Macedonia is a small country, so if you make a few phone calls and meet the right people, you can see some pretty interesting things. I contacted an American writer living in Macedonia, and after introductions over coffee, he invited me to visit a neolithic observatory in the Macedonian countryside with the archaeologist who had discovered it.
It took us several hours to get to the site - first a bus to Kumanovo, where Professor Dusko Aleksovski of the World Rock Art Institute and his lovely translator, Sashka, met us in his car. We then drove for another hour on sign-less back road, parked the car in a field, and hiked for another half hour through a beautiful valley towards what appeared to be a giant rock. Professor Aleksovski in is the lead, with Sashka and her velvet jumpsuit following:
Cacev Kamen, as the good Professor explained, a giant neolithic observatory. It looks like a big rock outcropping from far away, but up close, the whole thing has been hacked and dug and shaped by a prehistoric civilization predating the ancient Greeks and Macedonians. It is riddled with postholes, which once supported platforms, and stairways carved directly into the rock.
The post holes run horizontally across the middle of the rock:
These holes made convenient hand holds as I daringly scrambled across the rock face to view some painted symbols from 6,000 BC that hadn't quite been destroyed peasants seeking Turkish gold. They didn't quite show up on my camera, unfortunately. Numerous markings, which represent or reference who-knows-what, are all over the rock as well:
And as interesting as all these little carvings might be, there is a giant man-made theater, some sort of water-tank contraption on top of the rock, and creepy stairways all over the thing. There's also the 'magic basin' and the 'throne' . . . . but I'm running out of internet cafe time, so that will have wait. Stay tuned.