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This Week in History: November 13 to 19

November 13, 2020

November 14th:  

On this day in 2018, archeologists announced the discovery of the ancient Greek city of Tenea near Corinth, supposedly founded by captives from the Trojan War in the 12th or 13th century BC. The lead archaeologist on the Tenea project, Elena Korka, had been excavating in the area since 2013. The archaeologists on her team discovered jewelry, dozens of coins and remnants of a housing settlement.  

Also on this day in 1954, Yiannis Chryssomallis, known professionally as Yanni, the Greek New-Age musician (a characteristically non-arousing genre of popular music, often entirely instrumental and used for relaxation or meditation) was born in Kalamata. Yanni displayed musical talent at a young age. His parents encouraged him to learn at his own pace and own way – without formal music training. The self-taught musician continues to use the ‘musical shorthand’ that he developed as a child, rather than employ traditional musical notation. Yanni has received international recognition by producing concerts at historic monuments and by producing videos that have been broadcast on public television. His breakthrough concert, Live at the Acropolis, yielded the second best-selling music concert video of all time. Additional historic sites for Yanni’s concerts have included India’s Taj Mahal, China’s Forbidden City, the United Arab Emirates’ Burj Khalifa, Russia’s Kremlin, Lebanon’s ancient city of Byblos, as well as the Egyptian Pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza. 

November 15th:  

On this day in 1983, the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” was unilaterally and illegally proclaimed, comprising the northeastern portion of the island of Cyprus. Recognized only by Turkey, what Ankara calls ‘Northern Cyprus’ is considered by the rest of the world to be part of the Republic of Cyprus. A Greek-Cypriot military coup d’etat in 1974 backed by the Greek military junta and the Cypriot National Guard, performed as part of an attempt to annex the island to Greece, provided Turkey an excuse for the illegal invasion of Cyprus. This resulted in the eviction of most of the north’s Greek-Cypriot population, the flight of Turkish Cypriots from the south, and the division of the island. In 1975, the ‘Turkish Federated State of Cyprus’ was declared, supposedly as a first step towards a future federated Cypriot state – but it was rejected by the Republic of Cyprus and the United Nations.

November 17th: 

On this day in 1968, Alexandros Panagoulis was condemned to death for attempting to assassinate the Greek dictator at the time, George Papadopoulos. Panagoulis was a Greek politician and poet. He took an active role in the fight against the Regime of the Colonels (1967-74) in Greece and founded the organization National Resistance. He was the mastermind behind the August 13, 1968 assassination attempt against Papadopoulos – which failed and landed Panagoulis in jail. Panagoulis was put on trial in early November, was sentenced to death on November 17 and was subsequently transported to the island of Aegina for his sentence to be carried out. As a result of political pressure from the international community, the junta refrained from executing him and instead incarcerated him. As famous as Panagoulis is for his attempt to assassinate Papadopoulos, he is also well-known for what he endured during his detention. Because he refused to cooperate with the junta, Panagoulis was subjected to physical and psychological torture. After more than four years in jail (during which there were a few escape attempts), Panagoulis benefited from a general amnesty that the military regime granted to all political prisoners. After the restoration of democracy, he was elected to the Greek parliament – for a short time – before being killed in a car accident in Athens. Many believe this incident was no accident at all.  

Also on this date in 1973, the Athens Polytechnic Uprising took place. The uprising was a massive demonstration of popular rejection of the Greek military junta of 1967-74. It began on November 14, escalated into an open anti-junta revolt, and ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17 after a series of events – starting with a tank crashing through the gates of the Polytechnic. November 17 is observed as a holiday in Greece for all educational establishments. Commemorative services are held and students attend school only for these, while some schools and all universities stay closed on this day. The central location for the commemoration is the campus of the Polytechnic University. The campus is closed on the 15th (the day the students first occupied the campus in 1973). The commemoration day ends traditionally with a demonstration that begins from the campus of the Polytechnic and ends at the United States embassy. 

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