Monday 3 June 2024

Archaeologists uncover mosaic of the Muse Calliope in the ancient city of Side.

Archaeologists working in the ancient city of Side in the Turkish province of Antalya have uncovered a mosaic of the Muse Calliope, according to the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The work was being carried out as part of a heritage project funded by the ministry, intended to restore the Monumental Fountains area of the city, which began in 2023.

A mosaic depicting the Muse Calliope uncovered during archaeological work at the city of Side in Antalya Province, Turkey. Hürriet Daily News.

The city of Side is thought to have been founded by Greek settlers in the seventh century BC, though it developed its own distinctive culture and language (which is yet to be deciphered). The city was taken over peacefully by Alexander the Great in 333 BC, and after his death remained in the control of the Ptolemaic Dynasty in Egytpt, until the beginning of the second century BC, when it was briefly taken over by the Second Seleucid Empire (itself a Hellenistic power founded by another of Alexander's Macedonian generals, Seleucus I Nicator). The city was liberated in 190 BC, when a joint fleet from the Greek city of Rhodes and the Roman Republic defeated a joint Carthaginian/Seleucid fleet led by the Carthaginian General Hannibal, effectively ending Seleucid influence in western Anatolia. The city remained independent until the first century, but was considered a haven for pirates by the Roman Republic, and was eventually brought under Roman control.

Calliope, the Muse of Epic Poetry, was a daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory), and was considered to be the chief of the Muses. She was married to Oeagrus, a legendary king of Thrace, and was the mother of Orpheous and Linus. She is reputed to have turned the daughters of King Pierus of Thessaly into Magpies after defeating then in a singing competition.

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