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Greek site delivers historical monument.

Greek site delivers historical monument

A team of researchers scouting the boundary between two ancient Greek cities has unexpectedly uncovered a long-lost inscribed monument previously known only through a first-century A.D. document written by the Greek historian Plutarch.

Though the team discovered the partially destroyed monument last February, the Greek government delayed announcement of the find. The report finally emerged last week at the Archaeological Institute of America meeting in San Francisco.

"This was a rare find of an historically attested inscription," John Camp of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece, told SCIENCE NEWS.

Camp and four graduate students from the University of Colifornia, Berkeley, found the monument atop a hill near the archaeological site of Chaironeia, Plutarch's hometown. Their discovery clearly establishes the location of a battle between the Roman army occupying Greece and invaders from the Black Sea area in 86 B.C. Classical scholars had proposed several hills around Chaironeia as possible battle sites on the basis of Plutarch's description of the event.

The archaeological team also found about 150 stone blocks near the base of the hill, apparently the remains of a temple dedicated to the sun god Apollo during Plutarch's time, Camp says. The blocks possess stylistic features typical of ancient Greek civilization.

In Plutarch's "Life of Sulla," the historian tells how two Chaironeia townsmen aided a great military victory for the Roman general Sulla. Troops from Lojtus, a kingdom near the Black Sea, had camped on a river plain north of Chaironeia, with one detachment perched on a hill known as Thourion.

Sulla placed his foot soldiers between the main body of the Pontus forces and Chaironeia, but could not repel the hilltop squadron until two townsmen, Homoloichos and Anaxidamos, offered to lead Roman soldiers up a back pathway on Thourion to surprise the invaders.

The plan worked perfectly, according to Plutarch; 3,000 soldiers from Pontus died on Thourion's rocky slopes, allowing a successful Roman attack on the river troops. Plutarch noted that Sulla then erected two stone trophies to celebrate the victory -- one on the plain and the other on Thourion, in honor of the heroic townsmen.

The 3-foot-wide, 1-foot-high marble block found by Camp and his co-workers amid a pile of rubble contains three words: "Homoloichos," "Anaxidamos" and "aristis," the Greek word for "heroes."
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Author:Bower, Bruce
Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 5, 1991
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