Archaeologists in Greece have always been fighting to preserve ancient ruins, traditional architecture and the cultural landscape. A history of people behind the scenes that is very rarely told dedicated to their call of duty have been threatened and drawn to lawsuits by the governments. Its a story of public servant disobedience but for the greater good. Opposed by governments and citizens at first many of these professional archaeologist have been awarded honors and their fights. They have been justified, years later protecting most of the wonderful sites and areas of modern Greek cities and towns, ancient sites, traditional architecture with strict laws and effective control. That was the reason Mykonos, Monemvasia, Santorini, Medieval Rhodes the area around Acropolis were not covered by cement and asphalt and remained as we know them today. The result we see now as the become drowned by visitors every year. At the same time nature has been preserved along in all these wonderful ancient cites as Vergina, Messini, Olympia, Delfi, Dodoni. The Greek Archaeological public service had to fight with governments through history against corruption and destruction. Years ago a new battle started with the excavations taken by the Archaeologists under the modern city of Thessaloniki. The new finds have revealed a network of streets, shops, houses under the heart of the today’s city, and a quarrel between the government and the archaeological service and residents of Thessaloniki has been ongoing the last five years. Valuable documents, which run more than 25 centuries along the 9.6 kilometers of the Metro line from Pylea to the New Station, in the period preceding the city’s founding in 315 BC. from Kassandros, the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine years, the Ottoman period to modern times and the 1917 Fire. Renowned archaeologists and the Greek Archaeological Association are still defending the preservation in situ of ancient Thessaloniki which could be become agreat archaeological site for world visitors with 300.000 finds. They argue that they should not be moved, the metro line should. Architects, and even representatives of the technical world, have expressed their opposition to the solution of the moving of antiquities with a long list of scientific arguments.
The extend and the value of this finds do not have a price but is of great importance. Business cannot be the only priority. Preserving the past has been a diachronic great value that cannot be compared to the modern economic development. Preserving the past has been a value that has a price only at the illicit antiquities market!
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Alexandra Angeletaki is a classical archaeologist and has worked as a lecturer in archeology at NTNU since2001. For the last few years she has been involved in innovative dissemination DH projects and has worked with Museology and Digital Learning at NTNU University Library.
She is also responsible for library seminars and academic writing support for students in Kalvskinnet Campus.