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ancient Greece


  • Originally published 07/11/2013

    How world's most difficult puzzle was solved

    It was one of the most captivating mysteries of the modern age, requiring three detectives and 52 years to solve. Along the way, there was magnificent obsession, bitter disappointment, world-shaking triumph and swift, unexplained death.At the centre of the mystery lay a set of clay tablets from the ancient Aegean, inscribed more than 3,000 years ago and discovered at the dawn of the 20th century amid the ruins of a lavish Bronze Age palace.Written by royal scribes, the tablets teemed with writing like none ever seen: tiny pictograms in the shapes of swords, horses’ heads, pots and pans, plus a set of far more cryptic characters whose meaning is still debated today....

  • Originally published 06/23/2013

    Martin Bernal, ‘Black Athena’ Scholar, Dies at 76

    Martin Bernal, whose three-volume work “Black Athena” ignited an academic debate by arguing that the African and Semitic lineage of Western civilization had been scrubbed from the record of ancient Greece by 18th- and 19th-century historians steeped in the racism of their times, died on June 9 in Cambridge, England. He was 76.The cause was complications of myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder, said his wife, Leslie Miller-Bernal.“Black Athena” opened a new front in the warfare over cultural diversity already raging on American campuses in the 1980s and ’90s. The first volume, published in 1987 — the same year as “The Closing of the American Mind,” Allan Bloom’s attack on efforts to diversify the academic canon — made Mr. Bernal a hero among Afrocentrists, a pariah among conservative scholars and the star witness at dozens of sometimes raucous academic panel discussions about how to teach the foundational ideas of Western culture....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    Greeks to stop Qatari nude cover-up

    Nudity is an all or nothing kind of thing, as Qatari authorities recently discovered. Seek to drape the naughty bits of a pair of ancient sculptures of nude male athletes, and you end up with no nudes at all.This is precisely what happened at Alriwaq Doha exhibition space. Having loaned the gallery the two sculptures for its Olympics Past and Present exhibition, Athens preferred to see them returned than exhibited with their modesty veiled.The Qatari anxiety about displaying the naked body has a different root — but is no more or less valid — than that which saw thousands of statues suffer the chop across the history of the Western world....

  • Originally published 04/30/2013

    Lost city of Heracleion gives up its secrets

    A lost ancient Egyptian city submerged beneath the sea 1,200 years ago is starting to reveal what life was like in the legendary port of Thonis-Heracleion.For centuries it was thought to be a legend, a city of extraordinary wealth mentioned in Homer, visited by Helen of Troy and Paris, her lover, but apparently buried under the sea.In fact, Heracleion was true, and a decade after divers began uncovering its treasures, archaeologists have produced a picture of what life was like in the city in the era of the pharaohs.The city, also called Thonis, disappeared beneath the Mediterranean around 1,200 years ago and was found during a survey of the Egyptian shore at the beginning of the last decade....

  • Originally published 04/25/2013

    Graeco-Roman industry in Suez Canal

    An Egyptian excavation mission from the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) uncovered on Thursday a complete industrial area that can be dated to the Graeco-Roman era.The discovery was found during routine excavation work at the archaeological site of Tell Abu-Seifi, located east of the Suez Canal and south of Qantara East. The industrial area includes of a number of workshops for clay and bronze statues, vessels, pots and pans as well as a collection of administrative buildings, store galleries and a whole residential area for labours. Amphora, imported from south of Italy, was also unearthed. "It is a very important discovery that highlights Egypt’s economical and commercial relation with its neighbouring countries on the Mediterranean Sea," MSA Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told Ahram Online. He added that it also gives a complete idea of the Egyptian labours’ daily life....

  • Originally published 04/25/2013

    Earthquakes may have destroyed Mycenae

    The grand Mycenaens, the first Greeks, inspired the legends of the Trojan Wars, "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey." Their culture abruptly declined around 1200 B.C., marking the start of a Dark Ages in Greece.The disappearance of the Mycenaens is a Mediterranean mystery. Leading explanations include warfare with invaders or uprising by lower classes. Some scientists also think one of the country's frequent earthquakes could have contributed to the culture's collapse. At the ruins of Tiryns, a fortified palace, geologists hope to find evidence to confirm whether an earthquake was a likely culprit.Tiryns was one of the great Mycenaean cities. Atop a limestone hill, the city-state's king built a palace with walls so thick they were called Cyclopean, because only the one-eyed monster could have carried the massive limestone blocks. The walls were about 30 feet (10 meters) high and 26 feet (8 m) wide, with blocks weighing 13 tons, said Klaus-G. Hinzen, a seismologist at the University of Cologne in Germany and project leader. He presented his team's preliminary results April 19 at the Seismological Society of America's annual meeting in Salt Lake City.... 

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Ancient settlement near Thessaloniki investigated

    Karabournaki is located on the edge of a peninsula in the center of the Thermaic Gulf (North Aegean), in the area of modern Thessaloniki. The site preserves the remains of an ancient settlement placed on the top of a low mound, cemeteries extending in the surrounding area and a harbour. Karabournaki is probably identified with the harbour of ancient Therme, mentioned by the literary sources. The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, under the directorship of professor Michalis Tiverios, assistant professor Eleni Manakidou and the senior researcher Dr. Despoina Tsiafaki, carries the archaeological research at the settlement from 1994 onwards. Today, the archaeologists will present the results of the 2012 excavational season at Karabournaki, within the framework of the conference about the Archaeological Work in Macedonia and Thrace. Their paper is titled “Karabournaki 2012: Excavational survey and research in the ancient settlement.”...

  • Originally published 03/20/2013

    Gate to the Underworld found in ancient Hieropolis

    An Italian archaeological mission has found the historical Gate to the Underworld of the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis. The announcement was made this afternoon in Istanbul at a conference on Italian archaeology. The discovery was made by a mission under Francesco D'Andria from the University of Salento, which is in charge of the excavations in the Greco-Roman city. The ruins of the city are near the modern-day Pamukkale in Turkey. According to Greco-Roman mythology and tradition, the Gate to the Underworld, also known as Pluto's Gate - Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin - was the entrance point to hell. Both Cicero and Greek geographer Strabus referred to the Hierapolis Plutonium in their writings, and both had visited it....

  • Originally published 03/20/2013

    Syria's ancient Palmyra on brink of destruction

    As the Syrian crisis enters its third year, an end to the violence in the country is nowhere to be seen. The world has become accustomed to rising death tolls and reports of shelling and destruction. However, another threat looms in Syria, and this time it is targeting its cultural heritage.Palmyra, one of the oldest cities in the country, has been subjected to intermittent shelling by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The ruins of the city, which is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, date back thousands of years. “Bombs and rockets come in all directions,” eyewitnesses said. Assad forces have struck the Roman Temple of Bel – built in 43 A.C. – and damaged its northern wall, eyewitnesses said, adding portions and stones of the wall have been destroyed....

  • Originally published 03/20/2013

    Main street revealed in agora of Smyrna

    A part of a street similar to the Arcadian street in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus in İzmir (Smyrna) has been uncovered during excavations at a nearby historical agora.The excavations in the area are being carried out under the leadership of Professor Akın Ersoy and his team. He said the main street, which begins from the Faustina gate and continues to the port, had been found to the researchers’ surprise. “We have also found a fountain on this street. The fountain has a statement that praises a benefactor for his support for the ancient city of Smyrna.” Ersoy said they had also located a multi-echelon staircase on the street. “The continuation of this staircase goes to an area covered with mosaics. This ancient street is 80 meters long, but it reached the sea. This is the most important street in the agora for the entrance of goods. Just like in Ephesus, the street blocks water and has a very good sewer system. Visitors are prohibited from entering the area at the moment. When the work is done, tourists will be able to walk on this street just like in Ephesus....

  • Originally published 03/20/2013

    Excavations at ancient Greek mines of Pangeon

    Mount Pangeon, one of the most famous mining areas of ancient Greece, mentioned by many historians, is considered a more or less unexplored terrain. Its unapproachable slopes and dense vegetation hide centuries-old secrets on its surface and in its depths.Markos Vaxevanopoulos, PhD Candidate of the Mineralogy-Petrology-Economic Geology Department at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, will present a paper about the excavation surveys in ancient mines of Mount Pangeon (Asimotrypes, Valtouda), in the conference about the Archaeological Work in Macedonia and Thrace, which starts tomorrow in Thessaloniki. As written in the summary of the paper, the gold and silver mines of Pangeon are mentioned by many ancient historians. At first, Thracians exploited them, while they were an apple of discord between Thassos and Athens, until Philip II’s conquest. Tyrant of Athens, Peisistratos, who was in exile around 550 BC, acquired enough riches and know-how in order to pay mercenaries and return to Athens as a powerful man and exploit the Lavrion mines. Herodotus also mentions the “great and lofty” Mount Pangaion in which were “mines both of gold and of silver”....

  • Originally published 01/10/2013

    We're All [Ancient] Greeks Now When It Comes to Debt

    The Parthenon from the south. Credit: Wiki Commons.Following the Peloponnesian War, Athens’ interim government borrowed 100 talents ($37 million) from the victorious Spartans. Shortly thereafter, when Athens’ democratic government returned to power, it assumed the debt incurred by the interim government and repaid the Spartans in full. This story is noteworthy as it marks one of the first discernable instances of sovereign debt. The Athenians’ timely repayment, however, is anomalous in the long history of public borrowing. Default and renegotiation of public debt is a practice nearly as old and constant as public debt itself. As the spotlight of sovereign debt returns to the Greek people -- pioneers of public debt -- it is important to recognize that throughout history governments have rarely been careful stewards of borrowed money.

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