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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 06 July 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 6 JULY 2019 17 ANTIQUITY Archaeologist Petros Themelis presents his findings G Scientists study skeletal remains at Ashkelon. Ancient DNA reveals that biblical Philistines were from Greece I s it possible that Goliath was a Greek? Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, seem to think so. Multiple excavations in areas such as Ashkelon, in the area now occupied by Israel, have yielded pottery that is Greek in style, however people argued that Aegean cultural practices may have been adopted due to sea trading routes. Now, human remains from an ancient cemetery in southern Israel have yielded DNA in a new study published in the journal of Science Advances that seeks to prove the European origin of the enigmatic nemesis of the Jews – the biblical Philistines. The Philistines resided in the coastal area of Israel and the Gaza Strip around 3,000 years ago. To the Hebrews, they were adversaries, however their background has been an enigma to scientists until now. DNA technology has allowed research into ten skeletons showing that they belonged to a genetically distinct community. Scientists, led by Michal Feldman, found that at around 1200BC there was an influx of southern European genes, suggesting a surge of Greek immigrants to the area. "Probably all these immigrants that came in intermarried with the local population until this foreign ancestry was diluted," Feldman says, adding that researchers were lucky to have seen the genetic blip at all due to the rapid integration. "We could have missed it if we only had the later Iron Age individuals." In the bible, the Philistines are stated as hailing from a distant isle. In an Egyptian temple built by Rameses III there are reliefs of battles with "Sea People" who appeared on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, whereas Egyptian text gives then a name that is similar to the Hebrew name for the Philistines. Feldman's team looked at DNA samples from 108 skeletal remains from burial places around Ashkelon dating from the Bronze and Iron Ages. The genetic information gathered was compared to DNA from other ancient and modern populations from around the reece's prominent archaeologist Professor Petros Themelis, the head of excavations and restoration of Ancient Messene, visited Australia to give lectures. world. During the middle period, there was a 20 to 60 per cent similarity to DNA from ancient skeletons in Crete, the Iberian Peninsula and from modern people living in Sardinia, Italy. The genetics of the four infants are similar to ancient genomes found in Southern Europe at the same time, however to narrow down where in Southern Europe the immigrants hailed from there would need to be studies on more 3000-year-old skeletons with ancient DNA Intact. "It will be really cool to get samples for places like Cyprus and from parts of Anatolia in present-day Turkey and other parts of Europe that we don't have samples yet from," says Feldman. Over €16 million in funding for preservation and restoration of cultural heritage sites in the Peloponnese T he Greek Culture Ministry has secured over €16 million in funding to preserve the cultural heritage of the Peloponnese. The funding is part of the EU's National Strategic Reference Framework 2014-2020, also known as the ESPA program, and will be put towards restoring four sites of significant cultural heritage in the region. The bulk of the budget, €8.5 million, will be put towards upgrading the Caves of Diros. Considered one of Greece's most important natural sites, services will be improved, including disability access, and sibility, as well as creating additional storage space. The rest of the funding will be put towards upgrading Bourtzi Castle in Nafplio, as well as preserving the Archaeological Site of Tiryns, which has been on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List since 1999. The EU recognising the Bourtzi Castle in Nafplio is one of the four sites that will be upgraded and preserved as part of the ESPA Program. Photo: Greeka.com the creation of a new museum in the vicinity. The Archaeological Museum of Argos located in Argolis on the Peloponnese peninsula will receive €5 million that will go towards modernising the space. The upgrade will include extending the exhibition space, improving acces- wealth that the Peloponnese has to offer. By investing in the region's cultural sites, the aim is to attract more visitors throughout the year, and as a result increase revenue by supporting local producers and suppliers, creating new jobs and as a result, improve the living standard of local communities. Audience members attended a cocktail function at Melbourne's Hellenic Museum held in the archaeologist's honour, and they enjoyed a slide-show presentation of the site. "It is one of the most wellpreserved and attractive archaeological sites that keeps growing," he said, referring to the excavations that he has been working on since 1986. Though he was born in Thessaloniki, he said he felt like an hon- orary Messenian and spoke of the region as a 'paradise'. His work in excavating antiquities from the area started from 'zero' and he shared the amazing finds with the audience. Messenians present had many memories concerning the development of the archaeological site in the region. President of the Pammessinian Brotherhood Papaflessas, Betty Dimitropoulos, stated that the invitation was extended to Mr Themelis after the organisation heard that he would be attending events in Adelaide. "We're very pleased to have him here. We wanted to organise this event that promotes Messenia," she said. Professor Petros Themelis with members of the Pammasenian Brotherhood Papaflessas. PHOTO: K. DEVES A crowded hall enjoyed Mr Themelis presentation.
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