Ancient Messene Excavation

Introduction

SUMMER 2022: July 4 – 16

“If you get the chance to go on this program, please don’t hesitate! You definitely won’t regret it and you will discover so much about yourself and Greece itself” Ellie Clark, Royal Holloway, University of London

Click here to see highlights from our 2021 program

Ancient Messene was the most prominent city of the entire region in the Peloponnese during the Hellenistic and Roman Periods. It was founded in 369 BCE by the Theban general Epameinondas who liberated the Messenians from Spartan domination. Messene was built according to the so called Hippodameian system of city planning which was strictly geometric and based on the egalitarian principles of the democratic constitution.

Messene was a mythological princess worshipped as a goddess together with Zeus Ithomatas. In the Hellenistic times (3rd-2nd c. BCE) when the major sanctuary of Asklepios was built, she was worshipped together with this god who was historically linked to the pre-Dorian past of the land of Messene.

The archaeological site is located on an unspoiled landscape at the foot of Mt. Ithomi and is unique in its kind: it possesses not only sanctuaries and public buildings, but also imposing fortifications, houses and tombs. The excavation and restoration of Ancient Messene is one of the most prominent archaeological projects of Greece held by the Archaeological Society at Athens. The Director of the Ancient Messene Project is Prof. Petros Themelis, a leading figure of Greek Archaeology who has been active on this site since 1986.

The archaeological site is vast and there is a museum located on-site. The Ancient Messene website is www.ancientmessene.gr.

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