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Thousands of Ancient Items Discovered at Kythnos Island, Greece

archaeological finds at Kythnos
Archaeological finds at Kythnos island, Greece. Credit: YPPOA

Thousands of items have been uncovered at the Kythnos archaeological site, an ancient city located in what is today called Vryokastro.

The excavations were carried out at several points of interest on the ancient acropolis of Kythnos; namely, a temple to Demeter and Kori as well as a number of other buildings. The excavations are being overseen by experts from the University of Thessaly in collaboration with various government and non-government groups.

Among the notable discoveries at the Kythnos archaeological site were thousands of figurines, coins, lighting vessels and lamps, drinking vessels, and ceramics. The finds generally dated from between the Archaic and Roman periods and thus reflected a broad cross-section of history.

Archaeological project at the Kythnos Acropolis

The Vryokastro Kythnos excavation program (2021-2025) is led by Professor Alexandros Mazarakis Ainianos and Dr. Dimitris Athanasoulis. The interdisciplinary research team consists of archaeologists, architects, conservators, zooarchaeologists, and students from the University of Thessaly and France.

It receives support from various organizations, including the University of Thessaly, EFA Cyclades, DG of Aegean and Island Policy, Municipality of Kythnos, Association of Friends of the Archaeological Museum of Kythnos, the ship captain of the “MARMARI,” and sponsor Thanasis Martinos.

The ancient city of Kythnos is believed to have been inhabited between the 12th century BC and the 7th century AD, with the recent archaeological finds reflecting this long period of settlement. The most recent finds were from structural remains on the city’s acropolis which had been identified in 2021.

The discoveries

The discoveries date back to a variety of ancient Greek periods, including the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and finally Roman eras.

Many of the artifacts were excavated in a temple dedicated to Demeter and Kori. In addition to the structures dedicated to religious purposes, the acropolis also featured military installations on the southern side. King Philip V of Macedon garrisoned troops there in around 201 BC.

The finds themselves were quite varied. The archaeologists discovered over 2,000 clay figurines dating to the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. These figurines depicted women, children, and to a lesser extent men. Animals were also depicted, including piglets, turtles, lions, rams, and birds.

Also unearthed at the Kythnos archaeological site were various lighting vessels and lamps, some of which likely had ritual purposes, whereas others had more practical uses. There were likewise many examples of ceramics, some of which were in the iconic ancient Greek red figure and black figure pottery styles.

A mixture of Greek and Roman coinage was found by the archaeologists. Some examples of Roman coins included a coin dating to Trajan’s reign, minted around 106 AD, and a coin bearing Diocletian’s image minted around 285 AD.

Of particular interest was the discovery of a silver Kythnian coin with Apollo’s head on the obverse and a lyre on the reverse. All Kythnian coins of the Hellenistic period previously discovered were made of bronze.

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