Butrint is situated on a low promontory on the southwest coast of Albania. Set in a marshy landscape between Lake Butrint, an inland lagoon, and the busy straits separating Corfu from Albania, it is an archaeological and environmental haven.
The site of Butrint has been occupied since at least the 8th century BC, although myths associated with its origins speak of the city's foundation by Trojan exiles. By the 4th century BC, a walled settlement was established and the city became a successful cult site, dedicated to Asclepius.
Augustus founded a colony at Butrint and the town seems to have remained a relatively small Roman port until the 6th century AD. Little is known of the site between the 7th and 9th centuries. Its later medieval history was turbulent as the town was involved firstly in the power struggles between Byzantium and successive Norman, Angevin and Venetian states and secondly in the conflict between Venice and the Ottoman Turks. By the early 19th century it had dwindled to a small fishing village clustered around a Venetian castle.
Archaeological investigation of the site was begun by an Italian mission in the 1920s, and was continued under the post-war communist government of Albania. Since 1994, excavations have been undertaken by the Albanian Institute of Archaeology and Institute of World Archaeology, University of East Anglia, Norwich (working under the auspices of the Butrint Foundation).
Key areas of excavation include the Roman Forum, a sprawling Roman townhouse known as Triconch Palace, a late-antique baptistery, a Roman villa and late-antique church on the shore of Lake Butrint at Diaporit and a major suburb of the Roman town located on the plain in front of the walled city.
Butrint became a World Heritage Site in 1992. For more information on the history and environment of Butrint please see the UNESCO website or click on the Further Reading tab.
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