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4th BC Century Defensive Wall Unearthed 168

An anonymous reader writes "Yahoo News is reporting that Greek archaeologists have discovered a 2,600 meter defensive wall whose design was 'inspired by Alexander the Great.' In addition to the wall itself 4th-century BC bronze coins were also found inside the structure. From the article: 'The discovery was made in the archaeological site of Dion, an ancient fortified city and key religious sanctuary of the Macedonian civilization, which ruled much of Greece until Roman times.'"
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4th BC Century Defensive Wall Unearthed

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  • by Yahweh Doesn't Exist ( 906833 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:36AM (#14753517)
    the wall seems to head in a straight line towards a neighbouring enemy city. periodically there are areas where sand seems to be turned to glass by large electric discharges. documents from the area refer to multiple "hands of Zeus", "wall whoring" and "gay lamer noob faggots".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:45AM (#14753541)
    Does this wall protect against trojans? Did they close any unnecessary services and make sure it was well patched at all times? What was it protecting, an abacus? So many questions...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ancient Macedonia was a Greek state, not a civilization independant from the rest of Greece.
    • by luvirini ( 753157 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:58AM (#14753566)
      To nitpick: Macedonians wanted to be Greeks, but "True Greeks" looked down on them as barbarians.
    • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:58AM (#14753567) Homepage
      I knew it was only a matter of time until someone came with the Greek nationalist view. Too bad that no one outside of Greece cares. Yes, Alexander and his father spoke Greek, but the simple fact of the matter is that only the upper crust of Macedonia was educated in the Greek language. The peons spoke only their local vernacular, an Indo-European language too far removed from Greek for mutual intelligibility. Archaeological evidence shows that Macedonia had its own pottery and jewelry traditions which were different than those of Greece, so the culture was not Greek. Saying that Macedonia was a part of the Greek nation is like calling present-day India part of England just because the upper classes there speak English.
      • It's more like calling Scotland a part of the United Kingdom but whatever. Macedonians were dubbed "barbarians" by their enemies (that included the weakened Athenians) since it was an insult. Not because it was true.

        Regarding the language, you must be talking of Ilyrians or Thracians.

        • I think more like the Welsh with their unintelligable language...
        • Actually, several classical sources mention that Macedonians did not, typically, understand Greek. Sure, the upper crust did - it was the language of culture commerce and art. But the rank and file Macedonians, such as those that made up Alexanders personal bodyguard unit, required translators.

          There isn't enough of the Macedonian language preserved in extant sources to say for sure what sort of language it was, but it clearly was not Greek, whatever else may or may not have been true of it. And no classical
      • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Sunday February 19, 2006 @06:18AM (#14753982)
        Whether Alexander was Greek depends on what you consider Greek. You're correct that there is a distinction between classical Greeks (i.e. Athenians, Spartans, and others) and classical Macedonians. However, modern Greeks are actually in large part descendents of Macedonians and Hellenized non-Greeks; it's not as if modern Greeks are somehow purebred descendents of ancient Athenians.

        To the extent that the Macedonian Empire created much of what would become the "Hellenic World", Alexander was certainly Greek almost definitionally.
      • I don't know if Makedonias were allowed to
        compelte in the Olympics. It is a fair
        indication that if Makedonias were invited to compete
        with other Greeks, then Makedonias were also Greeks.
        Please remember that Larisa is only a short
        distance away from Pela (Makedonia), and Larisa
        was a Greek city famous for it horsemanship --
        the Kentucky Derby of ancient times. On the
        surface, it seems more probable that Makedonia
        was considered Greek among the Greeks.
        • The first Macedonian who could compete in the Olympic games was Alexander's grandfather.

          Basically only Greeks could compete in the Olympic Games, so by that token they must've been sufficiently Hellinised so as to warrant participation in the Games.

          Later on the Romans were allowed to participate but that's much later.

          As to the Macedonians' 'Greekness' personally I imagine they were Hellinised but did maintain some difference.

          Plutarch and Arrian (biographers after Alexander's death) both mention instances of
      • Totally wrong, and there is no such thing as a "Greek nationlist view". All of Greece's areas had their own pottery, language, etc until, at a specific point in time, they were all Greeks. Let me remind you 'Grammiki A' and 'Grammiki B' (Linear A and B), two forms of written language in the Southern part of Greece that bears no resemblance to later Greek language. The Minoan civilisation, that no one disagrees that was Greek, was totally different than Greece as we later know it. The same goes for "Macedoni
        • Let me remind you 'Grammiki A' and 'Grammiki B' (Linear A and B), two forms of written language in the Southern part of Greece that bears no resemblance to later Greek language. Uh, Linear B [wikipedia.org] was in fact Greek. Linear A, on the other hand, has never been deciphered (and is presumed to be an unknown language).
          • > (and is presumed to be an unknown language).

            Well, that's a safe presumption, don't you think?

            • Well, yes, I could have been clearer. According to what I've read, the Minoan language (the one written in Linear A, anyway) is most likely unknown in the sense that it's probably not related to any living language family. It's been suggested that it's related to Etruscan, which nobody understands either.

              This is opposed to the possibility that Minoan is either some language we already know or related to a known language. For instance, people have proposed that Minoan is (very) archaic Greek or Phoenician,

          • Linear B is Greek in a diffrent writing (sylable script?).

            Linear A is meanwhile deciphered. A german did it 2 or 3 years ago, however I'm not sur eif it is confirmed. Herbert Zebisch has a book about it on mazone, not sur eif he is the guy who "claimed" he has deciphered it.

            angel'o'sphere
        • Let me remind you 'Grammiki A' and 'Grammiki B' (Linear A and B), two forms of written language in the Southern part of Greece that bears no resemblance to later Greek language. The Minoan civilisation, that no one disagrees that was Greek, was totally different than Greece as we later know it.

          Linear A and B are used for writing different languages. Linear A, the older of them is in a undeciphered language which is clearly not related to Greek or any other indo-european language. Linear B has clearly bee

          • Linear A and B are used for writing different languages. Linear A, the older of them is in a undeciphered language which is clearly not related to Greek or any other indo-european language. Linear B has clearly been shown to be Greek by Michael Ventris et al. Therefore we can assert that at least the minoan elite spoke Greek.

            Linear A doesn't appear until after the apparent collapse of Minoan civiliation (see the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org], which seems to be pretty good. Conquest by Greek speakers is consistent wit

        • Americans don't give a flying f*** about the Balkans. Most Americans don't know Macedonia even exists. It just seems like narcissism or wanting to elevate their status for a country like those in the Balkans to say that the USA would manipulate their position.

          Now also, as an American, I can say the Balkans baffle me. They're the biggest failure in modern state-building. People in the Balkans like Ibrahim Rugova, self professed "President of Kosovo" feel like they must split their already fragmented country
    • It's true--Macedonia was a city state. However, from an Athenian's perspective, the Macedonians certainly were *another* people because they considered them barbarians (hence I leave out the term "civilisation"). Of course, Aristotle himself was born in Macedonia, and Alexander would go on to conquer them. Probably as much jealousy and ill-will in the Athenian sentiment as there is truth to it.
  • Alexander as a God (Score:5, Informative)

    by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @02:51AM (#14753552) Homepage Journal
    Alexander, a pupil of Aristotle (neither had much if anything to say about the other), was worshiped as a God by many ancient kingdoms. His conquests to the east, starting with his famous cutting of the Gordian Knot before his conquests in ancient Persia, lead to the adumbration of the Old Silk Road which was to become the first major conduit between the far east and the west.

    Upon his death his generals squabbled over the conqured lands, individually taking control of various areas. The Ptolemy reign of Egypt ended with the conquest of Egypt by Julius Ceasar and his taking of Cleopatra as his lover and mother of their child.

    The true legacy of Alexander was the Hellenization of the ancient world. The ancient Greek culture was idealized and emulated by the Macedonians, (hence Aristotle as teacher to Alexander), and Alexander spread the idealized version of the ancient Greek culture throughout the lands he conqured.

    • The true legacy of Alexander was the Hellenization of the ancient world.

      Yeah, he brought Hellehn to it and back again.

      "I seem to be a verb." - Buckminster Fuller

      Not anymore, I'm afraid.

      KFG
    • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) * on Sunday February 19, 2006 @04:29AM (#14753760)
      Alexander's conquests cut both ways - he spread Greek civilization, yes, but Greek civilization was also influenced by those of the peoples he conquered. As an example, you mention that he wanted to be treated like a God -- this concept of treating a human like a god was foreign to the Greeks, but was common to the Persians. Alexander demanded, for example proskynesis (a sign of obeisance) from Greek subjects, who were not too happy about it (I believe he had one of his advisors killed for refusing). Alexander demanded that such traditions be incorporated into Greek culture and they were. Of course there were more subtle examples - the point is the Greeks intermingled with other cultures around the globe and as a result were influenced by them as well as influencing them. Alexander's goal was not to spread Hellenistic culture - his goal was to spread the cult of Alexander.
      • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @04:58AM (#14753820) Homepage Journal
        As an example, you mention that he wanted to be treated like a God...

        I stated he was worshipped as a God by many ancient peoples, this for the most part followed upon his death. You are correct though, he did wish to be treated as a God. Although he showed considerable diplomacy, or, perhaps more accurately pragmatism, in treating with the kingdoms he conquered. He kept the ruling parties in power, married into the ruling elite and coerced his generals into taking wives from the conquered elite. Certainly what little that is known about him suggests he was meglomaniacal. There are sources that suggest he murdered his father.

        Interestingly Alexander's deification was in some lands blended with the Greek God Dionysus. Dionysus is remarkable as the ancient western archetypal Christ. The Greek God Dionysus was a God of rebirth in some areas and as such was an ancient version of the Christ figure who is reborn. The King reborn was known throughout lands from India to ancient Greece. In part of what is now India the King would rule for eight years then feed his flesh to his people, thus dying but being ritually reborn in the next King. A similar act lies behind the Catholic act of taking Communion. The idea incorporated in the idea of a Christ figure ties in with the idea of transcendent reason, or Logos. Logos was an idea borrowed by the fathers of the Catholic Church. "In the beginning was the word" (I forget which book of the Bible the quote comes from) but in adopting the idea of Logos, or transcedent reason as God like the Catholic Church fostered the critical, accurate reasoning that would give birth to science.

        While Alexander spread cultural plasmids throughout the ancient Greek world and the East, his teacher Aristotle, was adopted by the Catholic Church as the epitome of reasoned insight and so influenced the West perhaps more than any other one man.

    • Interesting... I always wondered why Alexander was so famous, given that he died at 26(?) and his empire broke up soon after. Of course there had to be more to it (trade routes and dissemination of culture).
    • Yeah, all that's true, but you didn't mention the most important thing...his mom was way hot.
  • You know you're good when they build a 2600 metre long wall in your honour.
  • by imrdkl ( 302224 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @03:02AM (#14753579) Homepage Journal
    Archeologists working in Aptera, a walled fortress city on the island of Crete, have recently announced [cnn.com] the discovery of a very unusual, and very intact, tomb just outside the city. I visited Crete last year and took some pictures [homelinux.com] at the site - some pretty amazing detail. Then there's the hitchhiker who found and returned a 6500 y.o. gold pendant [google.co.uk] to the Greek authorities recently, she wanted no reward, and preferred to remain anonymous...

    I couldnt think of anything funny to say about this new wall, so I figured I'd post something serious.

    • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Sunday February 19, 2006 @04:36AM (#14753766) Homepage Journal
      On the one hand, one must question the sanity of a person who hands in a large (for the time) solid gold, 6,500 year old artifact. Especially in a country well-known for artifacts being plundered. In England, the Government pays for finds classed as "Treasure Trove", but there is no evidence the unnamed woman got so much as a free can of soft drink for a find that will likely end up in a museum and earn the archaeological team involved in analyzing the find a good few million.

      On the other hand, it is precisely because there are people who do hand in such amazing discoveries that so much is known about the ancient world. There are many sites, throughout Europe, which were discovered precisely because of a reported find leading to a study and finally an excavation.

      I have often been critical of archaeologists, and the current state of Italy's archaeological remains doesn't give me much confidence in the competence of world heritage organizations either. Many of the major sites are at the point of collapse, one section of wall at a major site DID collapse last year and would have killed a few hundred tourists if it had happened during the day. Emergency repairs, required within the next year or two, will require between ten to twenty times the money budgetted for ALL Itallian archaeology and maintenance for the next decade, simply in order to prevent massive casualties.

      Discoveries are of the utmost importance, proper excavation and documentation are vital, but all of that is useless if proper preservation of finds is ignored. The exceptionally fine ancient monument returned from Italy - a massive obelisk that had been plundered during World War II and was in exceptionally good condition, was smashed into three pieces in order to return it on the cheap. If this is the way things are going to happen in future, the Rosetta Stone will be returned to Egypt as a fine powder - the Egyptians can always glue the grains together again, after all.

      Sorry if I sound cynical - well, maybe not entirely sorry. I have a very hard time reconciling demonstrable gross incompetence and money hoarding with any kind of respect for heritage or history. As I've said often enough before, we have many possible futures. Futures are a dime a dozen. We can take our pick of those. However, we only ever have one past. Lose that, and it's gone. You don't get another go. Whatever is destroyed is lost and can never be replaced.

      Hey, for some things, that probably doesn't matter too much, and there's just too much history to preserve everything 100% from the information level through to the artifacts themselves. The world is only so big and we're running out of room as it is. Besides which, it is really the information that matters anyway, provided you have gathered as much as is practical and lose as little as possible.

      In the "perfect world" (at least, perfect in my highly opinionated world view) no effort would be spared to gather all the information that technology can extract, with that information distributed as widely and as freely as the available technology supports. After that, artifacts become relatively unimportant and sites become more useful for tourism than for study. Provided they don't fall down.

      I'm not seeing that kind of study going on, though. The new burial site that has been found, for example - there should be plenty of DNA and mDNA that can be extracted for testing to get an idea of the ethnic makeup of the people of the time. They could even put the mDNA markers up on one of the numerous DNA family history sites, to see if living relatives exist and to encourage a greater participation by average folk in the whole archaeology thing. People will be far more willing to invest a little extra time and money on a project if they feel involved - even if only highly superficially - than they will if it is purely seen as the idle musings of some University types with a trowel fetish.

      The pendant is another good example. Gold i

      • Good points. Just as a side note, the team working at Aptera seemed pretty well-funded. I could feel the excitement and anticipation among them anyhow, even as I took my pictures from a relative distance. Aptera as a complete site is also quite nicely maintained a preserved, although it's clear that there is some repairs and research which are "in the queue" for funding as well. Whats perhaps odd, at least regarding Aptera, was the relative tendancy of the locals not to promote it. When I mentioned to
      • ...a find that will likely end up in a museum and earn the archaeological team involved in analyzing the find a good few million.

        I have yet to meet an archaeologist who makes millions (though I can dream). At least in recent years, and with increasing awareness of and support for antiquities laws, the choice is between a difficult sell on the black market or stiff fines, if not jail time. You'd pretty much have to be mad to keep it (also add Indiana Jones "This Belongs In A Museum!" quote here).

        The except

        • I apologize to those archaeologists who DO do all (or as much as realistic) of the study work that can be done. I guess some of my cynicism comes from the fiasco of Seahenge and also from the archaeology being done in the area I used to live in England - not the fault of those doing the work, they're just so massively underfunded and underequipt, with such gigantic time pressures, that I'm quite convinced they're missing at least as much as they're finding, and they're nowhere near doing all of the tests th
  • by Zaxor ( 603485 )
    Must not have been very good at its job...
  • Alexander the great and Napolean are the two great conquorers in the history of the world. Yes there are others but nobody comes close to these two.
  • by laejoh ( 648921 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @03:41AM (#14753657)
    a 2,600 meter defensive wall whose design was 'inspired by Alexander the Great.'

    How did they find out this? Was there a writing on one of the rocks? Something like:


    (c) 400 BC - Patent pending - A. The Great

  • 4th Century *BC* (Score:4, Informative)

    by nutshell42 ( 557890 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @03:53AM (#14753686) Journal
    There *is* a difference, you know.
    • From TFA:

      Bronze coins from the period of Theodosius, the 4th-century AD Byzantine Emperor who abolished the ancient Olympic Games, were also found hidden inside the wall.

      Sounds like the wall was under construction for over 800 years. Or the later Romans did some extensive modifications.

      • You're absolutely right =) -- although it's not clear whether the coins were part of the structure (i.e. lost or otherwise put there during construction work) or hidden later on (i.e. someone dug a hole in an 800 year old wall to hide his money)

        Seems like /.'s sloppiness regarding AD/BC was actually a good decision =P

  • by alcmaeon ( 684971 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @04:11AM (#14753721)
    In common parlance, when one says the "4th Century" the listener or reader does, and should, assume the 4th Century AD is referenced, since this is the current timescale, i.e. 20th Century refers to the 20th Century A.D., not B.C.

    This article is talking about the 4th Century B.C. or B.C.E., however you want to designate it.

  • by Whiteox ( 919863 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @04:45AM (#14753788) Journal
    Quote: "ATHENS (AFP) - Greek archaeologists excavating an ancient Macedonian city in the foothills of Mount Olympus have uncovered a 2,600-metre defensive wall whose design was "inspired by the glories of Alexander the Great," the site supervisor said Thursday.
    Built into the wall were dozens of fragments from statues honouring ancient Greek gods, including Zeus, Hephaestus and possibly Dionysus, archaeologist Dimitrios Pantermalis told a conference in the northern port city of Salonika, according to the Athens News Agency.
    Early work on the fortification is believed to have begun under Cassander, the fourth-century BC king of Macedon who succeeded Alexander the Great. Cassander is believed to have ordered the murders of Alexander's mother, wife and infant son, Pantermalis said.
    The wall's design suggests that it was "inspired by the glory of Alexander the Great in the East," as the young king sought to emulate grandiose structures encountered during his campaigns, Pantermalis told the conference.
    Bronze coins from the period of Theodosius, the 4th-century AD Byzantine Emperor who abolished the ancient Olympic Games, were also found hidden inside the wall.

    The discovery was made in the archaeological site of Dion, an ancient fortified city and key religious sanctuary of the Macedonian civilisation, which ruled much of Greece until Roman times.
    Prior excavations at Dion have already revealed two theatres, a stadium, and shrines to a variety of gods, including Egyptian deities Sarapis, Isis and Anubis, whose influence in the Greek world grew in the wake of Alexander's conquest of Egypt." End quote.

    It sort of answers it all doesn't it?
  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Sunday February 19, 2006 @05:47AM (#14753921)
    For those of us in the old world, I reckon the possible Alexander connection is the interesting bit. Maybe a re-titling of the headline to reflect this? 4th century BCE walls and remains? got them all over the place. Maybe the date is more exciting to folks whose archaeological records only stretch back a couple of hundred years ;-)
    • For those of us in the old world, I reckon the possible Alexander connection is the interesting bit. Maybe a re-titling of the headline to reflect this? 4th century BCE walls and remains? got them all over the place. Maybe the date is more exciting to folks whose archaeological records only stretch back a couple of hundred years ;-)

      Every continent except Antartica has archaelogical records stretching back more than a few hundred years. Architectural records, too - which is what I think you meant to imply.

  • by JoeCommodore ( 567479 ) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Sunday February 19, 2006 @09:26AM (#14754409) Homepage
    (Flipping trhough Payers Handbook) Are you sure they are'nt copper or gold pieces? If they are bronze, what good are they. (grin)
  • Ms. Warwick built that wall to keep in her psychic friends.
  • "Bronze coins from the period of Theodosius, the 4th-century AD Byzantine Emperor who abolished the ancient Olympic Games, were also found hidden inside the wall." Sort of an important detail, don't you think?
  • ...except vs. gunpowder based units.

    so it'd be obsolete by now anyway.

  • If you go by land area, this might be useful:

    http://www.hostkingdom.net/earthrul.html [hostkingdom.net]

    However, those are by country, not by conqueror. I suppose the real measure would be, not what one single ruler ruled over the largest area, but what one single ruler grew his domain by the largest amount during his reign. And that was probably Genghis Khan.

    Still, the type of resistance that the likes of Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great encountered in their campaigns is far different from that of, say, Napolean

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