A trip to Ancient Messίni : Guest Post by Jeremy Hinchliff, author of ‘Dead Olives’

It’s a pleasure to welcome to the blog author Jeremy Hinchliff. with a guest post.  Dead Olives was published by Watchword, a digital-first imprint of Impress Books on 31 July 2016 and is described as ‘an exotic, sun-drenched thriller set in Greece during the economic crisis’.

 

A trip to Ancient Messίni

 

Be warned if you are looking for the archaeological site of Ancient Messίni. You may be told it is near the village of Mavromáti. But there are two Mavromátis. One is close to modern Messίni the other to its ancient parent. This has fooled some map makers into moving the historic site 20 kilometres in the wrong direction. No problem if you have a car but if you bike it those extra kilometres can make a difference.

Fire damage close to the archaeological site

On the steep ascent (pushing my bike, I confess) one crest looked ominously black. There was a church on the top. The area around it looked burnt.

At the site I blundered in the rear entrance by mistake, coming first to the temple of Asklepios, the ancient god of medicine.  You get great views from there between the hills over the plain.

View from the temple of Asklepios

 

I wondered if the building actually included surgeries in ancient times, or pharmacies. Stoas, booths and cult rooms, it said on the sign. I would have been in the queue for sun cream and saddle sore ointment.

Ancient Messini does not have as many eye-catchers as the more famous sites; its importance is its size and longevity, inhabited continuously through classical Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Frankish times.  It is a great addition for the visitor to the Peloponnese.

jeremy_mosiac

Mosaic floor tiles

Archaeological work is still going on there so more will come to light for a long time to come.

Label on the treasury: “In which a general of the Achaian League, Philopoemen of Megalipolis was imprisoned in 103/2 B.C. and poisoned by the Messinian general Deinokrates…”

jeremy_restored-theatre

Restored theatre

Visually the most impressive thing is the ancient theatre. It was large by the standards of the day. Worth trying to catch one of the modern productions staged there to illuminate your tour.

 

For a video from a recent performance click here

 

 

 

 

Tips:

  • Possibly worth visiting the museum before you slog round the site in the blazing sun. It brings the remains to life. Featured here and here.  Otherwise it can seem like a lot of temple columns to go round with not much to illuminate them.
  • There are tavernas and cafes around the site.
    There is a toilet at the site and a tap; vital to fill water bottles.
    Not that many buses. Some guide books are out of date on this.
    Distances: about 25 km north west of Kalamata; 20 km north of modern Messίni. The site is close to Meligálas which is well signposted.

I am eternally grateful for the one or two church taps I passed going home. When I dripped off my bicycle into the taverna at the end of the day Yannis the head waiter told me the fire happened only the previous day. Hence the black mountain. Fortunately I spent that day cycling to the wrong Mavromáti.

 

dead-olives

 

With Greece caught in the jaws of economic crisis, the lives of its people are spiralling into disarray. Sunday and Samwells Ngone are migrants struggling to survive in a country rife with poverty and patrolled by right-wing militias. Filoxénia is trying to carve out an independent life for herself in the city, while her beautiful sister Anássa is keeping dangerous company. Their lives are brought together by events at the FlyKing Hotel. A theft. A shooting. And the flight of a group of migrants who all share one name. The intertwined lives of Greeks as disparate as policemen, academics and anarchists will be exposed. As economic and racial tensions flare, old friendships are tested and loyalties broken. Ripples from the FlyKing are felt throughout the already turbulent city of Athens and the small village of Páno Pétro.

 

About the author:

Jeremy Hinchliff worked as a librarian for twenty years before moving to Greece to write about the debt crisis. Dead Olives is his first novel. He studied Classics at Oxford and Information Management at Thames Valley University. He lives in Somerset and Messinίa.

You can follow Jeremy on Twitter – @HinchJeremy and Watchword E books here 

 

At the time of writing this post, Dead Olives is available to download from Amazon UK for 99p

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