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Ancient settlement discovered beneath Kyparissia in Greece

A Greek man’s home is not necessarily his castle. Land can be owned, houses and businesses can be built, but only the land above ground belongs to the owner. Whatever lies beneath the ground belongs to Greece. The law is very strict concerning ancient sites and artefacts. If something is discovered below ground it must be turned over to the Greek government and the owner will not become rich from his find as those who find oil on their land do … instead he is more likely to lose it.

Kyparissia Kyparissia is an ancient town on the Western Peloponnese coast of Greece. It is a place of great charm and natural beauty, dominated by the Castle of Kyparissia (or Arkadia), as the town was once called. The castle, which was originally built as a defense against marauding pirates, looks down on the Ionian Sea. It is floodlit at night, standing proudly on guard above the town.

The town itself is divided into two parts: the higher Ano Polis and the lower Kato Polis. The historic settlement of Ano Polis is rich with traditional stone-built houses, Byzantine churches and narrow paved streets. Below is Kato Polis, the modern part of the attractive town which nestles against the sea and the old port. The long sandy beach of Ai Laoudis provides a welcome respite from the heat.

Kyparissia and its coastline is a well guarded secret which is slowly being discovered by tourists, particularly Greek ones. One enterprising Greek businessman decided to build a water park, complete with a large swimming pool and water slides, to attract both locals and tourists.

Recently, some local road works were carried out near the swimming pool and something was found causing all work to stop immediately. It appeared that a large ancient settlement lay beneath the site, which archaeologists are now excavating.

Interestingly, parts of the ancient settlement are at a higher level than the bottom of the swimming pool nearby, meaning that when the land was purchased and the swimming pool built, the owner must have been aware of the ruins but said nothing for fear of losing his investment. Thus the pool was built and the owner kept quiet. Not only has he now lost his water park, he also faces possible criminal charges and a jail sentence.

The area is now completely sealed-off to the public as excavations begin. It is already apparent that this is an important find as the outlines of buildings are being revealed with remarkably well=preserved ancient tiles. The find may well be of great significance to a town which still believes that the ships which sailed for Troy first assembled at Kyparissia. Meanwhile the landmark water park is closed and will have to give up its summer pleasures to the rights of the ancient past.

It will be interesting to see how far the ancient ruins extend and what else may have to give way to the excavations. Let’s hope that the site will be preserved ‘in situ’ and will not be reburied after excavation, nor its finds whisked away to the dark coffers of the Greek Archaeological Service.

Author: Katerina Nikolas | Source: Helium [June 29, 2010] | re-edited: Ioannis G.


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