Greek philosopher Aristotle's ancient wrestling school, a victim of official apathy

Athens, Nov 13: A wrestling school said to have been a part of Greek philosopher Aristotle's famous Lyceum, has fallen victim to the ravages of time and official apathy.

Unearthed in 1996, the wrestling school and other institutions in the Lyceum was a significant centre of study and research in diverse fields.

Opened in 335 BC, the school promoted the development of Western science and philosophy and was named for its sanctuary to Apollo Lykeios. Alongside these intellectual pursuits, physical exercise was also undertaken, as the excavation of a wrestling ring has illustrated.

Though the appearance of the site on Rigillis Street in Athens looks maintained overall because of some greenery, the condition of the wrestling school has been worsening since its discovery.

Archaeologists cite the temporary roof of the untended one hectare area as the main reason behind the degradation.

Because the nine meter roof is unable to hold the rainwater that flows from the Lycabettus Hill, the archaeological site continues to erode.

When Greek Culture MInister Michalis Liapis asked officials the reason for the indifference shown to the site, he got a mixed set of replies. While one official blamed the cost of maintenance as too high, another attributed it to the size of the roof. One official even went to the extent of blaming his predecessors for the apathy.

"This project must go ahead, " said Liapis, commenting on the situation. "I do not want to see piecemeal work, but overall solutions, " he added.

But there are other concerns about the ancient site as well.

Many people have expressed concern that the Public Real Estate Company, which owns the land, might hand it over to the City of Athens.

But Liapis has assured that the Lyceum would not be transferred as he regards it as one of the most important historical sites on the country.

His conviction in the importance of the site came when Effi Ligouri, the excavator of the Lyceum, explained that it was one of the oldest gymnasiums in Athens and that one of the first universities in the world was established there.

Apart from the government agreeing to spend a vast sum of 3 million Euros on roofing the site, it has also asked the officials concerned to take action and promised to try and have the project included in the Fourth Community Support Framework, a national reform program. (ANI)



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