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Rare Coins and Treasures Discovered at Greece’s Ancient City of Tenea

Ancient coins Tenea Greece
The coins are among the rarest and most historic of ancient Greece ever discovered. Credit: Ministry of Culture

Archaeologists in Greece discovered a hoard of rare ancient coins and other treasures at the ruins of Tenea, near Corinth, a city that was built by Trojan prisoners of war.

The Ministry of Culture announced on Tuesday that the recent excavation unearthed 29 silver ancient Greek coins dating from the late 6th century.

Several are among the rarest and most historic coins of ancient Greece, the ministry says.

Rare silver coins unearthed at Tenea

They include three staters of Elis minted at Olympia during different Olympic Games, staters of Aegina with a land instead of a sea turtle, staters of Stymphalos, Argos and Opuntia Lokron, as well as staters of Thebes from the 5th century BC depicting Hercules suffocating two snakes with his hands.

Ancient coins Tenea Greece
Credit: Ministry of Culture

The stater, as a Greek silver currency, first as ingots, and later as coins, circulated from the 8th century BC to AD 50. The earliest known stamped stater (having the mark of some authority in the form of a picture or words) is an electrum turtle coin, struck at Aegina that dates to about 650 BC.

The treasure is linked to the finds of cult use (female and animal figurines, miniature vases and others) that were identified last year and continued to be identified this year, giving a clear ritual character to the areas that are revealed the announcement says.

Other stunning discoveries

The excavations at Tenea also revealed a section of Hadrian’s aqueduct, determining the course of one of the largest hydraulic works of the 2nd century. A.D. in Greece.

Hadrian's aqueduct
The aqueduct supplied water to Ancient Corinth from Lake Stymphalia. Credit: Ministry of Culture

Also, part of the prehistoric settlement of Tenea, dating to the Early Bronze Age II (2,600 – 2,300 BC), was identified and excavated, confirming the area’s habitation before the fall of Troy.

In addition, a rich building complex from the late Archaic times to the Hellenistic times was revealed, with individual areas of cult use between them and three extremely well-maintained tanks, one of them with a descending-ascending scale.

The new excavations brought to light dozens of ancient pots and figurines.

Ancient pottery
Credit: Ministry of Culture

The ancient city of Tenea in Greece discovered in 2018

According to Greek mythology, Tenea was established by Trojan prisoners of war who were granted permission by King Agamemnon to build their own settlement after the Trojan War.

The city’s location, roughly 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) southeast of Corinth and 20 kilometers (12 mi) northeast of Mycenae, made it an important crossroads for trade and communication.

In 2018, a team of Greek archaeologists led by Eleni Korka made a remarkable discovery: the remains of ancient Tenea, previously thought to be a mythical city.

The first excavations revealed a vast necropolis, or cemetery, dating back to the 4th century BC to the Roman era. Among the unearthed artifacts were jewelry, coins, and pottery shards, providing valuable insights into the city’s history and culture.

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