Τρίτη 27 Μαρτίου 2012

A new Minoan palace

Archaeologist Amanda Kelly was ever so kind to send me the following picture of a really neat modern Minoan "palace". Her friend Conor Trainor is actually the person to deserve the credit of discovering this lost treasure - I know I have both to warmly thank for giving me permission to publish the photograph and supplying relative information. 

According to Conor, this new Minoan palace lies in Vyronas, Athens, on Formionos str. 

This is actually one of those cases when words actually fail me in the attempt to describe this masterpiece. I wouldn't really know where to begin: the bright red of the Minoan columns dazzles me. 

I'll limit myself to pointing out two elements that should not go unnoticed: 

1. the two columns on the right are evidently free-standing - perhaps a hint at some religious use of the place?

2. the indented facade - an unmistakable feature of any true Minoan palace. 

Try to ignore the trash cans in the foreground. They are but an inept element of modern Greece...

As Amanda put it, this is an aesthetic treat!

Σάββατο 24 Μαρτίου 2012

Modern Minoan I

This is a block of flats in Herakleion, on Averof str., an excellent example of Minoan influence on modern Greek architecture - a subject very close to my heart which I intend to explore more. 

Over the ground floor, which is used for modern shops, there are three floors of houses and offices. The building has a three-sided facade, with a large balcony on each floor running on all sides. On the central side there is a recess veranda on each floor with Minoanising elements. The one on the first floor features two Minoan columns supporting an architrave with the characteristic Minoan discs symbolising wooden beam-ends. The verandas on the second and third floor are flanked by pilasters which support an architrave with a zone of running spirals, a very characteristic Minoan motif.

This part of the building's facade is directly influenced by Evavs' reconstructions in the palace of Knossos. Herakleion is of course so close to Knossos that such influences are to be expected. Still, it's always extremelly interesting to note the way modern architects incorporate such elements of ancient Greek architecture in modern constructions.

This post is entirely due to photographs very generously supplied by Greek archaeologist Flora Michelaki
Flora supplied a photograph of the building before its recent facade painting (and addition of a rather large advertising board) on which the relief zones on the verandas' architrave are better visible. She was also kind and generous to supply fresh photographs -taken only a few days ago- and give me permission to publish them here. 

Flora I can't thank you enough! 

Τρίτη 20 Μαρτίου 2012

The Rhodes "Parthenon"

Though hard to believe, this colourful Parthenon-like building is actually a modern private residence somewhere on the island of Rhodes... 

The house evidently imitates an ancient temple both in construction and decoration.
On the facade there are six pseudo-ionic columns supporting a dark red entablature with a frieze including different sized metopes and what seem to be very narrow triglyphs. There is an additional zone with five larger metopes and all this is topped by a fanciful pediment with figures in relief against a blue background. There is also a central palmette acroterion and two sphinxes on the corners.

Of course one cannot live on his love for ancient architecture - one has to have modern facilities as well, thus note the funny-looking front and side windows and the grey chimney on the side...

I wouldn't have much to say on the decoration, since I cannot easily discern the subjects on the metopes (cavalrymen probably from the Parthenon frieze, are a valid hypothesis) neither do I recognise the prototype for the composition on the pediment.

The only existing work of ancient art I can safely identify is the votive relief of a youth crowning himself found in Sounio (460 B.C.). A replica rests on the left edge of the frieze of the Rhodes Parthenon.

(National Archaeological Museum, Sounio, 460 B.C.)

A final photo of the Rhodes "Parthenon" under construction

All photographs reproduced here are by the spitoskylo blog HERE and HERE
More on the original Sounio relief, here and here

Τρίτη 13 Μαρτίου 2012

Greece - The Crisis Years III - the archaeologists' appeal

This is rather different from what I usually publish, still very much related to the Greek crisis and very much related to Greek archaeology. 

I reproduce here the International Appeal of the Association of Greek Archaeologists in support of the proper protection of the Greek Cultural Heritage against the cuts required by the IMF and forced by the Greek government

You may read the appeal below and visit the following links on Facebook and in the home-page of the Association of Greek Archaeologists
Feel free to distribute. 


International Appeal of the Association of Greek Archaeologists
Support Greek Cultural Heritage against IMF Cuts

If monuments had a voice of their own, they would tell us what has been going on in Greece in the past two years. In the name of the global economic crisis and with the IMF acting as a Trojan Horse, austerity measures have been undermining public services, welfare State and social cohesion. Democracy and national dignity are under attack.

Monuments have no voice, they have us.
We, the 950 Greek Archaeologists, civil servants working in the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, are fighting against the destruction of both our country and our cultural heritage, because of the policies dictated by the IMF and the Troika.

The Greek Archaeological Service is not overstuffed, nor are we being overpaid. We serve in order to protect our cultural heritage and monuments, all over Greece, facing constant lack of funding and personnel, dedicated to the pursuit of scientific knowledge and to access to culture as a public good. Our scientific work has won international recognition. For more than 170 years we have been organizing excavations, studying Greek civilization, organizing Museums not with stolen antiquities but with well-documented exhibits, restoring monuments, organizing educational programs and helping bringing together Ancient culture and modern art.

As civil servants we have neither sought after luxury or over-spending, nor have we been accused of corruption, in sharp contrast the practices of the government and the political system that today promises to “save our country”.

As archaeologists in the land that inherited democracy to the world we are perfectly aware of the dangers associated with the suppression of democracy. We are struggling to preserve the memory and the material traces of the past, because we know that a people without memory are condemned to repeat the same mistakes again and again.

Monuments have no voice. They must have yours!
We are making an urgent appeal to our colleagues, to scholars and citizens all over Europe and the whole world, all the people expressing their solidarity and support to the Greek people, to defend cultural heritage and historical memory. The peoples of Europe share the same destiny. The same austerity packages and authoritarian measures, that are currently tearing apart Greece and its monuments, are going to be imposed across Europe.

Culture is our common ground and our common destiny.
Resist! Defend Greek Cultural Heritage and democracy.
EUROPE without memory, EUROPE without future

·        For more info and coverage of our activities visit www.sea.org.gr
·        Express your support at the I support Greek Cultural Heritage in Facebook
·        Post our posters and messages to your websites and workplaces
·        Send protest letters to the Greek Minister of Culture and the Greek Prime Minister (fax: 0030 210 9098603)

According to the Greek Constitution, Cultural Heritage belongs to the Greek people and its protection is a responsibility of the State. The Archeological Service, as part of the Ministry of Culture, fulfils this responsibility.

Today in Greece there are:

·        66 Ephorates of Antiquities. They deal with the administrative work and the enforcement of the laws dealing with Cultural Heritage (permits for construction works, demands by citizens etc.), the organization and running of archaeological sites and museums, excavations and archaeological surveys, and archaeological scientific research.

·        106 museums and collections of pre-historic, classical and Byzantine antiquities (http://www.yppo.gr/5/g5171.jsp?obj_id=35556)

·        250 organized archaeological sites

·        19.000 declared archaeological sites and historical monuments (http://listedmonuments.culture.gr/search_declarations.php)

·        366 projects co-funded with the European Union, with a total budget of 498 million euros, that are the responsibility of the Archaeological Service

·        Hundreds of excavations that are currently in progress, either in the context of public works or as part of research projects (http://www.yppo.gr/5/g5110.jsp), expanding our knowledge of the ancient world.

All these are the responsibility of just
7000 employees of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism which include 950 archaeologists, civil servants, and 2000 guards and night-guards. Moreover, each year 3500 extra employees are hired on short term contracts.

In November 2011 10% of the total workforce of the Ministry of Culture, that represented the most experienced employees (with more than 33 years of experience) were forced to leave the service and retire, as part of plans to reduce the total number of public sector employees in Greece. Further personnel cuts would mean that the Ministry of Culture will be unable to cover even its basic needs.

The personnel of the Greek Archaeological Service for many decades have been working with poor means and limited funding
·        Funding for culture in Greece never exceeded 1% of the State budget
·        Net Salaries of archaeologists in 2009 were from 880 (newly appointed) to 1550 euros (after 35 years in the service). In 2012 a newly appointed archaeologist receives 670 euros (after taxes and social security contributions), and we have had a 35% wage reduction
·        In 2011 the budget for the Archaeological service is 12 million euros (with a 35% reduction compared to 2010) and in 2012 we are facing further cuts
·        Despite the burglary in the National Gallery and the armed robbery at the Museum in Olympia on 5 March 2012 the Minister of Culture decided to cut funding for Museum security by 20%

A new law that is going to pass through parliament in the next days, the Greek government is planning personnel cuts of 30-50% at the Ministry of Culture. Damage is going to be irreparable. We must stop them!



More photographs added in the international campaign led by the Association of Greek Archaeologists will also be reproduced here

Δευτέρα 12 Μαρτίου 2012

Greece - The Crisis Years II

The second part of this long tribute continues with more cartoons inspired by Greek antiquity and related to the Greek Crisis problem.

When one observes the images in both this and the previous post, one realizes which images of ancient Greece are considered appropriate, more popular and easily recognisable as to be used in modern-day cartoons and other images aiming to be readily perceived as "Greek" by the broad public.

Κυριακή 11 Μαρτίου 2012

Greece - the Crisis Years I

I've been thinking of this post for a long-long time, but was putting it off because of the great amount of time and effort it required. 

The economic crisis that spins around Greece has exploded Greek-antiquity-related iconography. So, the more I was putting it off, the more examples accumulated. 

Then all of a sudden I receive an email from a devoted reader and keen observer of these kinds of images. He goes by the nick-name "Ein Steppenwolf" and has done a great job sending me several images that have turned up in the Greek and international press -plus he has provided links for them. So this post is pretty much his work -and he's the one that should take the credit. 

So there you have it: a good start at showing how Greek antiquity providinspiration for illustrating the economic crisis. 

Feel free to add more examples in the comments below! 

Number 1 on the list, a magazine cover that stirred a lot of discussion - to put it mildly...

A recent exhibition in Athens presented several cartoons with related iconography. Here are some of the examples and a link to a related newspaper article: here.