Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Marathon Blunder Volume 54 Number 5, September/October 2001
by Nikos Axarlis

Lazaros Kolonas, head of the Greek Archaeological Service, has requested that the Olympic water-sports complex under construction at Marathon be moved farther south, following the discovery that an ancient cemetery extended into the building site. More than 15 graves from the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. had already been excavated just 200 yards from the site when it was realized that the cemetery's boundaries were more extensive than previously supposed. An ancient road and remains of a wall have also been found at the site. Minister of Culture Evangelos Venizelos had stated that if antiquities were found within the construction site the project would be moved, but he has refused to bring the matter before the Central Archaeological Council.

The water-sports venue--parking lots, grandstands, and a 1.4-mile-long artificial lake--has been opposed from the start by environmentalists, who say it will damage a rare dune pine forest and bird habitat, and by archaeologists, who are concerned with preserving the ancient battlefield landscape where the Athenians defeated invading Persians in 490 B.C. (see "Olympic Battle," July/August 2001).

© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America