The construction of a metro network beneath Thessaloniki has unearthed an extraordinary treasure trove of ancient artifacts, from gold wreaths and rings to statues of the goddess Aphrodite.
The progress of the metro system has been delayed because of the sheer number of items that have been found beneath the streets of Greece’s second city.
Archeologists have dug up more than 300,000 artifacts, from coins and jewellery to marble statues, amphorae, oil lamps, and perfume vases.
They were found in what would have been the thriving commercial centre of the ancient city, which was the second most important conurbation in the Byzantine Empire after Constantinople.
More than 5,000 tombs and graves were uncovered, some of them containing exquisite golden wreaths.
“The excavations are the biggest archaeological project of recent years in Greece,” Yannis Mylopoulos, the chairman of Attiko Metro, the company building the network, told The Telegraph.
“The quality and the quantity of the findings is really impressive. They reveal the continuity of the history of Thessaloniki and Macedonia.”
The fact that statues of Aphrodite dating from as late as the fourth century AD was found shows that “Thessaloniki served as a powerful bastion of the old religions until late antiquity,” said Prof Adam-Veleni.
“People will be able to see it when they enter and exit the metro station and can even go down and walk on it if they want,” said Prof Mylopoulos.
The station of Hagia Sophia, named after the city’s Byzantine church, will also feature a permanent exhibition of archeological discoveries, incorporating ancient archeological sites into an underground rail network.
The rest of the findings from the metro excavation will be displayed in various museums in Thessaloniki.
*Source: The Telegraph
*Photo Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture