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EXCAVATION TRENCHES
WITHIN THE WAR TRENCHES

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EXCAVATION TRENCHES
WITHIN THE WAR TRENCHES

In the context of executing military infrastructure works, such as levelling land for the establishment of military camps and connecting roads or constructing machine-gun nests and trenches, the remains of ancient residential and burial complexes were often revealed - and frequently destroyed.

Certain heights (artificial mounds) in the Axios valley, usually chosen by allied troops to set up camps, were the locations of prehistoric and proto-historic settlements or ancient tombs.

These fortuitous discoveries of archaeological sites resulted in singular small-scale excavations at specific sites, such as Chauchitza or Boemitsa, with the participation of various scientists, archaeologists, philologists, even physicians serving in the allied forces.

The French and English showed particular archaeological interest during the years of the Macedonian Front. The French Army of the Orient included an organised "Military Archaeological Service", with the main purpose of seeking and mapping archaeological sites in Macedonia, collecting findings from surface surveys and occasionally carrying out test trenches. Similarly, the English set up the "Archaeological Service" of the Macedonian Front.

A large part of the findings was transported for safe-keeping to Thessaloniki, either to the White Tower (Museum of the British Forces) or the Rotonda (Museum of the French Forces). Today, several of those antiquities are kept in the Archaeological Museums of Thessaloniki and Kilkis, while others had been transferred since that period to museums abroad (the Louvre Museum in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh).

Those first peculiar excavations, in the din of the battle, aroused the interest of British archaeologists in particular, serving as the starting point for a more systematic and targeted subsequent archaeological and topographic survey in the region of Kilkis.

British archaeologists Stanley Casson and Walter Heurtley returned to Kilkis after the Great War had ended, in the 1920s, as members of the British School of Archaeology, to conduct excavations at various prehistoric archaeological sites, such as Chauchitsa, Limnotopos (Vardino), Axiochori (Vardaroftsa) and Kalindria (Kilindir).

The results of those inter-war and post-war pioneering surveys shed considerable light on the past of the broader region, largely unknown until then. To this day, they continue to serve as a reference point for subsequent studies and surveys in the area of Central Macedonia, especially on the pre-historic and the proto-historic period.