Fragment of red-figure pottery from the late 6th century BC, presumably by Attic painter Paseas. (Image credits: University of Gothenburg)
Fragment of red-figure pottery from the late 6th century BC, presumably by Attic painter Paseas. (Image credits: University of Gothenburg)

Unknown City in Greece Discovered by Swedish and Greek Archaeologists

The remnants of an ancient city in central Greece is being explored by an international research team at the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Historical Studies. The area has traditionally been considered a backwater of the ancient world, but the results of the study could change this view.

The previously unknown ancient city at a village called Vlochós is located five hours north of Athens and archaeologists from the University of Gothenburg have recently started exploring it. The archaeological remains can be dated to several historical periods and are scattered around and on the Strongilovoúni hill situated on the great Thessalian plains.

Robin Rönnlund, PhD student in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Gothenburg and leader of the fieldwork noted that after only one season, what used to be thought of as remains of some irrelevant settlement on a hill can now be elevated to remains of a city of higher importance.

Rönnlund added that he and a colleague noticed the site when working with another project last year, and says they immediately realized the great potential. He is mystified by the fact that nobody has ever explored the hill before.

The Vlochós Archaeological Project (VLAP) is a collaboration between the local archaeological service in Karditsa and the Swedish Institute at Athens. The project’s aim is to explore the remains and their research team completed the first field season during two weeks in September 2016.

Rönnlund is excited about the many secrets that the hill is hiding. Although hardly anything is visible on the ground below, remains of walls, city gates and towers can be found on the slopes and summit. The team hopes to avoid excavation and use methods such as ground penetrating radar instead. This will allow them to leave the site in the same shape as it was in before they arrived. This approach has been successful as evidenced from the results of the first season in the field.

ancient greece
Fortress walls, towers, along with the city gates are visible from the air. (Image credits: University of Gothenburg)

The area inside the city wall is bigger than 40 hectares and a town square and a street grid has been found, indicating that it is a fairly big city. Ancient pottery and coins have also been found and these will help to date the city. The oldest finds date to around 500 BC, but it appears as if the city has flourished mainly from the third to the fourth century BC. It was abandoned at that stage, maybe because the Romans conquered the area.

Rönnlund hopes that the Swedish / Greek project will provide important clues as to what happened during this volatile time in Greek history. As very little is known about ancient cities in the region, many researchers believed that western Thessaly was a backwater during Antiquity. This project aims to fill an important gap in the knowledge about the area and demonstrates that a lot remains undiscovered in the Greek soil.