Light and Shadow: Isolation and Interaction in the Shala Valley of Northern Albania


Series: Monumenta Archaeologica 28
ISBN: 978-1-931745-71-0
Publication Date: Apr 2013
Price: Hb $65.00, Ebook $52.00
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Michael L. Galaty, Ols Lafe, Wayne E. Lee, and Zamir Tafilica

Winner of the 2014 Society of American Archaeology Book Award in the Scholarly Category

There are few places in Europe as remote as the Shala Valley of northern Albania. The inhabitants appear lost in time, cut off from the outside world, a people apart. But this careful interdisciplinary study of their past and way of life tells a very different tale, overturning much of what we thought we knew about Shala and “persistent” peoples everywhere. 


The residents of this mountain tribe spent centuries inside the bounds of the Ottoman Empire, yet they retained not only their Catholicism, but also their political autonomy, forming a flexible, resilient society. Employing survey archaeology, excavation, ethnographic study, and multinational archival work, the Shala Valley Project uncovered the many powerful, creative ways in which the men and women of Shala shaped their world, and successfully fought for their survival. The researchers also unveiled a new, deeper history for the region—one that reaches back to an unexpected fortified Iron Age site. The people of Shala may serve as an example in our modern age, in which tribal people still seek to preserve some degree of independence from capitalist economies bent on their incorporation.

Water-powered corn mill

Table of Contents
  • Ch. 1: Introduction by Michael L. Galaty, Ols Lafe, Wayne E. Lee, and Zamir Tafilica
  • Ch. 2: Project History and Methodology by Michael L. Galaty, Ols Lafe, Wayne E. Lee, and Zamir Tafilica
  • Ch. 3:  The Environmental Context by Michael L. Galaty
  • Ch. 4: Archival Historical Research by Wayne E. Lee, Matthew Lubin, and Eduard Ndreca, with contributions by Michael L. Galaty, Mentor Mustafa, and Robert Schon
  • Ch. 5: Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Kinship Relations: Descent, Marriage, and Feud by Mentor Mustafa, Antonia Young, Michael L. Galaty, and Wayne E. Lee
  • Ch. 6: Economy and Settlement by Charles Watkinson
  • Ch. 7: Modern Settlement Patterns and the Built Landscape by Wayne E. Lee
  • Ch. 8: The Sacred Landscape of Shala by Zamir Tafilica
  • Ch. 9: Regional Archaeological Survey and Excavation Results by Michael L. Galaty, Ols Lafe, Charles Watkinson, Robert Schon, and Zamir Tafilica, with contributions by William A. Parkinson and Joanita Vroom
  • Ch. 10: Grunas by Michael L. Galaty, Zamir Tafilica, Christopher T. Fisher, Wayne E. Lee, Attila Gyucha, and Robert Schon, with contributions by William A. Parkinson, Timothy J. Ward, Richard W. Yerkes, Susan E. Allen, Michelle Elliott, Hanneke Hoekman-Sites, Heather A. Rypkema, Jiyan Gu, Nadia D. Al Hashimi, Christopher D. Horne, Christie L. Kokel, and James E. Thompson
  • Ch. 11: Conclusion by Michael L. Galaty, Ols Lafe, Wayne E. Lee, and Zamir Tafilica