Thebes, Athens’s powerful neighbor in antiquity, remained something of a mystery in later centuries, known more as the setting for the myths centered on Oedipus and for the role described by historians. But this is set to change soon with the announcement by Prof. Vassilis Aravantinos on 22 years of excavations around the Boeotian capital. In a speech titled «New evidence of unknown Thebes in historical times,» Aravantinos yesterday described finds that included 20,000 movable objects (such as figurines, inscriptions, gravestones and clay vessels), the contents of 1,200 unplundered graves – some of which date back to the Archaic era (1000-700 BC) – and the head of a kouros (youth) dating from 510 to 500 BC which, uniquely, wore a cap aimed at protecting the statue from bird droppings. No photos were available yesterday of the unpublished finds, most of which came from rescue digs at construction sites ranging from homes to major public works. «They fill in a puzzle, providing a portrait of Thebes in historical times,» Aravantinos said.