Friday, November 17, 2017

Battling for the Archaeological Heritage of Macedonia in WW I

War produces all manner of collateral damage in its wake. One area often overlooked when considering the consequences of armed conflict is the fate of cultural heritage in a war zone. The interventions of the German and Italian occupation forces during WW II in archaeological sites, museums and private collections in Greece are reasonably well-known. What is less well-recognized is what happened to the antiquities in the war theater in northern Greece during the First World War.

On Monday, November 20th Dr. Eleftheria Akrivopoulou (archaeologist/museologist at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki will delve into this murky topic in her lecture entitled «Άσπονδες συμμαχίες: οι Μακεδονικές αρχαιότητες κατά τον Α' Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο».

Dr. Akrivopoulou will point out that the arrival of large numbers of the multinational troops of the Entente in Thessaloniki during the First World War resulted in a significant boost to the economic, commercial and artistic life of the city. A number of infrastructure projects changed its aspect as well.

Archaeological research should be included within this framework according to Akrivopoulou, as among the British and the French troops stationed in Macedonia there were some emblematic figures of European archaeology, who conducted site mappings, excavations and publications.

The Allies and the Greeks fought among themselves for these antiquities, and this was a struggle for supremacy on Greek soil. This culminated at the end of the war, when a large number of antiquities was transported to the Louvre and to the British Museum, where they have been housed ever since.

A series of unpublished documents from the Historical Archive of the Archaeological Service as well as from the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki shed light on hitherto unknown facts concerning Greek archaeology and its goals during this very chaotic period. They also help to link together the Greek national narrative with contemporary European archaeology.

The lecture is sponsored by the ΣΥΛΛΟΓΟΣ ΦΙΛΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΙΣΤΟΡΙΚΟΥ ΑΡΧΕΙΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΑΡΧΑΙΟΛΟΓΙΚΗΣ ΥΠΗΡΕΣΙΑΣ as part of its 2017/2018 Lecture Program. It will be held in the Library of the Institute at 7:00 PM on Monday, the 20th. The public is welcome to attend and to learn more about yet one more episode in the 20th century of international squabbling over another country’s cultural heritage.

David Rupp

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