The Butrint Foundation aimed to use modern field methods to understand the history of Butrint and its region in its Mediterranean context. The archaeological programme has comprised three phases: first, defining the character and extent of Butrintís archaeology; second, selecting areas for selective large-scale investigation; and, third, preparing the results for publication, archiving and ordered storage at the site.
In 1994 Butrint was known as result of the large-scale excavations made by the Italian archaeological mission between 1928-41. Between 1945-91Albanian archaeologists added further to a picture of the city that had more or less continuous occupation between the later Bronze Age and the Ottoman period. Much of these investigations were unpublished. So, the Foundation set out to survey the city and its environs as well as to assemble the archives of all earlier excavations and studies.
In 1995-96 an extensive field survey was made of the area to the south and east of Butrint. This systematic investigation brought to light Upper Palaeolithic, Bronze Age, classical and medieval sites. Linked to this a full study was made of the history of the lagoon, showing how its morphology had repeatedly changed since Upper Palaeolithic times.
Following this, a geophysical extensive geophysical survey was made of the Vrina Plain where Roman and Byzantine remains had been identified in the surface survey. Meanwhile, the archives of the Italian archaeological mission were found in Rome and those of the many Albanian missions were identified in Tirana. In both cases the records, drawings and photographs were scanned.
Finally, within the walled area of Butrint a new theodolite survey was made of the remains in the ancient city and selective small-scale excavations were pursued to identify the character of the archaeological deposits.
In 2000 with support from the Packard Humanities Institute, several areas within the ancient city and its environs were subjected to large-scale excavations. Between 2002-7 the forum, in the heart of Butrint, was the focus of an attempt to link modern stratigraphical results to the unpublished archival records made by the Italian archaeological mission and subsequent Albanian teams in the heart of the Hellenistic and Roman city.
Between 2000-3 a large excavation was made of the so-called Triconch Palace, in order to understand the topographic character of an insula of the town beside the Vivari Channel between the early Imperial Roman era and the later Middle Ages. Other smaller investigations in the ancient city have included a study of the acropolis, a photogrammetric study of the Great Basilica, new analyses and excavations of the Baptistery and an excavation of a tower in the western defences.
Outside the walled area, since 2002 the Butrint Foundation has made a large excavation on the Vrina Plain following the geophysical survey of this area. Here a suburb of the Roman colony has been found, which in time became a large town-house and then, in late antiquity an extra-mural church. In the 9th century the church was transformed into the nucleus of a mid-Byzantine manorial complex, possibly the home of the Byzantine administrator.
The last large-scale excavation was made of the later Hellenistic and Roman villa at Diaporit in the southeast corner of Lake Butrint. Excavations of this multi-period villa were undertaken between 2000-4.
The third phase of the archaeological programme has included the making of a modern database of all the archival and modern archaeological discoveries linked to a GIS system. Alongside this, the Foundation has proceeded with the full publication of the archaeological results, while in the Acropolis Castle of Butrint itself ordered and secure storage has been created for the finds from all these excavations and surveys.
- Finds processing and initial conservation
- Study of human skeletal remains
- Geophysical survey
- Excavation in progress
- Excavation of the Vrina Plain