Jordan underwater survey finds parts of ancient port

The discovered ruins are believed to be part of the centuries-old Red Sea port of Ayla, near the modern city of Aqaba. (Flash90)
Updated 28 February 2018
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Jordan underwater survey finds parts of ancient port

AMMAN: Officials say Jordan’s first underwater archaeological survey has detected the outlines of a stone barrier, believed to be part of the centuries-old Red Sea port of Ayla, near the modern city of Aqaba.
Ehab Eid, head of the Royal Marine Conservation Society of Jordan (JREDS), said on Tuesday that the survey spotted an underwater barrier with an L-shape that is about 50 meters long and eight meters wide. He said experts expect to find other port facilities in the future.
The port of Ayla was active from the 7th to the 12th century, part of a trade route linking the Levant with other parts of the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Initial excavations in search of Ayla’s ruins were conducted along the beach of Aqaba from 1986-1997.
According to a report published in The Jordan Times, the unearthed port dates back to the Umayyad period toward the end of the Fatimid period (650-1116 AD), according to the findings of the survey.
JREDS, which implemented the survey project in partnership with different stakeholders, announced the results during a conference in Aqaba.
It implemented the survey in partnership with the USAID-funded project “Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Engagement of Local Communities,” and in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities.
The Jordan Times quoted JREDS President Princess Basma bint Ali as saying the society seeks to protect the marine environment while also ensuring sustainable development.
“Understanding our cultural and historical values is a tool to increase our commitment toward Jordan and the conservation of its heritage and values.”


Ancient musical instruments get an airing in Athens

Updated 21 June 2018
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Ancient musical instruments get an airing in Athens

  • The phorminx, the kitharis, the krotala and the aulos — string and wind instruments reconstructed by musical group Lyravlos — echoed among marble statues in Athens’s National Archaeological Museum.
  • Music was an integral part of almost every aspect of ancient Greek society, from religious, to social to athletic events.

ATHENS: Hymns sung to the Greek gods thousands of years ago resonated from ancient musical instruments in Athens on Thursday, transporting a transfixed audience to antiquity.
The phorminx, the kitharis, the krotala and the aulos — string and wind instruments reconstructed by musical group Lyravlos — echoed among marble statues in Athens’s National Archaeological Museum as part of World Music Day celebrations.
A family of musicians, Lyravlos have recreated exact replicas of the ancient instruments from natural materials including animal shells, bones, hides and horns.
Music was an integral part of almost every aspect of ancient Greek society, from religious, to social to athletic events. Today only some 60 written scores of ancient Greek music have survived, said Lyravlos member Michael Stefos.
Stefos said they interpret them as best they can, relying on the accuracy of their recreated instruments.
“Joking aside, ancient CDs have never been found,” he said.
Their performance included a hymn to the god Apollo, pieces played at the musical festival of the ancient Pythian Games in Delphi and during wine-laden rituals to the god Dionysus.
Michael’s father Panayiotis Stefos, who heads the group, travels to museums at home and abroad studying ancient Greek antiquities and texts in order to recreate the instruments.
“Usually each instrument has a different sound. It is not something you can make on a computer, it will not be a carbon copy,” said Stefos.
The difference with modern day instruments?
“If someone holds it in their arms and starts playing, after a few minutes they don’t want to let it go, because it vibrates and pulsates with your body,” he said.
French tourist Helene Piaget, who watched the performance, said it was “inspiring.”
“One sees them on statues, on reliefs, and you can’t imagine what they might sound like,” she said.
World Music Day is an annual celebration that takes place on the summer solstice.