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Damastion

Damastion was an ancient city in the area of central Balkans. Various sites in Serbia[ and Macedonia and Albania have been considered as the location of this ancient town. The city was in the borderlands of Illyria and Paeonia, more on the side of the latter. The exact site of the city is not yet identified with certainty. Damastion is attested only in Strabo who says that the city had silver-mines. However, he mentions Damastion without giving its position (VII, 7, 8; VIII, 6, 16). In 4th century BC the city (the Damastini) were subjects to king Bardyllis and its inhabitants were called the Damastini (not a specific Illyrian tribe). The city was known in antiquity for its silver mines, whose exact location, like that of the city itself, is today unknown. In the 431 BC Greeks from Aegina had colonized the city. The city and its silver mines were captured by Philip II of Macedon after he defeated Dardanian King Bardyllis.

Damastion was issuing silver in the form of coins bearing the head of Apollo on the obverse and a tripod with the inscription "ΔΑΜΑΣΤΙΝΩΝ" on the reverse. The circulation of the coins of Damastion included Dardania (Metohija and the Morava valley) and beyond, and to the west the southern Adriatic coast. These coins have been found in many places in the Balkans, mainly in south Serbia, east Macedonia, west Bulgaria, the Scutari in Albania and as far as Romania, Trieste and Corfu. They are dated in the 4th century BC. 

Most attempts to locate Damastion are based on the study of the coins and their distribution. Dr. Imhoof-Blumer, endeavored to find modern derivatives of the name and assumed that Damesi, a village in Albania, could have been Damastion. There are a number of other hypotheses about its location somewhere near Resen in ancient Paionia, modern Republic of Macedonia.The most recent location that was proposed was at Serbian archaeological site Kale-Krševica, south-east of Vranje (southern Serbia) where 5th-century BC foundations of an Ancient Greek urban town have been unearthed. Dr. Petar Popović from the Institute of Archeology in Belgrade says that Kale-Krševica could very likely be the city of Damastion. He added that monumental building was found made from semicircular blocks 9m long and 3 m high. He estimated that only 5% was excavated and said that the town probably had 3,000 people.


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