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News: Secrets of ocean birth laid bare
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Author Topic: Odysseus/Ulysses  (Read 4366 times)
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« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2009, 05:25:17 pm »

Half an hour after leaving the pig farm, we park in an olive grove and begin climbing Kastelli’s steep 830-foot-high slopes, through a dense carpet of prickly underbrush. The bells of unseen goats ring in our ears. We scramble over lichen-crusted terraces that might once have supported houses, and then, near the hillcrest, clamber over traces of a defensive wall and heaps of jagged stones.

Somewhere beneath our feet, perhaps, lie ruins of the “high-walled courtyard” where the suitors gathered and the great hall with its pillars of cypress, couches, chairs and raucous banquets. Somewhere here, perhaps, the despairing Penelope worked at her loom, spinning funeral cloth for Laertes, Odysseus’ aged father. (She then secretly unraveled the cloth every night, having promised the suitors that she would wed one of them as soon as the cloth was completed.) Here, perhaps, with “a shield of fourfold hide” and a plumed helmet on his “heroic head,” Odysseus set to his bloody work. As Homer puts it, “Ghastly screams rose up as men’s heads were smashed in, and the whole floor ran with blood.” In the end, corpses lay heaped in the dust “like fishes the fishermen have dragged out of the grey surf in the meshes of their net onto a curving beach, to lie in masses on the sand longing for the salt water till the bright sun ends their lives.”

Bittlestone prowls the windswept summit, pointing out shards of ancient pottery—fragments of pots, wine jugs and oil jars, compacted amid generations of goat droppings and dust, the last traces of an ancient town and perhaps a palace.

Of course, the odds of finding artifacts that proclaim “Odysseus was here” are slim. But geological tests can confirm the existence and age of a channel beneath the isthmus. Core samples can reveal the geological substructure beneath the rockfall. Radiocarbon analysis can measure the age of organic matter that may be submerged beneath the landfill, and geologists may attempt to analyze the debris from different landslides. Says John Underhill, “We’re going to throw as much science at this as we possibly can.”

Clearly, based on preliminary archaeological examinations, both the surviving walls and some of the pottery dates back to the Bronze Age (c. 2000-1100 B.C.). Bittlestone gazes across the craggy landscape of Cephalonia, his blue eyes gleaming with excitement. “We don’t know what lies under these tumbled stones,” he says, as much to himself as to me, “but something was surely going on here.”
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 05:33:33 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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