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Hellenistic city on island in Persian Gulf

OLGA SELLA

On his way back west from India, Alexander the Great's Admiral Nearchos reached the island of Failaka, about 20 kilometers from what is now Kuwait City, and founded a town there called Icaros. Twenty-five centuries later, that Hellenistic city is slowly coming to light again on the 24-square-kilometer island that was depopulated during the Gulf War of 1991. This coming November, Greek archaeologists are to go to the island to continue the excavations, organize the site, and restore the finds from that ancient Greek colony in the heart of the East. An accord to that effect was signed on July 25 by Culture Ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos and the Kuwait National Council Secretary-General for Culture, the Arts and Letters Bader Abdulwahab Al-Rifae. The island, which reflects «many periods of archaeological interest,» said Zachopoulos, has been previously excavated and has revealed part of a Hellenistic town and a temple to Artemis, the ancient Greek goddess of hunting. Many Greek coins and inscriptions have been found, along with figurines and ceramic vessels. The most important artifact found so far is the Icaros inscription, consisting of 42 verses in Greek, a find that was decisive in identifying the island with the city of Icaros referred to by ancient historians Strabo and Arrian. Previous excavations were carried out by teams of archaeologists from Denmark, the USA, Italy, France and Kuwait. Zachopoulos highlighted that the agreement signed is part of a broader cooperation program between the Culture Ministry and the Arab world that includes archaeological missions to Jordan, Oman and Syria. The Greek team is headed by archaeologist Angeliki Kottaridou, who has worked at the site in Vergina, and her deputy Panayiotis Hadzidakis, head of the Delos site.

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