Pythagoras is a name recognised by all generations as the ancient Greek mathematician’s theorem – stating that the area of the side opposite a right angle is equal to the sum of the areas from the other two – is still used in schools today. While filming Channel 5’s new series ‘A Greek Odyssey’ presenter Bettany Hughes headed to the island of Samos, where Pythagoras was born, to uncover how the famous teacher left his mark on the stunning archipelago. Ms Hughes visited the Tunnel of Eupalinos, only one of two known aqueducts in the world to have been excavated from both sides, revealing how the mathematical engineering of Pythagoras had a lasting effect on this island and provided a vital water supply more than 2,500 years ago through a series of clever calculations.
During the series, she said: “It’s said that Pythagoras resided here in the sixth century BC, when Greek civilisation flourished, leaving a fleet of ingenuity we can still see today.
“An underground aqueduct built to supply the city-state of Samos with fresh water all year round, so the city could survive a siege, a fate suffered by Troy during the Trojan War.
“Work began in the mid-sixth century BC with two teams digging simultaneously from either side carving a kilometre-long tunnel through the solid rock.
“Putting their geometric theories to the test, pretty impressively they managed to meet in the middle.”
Torch in hand, Ms Hughes made her way through the tunnel, learning how the aqueduct was constructed by hand.
Speaking to Express.co.uk exclusively, she confessed: “I don’t like small, dark spaces, so why I decided to become a historian and archaeologist I don’t know, but I really had to fight my fear to go down into those.
“Luckily my cameraman was down there saying ‘it’s okay’ and talked me into it.
“Once I was in I was fine. Going into the dark was the scary bit, but what an incredible experience.
“That tunnel was carved out by workers and you can still see those carvings in the rock, they only used simple tools.
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“People would come to him for advice and so the fact that he was operating on the island allowed them to be very mathematically advanced and put into practise these ideas.
“They were able to test out his ideas.”
The first episode will be shown on Channel 5 on Friday, June 12, at 9pm and takes viewers on a journey through the stunning Greek Islands from the coast of Turkey – where the mythical Trojan War took place – to the island of Ithaca in the West of Greece.
Ms Hughes also revealed to Express.co.uk what viewers can expect to see in the future.
She added: “In the rest of the series, I get caught up in a storm where the waves are nine metres high.
“We also go deep into new archaeological excavations in mainland Greece of a warriors grave and gold is uncovered while we are there.
“So there are lots more archaeological discoveries and lots of everybody’s favourite myths being explored.”