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Tenea: Heated baths complex, spectacular findings unearthed in “lost city”

Recent excavations in the archaeological site of the ‘lost city” Tenea have brought o light spectacular findings. The hometown of Oedipus, according to the myth, revealed extensive facilities of public baths, some of them heated, from the Roman era.

The entire area dates from the 1st century BC to the end of the 3rd century AD.

The complex of bathing facilities has a size of nearly 500 sq. m. and the bath areas once had heated water. Two areas of the warm baths ended up in arches and had clay floors, some of which have still paint on them.

“This year we found a complex of bath facilities, nearly 500 sq.m., dated to Roman times,” Vivi Evangeloglou, archaeologist and collaboration of Korka, told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA).

“We have found three areas for warm baths – two of which end up in arches and have clay floors. – along with the hypocaust system and underground praefurnium corridors to supply and clean the area below the floors,” archaeologist Vivi Evangeloglou told Athens news agency amna that visited the site.

Archaeologists also found an ancient well surrounded by archaic-walls. 

With a depth reaching 16 meters, the well is in the north of the baths. Archaeologists have dug to a depth of 14 meters so far.

Ceramics dated to archaic times have been found. The objects were likely ceremonial offerings.

Findings near the well include a depository of dedicatory statuettes and miniature vessels, evidence that the site served as a pilgrimage point for visitors.

Some of the vessels are in the shape of aryballoi (vessels for perfumed oils), skyphoids (small, deep vessels with an open top), while dedicatory clay ponies including some with riders and two models of iron tables were also found in the dedicatory depository.




In the north of the well excavators found a thigh section of a kouros from Parian marble, dated to late Archaic times, as well as a section of another marble, along with a section of a possible statue of Aphrodite.

The statue of Aphrodite was brought up from the well, while reporters form Athens news agency amna were visiting the site.

The wealth of ancient Tenea is supported by the findings, which in seasons completed so far include rich objects from tombs such as a gold-plated copper wreath, gold earrings and rings and gold replicas of coins.

Standing out among coins is a silver stater of Corinth, dated to around 480 BC. “This is the rarest coin ever minted by Corinth,” historian and numismatist of the excavation team Constantine Lagos told amna. “American excavators, who have been digging in Corinth for 120 years, have found a total of 10 such coins, whereas we found one from the very start, and it’s in excellent condition,” he noted.

According to myth, the ancient Tenea was founded by Agamemnon to house there the Trojan prisoners of war; the name of the town may relate to the origin of Trojans from the island of Tenedos.

In addition, the myth says that Oedipus, Sophocles’ tragic king, was raised in Tenea. Salvage excavations in the 1960s have uncovered a Roman oil lamp depicting Oedipus at a young age.

In the 8th century BC, the town joined in the founding of Syracuse as a Greek colony.

Given the architectural remains found in the area and evidently reused by Romans, it appears that the site included “monumental construction of earlier years: in other words, Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic eras.

The site appears to have been used throughout antiquity, following the fate of the main town, which was abandoned in the 6th century AD during the raids of the Avar Slavs.

sources: amna, Greek Culture Ministry

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