Kefalonia has a long history dating back to the ancient times as it has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age. This is shown from the various archaeological sites found in many different locations around the island and the exhibits displayed on the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli.
If you are interested in the Greek history and civilization and want to learn firsthand about how Kefalonia progressed from the ancient times until the modern age, spend a few days visiting some of the most important archaeological sites, such as the Mycenaean tombs at Metaxata village, the vaulted tomb in Tzannata as well as the regions of Sami and Krani where there are ruins of the ancient cities.
The Mycenaean tombs are indicative of the architecture and burial customs of the time. Inside the tombs there were unharmed artifacts such as vases, golden pieces of jewellery which were given as gifts to the person who was being buried. All these findings are on display at the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli. The vaulted tomb in Tzannata is one of the most impressive vaulted tombs in Greece.
Ancient Sami and ancient Krani were two of the four most important towns of Kefalonia which formed the “Kefalonian tetrapolis” - in Greek it means the union of four cities. The ruins of ancient Krani are located in a green area near Koutavos lagoon, opposite Argostoli. Some of the findings in the area include a Doric temple of Demeter, the ancient goddess of agriculture. The acropolis of ancient Sami is next to the monastery of Agioi Fanentoi at the foot of Paleokastro hills. Ancient Sami was prosperous and powerful ever since the Paleolithic Age, but there was also significant growth during the Classical and Hellenistic periods because of the trading of timber from Mount Aenos. Both towns were independent and were minting their own currency. Findings in ancient Sami include remains of the 3400 metres long wall and a Roman edifice known as “Rakospito”.
Other important archaeological sites are the Dracaena cave which was a place of worship in the 6th century BC, the Doric temple in Skala and the Roman mansion in Miammeli, whose exquisite mosaic floor is exhibited at the Archaeological Museum, the castle in Assos, the Poseidon temple in Poros and the medieval castle of Agios Georgios in Peratata village.
Most of the findings from the above-mentioned sites are on display at the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli. The museum was founded in 1957 and was fully renovated in 1999. The collection includes exhibits from the Paleolithic age to the post-Roman era.
In the first room there are Paleolithic stone tools from ancient Sami, from Fiskardo and from Skala. There are also findings from the Neolithic age from Poros, with the most distinct being a vase dating to 4500 BC. In the second room there are findings of the Mycenaean period from ancient Krani, findings from the cemetery of Mazarata, the “skifos” (ancient vessel) of the 11th century BC and the “kratiras” (ancient vessel used to drink wine) while in the same room there are the findings from the Mycenaean tombs.
In the third room there are pots from the Classical and Hellenistic times as well as exhibits from the four towns of the “Kefalonian tetrapolis”, three burial columns, sculptures and part of the mosaic floor of the temple of Poseidon in Lixouri.
Some of the most important exhibits of the museum are the Mycenaean kylix (conical footed cup) , the bronze fibula and the golden necklace with the twisted spirals, all of them dating back to the 12th century BC.
For those of you who love archaeology and Greek history, but don't have enough days to visit the archaeological sites, you could spend a few hours at the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli where most of the important findings are displayed. Visiting the actual sites though gives a sense of travelling back to the ancient times!