Lost ancient Greek city of Tenea, home of Trojan prisoners of war, found

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Archaeologists in Greece have reportedly located the remains of a lost ancient city which, as per mythology, was first inhabited by Trojan war captives after the fall of Troy by the Achaeans. According to a statement released by Greece’s cultural ministry recently, excavations in the southern Greek region of the Peloponnese – from September to early October this year – revealed “proof of the existence of the ancient city” of Tenea.

Mentioned in several ancient texts, the original city of Tenea was established shortly after the Trojan War. According to Pausanias, following the sack of Troy, Mycenaean king Agamemnon allowed the Trojan prisoners of war to build a town of their own, which eventually became Tenea.

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Named after the Turkish island of Tenedos in the northeastern part of the Aegean Sea, which historians believe was the founders’ hometown, Tenea along with Rome continued to produce citizens of Trojan ancestry, as per Virgil’s Aeneid. In circa 734-733 BC, under the leadership of Archias, the people of the ancient city came together with Corinthians to establish the joint colony of Syracuse in Sicily.

As part of the latest mission, lead archaeologist Elena Korka and her colleagues uncovered remnants of walls, door openings as well as clay, marble or stone floors that were once part of buildings in the lost city. Additionally, the team discovered household pottery fragments, a gaming die and over 200 coins, all dating from the period between 4th century BC and late Roman times.

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Among the ruins of one building, the archaeologists also came across a pottery jar containing the skeletal remains of two human fetuses. The finding, according to Korka, is quite unusual, given that ancient Greeks were known to bury the deceased in specially-built cemeteries outside the city walls.

Korka and her team have been digging in the area since 2013. Earlier in 2010, smugglers reportedly looted one of the rich cemeteries in the region, stealing two exceptional marble statues of young men dating back to around 6th century BC. The thieves, as per Korka, even tried to sell the statues for approximately 10 million euros (USD 11.3 million).

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Among the finds was a ring with a sealing stone, bearing the image of Graeco-Egyptian deity Sarapis on the throne

Read more: 20 Major Ancient Greek Gods And Goddesses You Should Know About

Currently, excavation works are also been carried out in cemeteries surrounding the present-day village of Hiliomodi, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the country’s capital of Athens. So far this year, archaeologists have unearthed nine burials in the region, each holding a treasure trove of gold, copper and bone jewelry, coins and pottery, from the 4th century BC all the way to the Roman times. Speaking about the findings, Korka said –

This year we excavated part of the city itself… The citizens seem to have been remarkably affluent.

The city’s prosperity could have been due to its strategic location along the trade route between two major Greek cities: Corinth and Argos in the northeastern Peloponnese. While Corinth was captured and destroyed by Roman armies in circa 146 BC, Tenea continued to thrive under the Roman rule. Shedding light on the latest findings, Korka added –

(The city) had distinctive pottery shapes with eastern influences, maintained contacts with both east and west … and had its own way of thinking, which, to the extent that it could, shaped its own policies.

However, in the later part of the 4th century AD, the ancient city may have suffered extensive damage at the hands of Germanic Goths. Some historical records suggest that Tenea may have been abandoned two centuries later as a result of the Slavic invasion.

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Source/Image Credits: The Associated Press

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About the Author

Sukanya Mukherjee
With a master's degree in English Literature and several years of writing experience under her belt, Sukanya specializes in creating content particularly related to history, science, and technology. In the past, she worked as a business journalist at a reputable digital media company. Apart from being an avid fan of Victorian literature, she can found spending her free time baking and exploring the Great Himalayas!
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