The supreme archaeological site of the Messene province is the ancient Messene, the capital city of the free Messenian state, founded by Epaminondas in 396 BC. In the exhibition a few indicative antiquities are on display, such as the inscriptional herm of Armonikos and mainly a group of characteristic coins from a huge number of coins found during the excavation of the ancient city.
The totality of the excavated antiquities is preserved at the Messene Archaeological Museum. The Early Christian and Byzantine exhibits from ancient Messene document the continuity of life in the city - where the bishopric was placed from the 4th century until at least the 7th century -, while the city experienced a new period of flourishing in the 10th century, even if it had shrunk in size.
The antiquities come from the excavation of a cist grave discovered in Arsinoi, where one of the ancient Messene cemeteries was located. A random finding from nearby Ellinoeklissia, a headless marble trunk of male youth, which complements this section. The site is well known for the church of the Zoodochos Pigi, one of the most prominent Middle-Byzantine monuments in the Peloponnese.
The tholos tombs at Diodia and Madena and the tholos tomb of Aristomenis identify the limited Mycenaean presence in the area.
The extremely important inscription concerning the mystery rituals found enwalled in the Konstantinoi church comes from the ancient Andania area; a copy is on display.
Sections of the remarkable mosaic which adorned the floor of a Roman villa at Desylla are on display at the museum; the small bronze animal-form idols were votive offerings to an unknown sanctuary at Mila.
Messene's photo gallery