I have been to Athens and I wrote about it previously when I visited at New Year. I haven’t been back since as it took some getting used to.
I must not having been paying attention when this was on in September and just recently during the week and on at the weekend. As it’s an American show I can’t stream it and I can’t find it anywhere else but I have written about The Parthenon which is a major part of the history of Athens.
This is part 4 of the series with him previously visiting North and Central Greece before moving on to Athens, The Peloponnesus area,and now The Cycladic (Circular) Islands in the Aegean Sea.
The Cyclades encompasses sacred Delos which is the centre, Syros which houses the capital Ermoupoli, tourist hotspots like Naxos, Mykonos and Santorini for the magnificent sunset, historic Milos and Tinos, religious Paros and out of the way places like peaceful Folegandros and Sifnos known for its many churches.
Our guide for these islands are 2 different Greek ladies, Cassandra and Sylvia as tourism is more prevalent here than history. Santorini is well known for producing the best wines in the area due to its volcanic soil. I personally know this having attended a wine tasting involving their wines. I’ve probably written about this years ago too.
The famous Venus de Milo statue was found on Milos.
He visits Tinos to talk about the islands dedication to Poseidon and to see the many dovecotes on the island. There is also the famous church where pilgrims crawl on their knees from the port to the entrance which is 700 metres. This is an island that is part Catholic due to its Venetian heritage and part Greek Orthodox.
This is the third program of this name but the one I’m referring to is the 2019 Turkish TV series Atiye not the 2000 or 2015 psychological thriller films.
This is an interesting looking series of 8 programs about an Ottoman era archeological dig in Anatolia based on a Turkish book and author that has been filmed for Netflix.
It’s Turkish originally of course but it’s available in English dubbed or you can have English subtitles. I personally find it jarring that when I was streaming it, the American voices are slightly out of sync with the actions. The actors and actresses are vibrant in their movements but since Turkish and English are such different languages it’s never going to look or sound exactly right. I tried turning the sound off and relying on the subtitles but then you lose so much of the program as your reading and not paying attention to what’s going on. If you however download it and put the subtitles on you can concentrate on what’s happening much easier.
It’s very modern and female forward which I’m surprised about but this is maybe Turkey trying to show to the world that it can live in the 21st century at least in a show that is about abstract art. If I didn’t know that they were speaking Turkish I would have figured it was perhaps another Middle Eastern nation like Israel who have participated in Eurovision each year since the 1980’s.
I have been to Northern and Central Greece on a road trip and I have seen some of the magnificent treasures that are contained within. It’s fabulous that we can still look at all of this architectural, natural and archaeological evidence starting from the influential reign of Philip II. It was one of many crucial milestones in the formation of Greece which will be covered in this series of 5 programs. It’s power still resonates for all to see and will continue to echo through the ages for all to witness for eons to come I hope.
He first of all mentions the tomb of Philip II of Macedon as it is certainly a sight to behold. The museum contains the results of the excavations done on the site and the artefacts are astonishing in their brilliance. It is not much to look at from the outside but it is certainly worth taking your time to visit.
During the course of the shows he is visiting the historic sites of Northern Greece starting with Thesonlaniki and its White Tower. While it may seem odd to start a program with reference to a Tomb that isn’t actually in the second city; it is the man himself and that of his son Alexander the Great that exerts such a great influence on the development of Greek history that they have to be addressed first.
I have wanted to visit the city for a while due to its historical and cultural pedigree but I haven’t quite been able to manage it yet. It’s a considerable distance from where I usually am in Greece so it’s still on the waiting list. When I will be able to cross it off is still up for debate.
Phillipi is his next stop on his grand tour. This is a place I don’t recall ever hearing about and it’s a set of ruins. It has a Roman amphitheater and many buildings congregated in the shape of a town. As you may have guessed by its name, it was founded by Philip II. It was on the great Roman Road, the Villa Egnatia. As the program explains it was the first Christian colony due to the time the apostle Paul spent incarcerated there. This was because he disagreed with aspects of the Roman way of life as detailed in the Bible in Philippians.
Kavala (Neopolis or new city as it was known) is the port of Philippi and where we must journey next in our odyssey. We are using the Villa Egnatia here as our guide and here you can walk upon it like many others have done before you. Sights to check out are the Acropolis, 10th century castle and 16th century Turkish aqueduct. This was built in the Roman style by Sulliman the Byzantine ruler of the time and was in operation until 1911. The rest of the old town is worth your attention too since there has been a settlement on this site since the 7th century. Sounds like I’m gaining a lot more places to visit in Greece.
He next has a whistle-stop tour of places that were staging posts on the the villa Egnatia that were also used by St Paul.
This being an American program means it has a religious slant to it in addition to the historical context. Another guy annotates all of the religious parts leaving Michael, (who I believe to be English), free to present the historical parts.
You can’t really study the history of Greece without becoming well versed in the religious significance as well. This means the history of the Byzantine empire and Istanbul/Constantinople as well as that of Rome. Hence this can be a tad distracting trying to focus on so many disparate yet connected ideas and areas.
I have stayed in Rome and visited the Vatican but Istanbul remains to be explored.
His path down the east coast of Greece now incorporates Mount Olympus home of the Greek gods and adds in a visit to Meteora. Meteroa (the middle of the sky) and origin of the science that is meteorology(weather); is another famous destination containing a well known Christian monastery. This should be on all travellers bucket lists but I haven’t got there yet. It is another place that may take quite some time before I finally get round to visiting. Too many places and not enough time 😉
Although I have been to his final destination Delphi. Delphi was the home of the world renown Oracle. I have visited the temple to learn more about the history of the place as it is not too far away from the tomb I mentioned at the beginning of this article. The Nekromantium is also in the vicinity of these attractions and should be checked out to complete any excursion to this area.
Nicopolis means Victory City in Greek and it is what Octavian built after taking part in battles in the nearby area. It is now in ruins but they are extensive. It must have been a fabulous city in its heyday. It housed a significant portion of the population of Lefkás as well as being the major city for trade, administration and religion in the surrounding vicinity. You can find details about the building of the city in the Archeological museum In Lefkás Town.
The city dominated until the middle age when the current city of Preveza starts to become prominent. Nikopolis then becomes known as Old Preveza. There is museum on the site dedicated to the finds found in previous archeological excavations.
This is the most well known historical site in the region as its power was immense and stretched out for approximately a thousand years. The Wikipedia article on Nikopolis is quite lengthy and you get articles in travel magazines from as far afield as Crete documenting the importance of this to the locality.
I will write again about this once I have actually visited as I plan to do soon with hopefully lots of pictures. I just thought this was important enough to write about twice.
This is a very interesting place to visit if your interested in the prehistory of Lefkás. It also covers the findings of the excavations of Wilhelm Dörpfeld even better than the Fagotto book that I mentioned previously Wilhelm Dörpfeld.
In this museum it goes into detail about the ancient and goddesses (Apollo etc) that were worshipped on the island and how Lefkás became associated with Sappho and unrequited love. It explains the temple that was once there and how the inhabitants worshipped female deities.
In another room it details the lengths that they went to in order to honour their dead. It contains grave goods and headstones along with descriptions of the different styles of graves.
In the main room it contains information about the basics of Greek life like bread, wine, oil, fishing, weaving, music, houses and coinage (trade). It also includes interesting language facts and all sorts of other things that you can’t find out anywhere else.
In the last room it houses all the finds from the Dörpfeld excavations along with an examination of the time period that they relate too.
It takes the average person less than an hour but I spent an hr and a half because I read everything in sight. It also costs €2, is closed on Tuesdays and you can’t take the leaflet away.
I know I’m making this sound so dull but I was fascinated by the content. It gave me a lot of insight into why Lefkás had a lot of settlements and activity for a vast period up until the Roman period. After the building of Nikopolis which I will talk more on after I have been, the decline was evident especially when the battle of Actium happened. This was a famous sea battle between Cleopatra and the Roman Empire.
After that Lefkás disappears from history for approx 800 years. It’s only when the Venetians turn up that things start happening again but that’s beyond the scope of the museum.
He is the founder of the scientific approach to archeology for he came up with the theory of stratigraphy which is the recording of strata to enable you to use the objects found in the correct manner. He is however most famous here for his Bronze Age excavations that took place
and he was the originator of the thought that Lefkás was Homer’s Ithaka. Displayed below is the Odyssey boat but here it’s in the harbour on Meganisi.
I have even watched a BBC4 program where they went in search of the physical evidence based on passages from the Odyssey itself ending in Lefkás with a trip on the boat in the picture which I have been on and it’s very informative. Dörpfeld did many evacuations in the area including Meganisi
but anything more than hearsay cannot really be proven which is unfortunate. I think the modern conclusion to the theory is that it is Ithaka that Homer lived on, not Lefkás despite Dörpfeld’s exhaustive efforts.
He is however commemorated on the island by having the bus stops in Nidri dedicated to his memory. This is because he believed that the bay of Nidri (this picture is also on display in the Gramophone museum Lefkás town)
was Homer’s base for the setting of the start and end of the Odyssey. He also thought the bay of pigs was Sivota bay.
You can also get hold of a book Wilhelm Dorpfeld in Lefkás that tells you all about himself and the work that he did on the island. I have read it and it’s quite informative. It’s the best source of information around and the black and white pictures in this post come from that book.
The picture of his grave is at Geni which is across the water from Nidri and very close to Agia Kiriaki church. He also has the honour of a street named after him in Lefkás town.
There is an Archeological museum In Lefkás Town with a room full of his finds in Lefkás town but more were destroyed by a fire that happened not long after they were discovered in the place that they were being stored nearby the excavation site.
It is quite difficult to get hold of information about him in English but the above mentioned book and museum I linked to earlier is your best bet here. You can find out more about him in the museums in Athens.
However, the majority of it is in German. I have previously come across a PHD document written by a Greek that is in English online. However, as with all things you find when your not really looking for them; there really difficult to locate when you actually need them. Wilhelm Dörpfeld founded a school of archeology in Athens so you do occasionally come across gems like that document but just like gems they are very hard to discover again after you have initially found them.
As a consolation prize here is the Wikipedia article on him
Today is archeology day hence there will be 2 posts in quick succession. One about Ancient Greece and the Greek mainland which is this one and the other being more localised and modern which is mine but still about an ancient time period.