Friday, January 20, 2017

CSI: Ancient Athens

The daily life in ancient Athens is usually perceived, subconsciously at least, as a stress free, benign environment where one may well encounter a Perikles or a Sokrates while strolling casually through the Agora or visiting the Akropolis. Even the 3D virtual reality constructions of the city portray brightly painted buildings and safe, trash-free streets and alleys devoid of sinister characters. The look of a Disneyland spick and span and odorless before it opens for the day for the visitors is the impression most have of “Classical Athens”. But this is not what the past, let alone the present, was/is like, in fact, eh!

Violent crime and homicides are not a problem limited to the modern world alone, and the ancient city of Athens experienced similar events throughout antiquity. A recent study of all the human skeletons found in wells excavated by the American Excavations in the Athenian Agora has found that many of these individuals died violently. Some of the dead, including women and children, appear to be associated with the sack of Athens by the Herulians, a Gothic tribe who invaded Greece in 267 CE. Other skeletons, found in wells ranging in date from the Neolithic to late antiquity, appear to be victims of individual attacks. These skeletons exhibit multiple indications of trauma, and appear to be murder victims hidden in the depths of wells, presumably conveniently located near the scene of the crime.

On Wednesday, January 25th at 19:30 in the Library of the Canadian Institute in Greece Dr. Maria Liston (Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Waterloo), will give a lecture entitled, “Murder in the Agora: Violent Death and Illicit Burial in Ancient Athens”. Acting as a forensic physical anthropologist for “CIS Ancient Athens” Prof. Liston will examine the evidence for these ancient “cold case” crimes in ancient Athens. You will learn that the city of Perikles was not the wholesome fantasy park of popular literature.

The lecture is part of the winter/spring program for the Athens Association of Friends of CIG. After the lecture we will cut our Vasiliopita for good health and happiness in 2017. Who will find the golden flouri in her piece and receive the good luck gouri????

David Rupp

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