Archaeologists just discovered an ancient city in an area of Greece once regarded as the “backwater of the ancient world.” On a hill at the village of Vlochós over 300 kilometers north of Athens, an international team found remains dating back as far as 500 BC – and they offer thrilling insight into a violent era in history.

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Researchers from the University of Gothenburg, the Swedish Institute at Athens, and the Karditsa archaeological service formed the Vlochós Archaeological Project to investigate the hill, which was once deemed insignificant. They uncovered ancient pottery and coins, and the remains of city gates, walls, and towers.

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To avoid excavation, the archaeologists drew on techniques like ground-penetrating radar. Fieldwork leader and University of Gothenburg PhD student Robin Rönnlund said they were able to see a town square and street grid – both hints that the city could have been quite vast. The archaeologists measured the area inside the city walls at more than 40 hectares, or around 100 acres.

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Rönnlund said in a statement, “Very little is known about ancient cities in the region, and many researchers have previously believed that western Thessaly was somewhat of a backwater during Antiquity. Our project therefore fills an important gap in the knowledge about the area and shows that a lot remains to be discovered in the Greek soil.” The archaeologists think further exploration could offer clues into a time period the University of Gothenburg describes as “violent”.

The archaeologists think the city thrived largely from the fourth to the third centuries BC. During the third century it appears the citizens abandoned the city. The archaeologists theorize the arrival of the Romans could have precipitated their disappearance.

Rönnlund said, “What used to be considered remains of some irrelevant settlement on a hill can now be upgraded to remains of a city of higher significance than previously thought…The fact that nobody has never explored the hill before is a mystery.”

Via University of Gothenburg

Images via SIA/EFAK/YPPOA