Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Search for Persian Wars relics intensifies

A team of more than two dozen Greek, Canadian and American experts is seeking the remains of 1,000 or so triremes, both Greek and Persian, as well as hundreds of support vessels. The hunt is alluring, they say, because the sea is far more likely than land to have preserved artifacts from the Persian Wars. The victorious Greeks, who named them, saw the series of battles as a defining moment: the defeat of a ruthless state that had enslaved much of the known world from the Balkans to the Himalayas.
A team of more than two dozen Greek, Canadian and American experts is seeking the remains of 1,000 or so triremes, both Greek and Persian, as well as hundreds of support vessels. The hunt is alluring, they say, because the sea is far more likely than land to have preserved artifacts from the Persian Wars. The victorious Greeks, who named them, saw the series of battles as a defining moment: the defeat of a ruthless state that had enslaved much of the known world from the Balkans to the Himalayas.

Last year, the team, working off Mount Athos in the northern Aegean, found tantalizing hints of what may be the first of five sunken fleets. Next month, the experts plan to return to the site and survey the seabed for the remains of ancient ships, arms and armor. Especially, they hope to find the bronze rams from trireme bows, which are considered more likely than wood to have survived ages of neglect.

Some scholars believe that the triremes were unballasted and always floated when broken up, allowing their recovery or disintegration far from the disaster site. Dr. John R. Hale, an archaeologist from the University of Louisville, said that idea conflicted with the testimony of Herodotus and Thucydides, another Greek historian, who in describing lost triremes routinely used the Greek word for "sink," as in the sun sinking below the horizon.

Dr. Hale added that even if swamped triremes did sometimes float, the prows of broken ones might have sunk, pulled down by the weight of the ram's bronze sheath. And as ships broke up, especially in fierce storms, they would probably have spilled hosts of valuables.

"Their cargo of weapons, armor, tools, coins and treasure, sacred talismans, containers for provisions, plates and drinking cups, insignia granted by the king, seal stones, tablets and all the rest," he said, "would have plunged immediately to the bottom of the sea."

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Scottish actor tapped for Alexander trilogy

Sam Heughan, 22, will play the eponymous hero in Macedonia’s Alexander the Great, the first part of a three-film biopic of the ancient hero planned by the veteran producer Ilya Salkind. And if history repeats itself, the role could catapult Heughan to the top of the most-wanted list when it is released later this year.

Salkind is best known in Hollywood as the producer who in 1978 spotted an unknown young actor called Christopher Reeve fresh out of drama college, and made him a star overnight with his Superman trilogy.

Confirming that he has reserved the right to employ Heughan in all three of his planned films on Alexander, Salkind said: "We looked at hundreds of young actors to play this role, which requires both striking visual attraction and the look of a great future warrior.

"When we spotted the athletic, 6ft 2in-framed Heughan and his captivating sensuous masculine visage, we knew we had found him.

The Gold of Nimrud Tour Planned

A world tour of Iraqi antiquities is being planned by a Danish exhibition organiser in collaboration with the Iraqi Governing Council. The travelling show, provisionally entitled "The gold of Nimrud" is being planned as a blockbuster exhibition that will include hundreds of Assyrian objects from Iraqi museums. It will embark on a three- to five-year international tour beginning in early 2005. Ms Stoltze says the itinerary will begin with major cities such as Paris, Washington,DC Berlin, Tokyo, London, and Copenhagen, then continue to other museums in Europe, the US, and Asia, with four-month stays at each venue.