Aegean Day 5

Samos

IMG_6170In “the charming port village of Pythagororio” (named after Pythagoras, the mathematician, who was born here, which brings me to B’s joke about the squaw of the hippopotamus…1), we visited the Heraion, the sanctuary of Hera (wife of Zeus). Not a lot of work has been done on the site, and only one column left standing, although somewhat off kilter due to earthquakes. The land had been a swamp, and when the German excavators dug down to expose the base, they ended up in water. (Photo of the sculpture of the family of the man who funded the temple 26 centuries ago, he lying on a couch, Roman fashion, his wife in a chair, his daughters standing primly, and the sons gone – a replica, the original in the archeological museum.)

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Note: the streets look about one-and-a-half lanes wide, with cars parked along one side, but our driver passed a lorry coming at us without even a scrape.

After a stop for coffee in the town park (I’ve gotten to like cappuccino freddos), we headed to the Vathi Archeological Museum, just opened in 2010.  The 3,000 exhibits come from the surrounding area, and include many votives from the Heraion, from the Caucases to Syria to Egypt.
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lambIMG_6184I was blown away by these tiny bronze figurines, created by the lost wax method 26 centuries ago. Having tried my hand at that  (photo of my lamb), I understand how incredibly hard it is. Lots of griffins from the rims of huge cauldrons. (I’m still awaiting the discovery of griffin bones.)

Of course, the six-meter-high statue of a young man was impressive too.

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IMG_6190Lunch outside in a courtyard, the huge umbrellas catching the seeds that littered the area from the plane trees.  (A monk sitting nearby.)

Then to the Pythagoreion, which, according to Wikipedia:

is the… archaeological site [which] contains ancient Greek and Roman monuments and a famous ancient tunnel, the Eupalinian aqueduct. Along with the Heraion of Samos, the Pythagoreion was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We learned about the Tunnel of Eupalinian (named after its engineer) from the architect who is renovating it (to be opened in November). It was carved 1036 metres under Mt Kastro to bring water from a spring on the other side of the mountain. It was started from both sides and met in the middle with only a bend of a few metres. Then the trenches were dug, starting four metres down on the far side, down to 12 metres on our side. It took over ten years, with hammers and buckets, an amazing feat 26 centuries ago.

Back to our boat and another lovely dinner with copious amounts of wine and humor.

1Once upon a time in an Indian village, there lived three squaws. Two squaws had young sons who were very overweight. The first squaw, whose son weighed 150 pounds, always placed her son on a bear hide near a pine grove; the second squaw, whose son also weighed 150 pounds, put her son on a moose hide in the shade of a large oak tree; but the third squaw, who was expecting the birth of her first son, always rested on a hippopotamus hide beside a bubbling brook. Her weight? 300 pounds!

To this day, mathematicians give credit to these women and their children for proving the Pythagorean Theorem, because you see: The squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.

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