Rubrika e Diellit: Tingellime vendemrash Ilire/
Nga NELSON ÇABEJ/
An ancient Illyrian city, known in antiquity as Lissos (Λίσσος)/Lissus. Now Lesh and Lezhë (the latter form evolved for avoiding being confounded with the Albanian word lesh ‘wool’). It was founded as an ancient Illyrian settlement of Early Iron from 8th century BC1. Three centuries later, in 385 BC, it became a Syracusan colony by Dionysios I 2,3 . Lissos came under the rule of the Illyrian kingdom of ardaiei with their capital city Scodra by the second half of the 3rd century BC during the rule of Agron, Teuta and Gentius. After the Roman conquest of Illyria in the 2nd century BC, Lissus became a Roman colony. Lissus is mentioned again by Stephanus of Byzantium in the 6th century as an Illyrian city with a separate fortified site known as Acrolissus “πόλλίς Ίλυρίας, και Άκρόλισσος”4. By the end of the 14th century it became a possession of the Republic of Venice. In 1467 there was convened the League of Lesh organized by the Alnbanian national hero Georges Castriotis – Scanderbey. In western late medieval sources the name appears mainly in the Italianized form Alessio. The very rare form of the city name, Eschenderari, may be related to the Persian form of hero’s name , Eskander/Iskander.
The name of the city, Lissus, may be derived from a PIE *legh- ‘to lie’ (Compare Proto-Germanic *lega- ‘lying flat, low’, Old Norse lagr, Swedish låg, Danish lav ‘low’ and English low), which reflects the geographic position of the city, almost at the sea level.
The shift of the short open -i- in the ancient name of the city Lissus, to -e-in the modern form Lesh/Lezhw, is normal for Albanian, as attested by Latin loanwords such as meshë from missa, letër from littera, shpesh from spissus, peshk from piscis, ipeshkv from episcopus, etc.5
1. Lissus Excavation Report 2004, Karl Franzens Universität, Graz, Österreich. Available:
2. Polybius, Histories 8, 15. 16.
3. Diodorus Siculus, Library XV 13. 4-5.
4. Stephani Byzantii Ethnicorvm quae svpersvnt. A. Meineke (ed). Reimer, Berlin, 1849.
5. Çabej, E. (1958). Problemi i autoktonisë së shqiptartëvet në dritën e emravet të vëndeve. Buletin i Universitetit Stetëror të Tiranës, Seria Shk. shoq. 2, p. 54-62.