Figure 31
Figure 31: ST317, a very large split home in Kaproj (Lee).

Briefly, we should mention that the process of splitting homes (Fig. 31), setting up homes in former pasture, and the progressive enlargement of a vllazni into a mehalla and eventually into a village was codified in the so-called law code, or 'Kanun', of Lekë Dukagjini (Gjeçov 1989). To be clear, this was an oral code, and it was flexible, evolutionary, and sometimes internally contradictory. The modern transcription used here is a convenient source for its core tenets, but it does not necessarily reflect practice in all locations or at all times. Hasluck (1954) provides supplementary information (especially on house division) as do our own interviews. When the patriarch (zot i shpi) of a household died, or decided to step down in favour of a son, the sons divided all the property of the patriarch equally (to include land and moveable goods). But they would not necessarily move out of the house at that time. The house itself generally became the property of the younger son, although the oldest might continue to serve as the patriarch of that house until he built his own. If the house became too crowded or quarrelsome, some brothers would leave, already possessed of some of the family land, and they would build their own houses, setting themselves up as separate patriarchs (audio clip #6). An alternative to building a separate house was to put up a partition wall dividing the house into separate patriarchal households. Hasluck (1954, 72) summarised this process:

The separation completed, each new household had its own master and mistress, and its members were no longer under the control of the master and mistress of the old home, who now controlled only their own establishment. It was remembered, however, that the master of this smaller home was master of the house in which they had all lived together. When he was succeeded by his son or another, his former position was still kept in mind. So when the brotherhood [vllazni] formed at the first separation expanded into a kin the master of this house became the 'elder of the kin'. If his kin was the most important in the ward [mehalla], his name was given to the ward and so perpetuated. The names of most wards were the names of such elders... In course of time so many households split up that a number of new brotherhoods were formed... The agglomeration of brotherhoods then constituted a 'kin' (fis)... In the next, fifth state of development, several kins united to form a village.

This is exactly the pattern revealed in our analysis of the Theth neighbourhoods, to include a number of homes with internal partitions. (NB: numerous descriptions, photos, and drawings of split homes can be found in the Structure databases. These are identified by a structure number, followed by the suffix -1 and -2, e.g. ST249-1 and ST249-2.)


© Internet Archaeology/Author(s) URL:
Last updated: Thu Feb 25 2010