TIRANA, Albania – Work on building a massive gas pipeline through southeastern Europe has been suspended after the discovery of an ancient settlement in eastern Albania, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline company said Wednesday.
The contractor says a "wealth of ceramics" was found in the village of Turan in eastern Albania. The findings are believed to date to the early Iron Age in the 10th and 9th centuries B.C., and to the late Roman period in the 4th and 6th centuries.
The company, created to plan, develop and build the pipeline, said the area was closed off. Work is expected to resume within one month, once the relevant institutions conclude their report.
The company has hired more than 30 cultural heritage experts and archaeologists to monitor work across the pipeline route "to ensure that any archaeological remains are identified and rescued."
Any such finds in Albania are delivered to the competent Albanian authorities.
The tiny western Balkan country has numerous ancient sites, and it is believed that many others are yet to be discovered.
Albania's 215-kilometer (133-mile) segment of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline is expected to be complete in 2019.
The pipeline runs for 878 kilometers (545 miles) from Azerbaijan to Turkey, through Greece to Albania, then heading to southern Italy via the Adriatic Sea.
The first gas deliveries to Europe are expected in 2020.