17 July 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Ancient Ruins Hidden Under Thessaloniki Metro Revealed

The finds unearthed during the construction of local metro facilities in Thessaloniki, a Greek port city on the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea and also Greece’s 2nd largest city, are quite impressive.

Attiko Metro SA has released a series of stunning photographs that provide a rare glimpse of the ancient city of Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is hosting the largest archaeological excavation in Northern Greece, covering an area of 20,000 square meters, and the findings are extraordinary and of great historical significance.

A pre-Cassandrian small town from the 4th century BC was discovered in Pylaia in 2012 during excavations at the “Amaksostasio” of the main line of the Metro. A 31-acre area was investigated, and part of the city was laid out according to the Hippodamian (grid plan) urban planning system and adhered to the standards of the great cities of Macedonia, Olynthos, and Pella—was revealed.

The numerous find suggests a thriving community with a robust economy and established sociopolitical structures. The second half of the fourth century is thought to have seen its greatest development. However, it was cut short when Kassandros founded the city of Thessaloniki, which was later abandoned, in 315 BC.

Photo: Attiko Metro SA
Photo: Attiko Metro SA

According to Attiko Metro SA, the most significant archaeological excavations occurred during the project’s first construction phase in four Historical Center stations: Syntagma, Kerameikos, Monastiraki, and Acropolis. However, Hagia Sophia and Fleming stations should also be included in these stations.

The statue of Aphrodite, found in 2018, was discovered at the site of the Hagia Sophia station (named after the Hagia Sophia of Thessaloniki, one of the oldest churches in the city). The sculpture was identified near the very area which revealed an entire fountain complex.

Other than this sculpture, the archaeologists excavating the area (near the southern entrance of the Hagia Sophia station) were pleasantly surprised by the well-preserved state of the 4th-century mosaics. Showcasing their geometric patterns, these multicolored mosaics were possibly a part of a public building complex or at the very least bedecked the floors of an urban villa.

Photo: Attiko Metro SA
Photo: Attiko Metro SA

The Roman cemetery (2nd–4th century AD) that was discovered within the boundaries of Fleming Station and revealed to us details of a previously unidentified settlement on the outskirts of ancient Thessaloniki is another intriguing discovery. An extensive portion of the city’s eastern cemetery was discovered. Additionally, a three-kilometer cemetery basilica with mosaic floors was discovered on the site of an earlier structure. In particular, it made thousands of funerary monuments (3000) visible, which has improved our understanding of how the area was organized and continuously used from the Hellenistic era to Late Antiquity. The tombs belong to various types, pit-shaped, box-shaped, pot burials, altars, altar-shaped constructions, single or double vaulted, decorated with clay and glass vessels, clay figurines, gold and silver jewelry, and coins.

More than twenty archaeological excavations were conducted in stations and ventilation shafts in total. The archaeological layers ranged in depth from 0.5 to 7.0 meters, but some hydraulic structures, wells, conduits, reservoirs, and aqueducts were discovered at much deeper levels. Under the scientific oversight of the capable services of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the antiquities were meticulously documented and recorded using contemporary technical techniques.

Photo: Attiko Metro SA
Photo: Attiko Metro SA

The 2,500 square meter excavation research at the Acropolis station demonstrated that the area was occupied from the end of the third millennium BC until the Byzantine era.

More than 300,000 artifacts, many dating back to the 4th century BC, have been excavated from 6 of the 12 station sites currently under construction. Ancient artifacts unearthed during the construction of the city’s new metro system will be exhibited at six stations and two new museums in this year.

Cover Photo: An ancient cemetery, uncovered near the site of the future subway station of Syntrivani. ©Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports

Related Articles

Ancient tools discovered in Maryland show the first humans came to America 7,000 years earlier than previously thought

23 May 2024

23 May 2024

When and how humans first settled in the Americas is a subject of considerable controversy. A Smithsonian Institution geologist now...

Archaeologists find evidence of how Iron Age Britons adapted to the Roman conquest in Winterborne Kingston

29 June 2024

29 June 2024

Archaeologists from Bournemouth University (BU) have discovered human remains and artifacts which give new insight into how early Britons adapted...

A 2,000-year-old ancient “mirror” throws light on aristocratic life in China

17 May 2022

17 May 2022

Archeologists in Beijing have successfully reconstructed a 2,000-year-ago dressing mirror once cherished by the high nobility during the Han Dynasty....

A wash-basin decorated with 2500-year-old Mythological creatures and Chariot races was discovered in Izmir, Turkey

28 September 2022

28 September 2022

Unique ceramic figures were discovered in the excavations carried out this year in the ancient city of Klazomenai in the...

Maya city Tikal put today’s urban gardens to shame

26 June 2021

26 June 2021

The Maya civilization was known for its achievements in art, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, and calendar systems. Tikal, the ancient Maya...

The 1,000-year-old Church found under a cornfield in Germany

2 July 2021

2 July 2021

The foundation walls of the large church of the rediscovered Royal Palace of Helfta in Eisleben in the German state...

Important archaeological find in the seas of Sicily: Archaic stone anchors found off Syracuse

24 November 2023

24 November 2023

During a joint operation by the Maritime Superintendency of the Sicilian Region and the Diving Unit of the Guardia di...

New research, prove that Romans were breeding small bulldogs

11 June 2023

11 June 2023

Researchers have proven that breeding small brachycephalic (shorter-nosed) dogs took place already in ancient Rome. Research on a 2,000 years...

1800-year-old statue head found in Ancient Smyrna Theater in western Turkey

30 July 2022

30 July 2022

A statue head dated to the 2nd century AD was unearthed during the excavations at the Ancient Smyrna Theater, located...

Archaeologists made a remarkable discovery in Kosovo: Evidence that the great Byzantine Emperor was of Dardanian origin

19 August 2023

19 August 2023

A mixed team of international and local experts led by Professor Christophe J. Goddard has unearthed a monumental inscription of...

Neanderthals caused ecosystems to change 125,000 years ago

16 December 2021

16 December 2021

Researchers say Neanderthals changed the ecosystem by turning forests into grasslands 125,000 years ago. Around 125,000 years ago, these close...

Antikythera underwater excavation digs up new discoveries “huge marble head”

20 June 2022

20 June 2022

The second phase of underwater archaeological research (May 23 to June 15, 2022) on the Antikythera shipwreck resulted in the...

New evidence for the use of lions during executions in Roman Britain

9 August 2021

9 August 2021

Archaeologists have discovered an elaborate key as proof that wild animals were employed as execution vehicles in public arena events...

A 1600-year-old writing set was unearthed in the city of Bathonea, which has the oldest ancient port in Istanbul

21 August 2022

21 August 2022

During the Istanbul Bathonea excavations, a 1600-year-old writing set containing a miniature vessel, a bone writing pen, and an inkwell,...

Unique Viking Age sword found in Norway

14 June 2022

14 June 2022

A piece of a sword was found last year on a farm in Gausel, in Stavanger, on Norway‘s west coast,...