MARATHON, Greece – Sweating beneath heavy armour, a group of die-hard archaeology fans brought the Battle of Marathon to life this weekend on the coastal plain where the fate of Europe dramatically changed 2,500 years ago.
Gathering from Europe, North America and Australia, the re-enacters staged a three-day event of combat, archaic culture revival and commemoration at Marathon Bay never before seen in Greece despite its rich archaeological heritage.
For many of the participants, it was also a personal pilgrimage after long years of arduous preparation and unfulfilled hope.
“It’s a dream come true after 10 years,” said Hywel Jones, a printer from Wales who came to Marathon with his wife Stephanie to fight as a Greek hoplite, the heavily armed infantry soldier of ancient Greece.
Most of the re-enacters had spent thousands of euros (dollars) on travel expenses just to get to this small town 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of Athens that is better known for the long-distance race held here every year.
They brought with them family members as well as hand-made armour and kit crafted over the years at great personal cost.
“I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to say that standing around is $1 million in kit and travel fare,” said Christian Cameron, a Canadian novelist and former US navy career officer who headed preparations for the event.