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The Mines and Miners of Ancient Athens

  • R. J. Hopper

Extract

A Traveller from Athens who takes the inland route to Cape Sounion will pass from the plain of Athens, between Hymettos and Pentelikon, to enter the pleasant and fertile region of the Mesogia. Through the vineyards and olive groves, and through the attractive and populous villages of Paiania, Koropi, Markopoulo, and Keratea, the road bears on south-eastwards to encounter and cross a hill barrier close to the eastern coast of Attica. Descending by this road as it winds through the Plaka Pass to Thorikos and the sea the traveller is struck by the changing aspect of the country. Already in the Plaka Pass there is a hint of an abandoned industrial area such as is encountered in Derbyshire. The impression produced by these first indications of industry is strengthened after the descent to the level of the sea-coast. The charm of Attica's shore, so apparent elsewhere, is here destroyed by an ugly village with great dark mounds like those of a Yorkshire colliery or Scottish shale mine. There are also industrial buildings, for the most part derelict, looking not unlike enlarged Nonconformist chapels in the nineteenth-century tradition. Up the hill-side stretches a curious brick tunnel, with smoke stacks at intervals, intended to remove the noisome vapours generated in the processes here carried out. This is the village of Lavrion. Its other modern name of Ergasteri underlines its character. It is a profoundly depressing place, and one passes through it with relief to regain the road to Sounion.

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page 138 note 1 Greece & Rome, Second Series, viii (1961), 1921.

page 149 note 1 Hesperia, xix (1950), 263, No. 20.

The Mines and Miners of Ancient Athens

  • R. J. Hopper

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