World Archaeology #33

4 thoughts
last posted Nov. 27, 2015, 10:18 a.m.
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Messene was the Greek city state that was conquered by Sparta, the original Helots. Suppressing the Messene revolts led to Sparta adopting its authoritarian, militaristic culture (something to read into later).

Modern Messene was the result of Greek renaming during a nationalistic phase, the modern settlement is to the south of the ancient settlement.

Large drainage ditches underpin the settlement allowing water from the nearby mountain to flow through the city.

After the defeat of the Spartans the city switched to being an independent city state under the Macedonians and then the Romans. Moving from oligarchy to democracy and there is a large theatre in the city for public meetings.

The central area of the city is given over to a temple to Asklepois, the son of Apollo and a daughter of a mythical king. The patron god of the city.

The ruins have been partly rebuilt but much of the original material was in place, the city having been abandoned after the drainage channels blocked up and the city flooded in the late Roman period.

There is a stadium and track for foot racing that was later adapted to Roman arena bloodsports.


The magazine is for 2009 and there is an advert for a tourist trip to Syria to visit Palmyra and the crusader castles. Times do change.


Zabid was a major medieval Yemeni city between the 13th and 15th centuries. Like Messene its foundation was based on water management, here diverting the floodwaters from the mountains into irrigation canals, to grow crops.

With the arid land irrigated the city's proximity to the sea turned it into a major trade hub.

The city's gold age came to end with occupation by the Ottoman's and later the change of trade routes to reflect the value of coffee beans grown on the mountain slopes rather than the plains.


Mocha coffee is named after the Yemeni Red Sea port of al-Mukha where the coffee bean bales were traded and shipped.

reposted to TIL