An important Neolithic and Early and Middle Bronze Age settlement has been revealed at Kolona. C. 2500 BC the settlement was fortified and its most important monument was the 'white house', a two-storey dwelling with corridors and verandas on the first floor. The city flourished during the Mycenaean period too (1600-1100 BC), as the precious finds ('Aegina treasure') and rich cemeteries indicate.
Aegina led the field in seafaring and maritime trade in the Mediterranean, particularly during the Archaic period (7th-6th century BC) and until the early 5th century BC. It is considered to be the first Greek city-state to mint its own silver coinage in the 7th century BC. The constant rivalry between Aegina and Athens resulted in the former's humiliating defeat in 457 BC and the settling of Athenian cleruchs on the island. Later it was subject successively to the kings of Macedonia and Pergamon, and in 133 BC to Rome.
The ancient city of Aegina lies under the present capital of the island. Sections of the Classical fortification and Late Roman towers survive ('wall of inscriptions' in the N part of the acropolis Kolona, 3rd century AD). Houses with wells in their courts, parts of the street network (Roman era) and many water conduits have been excavated. Richly furnished graves of different periods (late 8th century BC until Roman era) have been revealed in the ancient cemeteries (finds, including important early Archaic Corinthian and Attic vases, in the Aegina Museum).
On top of cape Kolona, where the ancient acropolis was located, are the crepis and one standing column of the Doric temple of Apollo (late 6th century BC). Parts of the Late Archaic peribolos and other buildings in the sanctuary (priests' houses, banqueting halls, storerooms) are also visible on the S flank of the hill. In the vicinity of the sanctuary are walls of the bouleuterion, two small temples (one perhaps of Artemis) and to the E of the hill a circular building identified as the funeral heroon of Phokos, son of the island's mythical king Ajax. On the N side of the hill is the Thearion, an area for cult rituals and banquets (late 6th century BC). Below Kolona, in the sea, are sections of the breakwaters and ruins of ancient ship sheds from the city's naval station, the so-called 'secret harbour' (kryptos limen, êñõðôὸò ëéìὴí). Under the new museum (former Quarantine Station in the time of Capodistrias) a large theatre, analogous in size to that at Epidauros, is being brought to light.
In a verdant landscape with panoramic view stands the restored Late Archaic temple of Aphaia, a local nymph who was later worshipped together with Athena. The sanctuary existed from the 8th century BC in the form of an open-air temenos. The first stone temple is dated c. 570 BC (maquette of the temple and restored front in the local archaeological collection). It was destroyed by fire c. 510 BC and the extant Doric temple was built immediately after, as well as its altar surrounded by two stoas with statues. Renowned are the sculptures from the temple's two pediments, which were purchased by King Ludwig of Bavaria in 1813 and are now exhibited in the Munich Glyptothek. Represented on both is the Fall of Troy, with Athena at the centre, flanked by many heroes in combat (W pediment c. 500 BC, E c. 490/80 BC).
On the side of Mount Oros is the sanctuary of Zeus Hellanios or Panhellenios. The visible remains are of Hellenistic date, under the ruined Taxiarchis Monastery. Traces of cult and some building remains exist from as early as the 6th century BC. The sanctuary's altar stood on the summit of Oros.
Aegina was probably an episcopal see from the 4th century onward. Remains of a building with mosaic floor (5th century), a vaulted-roofed tomb and ruins of an Early Byzantine synagogue with mosaic floor (abandoned in the 7th century) have been uncovered in the town of Aegina. At Vardia, also in the town, are a two-aisled basilica (late 6th-7th century) and vaulted-roofed tombs. At Palaiochora Early Christian architectural members are incorporated in the one-time episcopal church of the Birth of the Virgin.
The finds are exhibited in the Aegina Archaeological Museum.Chronique des Fouilles linkWikidata ID: Q191082
Info: Archaeological Atlas of the Aegean
(Archaeological Atlas of the Aegean, Ministry of the Aegean)