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14 January, 1997
Three days after archaeologists claimed they had finally found the cave where Euripides retreated to write his classic tragedies, construction works for a modern art museum unearthed a large ancient complex yesterday, complete with a central yard and a wrestling arena approximately 600 meters from Parliament - which, according to initial assessments may be the famed Lyceum where Aristotle is believed to have taught.
Archaeologists have been trying to locate the lost Lyceum of Athens - considered one of the three greatest academies of philosophy of ancient Greece - for the past 150 years. The other two renowned such ancient Athenian schools were the academy of Plato and the academy of Kynosargous.
Excavations in the central Athens area started last May and were completed a few days ago. A study by the archaeologist conducting the excavations has not yet been published, which according to the necessary procedures, will have to be first presented t o the Central Archaeological Council.
However, historical sources have not completely agreed on the location of the lyceum, since some arguments place the lyceum in the wider region of Syntagma Square (in front of Parliament) or the national garden.
The culture ministry has not yet made any official announcement on the find.
Archaeologists, also announced that they have found the cave retreat of the ancient Athenian tragic poet Euripides, at the Peristeria site on the island of Salamis, off Attica's coast.
A thin clay pot partly intact, with the first six letters of the name 'Euripides' inscribed on its external surface was found last Friday at Peristeria bay on the southern coast of Salamis by a 15-member team headed by Yiannis Lolos, an assistant profess or of prehistoric archaeology at Ioannina University.
According to Prof. Lolos, the find points to the cave retreat of Euripides (485/480-406 B.C.)
The partly intact pot is an excellent specimen of delicate Attic pottery, bearing an admirable engraved decoration on its bottom section, while the dramatist's name, which is inscribed on the external surface, is partly visible. All the finds have been taken to the Piraeus Museum, where they are being preserved.
Historical evidence has long indicated that Euripides, the latest of three great Athenian dramatists, sought solitude to work in a cave on the island of Salamis.
"The pot with Euripides's name is a unique find which adds to our knowledge of intellectual life in the fifth century BC," Mr. Lolos said.
Among the works of the reclusive Euripides are Medea, Hecuba and the Trojan Women.
"I can picture him sitting at the terrace at the entry of the cave, looking out at the Saronic Gulf and composing his plays," Mr. Lolos said.
Euripides was considered eccentric for his love of solitude at a time when company was greatly valued. Ancient biographers described him as stern, strict and unsmiling.
He was parodied in Aristophanes' comedy, The Frogs, and was criticized by contemporaries for his innovations in tragedy.
Disappointed, he left Athens for the court of King Archaelaus in Macedonia, where he wrote one of his most often-performed plays - the Bacchae.
The culture ministry said the hardest evidence tying Euripides to the cave was the clay pot inscribed with the first six letters of his name.
The pot dates to 440-430 BC and graphologists say the inscription was applied later, around the second century BC, most probably as a votive offer by an admirer of the writer.
Source: Athens News Agency