Greek archaeologists uncover ancient austerity

Ancient Greeks were forced to tighten their tunics thousands of years before their descendants faced a similar fate under debt cutting austerity measures, a senior archaeologist said on Tuesday.

Graves excavated in recent months in the northern Greek region of Macedonia show the population scaled back on funeral offerings some 2,300 years ago, probably under royal decree, archaeologist Manthos Besios told Ta Nea daily.

The graves in Pydna, a prominent city in the ancient Macedonian kingdom elevated to fame by Alexander the Great, contained gold jewels, elaborate vases and ivory-plated beds in the fourth century BCE, Besios said.

But a century later, under King Cassander of Macedon, these offerings were phased out in favour of cheaper materials such as clay.

"At the close of the fourth century, a decree issued by Cassander's commander in Macedon-occupied Athens forbade the building of elaborate funeral monuments and limited spending on ceremonies," Besios, the deputy supervisor at the Pydna excavations, told the daily.

"It was like the period we are going through today -- one that will possibly be found by an archaeologist of the future," he jibed.

Greece on Tuesday asked the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to unblock the first tranche of an 110-billion-euro (140-billion-dollar) loan agreed only in exchange for harsh austerity measures.

"If one wanted to make light of the situation, one could replace the IMF with King Cassander in today's terms," Besios said.

Originally Posted @ Archaeology News

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