Volume 96, Issue 7
Tuesday, September 10, 2002

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Site isn't antique

ATHENS (AP) – A top archaeologist said Monday there was "nothing significant" about Stone Age finds at the 2004 Olympic rowing venue near the site of the ancient Battle of Marathon.

The rowing centre has been at the heart of an international campaign by environmental groups and archaeologists, who oppose the rowing centre in Schinias, 30 kilometres northeast of Athens. They claim the venue would endanger birds, fish and a rare species of pine and encroach on the site of the 490 B.C. Battle of Marathon, the namesake of the games' signature race.

The government and Olympic organizers insist the rowing centre will be built on land that was under water at the time of the ancient battle. Some archaeologists dispute this.

About one month ago, government-employed archaeologists found two foundations of houses dating back to the beginning of the second millennium B.C. or the Stone Age.

"They have nothing to do with the Battle of Marathon, they are much older... it is nothing significant," said Georgios Steinhauer, head archaeologist at the site.

Steinhauer said the antiquities were found outside the perimeter of the 2.2 kilometre artificial lake built for the Olympics and the excavations will not delay the construction of the venue.

The 42.195 kilometre distance of the modern marathon race pays homage to the messenger Pheidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce that the Greeks had defeated Persian invaders. According to the legend, he collapsed and died after announcing the Greek victory.

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2002 THE GAZETTE