Fire Fighters Battle With Wildfire At Ancient Mycenae In Greece

Fire Fighters Battle With Wildfire At Ancient Mycenae In Greece


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A wildfire at Mycenae has caused a major archaeological panic in Greece. Greek fire fighters equipped with nine fire engines, two planes and a helicopter struggled to save the ancient citadel of Mycenae from the destructive flames of an out-of-control wildfire. The Bronze Age stronghold of Mycenae in ancient Greece was the center of the Mycenaean civilization from approximately 1600-1100 BC. According to a press release by Agence France-Presse , the wildfire at Mycenae started in the afternoon of August 30, near the tomb of Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae who was killed by his wife following the Trojan war .

The Extent And Danger Of The 2020 Wildfire At Mycenae

While wildfires in California are currently demanding round-the-clock attention from 16,000 firefighters, the wildfire at Mycenae is being tackled by “nine fire engines, two planes and one helicopter.” And according to local media sources, the fire required the evacuation of almost a hundred tourists and visitors to this world-famous site in south-eastern Greece.

Wildfire passes through Mycenae archaeological site (picts) https://t.co/8GjNlI8xZc

— Keep Talking Greece (@keeptalkingGR) August 30, 2020

The wind direction in Greece is currently acting as both a curse and a blessing. The destruction of the site is a possibility, but not likely. A recent news update on Aljazeera states that the local fire department maintains there is currently no danger to the Mycenae museum, which houses an exceptional collection of artifacts from this ancient Greek civilization.

It seems that mainstream Greek media is relatively calm about the situation, with ekathimerini reporting that the Ministry of Culture states first inspections indicate there has been little damage to antiquities. However, this reporting has ignited a backlash from some on Twitter, posting images of the seemingly well-scorched site.

The fire that broke out at the Mycenae archaeological side has not caused any damage to antiquities *at first inspection* the Ministry of Culture says.

Shame on you @ekathimerini https://t.co/FMGsxcfokh

— Κορονοϊός της Μήτσαινας (@gdmn1949) August 30, 2020

Hopefully the reports of minimal damage will be proven true on further inspections. The Mycenaean civilization was relatively sophisticated and many of its more substantial buildings, such as this, were built with fire-resistance in mind. But the effect of such an event 1000s of years after it was built should perhaps not be underestimated.

How A Major Ancient Fire Saved One Precious Treasure

In the second millennium BC, the Mycenaean Greeks were dominated by a hierarchical warrior elite society who maintained a complex network of palace-centered states. Together, these states enforced rigid political, social, and economic control over the common people. The top of Mycenaean society was the king or wanax. The architecture of Mycenae was determined by the demands of its society's warring-culture. Its towering, thick-stone walls were designed and built specifically for protection, including the risks of fire attacks.

The master architects and expert military and marine engineers of Mycenae traded all over the Mediterranean. Their syllabic script, known to archaeologists as “ Linear B ,” was the first written form of the Indo-European Greek language. Believe it or not, Linear B was first discovered in archives that had been preserved by the heat of a fire that destroyed a 17th-century BC palace in the late 14th or early 13th century BC.

A 2002 Greek stamp dedicated to the Linear B ancient script. (Lefteris Papaulakis / Adobe Stock )

A 2015 Ancient Origins article describes the remarkable discovery of an ancient 10-room palace at the Aghios Vassilios Hill archaeological site. Archaeologists found a massive hoard of ancient artifacts in this palace, including bronze swords, seals, and clay pots. But the biggest find of all was the scripted tablets bearing “the oldest written language found in Europe.”

Fire Was At The Center Of Ancient Mycenaean Architecture

Greek fire-fighters struggle with wildfires every year as the intense summer temperatures dry the land and forested areas creating perfect wildfire conditions. However, in ancient Mycenaean times fortified citadels were constructed to resist the threat of fire. And “controlled fires” were started to manage the overall spread of seasonal fires. Most of the excavated Mycenaean houses, all over Greece, have central fireplaces for cooking and heating. Archaeological evidence suggests they were also important for ritual activities.

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According to Barbara Tsakirgis’ 2007 archaeology paper Fire and smoke: hearths, braziers and chimneys in the Greek house, published by the British School in Athens, the ancient Greeks built hearths and located them in individual homes based on specific local environmental factors. Every home was different as was the location of its fireplace. Research suggests each Greek family created their own personal fireplace and this tradition lasted throughout the classical period and beyond. Later, immovable hearths were replaced with portable terracotta braziers.


Greek Wildfires Spark Evacuation Effort as Firefighters Battle Blazes

Wildfires raging across the Grecian coast of the Gulf of Corinth have led to evacuations in at least six villages. Overnight Wednesday, the raging fires forced hundreds from their homes and even spurred an evacuation from two monasteries.

According to reports from the area, over 180 firefighters are being supported by twenty aircraft, including planes and helicopters, as they fight to control the conflagration.

Reports indicate that there is no confirmation of any casualties from the fires. Greek authorities have suggested that the region of the Gulf of Corinth on the mainland is mainly populated by summer homes, making the destruction of property more likely in the region than the loss of life. Strong winds continue to spur the flames throughout the day Thursday, with firefighters working tirelessly to stop the spread of the blazes.

Greek Wildfires

Greece is no stranger to wildfires. The region has a hot, arid climate, with summer temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. The proliferation of dry vegetation is a necessary consequence of the region’s rocky, dry soil and harsh conditions. This makes it very easy for wildfires to spread in the spring and summer months, with the persistent winds carrying embers across the countryside.

In 2018, one of the deadliest wildfires in Greek history brushed the resort city of Mati. The blaze claimed over one hundred lives and brushed uncomfortably close to Athens: Mati is only 30 kilometers northeast of the capital.

Just last August, another wildfire threatened Mycenae, one of the most distinctive structures from ancient Greek history. While that blaze glanced off of the Mycenae, it thankfully caused no damage to the historically noteworthy structure.

Fighting the Gulf of Corinth Fire

Authorities have confirmed that the evacuations from the region north of Corinth are being ordered out of an abundance of caution. Since this is the first major wildfire of 2021, authorities are working to contain it quickly and prevent the loss of life.

Power to the region has been preemptively cut off. That way, downed power lines or blown transformers don’t spur on further flames. The lack of power shouldn’t affect any residents of the region, as they’ve all been ordered to evacuate.

As Greece prepares for what they hope is a very successful tourism season in 2021, the presence of wildfires presents just one more barrier to getting tourists into the country. While 2020 was a rough year, Greece is hoping that 2021 gives them at least a momentary break from natural disasters.


Ancient Mycenae: Wildfire blackens gate of ancient fortified city (image & video)

Monuments at the archaeological site of Mycenae have not been damaged by a wildfire that swept through the area, despite blackening the entrance to the ancient citadel, Greece's culture minister said Monday.

Four water-dropping planes and two helicopters helped dozens of firefighters contain the blaze Sunday after it reached one of Greece’s most important archaeological sites, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Athens.

The Bronze Age fortified city flourished centuries before the major Acropolis monuments were built in Athens and was a major center of Mediterranean civilization.

Smoke from the flames blackened the 3,250-year-old stone-built Lion Gate, the entrance to the ancient city.

“The damage caused by yesterday’s fire was the least possible,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said during a visit to the site Monday, adding that none of the site's main monuments or the Mycenae museum had suffered any damage.

“The Fire Service acted swiftly . and prevention measures worked: Dry vegetation had all been cleared away," Mendoni said. "That’s what saved the monuments.”

A spokesman for Greece's main political opposition, the left-wing Syriza party, questioned the speed of the response by the Fire Service, noting that the fire had entered the site.

The party said it was carrying out a separate inspection Monday, and called on the minister to issue a public apology for downplaying the damage.

Mycenae has been closed to visitors but the Culture Ministry said it will be reopened Tuesday.


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Greece: Wildfire stopped at gate of ancient fortress city

Greece’s culture minister says the archaeological site of Mycenae has not been damaged by a wildfire that swept through the area, despite blackening the entrance to the ancient citadel.

Four water-dropping planes and two helicopters helped dozens of firefighters contain the blaze Sunday at the edge of one of Greece’s most important archaeological sites, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Athens.

The Bronze Age fortress city flourished centuries before the major Acropolis monuments were built in Athens and was a major center of Mediterranean civilization.

Flames blackened the 3,250-year-old stone-built Lion Gate, the entrance to the ancient city.

“The damage caused by yesterday’s fire was the least possible,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said during a visit to the site Monday.

“The Fire Service acted swiftly . and prevention measures worked: dry vegetation had all been cleared away. That’s what saved the monuments.”

Mycenae has been closed to visitors but Mendoni said it will be reopened soon.

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Fire rages near Greek archaeological site of Mycenae

A firefighter works to put out a wildfire near the archaeological site of Mycenae in the northeastern Peloponnese, on August 30, 2020. - A wildfire broke out near the ruins of the Bronze Age stronghold of Mycenae in Greece on August 30, prompting the evacuation of visitors to the archeological site. Eurokinissi / AFP

The flames licked the ruins but the fire department insisted there was no danger to the site's museum.

The fire went through "a section of the archaeological site and burnt some dry grass without menacing the museum", the commander of the southern Peloponnese region's fire brigade, Thanassis Koliviras told Athens News Agency.

Firefighting efforts were being supported by four planes and two helicopters.

The Ministry of Culture issued a statement on Sunday saying that according to a first inspection, "the fire hasn't caused damage to the antiquities" adding that "a team of experts will assess the consequences" later.

Greece annually grapples with wildfires during the dry summer season, with strong winds and temperatures frequently exceeding 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

Thirteen years ago, fire threatened the temples and stadiums of ancient Olympia, birthplace of the modern Olympic Games.

Firefighters were able to save the site on the Peloponnese and no serious damage occurred.


Smoke from wildfire blackens prehistoric Greek city walls

A plane drops water during a wildfire in the ancient site of Mycenae, Greece, some 140 kilometers (90 miles) south of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. The fire that broke out at the Mycenae, one of the most popular archaeological sites in Greece, has not caused any damage to antiquities at first inspection, according the Culture Ministry. (Vangelis Bougiotis/InTime News via AP)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Monuments at the archaeological site of Mycenae have not been damaged by a wildfire that swept through the area, despite blackening from smoke on the iconic entrance to the ancient citadel, Greece’s culture minister said Monday.

Four water-dropping planes and two helicopters helped dozens of firefighters contain the blaze Sunday after it reached the fringes of one of Greece’s most important archaeological sites, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Athens.

The Bronze Age fortified city, whose rulers were key figures in ancient Greek legend, including the Trojan War, flourished centuries before the major Acropolis temples were built in Athens and was a major center of Mediterranean civilization.

Smoke from the flames blackened the 3,250-year-old Lion Gate, named after the monumental relief sculpture of two heraldic lions flanking a pillar that crowns the entrance to the ancient citadel.

“The damage caused by yesterday’s fire was the least possible,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said during a visit to the site Monday, adding that none of the site’s monuments or the Mycenae museum had suffered any damage. Photos released by the ministry Monday showed no traces of burning inside the site.

“Smoke blackened some walls,” Mendoni added. “The problem is (only) aesthetic.”

“The Fire Service acted swiftly … and prevention measures worked: Dry vegetation had all been cleared away,” Mendoni said. “That’s what saved the monuments,.”

A spokesman for Greece’s main political opposition, the left-wing Syriza party, questioned the speed of the response by the Fire Service, noting that the fire had entered the site.

The party said it was carrying out a separate inspection Monday, and called on the minister to issue a public apology for downplaying the damage.

Mycenae has been closed to visitors but the Culture Ministry said it will be reopened Tuesday.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Greece: Wildfire stopped at gate of ancient fortress city

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Monuments at Greece's archaeological site of Mycenae have not been damaged by a wildfire that swept through the area, despite the blackening from smoke on the iconic entrance to the ancient citadel, Greece's culture minister said Monday.

Four water-dropping planes and two helicopters helped dozens of firefighters contain the blaze Sunday after it reached the fringes of one of Greece’s most important archaeological sites, 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Athens.

The Bronze Age fortified city, whose rulers were key figures in ancient Greek legend, including the Trojan War, flourished centuries before the major Acropolis temples were built in Athens and was a major center of Mediterranean civilization.

Smoke from the flames blackened the 3,250-year-old Lion Gate, named after the monumental relief sculpture of two heraldic lions flanking a pillar that crowns the entrance to the ancient citadel.

“The damage caused by yesterday’s fire was the least possible,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said during a visit to the site Monday, adding that none of the site's monuments or the Mycenae museum had suffered any damage.

Photos released by the ministry Monday showed no traces of burning inside the site.

“Smoke blackened some walls,” Mendoni added. “The problem is (only) aesthetic.”

“The Fire Service acted swiftly . and prevention measures worked: Dry vegetation had all been cleared away," Mendoni said. “That’s what saved the monuments,.”

A spokesman for Greece's main political opposition, the left-wing Syriza party, questioned the speed of the response by the Fire Service, noting that the fire had entered the site. The party said it was carrying out a separate inspection Monday and called on the minister to apologize for downplaying the damage.

Mycenae has been closed to visitors but the Culture Ministry said it will reopen Tuesday.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


3. Texas City, Texas 1947

Who would think that a small fire in the hold of a docked freighter would cause such a problem? No one, unless, of course, the freighter was carrying 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer (this is the same stuff that was used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1994)—the result being the largest industrial explosion in U.S. history. So massive was the blast that resulted from the fertilizer explosion that it leveled over 1,000 buildings and left nearly 600 people dead or missing (including the entire Texas City volunteer fire department, which was on the freighter when it exploded.) It also started a chain reaction among the various refineries and chemical plants along the dockyard that added to the carnage and left the entire dockyard and much of the surrounding city gutted. How big was the explosion? Let me put it this way: people felt the shock wave some 250 miles away in New Orleans while windows forty miles away in Houston were shattered. It even knocked a sightseeing airplane out of the sky and hurled one of the ship’s anchors—about the only part of the freighter still identifiable afterwards—about a mile through the air. Definitely a bad day to be a dockworker—or a volunteer firefighter.


Greek wildfire spares key archaeological site

One of Greece's most important archaeological sites escaped serious damage after firefighters tamed a wildfire that lashed the surrounding countryside, officials said on Monday.

The fire erupted at noon on Sunday near the ruins of Mycenae, one of the centres of ancient Greek civilisation, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) south-west of Athens, prompting the evacuation of visitors and staff. 

"The damage caused to the archaeological site was the least possible, as the fire service acted swiftly and dry vegetation from the area had been cleared away," Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said after inspecting the area.

The flames licked the Bronze Age ruins near the tomb of Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae and leader of the Greek city-state forces during the Trojan War.

The second millennium BC fortress city was one of the major centres of ancient Greek civilisation.

Photos on Monday showed the 3,250-year-old stone Lion Gate, the entrance into the ancient city, blackened by smoke. 

The site remained closed to visitors on Monday, but the archaeological museum has reopened. 

Mendoni said the site would also reopen soon, adding that the "visitors will see only a little burnt grass on the ground".

Greece grapples with wildfires every summer, with strong winds and temperatures frequently exceeding 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

Thirteen years ago, a fire threatened the temples and stadiums of ancient Olympia, birthplace of the modern Olympic Games. 

Firefighters were able to save the site, but dozens of people in the broader area died.


Watch the video: Firefighters, Volunteers Battle Greece Wildfires