Added Later: My good blog buddy Duane over at Abnormal Interests has a post on this as well. I should mention that a Syrio-Palestinian archaeologist could not get away with it – nor should Lolosn (I don’t know how classical archaeologists get away with it…we need to sick Binford on them). But you will have to follow the link to find out what I’m talking about…
Anyone who has read the Iliad knows the story of the Trojan War – the ten year battle to regain Helen. The story, as told by Homer, is a glorius portrayal of the Greek mindset of the time – by turns comical, savage and sublime (some of the scenes between Andromache and Hector for example of the latter). Several other Greek poets used the war as a backdrop as well. Euripides, for example, used the Trojan war as a backdrop to explore the arrogance and cruelty of those who led the march to war (and his works have echoes in todays war on terror). Sophocles was another who wrote on the subject of the Trojan War. One of his earliest surviving plays, Ajax, recounts the sad demise of one the the Greeks fighting the Trojan War. Ajax was the King of Salamis (an island pivotol in later Greek history) and brought twelve ships to the war. According to a story on ABC News the Palace of Ajax may have been found.
The above picture shows the central palace complex of a 3,200 year old settlement on the island of Salamis:
Now, he’s confident he’s found the site where Ajax ruled, which has also provided evidence to support a theory that residents of the Mycenean island kingdom fled to Cyprus after the king’s death.
“This was Ajax’ capital,” excavation leader Lolos, professor of archaeology at Ioannina University, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
“It was the seat of the maritime kingdom of Salamis small compared to other Mycenaean kingdoms that was involved in trade, warfare and piracy in the eastern Mediterranean.”
The site flourished in the 13th century B.C. at the same time as the major centers of Mycenae and Pylos in southern Greece and was abandoned during widespread unrest about 100 years later.
The site was abandoned around 1,200 BC and Lolos believes that the inhabitants moved to Enkomi (on Cyprus) followed by another move to Salamis (a new town of the same name also on Cyprus):
The emigration theory would explain why almost no high-value artifacts were found at the Greek site, which bore no signs of destruction or enemy occupation.
“The emigrants, who would have been the city’s ruling class, took a lot with them, including nearly all the valuables,” Lolos said.
The rest of the population moved to a new settlement further inland that offered better protection from seaborne raids.
Concerning the site itself:
So far, archaeologists have uncovered 33 rooms in the 8,000-square-foot palace, including two central royal residences containing what appear to be two bench-like beds.
Finds include pottery, stone tools, a sealstone and copper implements.
Lolos is particularly pleased with a piece of a copper mail shirt stamped with the name of Pharaoh Ramses II, who ruled Egypt from 1279-1213 B.C.
Incidently, after the death of Achillies the Greeks competed for his armour which was won by Odysseus. This event drove Ajax mad and after slaughtering a lot of sheep and cattle Ajax comitted suicide (his insanity caused him to think the sheep and cattle were Odysseus and the other Greek leaders and when he latter came to his senses he was ashamed of his behavior and falls on his sword).
Filed under: Ancient Greece