The Undergraduate Programme “Studies in Hellenic Culture” of the Open University of Cyprus (OUC), led by Associate Professor Georgios Deligiannakis, in collaboration with the Society of Messenian Archaeological Studies (under the direction of Professor Emeritus Petros Themelis) carried out a systematic excavation in ancient Messene in two seasons in 2020 and 2021. The excavation took place on the site of a large building, an Early Byzantine Church lying east of the Asclepius complex. This building, although always visible, had never been excavated.
The excavation was carried out thanks to a research grant secured by the Open University of Cyprus through an internal research project entitled “The Christian phase of the sanctuary of Asclepius in ancient Messene”. Τhe archaeologist Dr. Nikos Tsivikis (Institute for Mediterranean Studies – Foundation for Research & Technology Hellas), the OUC undergraduate students Andri Kazamia, Dina Anagnosti and Antonis Gennadiou and Ilaria Bandinelli, postgraduate student of the University of Bologna, participated in the archeological team.
Ancient Messene was an important Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine city. The importance of the project lies in the fact that the site was in use for a long period and its systematic excavation can offer information about a period for which our knowledge about Messene is very limited. The first results of the excavation of the Early Byzantine Church and a medieval cemetery on the site offer significant information about the history of Byzantine/Medieval Messene, and most importantly the transformation of the city from the Early to the Late Byzantine period. By searching out additional funding and expanding its network of collaborators, the OUC research team aims to continue the excavation in the near future.
More information on the excavations website: https://late-antique-worlds.ouc.ac.cy/