Tenea was an ancient Greek city founded, so the story goes, by Trojan War survivors in the 12th or 13th century BCE. Until now, its location (and very existence) was entirely reliant on the words of historical text. This week, however, the country's Ministry of Culture announced that a team of archaeologists has discovered jewelry, pottery, and even infrastructure, seemingly confirming its whereabouts at a site close to the village of Chiliomodi in southern Greece.
Little is known about Tenea itself other than it was founded by the Trojans, who had been taken prisoners by King Agamemnon of Mycenae in the Trojan War. Legend has it, the city thrived in the centuries that succeeded and until the end of the Roman Empire around the turn of the fourth century CE, at which point it seems to have endured some damage from a Gothic invasion. According to the Ministry, the city may have been left deserted in the sixth century CE during the Avar and Slavic raids.
Fast forward to the 21st century and archaeologists have spent more than five years excavating the area around Chiliomodi, a village in the Peloponnese, Greece. According to the Associated Press, the team primarily focused on a handful of cemeteries surrounding Tenea but found the remains of a settlement during their most recent dig, which they believe to be the lost city itself.
"It is significant that the remnants of the city, the paved roads, the architectural structure, came to light," lead archaeologist Eleni Korka told Reuters.
So far, the team has discovered clay, stone, and marble floors and walls – the infrastructure of the city. They have also found vases, jewelry (made from gold, bronze, and bone), and some 200 rare coins from the Hellenistic and late Roman periods, at least one of which was intended to pay for the journey to the afterlife. Some of the more unusual finds included a bone gaming die, an iron ring with a picture of the Egyptian god Serapis and the three-headed dog Cerberus on it, and a pottery jar storing the remains of two human fetuses. These objects, the archaeologists say, date from the fourth century BCE and even earlier.
According to Korka, the objects show the citizens of this ancient city were "remarkably affluent." The location of Tenea – on an important route between two major cities, Corinth to the north and Argos to the south – suggests its residents may have benefited from trade.
"[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," Korka told the Associated Press.
Despite these new discoveries, the city (and its residents) remain a bit of a mystery. Hopefully, future excavations will bring more information to light.