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Open museum to be built on Aristotle school site in Greece

THE remains of the ancient school where philosopher Aristotle taught his pupils nearly 2,500 years ago are to be turned into an outdoor museum, thanks to a donation from a Greek betting company, the country's Culture Ministry announced.

Aristotle, who lived from 384 to 322 BC, studied under Plato and tutored Alexander the Great.

Later, in Athens, he taught in the grounds of the Lyceum, a public sports complex frequented by the city's young men.

A translucent roof will be built over the site to house the museum, Culture Minister Antonis Samaras said on Wednesday.

The project in central Athens is slated for completion next year at a cost of 4.5 million euros (US$5.9 million).

But it will not be funded by the government, which has promised spending cuts amid the global financial crisis.

"Saving money from the (ministry) budget is very important," Samaras said.

Funding for the venture will be provided by Greek betting company OPAP, which is partly state-owned.

Greece has promised wide-ranging spending cuts in 2009 after the budget deficit last year exceeded EU limits.

Samaras said the sponsorship money had helped revive the long-delayed venture.

The scant remains - mostly foundations and lower courses of walls from a wrestling hall - were discovered in 1996 during construction for a planned modern art museum that was later abandoned. Plans to open the site to the public have languished for about a decade.

The Lyceum was considered one of the three greatest schools of philosophy in ancient Greece, and archaeologists had sought its remains for over 150 years. It was finally found at the end of a modern street named after the ancient school.

Samaras said he hopes the new outdoor museum would eventually help expand a network of ancient sites in the capital that are easily accessed by visitors touring the city on foot.

Athens underwent a major redevelopment project ahead of the 2004 Olympics, with a cobblestone walkway built around the Acropolis Hill.

A long-awaited museum which will house ancient masterpieces from the Acropolis is to be inaugurated in June.


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