Most Greek legends are exactly that. But King Demetrios I was very real. And in 303 BC he sacked and destroyed a city that has remained hidden underneath the earth ever since on the Peloponnese peninsula west of Athens.
Now with the help of their Greek colleagues, Danish archaeologists have played a major role in unearthing the ancient Greek city of Sikyon, which for 700 years was an important regional hub for arts and crafts – and also politically and economically significant.
So despite King Demetrios I’s efforts, maybe Sikyon will have the last laugh.
Stripped bare to build new city
Demetrios went on to found a new city on a nearby plateau, and Danish National Museum researcher Silke Müth-Frederiksen, the head of the Carlsberg Foundation-funded excavation team, believes he took what he could from Sikyon to build it.
“It was quite amazing to find the city. We had many written sources about it, so finding the first objects in the ground was incredibly exciting,” she told DR.
“Most likely, Demetrios took the materials he could use from Sikyon and used them to build the new city. This means the remains of Sikyon disappeared very quickly under new soil layers.”
Interesting finds so far
Among the finds so far are a large storage container for olive oil, a place of worship, a tomb containing a pair of bulky sandals, and some strigiles, which athletes used to scrape the oil and dirt off their body after physical exertion.
According to Müth-Frederiksen, the aim is to locate the city centre to gain an understanding of public life at the time, as well as the city’s port to learn about how the city traded.
Danes sympathise with Australians over bushfires
The bushfires ravaging Australia, where more than 20 people have lost their lives and an area larger than Denmark has so far burned down, have had a wide impact on global society – not least by the attendees at the Golden Globes in LA on Sunday, who professed their sympathy and certainty that they are a result of climate change. Danish society has also been quick to sympathise, with Crown Princess Mary sending a letter to the Australian PM to profess her heartfelt condolences to those who have lost loved ones and their homes, and Søren Elkrog, a part-time firefighter from Helsingør, setting up a Facebook page to rustle up support for those affected. “I felt we had to do something,” he explained to potential members, and in a just a few days some 500 Danes said they were willing to pick up a hose and help, with 250 prepared to drop everything to leave for Australia right now.
Torture Committee issues condemning report of Danish asylum centre
Hans Wolff, the chair of the Council of Europe’s Torture Committee, has delivered a damning verdict of the Ellebæk Immigration Center in north Zealand following a visit to the sites last April, calling it unfit for human habitation whilst warning the Danish authorities they have three months to address how they can improve the situation for the failed asylum-seekers. “First of all, the physical framework is in incredibly poor condition,” said Wolff. “And we also think it is totally unacceptable to place these people in prison-like conditions like the ones we have seen. They are not criminals, but they are placed in a centre that is much worse than a prison.” The Danish authorities have long argued that they detain the occupants using bars and barbed wire in case they leave and go ‘underground’. The report also issued a damning verdict of the Nykøbing Falster Holding Centre in south Zealand. Read the full report here.
Iranian trade dreams in tatters following recent escalation
Danish business speculated it could earn 8 billion kroner a year from trading with Iran when international sanctions were lifted in 2016 – exports more than doubled between 2015 and 2017 – but that pipedream started to dismantle following the election of Donald Trump less than a year later, according to Dansk Industri. “I do not think that trade will stop completely, because there is still demand for Danish food and Danish medicine in Iran, but trade will decline,” DI’s deputy general secretary Peter Thagesen told TV2. Medical and pharmaceutical products account for half of all Danish exports to Iran. Novo Nordisk, which in 2015 set out plans for a 500 million kroner factory in Iran, is expected to be one of the biggest losers.