Category Archives: GREECE

Archaeologists Have Finally Found Greece’s Lost City Of Tenea

Archaeologists Have Finally Found Greece’s Lost City Of Tenea

The story goes, that Tenea was founded by the survivors of the Trojan War in the 12th or 13th century BC, Until now, its location (and very existence) was entirely reliant on the words of historical text.

But the Ministry of Culture of the country announced the discovery of jewelry, pottery and even infrastructures by a team of archeologists, seemingly confirming where it was on a site near the village of Chiliomodi in southern Greece.

It’s a city that the ancient Greeks thought was settled by Trojan captives of war after the sack of Troy in the 12th or 13th century BC and up to now showed up only in texts.

Tenea Project Photo by Ministry of Culture and Sports, Greece

Also found were household pottery, a bone gaming die, and 200 coins dating from the 4th century BC and up to later in the Roman era.

Specifically, coins discovered were dated to the era of Roman emperor Septimius Severus, who ruled from 193 to 211.

Past digs have found clues near the city, but the most recent excavation uncovered the “city’s urban fabric,” including floors, walls and door openings, the culture ministry said, according to USA Today.

Satellite map

An unsettling discovery was a pottery jar containing the remains of two human fetuses, within the foundations of a building. Usually in Greek culture, the dead were buried in cemeteries.

Legend says the city thrived until the end of the Roman Empire, at which point it seems to have been damaged in a Gothic invasion. According to the Ministry, the city may have been left deserted in the 6th century CE during the Avar and Slavic raids.

Photo by Ministry of Culture and Sports, Greece

Lead archaeologist Elena Korka told the Associated Press that the discoveries indicated the citizens of Tenea had been “remarkably affluent.”

The city would have been located on a trade route between the cities of Corinth and Argos in the northern Peloponnese.

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

Pottery found on location.

Throughout history, not much was known about Tenea, apart from ancient references to the reputed link with Troy and to its citizens having formed the bulk of the Greek colonists who founded the city of Syracuse in Sicily.

Korka said more should emerge during the excavations, which will continue over the coming years.

″(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,” she said.

According to Reuters, among the findings was a golden coin to pay for the journey to an afterlife and an iron ring with a seal that depicted the Greek god Serapis sitting on a throne, Cerberus, which is a three-headed mythical dog that guards the gates of Ades, beside him.

Trojan War

The Trojan War is believed to have taken place near the end of the Bronze Age, around 1200 B.C. It took place around the time that a civilization called Mycenaean was active in Greece. They built palaces and developed a system of writing.

The earliest accounts of this war come from Homer, who lived around the eighth century B.C., several centuries after the events that took place. They do not appear to have been written down until even later, likely during the sixth century B.C.

The site of Hisarlik, in northwest Turkey, has been identified as Troy. It was inhabited for almost 4,000 years starting around 3000 B.C. After one city was destroyed, a new city would be built on top.

“There is no one single Troy; there are at least 10, lying in layers on top of each other,” writes University of Amsterdam researcher Gert Jan van Wijngaarden in a chapter of the book Troy: City, Homer, and Turkey.

Piece of a skull found in Greece ‘is the oldest human fossil outside Africa’

Piece of a skull found in Greece ‘is the oldest human fossil outside Africa’

It has just been recognized as the oldest human fossil in Europe and the oldest outside of Africa. Around 210,000 years ago, an early person died in Greece — and supplied the earliest proof of human migration from Africa to researchers of the 21st century.

A fresh Theory is being formed that numerous early migrations from Africa helped spread early humans rather than a single event. A significant migration corridor out of Africa could have been Southeast Europe.

In 1978, two skulls were found in a block of breccia, or broken fragments of rock and fossil cemented together, wedged between the walls of the Apidima Cave in southern Greece. The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens was conducting research.

The breccia was dated to between 100,000 and 190,000 years old at the time. “The skulls were not removed from the breccia and remained at the museum,” according to CNN. “Given the fragmentary nature of the skulls, they were difficult to remove and clean, though that eventually happened in the 1990s.”

Scientists say the skull fragment belonged to an early human, found in a cave in southern Greece.

The specimen, dubbed Apidima 1, was situated nose to nose just 12 inches away from a second human-like skull known as Apidima 2.

The two partial skulls were not near anything that offered archaeologists useful clues about their origin: no stone tools, no animal remains, nothing. In time, researchers figured out that Apidima 2, the more complete of the two skulls, belonged to a Neanderthal.

Analysis of Apidima 1, which was in pieces, had to wait until the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Athens invited Katerina Harvati, director of paleoanthropology at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, to use her expertise in imaging and 3-D virtual reconstruction to bring both of the skulls to life.

Apidima 1 (left) is a modern human; Apidima 2 (right) is a Neanderthal. 

Apidima 1 has features that distinguish it as a modern human. Scientists say its owner lived some 40,000 years before its Neanderthal neighbor, making it the oldest human skull found outside of Africa.

Smithsonian said, “Tellingly, the Apidima 1 fossil lacks a ‘chignon,’ the distinctive bulge at the back of the skull that is characteristic of Neanderthals. The posterior of the skull is also rounded, which ‘is considered to be a uniquely modern human feature that evolved relatively late,’ Harvati says.”

This finding has many ramifications. “This discovery may add a wrinkle to the commonly accepted timeline of modern humans’ dispersal from Africa and arrival in Europe,” said Smithsonian.”

It is widely accepted that our species evolved in Africa—the oldest known Homo sapiens fossils were found in Morocco and date back 315,000 years ago—and first ventured out of the continent between 70,000 and 60,000 years ago. 

All the while, Neanderthals were evolving in Europe. Homo sapiens are thought to have arrived on the scene around 45,000 years ago, interbreeding with Neanderthals and eventually emerging as the dominant species.”

The study about the discovery published in Nature said that although the two skulls were found so close to each other, they were from vastly different time periods.

The rock surrounding Apidima 1 was estimated to be about 210,000 years old, while the rock around Apidima 2 was only 170,000 years old.

The best explanation, said study co-author Rainer Grun, a geochemist at Griffith University in Australia, is that “Apidima 1 must come from quite a different environment originally before it was deposited at the site.”

Some scientists believe that when modern humans expanded out of Africa, their movements into Europe might have been stalled by the Neanderthals. This could explain why Homo sapiens stuck to a more southerly route into Asia, and why they left no European fossils until about 40,000 years ago.

“The idea of Europe as ‘fortress Neanderthal’ has been gaining ground,” said an archaeologist from the University of Bordeaux, but identifying a 210,000-year-old Homo sapiens skull from Europe “really undermines that.”

“It suggests that early Homo sapiens groups got farther than we may have previously thought, occasionally occupying territories that later became that of Neanderthals,” adds Shara Bailey, an anthropologist at NYU. “Findings like this are very important for informing us of the evolution of our species.”