1. The walls of the lost city of ancient Tenea in eastern Corinthia on the Peloponnese have now been excavated.

Trojan city excavated in Greece

The first remains of the lost city of Tenea, reputedly founded by captives from the Trojan War, have come to light. Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, is said to have given prisoners permission to build their own town between Mycenae and Corinth. It took its name from their home of Tenedos (modern Bozcaada), the Aegean island where the Greeks hid their fleet in order to dupe the Trojans into thinking they had departed, and so encourage them to take the Wooden Horse inside the walls of Troy.

Evidence of a city, near the village of Chiliomodi, has been on the cards since 1846 with the discovery of the Kouros of Tenea, a statue in Parian marble from around 560 BC, now in the Glyptothek in Munich. Two similar statues were apprehended after they had been illegally excavated by two Greek looters in 2010, and were about to be sold for €10m. They are now in the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth.


2. The Kouros of Tenea, circa 560 BC, Parian marble (now in the Glyptothek, Munich) was found in the 19th century.

The site was, therefore, clearly worth further excavation and, in 2013, systematic investigation, under the direction of Dr Elena Korka, Director of the Office for the Supervision of Antiquaries at the Greek Ministry of Culture, began there. Dr Korka was already aware of its possibilities after discovering a sarcophagus with a female skeleton and offerings, from the Early Archaic period, during rescue excavations in 1984. Subsequent work centred on burial sites and, late last year, nine were excavated, dating from the 4th century BC to Roman times. These yielded a wealth of gold, copper and bone jewellery, pottery and coins.

At the same time, further excavations revealed the residential area of the city. 'Inside these areas, clay floors, as well as portions of marble and stone floors, were maintained in good condition, while some of the walls were well-crafted and covered with mortar,' said a statement released by the Greek Ministry of Culture shortly afterwards. 'The citizens seem to have been remarkably affluent,' added Dr Korka.

Tenea was situated on a main trade-route between Corinth and Argos, and in 734 BC or 733 BC, its citizens, along with those of Corinth, founded the colony of Syracuse in Sicily. The city continued to flourish after the Romans completely destroyed Corinth (only to rebuild it in AD 146); Tenea was only spared from the same fate because of its Trojan connections – according to myth, the Trojan hero Aeneas, the cousin of King Priam, was the founder of Rome.

Roger Williams

 


 



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