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Greece uncovers 'holy grail' of Greek archeology

Nation euphoric over discovery of the Lyceum

January 16, 1997
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EST (0430 GMT)

ATHENS (CNN) -- Excavators in Greece say they've stumbled across the Lyceum, the school where Aristotle taught his pupils science and philosophy 2,500 years ago.

In essence, it's the birthplace of Western modern science and philosophy. It was here that Aristotle exhalted the virtues of a sound mind and body to his pupils.

"We are very, very happy. This is a very, very important discovery. We have now, here, in Athens, the main proof about the historical continuity of the Hellenic cultural heritage," said Greek Cultural Minister Venizelos Evangelos.

Considered the holy grail of Greek archeology, the Lyceum was discovered by crews preparing for the construction of a new Museum of Modern Art.

"Aristotle stands at the foundation of modern European science and a great deal of European philosophical thought, and so it's extremely exciting just to know where Aristotle would have been walking, when he was teaching, what kind of rooms he would have been teaching in," said Dr. Jeremy Tanner, of the London Institute of Archeology.

For 170 years, since Greeks gained independence from the Turks, they have scoured the landscape to find the birthplace of Western civilization.

In addition to prompting national euphoria, the find enables archaeologists and historians to understand the entire layout of ancient Athens.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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