Aighila once stronghold for pirates

Imagine an archaeological park for alternative tourism where visitors can participate in the research. That is what archaeologist Aris Tsaravopoulos has in mind for Antikythera. His excavations in the area keep turning up new finds to confirm that ancient Aighila, the fortified town of Antikythera, was a pirates’ stronghold. His latest dig revealed a large number of weapons: more than 20 arrowheads and sword tips, 50 different kinds of catapults and catapult projectiles. «In some places the walls show signs of damage from human activity and rough reconstruction with pebbles,» Tsaravopoulos said. «During a break in the siege, the inhabitants may have tried to rebuild the part that had been damaged. That shows they were beaten; otherwise they would have rebuilt the wall with greater care and attention.» These are not the only finds. «There are two Rhodian inscriptions which refer to a campaign against the thieves of Aighila,» Tsaravopoulos said. In 1888, on the shores of the tiny cape of Xiropotamou, site of the ancient port, a statue of Apollo was found with an inscription that testified to the existence of a temple to the deity. Aighila was a pirates’ town which disappeared in 67 BC, but there are traces of settlement in other parts of the island from the fourth century BC and from the Bronze Age, from which a few ceramic items have survived. Two digs are currently under way on Antikythera. The Canadian School is conducting a dig with the KST Ephorate of Antiquities (which has found prehistoric sites) and the one Tsaravopoulos is involved in. Tsaravopoulos wants to the site to become an archaeological park where volunteers work free of charge for the experience. «We already use [volunteers], as well as students,» he said. «Among them is a Swiss technician, a professor from the University of Paris, a librarian from Dionysos, and a clerk from the Defense Ministry. We don’t pay anything for labor, but they are all happy, and so are we. If this happened on an organized basis, the area would get revenue and the archaeological park would be a big investment for the island.»

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