Stobi’s Long History and Today’s Opportunities
The archaeological site of Stobi has a history of habitation dating back to the late Bronze Age. Livy recorded Stobi as urbs vetus (old city) in the Hellenistic period, and later, during the early Roman Empire, it developed into a municipium and the largest town in the north of the province of Macedonia. In late antiquity, Stobi became the capital of Macedonia Secunda and a strong Christian center. The climatic changes in the sixth century, barbarian raids, and a possible earthquake marked the last years of Stobi’s human habitation.
Since 1861, Stobi has been the focus of many scholars. The first excavation campaigns were undertaken during the First World War and some of the largest campaigns took place between the wars. Archaeological investigations continued in the following decades and they are ongoing today. Archaeologists, architects, historians, and other scholars have published a vast number of articles concerning the history, architecture, religion, burial rites, etc., which established Stobi as one of the referent sites in the Balkans regarding the Roman period and the late antiquity.
As the site with the largest presentation area, with various preserved monuments from different periods, Stobi has welcomed tourists since the 1970s. In 2009, the government of the Republic of Macedonia established the National Institution for Management of the Archaeological Site Stobi (NI Stobi). The purpose of NI Stobi is the permanent presence of educated staff to conduct the excavations, conservation, presentation, and popularization.
One of the biggest challenges of NI Stobi is the preservation and maintenance of the excavated buildings. The conservation and restoration of the Theater, the Building with Arches, and the Episcopal Basilica are imperatives for the following years. The realization of these major projects requires international team of experts from various fields, as well as substantial financial support. The joint multidisciplinary effort will result in adequate protection, restoration, and presentation (scientific and popular) of these magnificent monuments of global significance.
In 2012, Stobi acquired the advocacy of World Monuments Fund and it has been listed as a World Monuments Watch site, which attracted the attention of the local and international media. On September 22, NI Stobi organized a Watch Day with the theme “Visit Stobi—Be Inspired,” which included workshops for mosaics and watercolors inspired by the archaeological site. The small mosaics and aquarelle paintings were created by schoolchildren from the local communities and Skopje.