Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Friday, September 12, 2014
“Amphipolimania” strikes Greece and the future paths of archaeology and heritage management in Greece
|Map of northern Greece|
|View of Argilos|
|General view of the tumulus at Kasta; source: http://www.theamphipolistomb.com/hill|
|What had been found as of September 9th: source Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport|
With tourists flocking to see the covered-up entrance to the tomb, locals selling souvenirs and refreshments and news crews camped out, the area around the tumulus has become a circus. Since yesterday visitors are not allowed in the immediate vicinity of the tumulus and police forces are guarding the excavation on a 24-hour basis. Last night the TV coverage showed the curious visiting the area of the site at night. Even the Prime Minister visited the excavation in August before the digging had gone beyond the sphinges. In all of this media coverage and public interest the emphasis unfortunately has been on more and more “exciting new discoveries”, and little or nothing on the praxis of archaeological fieldwork, the in situ conservation needs and the overall goals of archaeological research. Further, this archaeological feeding frenzy is a distraction from the many unresolved issues related to the country’s long-awaited economic recovery. The tomb is being used by some politicians as a new component in the traditional construction of the nation’s identity by reference to aspects of its past, especially in relationship to ancient Macedonia. This has set off a debate in the media and more so in the social media about appropriateness of such use of antiquities in the national discourse. The Union of Greek Archaeologists has reacted sharply to the government’s handling of the media coverage and its direct intervention into the archaeological process.
Regrettably this overemphasis on the excavation of one ancient monument, unique and spectacular as it is (and which may well have been looted more than once), obscures the general state of archaeology in Greece today. On August 29th a new law was proclaimed by presidential decree which radically re-organizes and downsizes the Ministry and the Hellenic Archaeological Service as of October 1st. It is ironic that the outpouring of public support for this excavation by senior members of the government and others did not protect Ms. Peristeri from the incorporation of her Ephorate into the Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities based in Kavala.
There is pressure to privatize the major archaeological museums and sites. This year, the longer site and museum hours, seven days a week, in effect from April 1st until the end of October only, was applied only to the 33 “most popular” ones. A two-tiered system has thus been created by this policy. A recently-commissioned study by McKinsey and Company (an international management consulting firm) on the cost of entrance to major Greek archaeological sites and museums compared to those in other European countries showed that the average ticket price here is much lower than elsewhere. The suggestion was made to raise the ticket prices significantly to make more money for the government. Is culture simply a “luxury commodity” for sale? The new unified annual property tax law (EN.F.I.A) that takes effect on September 15th has serious ramifications for the properties that are presently included in the “A Zones” which encompass known, registered archaeological sites, as these were previously untaxed since the owners could not use them or build on them.
The times are a-changing in the administration of archaeological heritage in Greece. It will be some time before we know the long-term effects of these changes and the re-organization. Given the importance placed on the promotion of cultural heritage by many sectors of the society here, the ramifications from these changes could be very significant. What appears lacking in all of this is a thorough public examination and debate of where archaeology in Greece should go in the medium- and long-term future and why? At this point there is no clear long-term strategy behind these changes except the reduction of the cost of the Hellenic Archaeological Service.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Friday, September 5, 2014
Kastro Kallithea Archaeological Project. In 2010 Lana was at CIG for three months as the Graduate Intern from Brock University. Lana did her undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta and her MA at Brock University.
This coming year Lana will be continuing her research on her dissertation topic relating to the relationship between harbors and urban planning in the Greek world during the 4th century B.C.E. She is a Ph.D. candidate at in the Department of Classics at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The venerable Prof. Steve Dyson is her adviser.
CIG Portal to the Past. In addition, she will work on cataloguing the research materials of the late Prof. Frederick E. Winter in our Archive.
We can look forward in the early winter to an Institute Lecture on her dissertation research. As she is also an underwater archaeologist and GIS specialist the Friends’ of CIG will be treated this fall to a lecture on the Burgaz Harbor Project which Lana works on in Turkey, run by my colleague at Brock University, Prof. Liz Greene, and a Turkish co-researcher.
In the meantime, at CIG events and at lectures elsewhere in Athens welcome warmly Lana back to the fold!
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014
As of today the Institute is open again for business with its normal hours of Monday through Friday from 09:00 to 13:00. Extended library hours will begin in October. We look forward to seeing you at CIG, using our Library and other resources. We add to the holdings on a regular basis throughout the year.
|Prof. Carter introduced to the audience|
With summer winding down, last week was an opportune time to visit the SNAP team on Naxos. My arrival was timed by chance to enable us to attend a public lecture in Chora given by Prof. Tristan (Stringy) Carter (McMaster University) last Monday night. Besides the Stelida-Naxos Archaeological Project’s crew and my wife and daughter, the local representative of the KA’ Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, Ms. Eirine Legaki, was in attendance. There were over forty locals and foreigners in the audience. They were treated to an excellent overview of the project and its research aims, its methods of research, the results from the 2013 and 2014 field seasons and the possible implications for our understanding of the exploitation of the natural and physical resources of the island and the Aegean basin from most likely 250,000 BP to 9000 BC. The artifacts collected this year suggest strongly that the area around Stelida was utilized for chert quarrying (as the high has two major outcroppings of very high quality chert), artifact production and other activities in the Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic periods and on a larger scale in the earlier Mesolithic period. Besides Homo sapiens sapiens, the chert knappers would have been Homo neanderthalensis or Homo heidelbergensis and probably some form of Homo erectus. Recent studies of ancient sea levels in the Aegean basin over the past 300,000+ years indicate that that this area was often dry land with some scattered large lakes. Such a landscape would make the basin a corridor between Anatolia and the Balkan Peninsula and not a watery barrier. The mountain peak at Stelida and the much more imposing one of Zas on Naxos would have been in the center of this natural passageway. Important finds, bold interpretation, eh!
|Homo erectus at Stelida?|
|View of the western side of Stelida toward a rock shelter|
|Chert artifacts and debitage on the surface|
|Tristan Carter in front of the rock shelter|