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  Nr. 24 - March 2000
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What Did They Find in Paroikia Harbour?

by Karen Barratt, March 2000
This is a question to which nearly everyone seems to have a different answer and is a big part of the excitement generated by all archaeological finds. When archaeologists began excavating in December it was just a routine job to be done before work began on the new harbour front. Although nothing was found along the coast in front of OTE, the other side of the harbour was quite a different story and has produced many interesting artifacts. The two biggest items recovered so far are massive column bases or capitals, thought to date from between the Archaic Period (c.600 BC) and the Classical Period (c.500BC). They are the largest to be found in the whole of the Aegean, but mysteriously they were not embedded into building foundations, although a piece of stone was also found with markings that suggest it could be part of the foundation to such a building.

Unfortunately, this immediately lead to wild speculation and news reports that a temple had been found and, to be sure, these are major finds and extremely important. However, in the field of archaeology, when something is first discovered it is most unwise to jump to conclusions as, like any puzzle, it is impossible to solve until you have found all the pieces. For example, although it has been documented that the sea level has risen between 1.5 and 3 metres since ancient times, the siting of a temple so near the sea might be considered to be very unusual as they are normally found in high places and within the city walls. Another consideration is that a temple would not normally be sited near a nekrotafio (cemetary). Evidence of the proximity of the nekrotafio might be supported by the enormous number of assorted artifacts recovered near the capitals - mainly burial items such as amphora, engraved marble slabs and carved objects.

Therefore, it would seem that the mystery remains, and that is why excavations will continue over the next few months by a team of divers coordinated by Joanna Kraounaki from the Department of Underwater Antiquities and Ministry of Culture in Athens. As well as overseeing the excavations, Joanna is also spending time explaining the importance of their work and their findings to classes of schoolchildren - a wonderful way for them to learn the history of their culture.

Although this might delay the construction of the new harbour somewhat, the archaeologists and the Dimarcheio are endeavouring to maintain the always difficult balance between the need for improved services for the island and the need to find out more about the ancient Parians.

However, ultimately both needs hold great importance and in their different ways will each result in encouraging more tourists - the lifeblood of our island!
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