Sicilian dead emerge under Kerameikos

A marble slab recording the names of a few of the many thousands of Athenians who fell in the calamitous Sicilian expedition in the 5th century BC has been found under a neoclassical building beside the ancient Kerameikos cemetery of Athens. According to archaeologist Ioanna Tsirigoti-Drakotou, who presented the find on Tuesday night at the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, the 1.54-meter-high slab was part of a public monument to those who died in the 415-413 BC campaign. The expedition against Syracuse, during the second phase of the Peloponnesian War against Sparta (431-404 BC) ate up two Athenian armies and fleets, ravaging the city’s military might and contributed to its final fall in 404 BC. The slab preserves 80 names. But the precise spot where they fell has not survived on the inscription. The find, under a neoclassical building on the corner of Asomaton and Dipylou Streets where the Benaki Museum’s Islamic collection is to be displayed, was incorporated in a late Roman defensive wall. It originally belonged to a cenotaph, from the adjacent state burial ground.

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