Digging to the Past

Greece is a small country that has seen many brilliant civilizations. Layer upon layer, everywhere you dig, you come upon remnants of one or more of them. Each square foot of earth can hide a treasure.

Despite the lack of funds and personnel, archaeological digs are going on all over Greece. Archaeologists, architects, restorers, and marble artisans are aided by student volunteers from all over the world. Armed with spatulas, brushes, scrapers, sieves, and even dental equipment for delicate jobs, but mostly armed with patience and perseverance, they have toiled all summer under the blazing sun to bring to light artifacts and constructions from Classical Antiquity through the Byzantine years and up to modern times.

Now, more than ever, they have to rely on personal connections as well as local artisans and businesses to be able to overcome financial obstacles and continue with their projects.

imageThe most important of these excavations is the ancient Amphipolis tomb, whose discovery in 2014 in Casta Hill, northern Greece, set the archaeological world on fire. It is still not known who is buried in the grave that dates to the era of Alexander the Great, around 300 B.C. Five human skeletons were found in the grave, statues of two headless and wingless sphinxes, caryatids and an impressive mosaic of Persephone being carried to Hades.

But there are other interesting sites around Greece:

The ruins of a Mycenean palace have been discovered on a 140-hectare site near Sparta. The impressive buildings, built around a large central courtyard and decorated with wall paintings, belong to the second complex to have been erected on the site, since the first appears to have been destroyed by fire around the 15 th or 14th century BC. A large number of clay tablets, bearing writing of the Linear B form, have been preserved –  thanks to being baked by another, more recent, fire. They constitute the palace archives and are a precious source of information about the Mycenean religion and language, as well as the social, economic and administrative structures of the area. A multitude of objects and artifacts have also been found, such as cooking utensils, bronze swords, and seals.
imageIn Crete, on Psiloritis mountain, excavations are gradually revealing the luxury and grandeur of the Minoan palace of Zominthos.

In the Cyclades, on the tiny uninhabited island of Despotiko, west of Antiparos, there existed the largest sacred sanctuary after Delos. Many fragments of marble statues and pots have recently come to light.

In Pella, an impressive marble statue was discovered of a bearded man, clad in an animal skin and boots.

On the island of Astypalaia, 5.000-year-old rock drawings have been discovered. They depict boats with oars and fish designs on their prows. They are proof that the Cycladic civilization was very widespread.

imageOn the headland of Molyvoti, an ancient walled city is being excavated, possibly Strymi, which was mentioned by Herodotus. A lot of ceramic pots, urns, jewels, amulets and coins have been found.

And there are also underwater digs. In the sea near the island of Kythira, archeologists are investigating the wreck of the Mentor, Lord Elgin’s ship, which sank after crashing into rocks while carrying 16 boxes of antiquities.