure that occupied the excavated site in the later period. The structure is a larger estate known as the Imperial Residence.
At the end of the 3rd century the site saw an increased intensity of new constructions, which changed the character of the settlement. At this stage, a massive fortification wall was built, which enclosed the residential complex with two buildings and accompanying structures. It has already been confirmed that these types of settlements were the residences of Roman emperors during the 3rd and 4th centuries. The most well-known are the Imperial Residences in Gamzigrad – Felix Romuliana, Stobi, and Split.
The Training Course
The Training Course will be carried in two locations on the site and will be executed in two parts. The first parts will be conservation works at the mosaics in the area known as Palate 1. The second part will be archaeological excavations in the part known as Section XLVII.
Palate 1 contains about 300 square metres of mosaics floor, of which 230 square metres are located in the Aula. The project will initiate works for the in situ conservation and interpretation of the decorations of the polychrome mosaic.
In Section XLVII, a grid system for an excavation had been started in 2019 and will be continued by the European Heritage Volunteers Project in 2020. According to findings from 2019, the area belonged to a luxury structure that has a mosaic floor and interesting wall paintings.
The Training Course would be an ideal opportunity for students, young heritage professionals and others who are familiar with architecture, archaeology, heritage conservation, art history, painting, sculpture and other related fields.
The Training Course will take place from September, 13th, to September 27th, 2020 and is organised by the Kosovo Council for Cultural Heritage, the Archaeological Institute of Kosovo and the Municipality of Klina, in cooperation with European Heritage Volunteers.