As I mentioned in my previous post, there are a couple of interesting stories concerning ancient Greece in the news.
The first concerns the return of marble fragments from the Parthenon. From CBC News:
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano arrived in the Greek capital on Tuesday for an official visit.
Part of his busy itinerary revolves around returning a fragment of the Parthenon frieze that had been in the collection of the Salinas Archaeological Museum in Palermo.
The fragment features the foot and part of the dress of Greek hunting goddess Artemis and is part of a larger scene depicting the gods of Olympis. The fragment was removed from the ancient Greek monument by Lord Elgin, the 19th century British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, who later gave it to a British official in Sicily.
Kudos to Italy!
The second piece of nes concerns the continuing excavations at Mt. Lykaion, which has yielded a surprise (to me at least). From PhysOrg.Com (this is the surprising part):
The team has unearthed large amounts of Final Neolithic and Early Bronze Age ceramics that date back to at least 3000 B.C, and probably earlier – which is unusual for such a location.
“Some of the material we have found is significantly older than what what was uncovered in the santuary at Olympia,” she said, adding that the site of the original Olympic Games is about 20 miles away. The earliest evidence of religious activity at Olympia is 11th century B.C., Voyatzis added.
“So we’re wondering which way the influence was in fact going,” she said.
That is an interesting question, at least for me, because I have always thought of Olympia as one of the centers of “all things Greek” and assumed that the influence flowed from Olympia rather than to it. At any rate the article goes on to say that a number of pieces of Mycenaean pottery have been found as well. From PhysOrg:
Excavators of the altar have uncovered a great deal of material, including pottery evidence ranging in date from the 14th century through the 3rd century B.C. They also have found silver coins, a bronze hand figure holding a silver lightening bolt, Hellenic fineware and – a curious find – petrified lightning.
“It kind of glistens in the sun and is porous like slag,” Voyatzis said.
“When (George) Davis saw it, he said it was exciting that we found a decent-sized piece,” she added. “It makes you wonder what the ancients understood about this natural phenomenon and why Zeus was worshipped on mountaintops.”
Filed under: Aegean Archaeology