Ancient Messene

The site of ancient Messene located in the SW part of the Peloponnese, in the current position Mauromati.

The first habitation in ancient Messini dating from the upper Paleolithic period (26000-9000 BC). Large growth has throughout the course of the Bronze Age from 3200 up to 1050 BC, giving a number of major architectural samples such as the EH Hall in Akrovitika the Middle Helladic settlement in wool and Mycenaean palace of Nestor at Upper Englianos. The cultural character of the area had its roots in Minoan Crete, the East and the Adriatic which benefited from the opportunity that gave the port of Kyparissia Kalamata and Pylos for a wide maritime communication with these neighboring areas.

According to reports of Pausanias in Messene (2nd c. AD) and in texts of Samian Asios (7th cent. BC), the first organized habitation is in the early Bronze Age. Originally, there were two centers of power in Karnasio and Andania, which gradually shifted to Pylos and Arini.

Based on the archaeological evidence given us the Iron Age in Messene installed a second time those Heracleides led by Dorieus Cresphontes. The PG begins years and worship of Zeus Ithomata by Aipytidi Glafkos, which is confirmed by the finding of a molded foot tripod 8th century. BC on top of Ithomi where stood the sanctuary. In Gerinia also witnessed the adoration of Machaon, son of Asclepius and the river god Pamisos. Surveys of Swedish researcher Natan Valmin, revealed a shrine in honor of god Pamisos river, near the village of Agios Floros. Contemporary of the sanctuary is the temple of Poseidon in Akrovitika at Messene, which was investigated by P.Themelis 1969.

The 'existence of the settlement in the 9th-8th century. BC, evidenced primarily by the findings Protogeometric and Geometric period in the area of Asklepios. However, the first installation work was completed during the Late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, which testify two stone axes, spindle whorls for steatite, as a poros stone plinths with tectonic point F. Linear A.

As regards the historical survey of the information disclosed the existence of the ancient Messina are reports of Pausanias, who visited between 155 and 160 BC . Moreover, the fortified wall, which is preserved until today, intrigued many European travelers. Based on reports of Pausanias, the FCHL Pouqueville, E. Dodwell and W. Gell presented the first data on the surviving monuments of the ancient city. In 1810 H.v. Hallerstein visiting Messina leaving a notebook with drawings of the visible monuments of the city, which is now kept in the National Library of Strasbourg. Then, the Stackelberg creates a series of tables on the Greek landscape, among them the representation of Arcadian Gate. The studies of WM Leake in 1830 and the publication of the French Scientific Mission Morea (1831-1838) under the Abel Blouet are the first systematic efforts to study the monuments and topography. Important information gives us the study of Ph.Lebas 1848 the sanctuary of Artemis Limnatida as topographical and historical data for the Messene-Ithomi of L.Ross 1841 W.Smith of the 1854-1857 and the C .Bursian in 1872. Then followed the work of A.Petridi, published inscriptions (1879-1880) and St.. Oikonomakis with the book '' The surviving Ithomi, Messene and the surrounding '' Kalamata 1879. In 1895 start systematic excavations by the Archaeological Society led Themistocles Sofoulis. In 1909 and 1925 the excavations continued by George Steward and later by the Swedish archaeologist N.Valmin, who publishes a work on inscriptions of Messene (Lund 1930) and half with topographical surveys (Lund 1930). The C.Roebuck issued in 1941 a historical text for Messene. In 1957, the then secretary of the Archaeological Society Anastasios Orlandos, undertakes excavations in ancient Messene until 1974. With the contribution of all researchers came to light most of the building group of Asklepios. In 1978 he published the Messina entry in Volume 15 of the German Encyclopaedia Real by Meyer in 1979 «Μεσσηνιακά» of Pausanias in translation-comments N.Papachatzi. Through the excavations, the mounting work and restoration of monuments began in 1987, they have come to light most public and sacred buildings described by Pausanias.

The urban system of the city is the Hippodamian. The basic idea of this system is that all citizens have equal size, suitable plots to have access to public and sacred buildings.

The Messene was named by Queen Messene, daughter of King Argos Triopian and wife Laconian Polykaona. The queen Messene attributed the foundation of the temple of Zeus Ithomata. According to reports of Pausanias the Messene deified and worshiped on King Glaucus the 10th century. BC . During the Hellenistic period (3rd / 2nd cent. BC), the Messina worshiped as one of the main deities of the city along with the chthonic god Asclepius. The temple was discovered in the SW part of the market. It is peripteral with 6 × 12 sandstone Doric columns. In the cella stood the goldstone statue of the goddess and a fresco of Omfaliona, student of Nicias, with thirteen mythical kings and queens of the country. Even Pausanias gives us information about the procedure-establishing-building of the city, which included sacrifices of the Messenian Ithomata to Zeus and the Dioscuri, and the priests in the Great Goddesses, Demeter and Kori, and Kafkona, mythical founder of the mysteries of Andania, grandson Flios from Attica. It also invoked heroes and heroines symbols for themselves and their city as the queen Messene, the Euritos and Aphareas with his sons and Ida Lygkea, of Iraklides, the Cresphontes and his son Aipytos as the Aristomenis, their which invited to return and live with them in the new town.

Until 395 AD, the Messene was the cultural center of Messene, when the invasions of the Goths of Alaric mark the end and desertification, since people started to choose safer places of residence.

Some of the main monuments that have so far been discovered in the area is the Asklepieion, the Theater, the sanctuary of a hero, the holy Queen Messene Fountain Arsinoe, the Byzantine Basilica, the western part of the Agora, the Stadium, the Gymnasium, the Temple of Artemis, a late Roman Roman villa and the Sanctuary of Zeus Sotiros. Very important element is also the remains of the wall that surrounded the ancient city, which is preserved in the best condition in the northern part. He had two entrances the Arcadian (or gate of Megalopolis) and Laconia. The other findings are housed in the local Archaeological Museum.


  • Π.Θέμελης, «Αρχαία Μεσσήνη», Ταμείο Αρχαιολογικών Πόρων και Απαλοτριώσεων, Αθήνα, 1999 (σελ. 15-18).
  • Π. Θέμελης, « Αρχαία Μεσσήνη, ο χώρος και τα μνημεία», Έκδοση περιφέρειας Πελοποννήσου, 1998 (σελ. 2-5,10-55).
  • Ν. Παπαχατζής. «Παυσανίου Ελλάδος Περιήγησις, Μεσσηνιακά – Ηλιακά», Εκδοτική Αθηνών, 2002 (σελ.114,118-119).
  • M.H. Hansen, T.H. Nielsen, «An inventory of archaic and classical poleis», Οxford, 2004.(σελ.561-564).