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The ANCIENT DIOLKOS is calling out for help

 
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sofia.greek



Joined: 24 Oct 2007
Posts: 5
Location: Athens, Greece

PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 3:03 pm    Post subject: The ANCIENT DIOLKOS is calling out for help Reply with quote

An ancient monument in Greece is seriously endangered and needs our help. The Diolkos, the famous paved road constructed around 600 BC and used to transport ships by land over the Isthmus of Corinth, is unique in its kind but it has never been protected since the time of excavation (~1960).

In an effort to save and restore the structure, we have created an international petition at

www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/870477005

We invite you to sign and help preserve this historical monument.

Sofia Loverdou - Freelance science journalist
Yiannis Balafoutas - Retired teacher, writer

For more information and images, please go to
www.greece.org:8080/opencms/opencms/HEC_Projects/DIOLKOS/ (in english with gallery images)
www.in.gr/Reviews/imagegallery.asp?lngReviewID=1667&lngChapterID=16500&lngItemID=57977 (in greek)
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asterix



Joined: 26 Jan 2003
Posts: 1654

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An English translation of the links would help those of us who are not fortunate enough to speak Greek.
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sofia.greek



Joined: 24 Oct 2007
Posts: 5
Location: Athens, Greece

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:50 am    Post subject: the "modern history" of Diolkos Reply with quote

Asterix, thanks for your interest!!!

I am giving an english rendition of the "modern history" of Diolkos that report the monument's unbelievable sufferings... Sorry for the long post!!!

The diolkos was a paved trackway over which ships could be hauled overland between the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf, across the Isthmus of Corinth. First built probably by Periander around 600 B.C., it is mentioned by Thucydides as something granted, thus already ancient. It is a monument of first-class importance for the history of technology, and for the Greek achievement generally.

The western end of Diolkos was excavated around 1960 but its initial part lies today in a serious state of degradation.

The modern history of Diolkos verges on the unbelievable. The deterioration of the monument has not only been allowed by the Ministry of Culture but it has also been favored. Simple rescue operations continued to be avoided even when the erosion had left a considerable part of the monument in ruins. While the decay continued, various schemes were used as a proof of “care” for Diolkos. Members of the Parliament, concerned citizens, Justice Authorities and even the Prime Minister’s Office have been misinformed.

Very briefly, some information (and you are welcome to ask me for the relevant documentation at sofia-l@tellas.gr).

1960 - c.1985: practically all documents referring to the Diolkos are missing from the local ephorate's files!

1985 - after an "understanding" of the Canal Company and the Ministry of Culture, a term obliging the Canal Company to produce a restoration study is "forgotten"

1989 – with a large part of the monument already cut out from the rest by the erosion, the local ephorate takes part in a study intending to put plants, lights and benches to the (then) sane part of the monument. After more than a decade this study is in essence suspended by the Central Archaeological Council BUT it continues to be mentioned as valid, creating the impression or care for the monument…

1992 - an antiquities guard reports that the erosion approaches the smaller part of Diolkos on the Peloponnese side. No action is taken, although the morphology of the ground at that point was favorable to practically ANY rescue approach. A report by the Greek Geological Survey pointing out the precarious condition of the extended platform before the course-proper of Diolkos, is similarly left without attendance.

1999 – Two members of the parliament, Mr Papaligouras and Mr Dimas (then at the opposition) present written questions about Diolkos. The official answer of the Minister is that a "study of the currents" had been asked to the Canal Company in order for measures to be proposed. The answer is ridiculous in itself but there is more: as clearly denounced in the local post, NO SUCH STUDY HAD EVER BEEN ASKED.

.... in 2005, I was told by the Head of the local ephorate that they intended to restore Diolkos. As I found out, however, the ephorate had NO publications about the excavation nor images on how the monument looked then... They were totally unprepared for any submission regarding funds, etc.; rescue operations were vehemently denied, even in writing!…

In a meeting held at the Ministry on February 13th, 2006 (in which the Directorate for the Restoration of Ancient Monuments, DAAM,wasn't even invited to participate), the local ephorate promised to gather "restoration standards" within 20 days... It took them almost ten months to present some standards but these were so unfit that the Ministry silently “forgot” the presumed effort.

At the beginning of March 2007, some stones of the long erosion front were finally supported; by then, two Justice Authorities and a Public Administration Control Body were already investigating the Diolkos’ deterioration.

By now, DAAM seems to have the responsibility about things to be done for Diolkos. However, a first “Master Plan” approved on September 4th by the Central Archaeological Council can hardly be considered a guarantee. It is not the first official “paper” supposedly “taking care” of Diolkos; actually it comprises FOR THE FIRST TIME the basic information about Diolkos (great part of which was forced upon the Ministry by privates!), as well as some considerations about steps to be taken (i.e. the obligations that the relevant services should ALWAYS have fulfilled but in which they have always tragically failed.

Although the Master Plan supposedly calls for immediate salvage measures, no rescue operations have yet been undertaken. The deterioration of the monument continues as the erosion attacks the shrinking “sane” part of the monument and further damage is done to the sections already lying in the water or buried under the sand. At the end of October 2007, one more block has fallen, although the Ministry knew about it and was supposed to support it!

As the terrible condition of Diolkos brings out, there has been no control mechanism at work for either the monument's condition or the responsibilities involved. Only covering-up mechanisms have always been alert.


==-==
An international petition to the Greek Prime Minister for Saving and Restoring the Diolkos without further delay and hypocrisy, has already received signatures originating from 81 countries. www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/870477005
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asterix



Joined: 26 Jan 2003
Posts: 1654

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your interesting post.
It sounds like the usual mix of government corruption and ineffeciency. No doubt the canal company is unwilling to do what it should, like large corporations everywhere.
I wish you good luck with your attempts to preserve and restore this ancient monument.
I have added my name to your petition.
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sofia.greek



Joined: 24 Oct 2007
Posts: 5
Location: Athens, Greece

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 7:12 am    Post subject: thanks... Reply with quote

Thank you, Asterix..
Actually the responsibility for not protecting the monument falls rather upon the Ministry of Culture itself, since it is the Ministry that should have taken care of things.
Unfortunately, one more ancient stone - a big block, too, fell off during the last weeks. We are watching a mind boggling inadequacy here!!!
Even worse, this seems to be the case in many other monuments which suffer incredibly NOT because of lack of funds or shortage of personnel but because of the mentalities that turn the supposed keepers of the monuments into promoters of their destruction (who, on top of everything, shamelessly advertise their "interest" for the poor victims)...
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sofia.greek



Joined: 24 Oct 2007
Posts: 5
Location: Athens, Greece

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 11:21 am    Post subject: The TIMES for Diolkos... Reply with quote

Although the Greek Ministry of Culture has been forced to some movimentation for Diolkos, no substantial rescue operations have taken place as yet, other than supporting a few stones of the long erosion front..

Recently, the italian archaeology magazine SALTERNUM presented an article (written by me) in which there is mention of the distorted information about the state of the monunent, given to the Prime Minister's Office by the General Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Mr. Zahopoulos in october 2006. Between other untrue statements, Mr. Zahopoulos mentioned that the waves "have by now begun to erode the monument's substrate", hiding the tragic state of the monument.

Articles about the dramatic decay of Diolkos have been also presented in the british edition of the TIMES.

You can see the first article (scanned by me) at: www.greece.org:8080/opencms/opencms/HEC_Projects/DIOLKOS/media/New_Papers/Times_-_July_10x_2006.html
... and the second at: www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/court_and_social/article1409377.ece

Although the TIMES archaeology correspondent, Norman Hammond, (Prof. of archaeology at the Boston University) mentions that rescue operations would be forthcoming (an information included in MY reports, too), the only thing done was to support some stones, letting the erosion go on beneath them! The situation at the monument is worse now, of course. Two more ancient blocks have fallen since the last article hit the press; the deterioration of the already fallen parts of Diolkos is also constant...

I am giving again the site for those who would like to sign the Diolkos petition, asking them to PLEASE FORWARD THE PETITION TO FRIENDS: www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/870477005
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sofia.greek



Joined: 24 Oct 2007
Posts: 5
Location: Athens, Greece

PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The following photo, taken BY the Ministry, shows how utterly ignorant of the monument "relevant services" are; after 50 years of "assisted demolition", overlooked by every relevant mechanism, a team trying to support some stones of the long erosion front totally ignores the access from the side and travels all the way to the erosion front going over the monument IN THEIR VAN (notice the wheels, at right).

The operation was done jointly by the Directorate for the Restoration of Ancient Monuments (DAAM) and the local ephorate, so it seems neither of the two services had sufficient knowledge of even how to ARRIVE there !

As the monument continues to be abandoned to the erosion, the international petition, which up to now has received signatures originating from 95 countries, is still on, at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/petition/870477005

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