Schinias antiquities confirmed

Remains of five-millennia-old buildings have been discovered on a major Olympic construction site near Marathon, the government confirmed yesterday, playing down the significance of the find which could jeopardize tight project schedules. Responding to an article in Saturday’s Kathimerini, the Ministry of Culture published a preliminary report by its archaeologist in charge of the Marathon area, Giorgos Steinhauer, saying the remains «are not unique finds or monuments whose form or historical import would be significant enough to excuse the interruption of the project, which has already been completed as far as the earthworks are concerned.» Steinhauer said the foundations of two «isolated» buildings dating to the early Helladic age (roughly 3,000-2,000 BC) had been found at the northern end of one of the two lakes dug for the Olympic rowing center at Schinias, a few kilometers east of the modern-day village of Marathon. «It is likely that they were built on the verge of the ancient marsh and were linked to the still unexcavated early Helladic site located long ago about one kilometer from the rowing center.» He did not clarify when the ruins were found. The 2004 project has been attacked by archaeologists and environmentalists, who observe that the site occupies land where the final stages of the 490 BC Battle of Marathon was fought and argue that the venue will disrupt the environmental balance of the Schinias wetlands. The government counters that the area was under the sea in ancient times. And in response to environmentalists’ complaints, it has declared Schinias a national park. Yesterday’s ministry statement said work has stopped where the remains were found, and will not recommence until archaeologists have completed their investigation.

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