November 16, 2001
1:18 PM   Subscribe

Cool. I found out from thewebtoday that Xerxes reputedly built a canal in Greece and now there may be some evidence of it (much more inside).
posted by Sean Meade (5 comments total)
That sent me off to Google. There I found some pictures (the latter with the appropriate selection from Herodotus (so here's another map relative to Herodotus' history) and a tourist map (the canal was apparently dug near Nea Roda (thinnest part of the more eastern peninsula)). If you haven't got the idea yet, or need to brush up on your history, here's a summary of The Persian Wars. Finally, just to be complete, and give Google its due, here's another history with a less-detailed map.
posted by Sean Meade at 1:19 PM on November 16, 2001

Who needs college when you've got Google?

Eventually the Google engine will collect enough human errata to develop an intelligence of its own.

Then it will destroy us.
posted by spslsausse at 1:51 PM on November 16, 2001

Pretty cool when you think about the technology of the day, especially given that its economic value had to be practically nil, and its military value was a one-shot deal. But it doesn't look like this was a huge secret, either, so why the hoohah about its discovery?

As comparison, the nearby Corinth Canal -- which allowed ships to bypass the entire Pelopponesian peninsula -- wasn't built until 1886, even though it's only three times as long (though somewhat deeper and partly through sheer rock).
posted by dhartung at 5:37 PM on November 16, 2001

Of course, not all their architectural ideas worked out so well. About 50 years later, Pericles fortified Athens and built a huge wall to secure the route down to the Piraeus (ie: the nearby port). Worked a bit too well. Kept the bad guys out, but kept the rats (brought in by ship) inside the city walls. The rats carried plague which killed Pericles and a hefty chunk of the population.
posted by RavinDave at 1:26 AM on November 17, 2001

"But it doesn't look like this was a huge secret, either, so why the hoohah about its discovery?"

One reason might be that Herodotus isn't famous for a reluctance to make stuff up. Read the Histories, and you'll find some pretty amazing stuff. Then there's the point about the fact that they were doing this with pretty minimal technology.

A few years ago I saw some aerial photos of the area where the canal was thought to have been, and it sure looked like something had been there.
posted by nickmark at 8:41 AM on November 19, 2001

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