The silver mines of Athens

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The University of Utrecht has been conducting archaeological research on the way silver mining impacted the turbulent rise and development of the Athenian polis. With your donation, we can realize the final phase of this project, consisting of a research campaign in Greece this summer. 

The silver mines around Thorikos (near Athens) spurred the Golden Age of Athens (c. 500-400 BC). The Athenian statesman Themistokles urged the Athenians to put their wealth to use by building a large fleet of triremes. This fleet fought off the Persian invasion of 480-79 BC and presented the Athenians with hegemony at sea, allowing Athens not only to emerge as Europe’s first metropolis, but also to develop its first democracy. In the fifth century BC, the city attracted migrant workers from all parts of the world - from Thrace to the Levant and from Italy to Anatolia – finding jobs as merchants, craftsmen, both as free citizen and as slaves. This last group in particular met a harsh existence in the mines around Thorikos.

The Thorikos Survey Project contributes to a better understanding of this tumultuous period in Athenian history, one that is often seen as crucial for Western political and cultural history. As co-director of the project, Floris van den Eijnde (UU) leads an international team, including a large and enthusiastic group of student volunteers from the University of Utrecht.

To help finalize this project and make its results accessible to a broader audience, we need your help. With your donation, the project’s team will be able to analyze and process the vast archaeological evidence, enabling a better understanding of the Athenian silver industry and its contribution to a crucial period in Western civilization.

You can follow us online on Facebook and Blogspot, or read more about the project on our website


Universiteit Utrecht