University of Udine

DIpartimento di Studi UManistici
e del patrimonio culturale


Archaeology in Achaea: A Millennary Landscape between the Aegean and the Adriatic


Archaeology in Achaea: A Millennary Landscape between the Aegean and the Adriatic

In 2010 the Greek Ministry of Culture (Greek Archaeological Service and Archaeological Museum of Eghion) launched a research project, involving an international collaboration, for the study of the ancient site of Trapezà, a natural acropolis located about 7 km from the coast, in the nearby of the city of Eghion, in Achaea (North-Western Peloponnese), once seat of the archaic city of Rhypes – the motherland of many achaean colonies, some of which founded in Italy too – as well as of a monumental temple. Within this joint project, the research group of the University of Udine, directed by Prof. Elisabetta Borgna and coordinated through a series of external collaborations and the students' participation, deals with the study of the prehistoric and pre-classical occupation of the area.

Field activities consist of eight excavation campaigns to date, which have returned important archaeological evidence dating from the 4th–3rd millennial BC to the transitional period between Bronze and Iron Age (ca. 11th–8th century BC). The project has been financed by various institutions, such as the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (Philadelphia) (2010–2017), the Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria (Florence) (2012; 2016), the Italian Ministry of Education (MIUR) (2010), the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2014–2016), the University of Udine (2014–2016), the Interuniversity Postgraduate School of Archaeological Heritage (Trieste-Udine-Venezia) (2011–2013), as well as by private sponsors (Gruppo Monte Mare – Grado) (2014), and by the Society for Archaeological Research in Aigialia, Eghion (2010-2013).

At the moment research activities focus on the excavation and the study of a large Mycenaean necropolis (15th–11th century BC), where eight chamber tombs have been identified, with wide access corridors and connected structures (niches, ossuaries, side-chambers). Materials and contexts are significative for the investigation of some crucial topics of Greek prehistory and history, from the developing of the Mycenaean culture to the relationship between palaces and peripheries, funeral practices, the problem of continuity and discontinuity between Bronze and Historical Age, the origins of the Greek temple and – considering the strategic position of the site, located on the Gulf of Corinth – the dynamics of long-distance relationships among the Eastern Aegean, Adriatic and central Mediterranean in the "pre-colonial" age.

Among the main objective of the group, we could mention:

  • the recovery of fundamental contexts through a geo-archaeological approach and a rigorous stratigraphic methodology;
  • the in-depth examination of the aspects of the Archaeology of Death, also through theoretical debates;
  • the focus on the cultural relations and the interaction and cultural integration processes in the aegean-adriatic area at the end of the Bronze Age (13th–11th cent. BC.).

Starting from these research topics, a new development was planned, with the purpose of organizing an international convention dedicated to the theme "Mneme. Past and Memory in the Aegean Bronze Age", in collaboration with the Universities of Louvain and Venice Ca' Foscari (Udine-Venezia, 18th–21st April 2018). Prof. Borgna coordinated it and was member of the scientific committee.


  • Study of the Archaeology of Death in the Mycenaean times, through field research and excavation of Mycenaean necropolis
  • Study of the relations center -periphery betwen the palatial civilisation and other regional realities in the Aegean
  • Study of the relations between Italy and the Aegean region during the Bronze Age
  • Investigation on the processes of continuity and discontinuity between Bronze Age and Historical Age, as well as on the Mycenean heritage at the root of the polis