Buried Cities, Volume 2: Olympia

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, David Widger and PG Distributed




The publishers are grateful to the estate of Miss Jennie Hall and to her many friends for assistance in planning the publication of this book. Especial thanks are due to Miss Nell C. Curtis of the Lincoln School, New York City, for helping to finish Miss Hall’s work of choosing the pictures, and to Miss Irene I. Cleaves of the Francis Parker School, Chicago, who wrote the captions. It was Miss Katharine Taylor, now of the Shady Hill School, Cambridge, who brought these stories to our attention.


Do you like to dig for hidden treasure? Have you ever found Indian arrowheads or Indian pottery? I knew a boy who was digging a cave in a sandy place, and he found an Indian grave. With his own hands he uncovered the bones and skull of some brave warrior. That brown skull was more precious to him than a mint of money. Another boy I knew was making a cave of his own. Suddenly he dug into an older one made years before. He crawled into it with a leaping heart and began to explore. He found an old carpet and a bit of burned candle. They proved that some one had lived there. What kind of a man had he been and what kind of life had he lived—black or white or red, robber or beggar or adventurer? Some of us were walking in the woods one day when we saw a bone sticking out of the ground. Luckily we had a spade, and we set to work digging. Not one moment was the tool idle. First one bone and then another came to light and among them a perfect horse’s skull. We felt as though we had rescued Captain Kidd’s treasure, and we went home draped in bones.

Suppose that instead of finding the bones of a horse we had uncovered a gold-wrapped king. Suppose that instead of a deserted cave that boy had dug into a whole buried city with theaters and mills and shops and beautiful houses. Suppose that instead of picking up an Indian arrowhead you could find old golden vases and crowns and bronze swords lying in the earth. If you could be a digger and a finder and could choose your find, would you choose a marble statue or a buried bakeshop with bread two thousand years old still in the oven or a king’s grave filled with golden gifts? It is of such digging and such finding that this book tells.


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The July sun was blazing over the country of Greece. Dust from the dry plain hung in the air. But what cared the happy travelers for dust or heat? They were on their way to Olympia to see the games. Every road teemed with a chattering crowd of men and boys afoot and on horses. They wound down from the high mountains to the north. They came along the valley from the east and out from among the hills to the south. Up from the sea led the sacred road, the busiest of all. A little caravan of men and horses was trying to hurry ahead through the throng. The master rode in front looking anxiously before him as though he did not see the crowd. After him rode a lad. His eyes were flashing eagerly here and there over the strange throng. A man walked beside the horse and watched the boy smilingly. Behind them came a string of pack horses with slaves to guard the loads of wine and food and tents and blankets for their master’s camp.

“What a strange-looking man, Glaucon!” said the boy. “He has a dark skin.”

The boy’s own skin was fair, and under his hat his hair was golden. As he spoke he pointed to a man on the road who was also riding at the head of a little caravan. His skin was dark. Shining black hair covered his ears. His garment was gay with colored stripes.

“He is a merchant from Egypt,” answered the man. “He will have curious things to sell—vases of glass, beads of amber, carved ivory, and scrolls gay with painted figures. You must see them, Charmides.”

But already the boy had forgotten the Egyptian.

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