Posts Tagged ‘greece’

23,000 year old stone wall found at entrance to cave in Greece

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Waiting for more people to weigh in on this story about a 23,000 year old wall constructed at the mouth of a cave in Greece. One of the commenters on the story already asked why it’s judged a construction, and not, “the remnant of a slurry of rubble,”1 As usual, I hope there is confirmation.

  1. although he jokes that it’s from the Great Flood. []

Antikythera Mechanism and the Metonic calendar

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

The new detail about the Antikythera Mechanism possibly being used to calculate Olympic Games strikes me as slightly bullshit, since the announcement of this discovery is so perfectly timed. (All right, i concede that i was wrong.) I want more explanation. However, the device having the names of the Metonic calendar is quite a find. That the month names suggests its origin in Corinthian colonies, possibly Syracuse, is pure gravy.

Archimedes! “Do not disturb my circles.”1 Hell yes.

  1. Those last words are too great to worry about whether they are apocryphal. []

Odysseus gets around even in death

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

If he ever existed (which i reckon he did,) he’s buried everywhere. There is Ithaca obviously, as well as Kefalonia, and now there is Lefkada:

(AP) — Road construction on the western Greek island of Lefkada has uncovered and partially destroyed an important tomb with artifacts dating back more than 3,000 years, officials said on Wednesday.


The find is a miniature version of the large, opulent tombs built by the rulers of Greece during the Mycenaean era, which ended around 1100 B.C. Although dozens have been found in the mainland and on Crete, the underground, beehive-shaped monuments are very rare in the western Ionian Sea islands, and previously unknown on Lefkada.

The discovery could fuel debate on a major prehistoric puzzle – where the homeland of Homer’s legendary hero Odysseus was located.

“This is a very important find for the area, because until now we had next to no evidence on Mycenaean presence on Lefkada,” excavator Maria Stavropoulou-Gatsi told The Associated Press.

Stavropoulou-Gatsi said the tomb was unearthed about a month ago by a bulldozer, during road construction work.

“Unfortunately, the driver caused significant damage,” she said.

She said the tomb contained several human skeletons, as well as smashed pottery, two seal stones, beads made of semiprecious stones, copper implements and clay loom weights. It appeared to have been plundered during antiquity.

With a nine-foot diameter, the tomb is very small compared to others, such as the Tomb of Atreus in Mycenae, which was more than 46 feet across and built of stones weighing up to 120 tons.

But it could revive scholarly debate on the location of Odysseus’ Ithaca mentioned in Homer’s poems – which are believed to be loosely based on Mycenaean-era events. While the nearby island of Ithaki is generally identified as the hero’s kingdom, other theories have proposed Lefkada or neighboring Kefallonia.

Stavropoulou-Gatsi said the discovery might cause excitement on Lefkada but it was too soon for any speculation on Odysseus.

“I think it is much too early to engage in such discussion. The location of Homer’s Ithaca is a very complex issue,” she said.

This reminds me that i never followed up on reading more on the tradition of epic poetry in the Balkans after reading Kadare’s The File on H. Oops.

Olympia in the Age of Titans

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Last week i glimpsed some story about some ceramics found at the Sanctuary of Zeus at Mount Lykaion in Greece, but i didn’t expect much. Now it seems that the site was used 1,000 years prior to the introduction of the worship of Zeus to Greece.

Zeus’s famed alter at Mt. Lykaion may not have always been his, according to recent archaeological findings from Greece.

A team of Greek-American archaeologists working the famed Sanctuary of Zeus have discovered pottery remains that indicate the site was a place of worship long before the early Greeks began offering sacrifices to their most celebrated god.

Instead, archaeologists now believe the site was used for ancient dedication ceremonies as early as 5,000 years ago – at least 1,000 years before the known worship of Zeus began.

At Zeus’s Altar

Situated at 4,500 feet above sea level on Mt. Lykaion, the site offers one of the most famous Zeus shrines in ancient Greece. It features an ancient hippodrome (an open-air stadium with an oval course for horse and chariot races), and buildings related to the ancient athletic festival that rivalled the neighbouring sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia.

The site provides a picturesque view of Arcadia, thought to be Zeus’s domain, and is known to have served as an important Pan Arcadian as well as Pan Hellenic sanctuary that attracted pilgrims, athletes and dignitaries from all over the Greek world between 700 to 200 BCE.

“Mt. Lykaion, Arcadia is known from ancient literature as one of the mythological birthplaces of Zeus, the other being on Crete,” says Dr David Gilman Romano, a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and a co-director of the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project.

“The fact that the ash altar to Zeus includes early material dating back to 3000 BCE suggests that the tradition of devotion to some divinity on that spot is very ancient. The altar is long standing and may in fact pre-date the introduction of Zeus in the Greek world. We don’t yet know how the altar was first used, and whether it was used in connection with natural phenomena such as wind, rain, light or earthquakes, possibly to worship some kind of divinity male or female or a personification representing forces of nature.”

These finding creates a vastly different account of the history at the Altar and the site.

It’s childish, but i hope that it’s discovered that there was indeed a personified god attached to the site prior to Zeus, specifically Cronos. It’s the mythology obsessed six year old in me that craves that.