Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Archaeology becomes Greece's Achilles heel

We are no doubt very much aware of the financial crisis in Greece and this situation affects the work of archaeologists all over the country. Licensed digs are being postponed (indefinitely as it seems) and illegal ones are proliferating, while theft from the local museums with their staff trimmed considerably are on the rise. Semi-professionals working for art trafficking networks and common treasure hunters are having the time of their life, smuggling precious pieces out of the country to obscure destinations and avid collectors. What a waste of efforts, analysis, study, restoration, if not cultural heritage!

In one month’s time, Greek police have arrested 44 people, recovering thousands of ancient coins and several Byzantine icons. In October 2011, a gang was arrested with Macedonian golden grave offerings from the 6th century BC worth some 11 million Euros. A worthwhile effort from Greek authorities no doubt, yet this is only the tip of a huge iceberg. With corruption running high in a country where people are cut short of their income, there is no way to even envision where this will end.

Until now, foreign archaeology schools are still at work on the Acropolis in Athens, the Minoan Palace complex of Knossos on Crete, the sanctuaries of Delphi, Olympia and Vergina, but it becomes harder and harder to protect their excavation sites. Besides, the Greek state has the obligation to share in the financing of each such excavation and since there is no money available from that side the foreigners’ budget is being stretched. With one out of ten employees from the Ministry of Culture dismissed, it is not hard to imagine the unfortunate consequence for Greece’s precious heritage. In the meantime, 3,500 temporary staff have been hired to man museums and archaeological sites, but how trustworthy are they, I wonder?

Greece counts 106 archaeological and Byzantine museums, 250 organized archaeological sites and 19,000 (yes, that figure is correct) other important locations – yet only a handful have escaped the consequences of the Greek debt crisis. Athens’ and Thessaloniki’s Museums of Archaeology repeatedly shut down part of their collection because of shortage in staff. Other museums and sites close at 3 p.m. or don’t open before the high tourists’ season for the same reasons.

A very sad episode in the life of such an ancient and proud culture. I’m sure that great men like Pericles, Solon and Alexander the Great would turn in their graves if they had to witness this!

2 comments:

  1. I'm ashamed to say that it didn't cross my mind to think how Greece's financial problems were affecting archeology! Shocking, especially as a Greek and Roman Studies major.

    Archeology is our connection to the past. It's tragic that such memories are being stolen for mere money, and museums are struggling in one of the most historically rich country in the world.

    A month ago, I attended a 12 hour reading of "The Odyssey", which gave me the opportunity to listen to the epic as the ancient Greeks did. Towards the end of the evening, the Greek Ambassador to Canada joined the audience and spoke a few words about Odysseus and the current financial crisis. He quoted Odysseus, who steels his heart with the knowledge that he has gone through worse, and in keeping up hope was brought home to Ithaca.

    Here's to hoping Greece can steel itself and protect its archeological sites, objects, and public access, before history is suppressed.

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  2. As a true Greek, your Greek Ambassador to Canada is an eternal optimist. He may be right, of course, Odysseus has faced worse but the old glory never really returned.
    It deeply hurts me when I see or hear that artefacts that have survived so many centuries, are now brutally damaged by war (like recently in Syria and Libya) or disappear through obscure channels of the black market to the hands of greedy people who generally don’t even realize their true value. These objects are priceless and cannot be bought for money. Our heritage is not for sale.
    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my concern.

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