In Nikaj-Mertur’s iconic Curraj i Eperm village, construction workers found an old bronze ax with performing excavations for the foundation of a new edifice. The ax’s distinct features gave away its importance and it has since been preserved as a rare relic due to its unique and almost unrecognizable characteristics. The Austro-Hungarian archeologist, ethnographer, and geologist Baron Franz Nopcsa was the first to study the history of this ax.
The ax caught Franz Nopcsa’s attention during an expedition he conducted to Curraj i Eperm in 1908, and he spent years studying, sketching, and interpreting the significance of the tool. In the 1925 book Buildings, Costumes and Tools of Northern Albania, Nopcsa traces the origins of the bronze ax to the Illyrian-Dalmatian people. According to Nopcsa, the discovery of the ax served as proof that Curraj i Eperm and Nikaj-Mertur have been inhabited since the Bronze Age (1000 BC) by the local clans that are still present today.
Franz Nopcsa’s theory on the early settlers of the area is further supported by the fact the only 12km east of Nikaj-Mertur, archeologists have discovered the ancient Illyrian town of Rosuja. Archaeological excavations carried out from 1964 to 1965 have given a lot of evidence about the birth history and development of Rosuja. The rich archeological material discovered here—flint tools, clay containers, iron weapons, ornaments, silver and gold coins—further proves that Nikaj-Mertur has been populated since the end of the second millennium BC and continues to thrive today.