Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hellenistic era finds on Kuwaiti isle

5 Feb 2008

Archaeological excavations on Failaka Island, located 20 km off the coast of Kuwait City in the extreme western end of the Persian Gulf, have brought to light a series of significant Hellenistic period findings, beginning roughly during the period immediately following the death of Alexander the Great.

Remains of a fort, temple, shrine, and ancient Greek inscriptions have been unearthed, with the discoveries presented during a press conference at the culture ministry in Athens on Tuesday by Greek archaeologists working at the site in cooperation with the Kuwaiti government.

The head of the six-week-old mission, Angeliki Kottaridis, said Greek colonists in the region arrived with Alexander the Great, with their presence on the isle evident for at least two centuries. According to ancient sources, Alexander the Great himself had named the island Icarus, while his Seleucid successors continued to consider the island a strategic asset due to its position at the mouth of today's Shatt al-Arab, formed by the confluence of the Euphates adn Tigis Rivers in southern Mesopotamia.

The island was later named Failaka after the fort built on the island, with one possibility being that it was derived from the Greek word "filakio" for outpost. The temple and the entire eastern section of the Hellenistic fort were discovered following earlier excavations by Danish, American and French archaeologists. The Greek mission proceeded with the systematic excavation of the western section of the complex, discovering a part of the western wall, a workshop processing stone offerings and a chamber that was part of a Hellenistic era building.

Greek archaeologists also helped in the preservation work done on the noted stele of Icarus ,bearing a large Greek inscription, on display at the Museum of Kuwait, which itself suffered serious damage during the Iraqi invasion.

The archaeological mission was the result of an agreement signed last summer between the Greek culture ministry and the responsible Kuwaiti agency. Interest to renew the bilateral cooperation agreement has been positively met by the Greek ministry.

An undated handout photo released on 01 August 2007 shows the temple of Artemis in the ancient town of Icarus, on Kuwait's Failaka island in the Persian Gulf.


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