Ancient Trikki, an important city of the Thessalian tetrarchy of Estiaotida, sprawled between the Lithaios river – which still crosses today’s modern city – and on the hill “Kastro” where probably the ancient citadel was. In the city there was one of the oldest medical centers of Asclepius, that ancient Trikki was known in antiquity. The earliest proof about Trikki is in the Homeric List of Ships, which mentions that the city participated in the expeditionary force of the Greeks in the Trojan War with 30 ships and leaders of the two sons of Asclepius, Mahaonas and Podalerios, who had been taught Medicine by their father. For the beginnings of the city of historical times the excavations are poor and the written sources sparse.
The earliest confirmed excavation of the city dates back to the Bronze Age and is located in the area of the present archaeological site of Trikala.
In test sections there was found ceramics indicating that the western slopes of the ancient acropolis had been inhabited since the Early Bronze Age (3300 BC) until the Mycenaean era. Unfortunately, there are not architectural remains. Ceramics that were found in test sections, indicates uninterrupted habitation from the early geometric years to the classical times.
The connection of the city with Asclepius – the antiquity of the city was known as «αρχαιότατον και επιφανέστατον» (“ancient and prominent”) according to the geographer of the 1st century. B.C. Strabo – gave Trikki a special radiance in Greece. Today, the largest part of the ancient city is covered by the homonymous modern city, as its habitation has been uninterrupted until nowadays.
The archaeological excavation began to bring to light and reconstruct the image of ancient Trikki from the late 19th century, when (following the excavation of the Asclepius of Epidaurus) the researchers were interested in the revelation and the same name of the ancient Asclepius of Trikki. The archaeological excavations that were carried out on the site on adjacent, private plots from 1902 to 1992 had a rescue character and brought to light three buildings of early Roman times and one belonging to the Byzantine period.
The undivided archaeological site of Asclepius of Trikala, which resulted from the expropriation of private plots, is located at the east of the church of Agios Nikolaos, on Sarafi Street. A stoic building, one with mosaic floors, a bath and a small Byzantine temple, has been revealed. The first three buildings were recognized by the excavators as a public landmark and were reserved for the wider complex of the city’s Asclepeion. These buildings, which belong to the town of late Hellenistic and early Roman times, have been partially revealed, while parts of them are remaining under the modern streets and private buildings that surround the archaeological site.
The post-Hellenistic stoic building is located in the central spot of the site,
and parts of its south and west sides have been revealed, as well as a part of the open-plan, decking floor, central courtyard, surrounded by galleries at least on both sides of it. The building was built in the first half of the 1st century. B.C. and ceased to be used at the end of the 3rd century A.D., when a Roman bath was built in the southern part of the courtyard. With regard to its use, it is likely that, according to the excavator, it is about the high school of ancient Trikki.
Part of the large mosaic flooring, called “building A”, was revealed in the northwest of the Late Hellenistic Stoic Building. Two building phases have been distinguished, of which the earliest dates back to the first half of the 1st century B.C. and the second in the second quarter of the 3rd c. A.D. From the last phase of the building comes the so-called “mosaic of Lycurgus”, depicting the mythical King Lycurgus, occupied by mania and holding a double ax, preparing to attack the wet nurse of god Dionysus, nymph Ambrose, as well as another mosaic with a representation also from the Dionysian circle (a standing young satyr and an old man on a mule).
From the compound of the Roman bath (built at the end of the 3rd century AD, on the south part of the atrium of the post-Hellenistic stoic building, and was repaired at the end of the 4th c. A.D.) parts of the heating places have been revealed, the “praefurnium” and a squared swimming pool. Apart from today’s visible parts of the bath, they had been discovered during the construction of an adjacent building, and four tepid water halls and a rest room. At the southwest end part of the archaeological site has come to light a small Byzantine temple dating back to the 12th and 13th century AD.
24th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities
Ephorate of Antiquities of Trikala
T.K. 42131, Trikala
Phone: +30 24310 76647
Fax: +30 24310 76648
Working hours: 08:30 – 15:00
Τhe archaeological site can be visited after consultation with the Ephorate.
Access to the Archaeological Site
Kastriotis P., Excavations in Thessaly. The Trikki Asclepeion, Athens 1903
Tziafalia A., “Asclepeion of Trikki: Myth or Reality”, Trikalina 8 (1998), 171-218
Karapanou S., The Bath of Ancient Trikki. Health and cleanliness in ancient Greece (MELINA: The World of Antiquity), Athens 1999