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Archaeological Museum of Kalamata

The Archaeological Museum of Kalamata is located at the junction of Benaki and Papazoglou streets, in a 19th-century building, which was granted to the Archaeological Society by Antonios Benakis, also known for the museum he founded in Athens bearing his name. It is built in the folk architectural style, with tile roof and attic, and extends on three floors.

The exhibits that were housed in the Museum until recently cover a period from the Copper Age to the Roman times, their majority deriving from the wider area of Messenia. Among them there are statues or fragments of them, findings from burial excavations, capitals, fragments from Roman house mosaic floors, ceramic and copper utensils, craters, vessels, as well as jewellery and seals.

In 2008 the Archaeological Museum of Kalamata ceased its function. The building now houses the offices of the Archaeological Museum of Messenia, where the exhibits have been transferred.

The Archaeological Museum of Kalamata, more commonly known as “Benakeio”, taken from the name of the donor of the three-storey building that housed it until recently, first opened in 1971 to house a number of findings, all from the broader region of Messinia and dating from the Bronze Era to the Roman Period. The museum’s building, a donation by Antonios Benakis to the Greek Archaeological Service, sustained extensive damage from the Kalamata earthquake of 1986, and thus a long series of repairs and maintenance started, lasting until 1995.

The museum spreads over two floors. The ground floor had four rooms. In the first room the visitor could see, among other things, a marble headless statue of the Hera Borghese type, from Kyparissia; a marble herma dating to the first post-Christian centuries from ancient Messene; a marble female body with the horn of Amalthea from ancient Koroni, as well as various other fragments. In the second room, the visitor could see various exhibits relating to burial customs, while the third room contained a decorated statue base from Koroni, a column with two inscribed votings from ancient Thouria, as well as various capitals and marble bases. Parts of mosaic floors from Roman-era houses were on display in the last room.

The second floor, which opened in 1998 and was dedicated to the prehistoric and early historic years of the Messinian region, also had four rooms: The first contained findings from the settlement and the Mycenaean tholos tomb excavated in Nichoria, a region west of Kalamata, which appears to have been inhabited from the Middle Helladic period to the Byzantine era. In the second room, the visitor was also able to see findings from Nichoria, such as vases, stone tools, figurines, textile weaving tools, and so on, as well as findings from tombs excavated in Karpofora, Rizomylo, Dara and Vathyrema. The third room contained displays from the prehistoric acropolis of Malthi, close to Vassiliko in northern Messinia, while the fourth room was intended for more recent findings from various regions of Messinia, such as Akovitika, Raches, Diodia, Ellinika, and so on.

It is therefore apparent that this was a museum of particular interest. As of 2008, however, it was closed down with the purpose of moving its exhibits to the Archaeological Museum of Messinia, located in Apostolon Square. There, the visitor will have the opportunity of seeing the collections within a broader context and admire the historical wealth of the wider Messinian region.

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