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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 10 August 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 10 AUGUST 2019 15 ARCHAEOLOGY St George Island, Gulf of Kotor. Montenegro. By chance, I met the archaeologist, Anja Micunovic, who gave me a real, detailed overview of the history of Kotor. She made me realise what the history of the region was all about. The museum is actually a former church/Basilica, with its dome features from a mid Byzantine epoch, as many other structures in Kotor appeared to feature. Anja explained that the church and structure had been rebuilt three times. "First was the Christian Basilica from the sixth century, the period of Byzantine emperor Justinian. Then second is a pre-Romanesque church which was built from ninth until the 11th century," she said. This is a period which had Byzantine and other foreign rulers, with the last version or rebuild being "Romano-Gothic from the early 15th century. Anja spoke about the Greek finds from antiquity that have been uncovered, which were on display inside the building. "We do not have many Greek finds in Lapidarium, two grave plates (stellas) one from family tomb with three figurines, originally from Risan (nearby), found in the 1950s in Perast in the basement of a palace which belongs to the family Viskovic." Another significant finding on display is "dedicated to travelling doctor Lusius Eukrap Clinicos. It was found in 1945 in Kotor near a swimming pool during reconstructions. We also have an Ionian column, from the first century BC," she said. I had been intrigued by the Ionian column and a number of other items from different eras that sit beside the building. Anja also explained to me that an excavation in 2011 "uncovered a Hellenistic home for men, we call it Aglaos." Coins and a ring from the third century BC were also found. The ring is dedicated to Artemis, crafted in a multilayered design and is traced "to Sicily, and found here." As for the history, after the post-Alexander Hellenistic period, our good mates the mighty Romans made an appearance on the Dalmatian coast and the Balkans earlier than in Greece proper, from the period of the second century BC, and unlike Trump who believes his troops had access to airports centuries before they were built, the Romans simply used their vast and well trained military to subjugate the region, starting with a fleet and securing coastal ports. As Rome eventually transitioned to the East Roman Empire or rather the Byzantine based out of Constantinople, Byzantium secured the entire coastline to the Danube and the entire Balkans. When the Slavs came followed by the Bulgars, before the rise of the Serbs who gained strength by the 10th and 11th centuries. Control of the region would go back and forth between Constantinople and the newer faces of the Balkans. It was almost like a Federer/Sampras tennis match. The last time that the Greekspeaking Byzantium had complete and total control of the coast and some of the inland areas would have been 1042, thereafter, the Serbs, Normans, Bulgars, and Greeks vied via a series of wars and battles. There were no fixed boundaries or a UN, not that the UN is able to deal with borders and bigger powers effectively. You only need to look at Cyprus or the history of the Balkans to understand that sentiment. The Greeks under Byzantium and also the Despotate of Epiros which emerged from 1205, continued to have influence and held some territories around north Epiros and the Montenegrin coast in the south, and also in Dalmatia proper. Certainly, the number of churches and monasteries I came across in Montenegro, based on design and era of initial build demonstrate that. One example is the Monastery of Saint Archangel Michael near Tivat and the airport. I attended a church service there and also bought some Greek scenting oil. Yes, Greek! The church itself has been rebuilt a number of times due to senseless destruction and the poisoning of 70 monks in the 1400s. The site has had a settlement since the ancient Greeks were there, and is technically an island in Boka Kotorska Bay. From all of this, it may be possible to deduce, and this is the ultra ethnic Greek in me who bleeds feta telling this, that the Greek language was probably spoken from the period of the Greek colonies until a century or two after the last vestige of Byzantine control, possibly the end of the 1200s, or longer. How did I come up with this formula? Rome introduced Latin wherever it went, though Greek was the second language in many parts of the empire. During Roman expansion, the Hellenistic Era empires remained across the Balkans, Mediterranean, Asia and part of Africa. The emergence of Constantinople as the ruler, ensured that Greek remained a key language and in many parts, the lingua franca. Montenegro is certainly a brilliant holiday destination, and a gem in the Balkans. It is a reminder of how far the Greeks of antiquity and Byzantium have come, if only we could tell the world that exists here. *Billy Cotsis is the author of 'The Many Faces of Hellenic Culture'. PHOTOS: ©EPHORATE OF UNDERWATER ANTIQUITIES – HELLENIC MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND SPORTS/ANASTASIS AGATHOS Five major ancient shipwrecks discovered off small Greek island in the Aegean small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, dating back more than 2,000 years. Five major ancient shipwrecks were discovered near Levitha, between Amorgos and Leros. Among the discoveries, found 45 metres below sea D eep sea divers have made a stunning discovery off a level, was a granite anchor pole dating back to the 6th century BC. Weighing in at a whopping 400 kg, experts believe it would have been used on a "colossal-sized ship". Also among the discoveries were amphorae dating back to the 3rd century BC. Used in ancient times to transport goods such as wine, they are believed to be from areas including Knidos, Kos and Rhodes, as well as Phoenicia and Carthage. The shipwrecks were found by archaeologists from the Greek culture ministry's Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities department as part of a three-year research project to identify and document ancient shipwrecks in the area.
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