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Monuments in Ruins, Ruins as Monument Evaluation, Protection, Enhancement & Management

Elefsina, Old Oil Mill | by Th.Papathanasiou

Elefsina, Old Oil Mill | by Th.Papathanasiou

Ruins, archaeological and historical, present a special category of monuments that ensue as a result of natural wear and tear, abrupt natural catastrophes, use, abandonment or intentional destruction. Continue reading “Monuments in Ruins, Ruins as Monument Evaluation, Protection, Enhancement & Management” »

New evidence on the use of serpentinite in the Minoan architecture. A μ-Raman based study of the “House of the High Priest” drain in Knossos

Written by Giannis Grammatikakis
Serpentinites have been widely used as a raw material in a huge variety of shapes during the Minoan period, mainly for the construction of artifacts both for domestic use as well as religious purposes. According to Warren (1969), almost half of the entire corpus of the Minoan stone vases is consisted of objects made out of serpentinite. However, the utilization of serpentinites is extremely limited in the Minoan palatial architecture. In all the cases where the use of serpentinite is documented in the palace of Knossos, it has been used for the construction of column bases. The aim of this study is to look into the material used for the construction of the drain located under the stair leading to the adyton (sanctuary) of the “House of the High Priest”, one of the peripheral monuments of the Palace of Knossos (fig.1). Despite the fact that Sir A. Evans documented the stone drain and described the raw material as stone, no further comments were made regarding the exact type of stone used by the Minoans. Furthermore, the fact that a rather unusual material was used for the construction of a drain, instead of a more typical material such as limestone or sandstone, enhances the ill-defined and controversial character of the “House of the High Priest”.

fig 1

Fig. 1. The part of the ancient drain exposed during the restoration works

The initial mineralogical characterization of the drain material, was carried out by means of X-ray powder Diffraction leading to the identification of several minerals and polymorphs. Further examination of the sample in terms of microstructural and chemical analysis of the different inclusions, was implemented by means of confocal μ-Raman spectroscopy.
Within the concept of this study, emphasis is given to the application of this nondestructive and noninvasive technique that can be applied in situ for the analysis and characterization of objects of archaeological significance made out of serpentinite minerals, where often sample acquisition is not possible.
In this study several Raman spectra were acquired from the sample of the ancient drain. In the Raman spectra shown in Fig. 2, the presence of chrysotile, calcite and steatite is documented. In Spectrum 1 the two Raman spectra the presence of chrysotile one of the serpentine family of minerals is indicated by the presence of the Raman bands at 232, 348, 391, 622 και 690 cm−1.

fig 2

Fig. 2. Two Raman spectra of chrysotile obtained for two different spots from the sample of the High Priests House drain near Knossos.

In many cases the morphological values of an archaeological object consist of the most important aspects that have to be preserved. In such cases, extensive and systematic sampling, or even the acquisition of a small fragment are out of the question. It has been demonstrated here, as well as in many relevant papers, that Raman spectroscopy can provide valid information that can be used for the characterization of minerals.
The choice of Raman spectroscopy as the main non-destructive analytical tool consists a strategic decision for two main reasons: (a) There are several other architectural elements implemented in the Minoan palatial architecture allegedly made out of serpentinite that macroscopically bear different characteristics and have to be examined, and (b) the majority of the Minoan stone vases corpus is consisted of artifacts made out of serpentinite but in both cases sampling is not possible. Lastly, the correlation of the data acquired from the analysis of the serpentinite outcrops on the island of Crete, with those from the archaeological objects might augment the development of knowledge regarding the cultural networks among the agricultural areas, where the serpentinite sources are located towards the centers of the Minoan civilization.
Within the context of this study, it is of minor importance whether the ‘adyton’ of the “House of the High Priest” is a sacred site or not, since the use of serpentinites for the construction of architectural elements, is particularly out of the ordinary in the neopalatial period. In previous periods serpentinite containing rocks were used due to their aesthetic values (PM I·II, 213). Nevertheless in the case of the “House of the High Priest”, the fact that the drain was “hidden” increases the chances that this material was used because of its properties (imaginary or real) and not for its appearance.
Evans, A., 1964. The Palace of Minos at Knossos, I, II, III, IV, New York. (pp. Ι, 141–3, 213, 225–30, 327, 334–5, 363, 378–80, 393–6, 400, ΙΙ, 161, ΙΙΙ, 5, 236–44, 245-59, 492).
Warren, P., 1965. Two Stone Vases From Knossos, BSA. 60. pp. 248–315.
grammatikakisB&WGiannis Grammatikakis is a conservation scientist with an MSc in environmental chemistry and a PhD in inorganic chemistry.
In 2005 he started his career working as “field” conservator, on monuments, as a member of the conservation team of Parthenon Temple on the Acropolis of Athens. Since 2006 as an employee of 23rd
E.P.C.A. (Hellenic Ministry of Culture) he has made several surveys and restoration studies for several monuments mostly from the Minoan period. From 2010 till the end of the project in 2014, he was the Head conservator for the peripheral monuments of the Palace of Knossos.
Currently he is working as a researcher in the department of chemistry, University of Crete. He is also a member of the The Heritage Management Organization and the owner of Archaeoanalysis DBA.

Organizing an Art Exhibition

Heritage Management is a discipline which refers to those who are in fact madly infatuated with all cultural aspects of the past, present and future. It is very difficult to put in words what it is that a Heritage Manager does, however all of us who decided to “make heritage our business”, have something very specific in mind for our future endeavours.
Having practical experience on the matters which are taught during any course is of prime importance. Engaging in an activity is the only way of gaining real experience, and everyone knows that experience counts more than any theoretical background.
So that’s what we did, we put theory into practice in the form of an art exhibition. From finding the space to host the exhibition, contacting the artists, getting sponsors, creating educational activities, curating the show to managing all social media and press releases, we did it all. A small group of MA students managed to organise an exhibition.
Needless to say, we are really excited, but also scared at the same time, as this is for many of us, the first time we get to do something which we really love and believe in.
Hopefully the results will be rewarding and the experience will be a proper way to start our journey in the field of Heritage Management.

Hasmik Altunyan has studied Political Science and History at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences and is interested in the modern representations of historical heritage traits in European and Eastern societies.

The Refugee Identity Crisis: How Athens Builds National Identity through Heritage

As soon as you visit Athens it hits you square in the face, the strong nationalistic Greek identity is everywhere, sold in shops, on the shirts of the tourists and physically overlooking the city in the shape of the Acropolis. The visitor may not feel overpowered as they hop back on a plane home, but that is not the same for every resident of Athens.
Since the refugee crisis, tens of thousands have entered Greece and found themselves stuck and lost. Their homes destroyed, separated from family, and their national identity a distant past. Since their arrival, Athens has worked on satisfying necessities like health and shelter, and is now working on higher needs such as psycho-socio support. With this comes the chance to reform lost identity, forming a sense of belonging in Athens. To achieve this Athens is using their best product: heritage.
Refugees have been the focus of several temporary exhibits at the Benaki and Cycladic museum which focus on the travel and everyday aspect of their experience. This includes children’s drawings and sculptures by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who manifested the act of Europe letting go of its responsibilities to the refugees into an anthropomorphic statue.


Ai Weiwei exhibit photo credits: Kimberley Bulgin

Tours of the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum were started by the Greek cultural minister. Rather than focusing on the loss of the refugees, or the greatness of Athens’ past, he spoke of the Greek hospitality, of the similarities between their cultures and of the Parthenon and the lost Palmyra. He sent the strong message that their heritage may be lost but now the heritage of Athens is partly theirs.


shoes donated to refugees displaying an act of kindness via: [http://www.museumwithoutahome.gr]

Working on the theme of Greek hospitality Oxfam and Amnesty used heritage to thank Athens for their role in the refugee crisis. By creating an open-air museum exhibiting the items Athenians donated to the refugee camps Oxfam and Amnesty aimed to showcase the importance of goodwill to the new communities and hopes this will act as an incentive to others. This acts as a tool of community building between Athenians and the refugees which in time can create a new transcultural identity between the two shared experiences of the crisis.


Touberleki traditional drum used to bring communities closer via: [http://www.museumwithoutahome.gr]

Athens does have a strong migration history from the early 20th century, although not a part of curriculum there are talks of a new museum dedicated to this subject. With education from this new heritage site we can expect a level of education on the subject which can only lead to further acceptance and understanding of the new plight. If immigration becomes a part of the strong Greek identity it is easier for the refugee to see themselves within the landscape and create an identity. Representation in heritage spaces is imperative for the refugee for them to be fully engaged with the programmes Athens is offering.
In time, hopefully a transcultural identity can be created by both Athens and the refugee communities. This will need to be based on a sharing of heritage spaces and representation for both communities, working on similarities rather than differences. Athenians can feel pride for their role in the refugee crisis and in the future, this can become part of their joined identity, an experience shared and represented in heritage spaces.

Kimberley Bulgin previously studied Classical and Archaeological studies at the University of Kent and her interests in Heritage Management are on visitor engagement in educational settings.
(This was an excerpt from her paper ‘The Refugee Identity Crisis: How Athens is bridging the gap between a person and their homeland through heritage and meaning making’ presented at the University of Kent MA conference on Boundaries in Paris in May 2017.)

Promoting the Heritage of Southern Lazio On The Via Francigena Del Sud by Elle Arscott

With Rome taking centre stage, it’s not surprising that the region of Lazio often gets overlooked by tourists. The drained areas of the Pontine Marshes are now mile after mile of agricultural land and industrial complexes, whilst the towns and cities dotting the plain are uninspiring compared to the nearby grandeur of the capital. The coastal region is popular with daytrippers from the city looking to enjoy the clean waters and golden sands of the Tyrrhenian Sea, but few venture further inland.


The secret landscape of Lazio. Photo credits: author’s own.

However, on Sunday 14th May, a group of University of Kent students collected at the eastern end of the Circus Maximus in Rome. The goal: to walk 87 miles of the Via Francigena Del Sud, from Rome to Terracina, straight through the rural heartland of southern Lazio.  The Via Francigena Del Sud is a 434 mile pilgrimage from Rome to Brindisi, with Jerusalem the ultimate destination. It is the natural successor to its more famous cousin the Via Francigena, the pilgrim path from Canterbury to Rome. The section we were going to tackle from Rome to Terracina was only a small part of a much longer heritage route, steeped in history both ancient and modern. In Roman times, troops and civilians could have covered vast distances on the Via Appia, the strategic road connecting Rome on the west coast to Brindisi in the east. The Appian Way cut straight across the Pontine Marshes, the Romans being undeterred by stagnant waters or mosquitoes and confident in their complete domination of this flat, exposed stretch of land. By the medieval period, however, the region had broken up into small, often warring, factions and Christian pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem may have diverted their route further inland, seeking shelter in the towns of the Lepini Mountains on their way to Terracina instead.
Nowadays, the Via Francigena Del Sud is an officially recognised, waymarked route – at least in theory. Whilst the first three days of our walk, from Rome to Cori, were fairly straightforward and clearly signposted, the further we trekked into the hills and mountains the less clear the path became. All too often the route itinerary directed us to walk alongside busy roads or hack through overgrown hedgerows with no sign of a path.


The “path” between Nemi and Velletri. Photo credits: Julia Peters.

Unfortunately, these inconsistencies mean that the Via Francigena Del Sud is, in its present state, a limited tool for tourism development in the southern Lazio region. Greater attention needs to be given to waymarking (in both directions) whilst the suggested itinerary could be refined in order to better spread the distances covered and take advantage of staying longer in the more historic towns along the route and visiting local archaeological sites and museums.


The historic village of Nemi, perched above its eponymous lake. Photo credits: author’s own.

However, with these small issues ironed out the Via Francigena Del Sud has great potential to attract new visitors to the area, particularly repeat visitors to Rome who may with to divide their city trip with a rural escape. The rich history of the area has to be seen to be believed, whilst the amazing hospitality of all our hosts, the friendliness of local people, the fresh produce and excellent wine are all added bonuses to what is still an unspoilt and beautiful region.


Walking near Giulianello. Photo Credits: Julia Peters.

The 6 students walking the Via Francigena Del Sud were funded by the Kent Opportunity Fund, the European Centres and the School of English. See http://blogs.kent.ac.uk/linking-heritage/italy-walk/ for more information. Visit http://www.viefrancigenedelsud.it/en/ for more information on the official route.

“Elle Arscott is a candidate for the MA Heritage Management 2016-17, and has an undergraduate degree in History of Art & Music from the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in international arts and antiquities law, as well as heritage marketing and alternative approaches to heritage site management.”

Our partnership with Global Heritage Fund

In this effort, the Heritage Management Organization has found a very important ally: Global Heritage Fund (GHF). According to Stefaan Poortman, GHF’s CEO, “Over the years, the Heritage Management Organization has successfully convinced GHF that local community engagement is a key feature in any heritage management project. In our desire to follow best practices in heritage preservation, we have decided to attempt a very important project at Ayios Vasileios near Sparta. Our partnership with this organization, which leads in their field, will be instrumental in the success of our efforts there.”

Aghios Vasileios (St. Basil), Laconia, Greece, aerial photo, copyright Adamantia Vasilogambrou


If funded, this will be the first large-scale public engagement project that GHF has undertaken, and it will be the HMO’s first collaboration with this great institution. Given that Global Heritage Fund is a leading project management and conservation organization worldwide, with 28 projects in 19 countries, it is an ideal partner to our organization as we have neither the interest nor the expertise in project managing whilst our strength in training will compliment GHF, which does not lead training programs. If the program is funded, then GHF may work with us to ensure the implementation of best practices as well as to test new ideas in a new context. We are proud to say that we have completed this first phase of collaboration with GHF, and we expect this collaboration to bear greater fruits in the months and years to come.

Evangelos Kyriakidis is the director of the Heritage Management Organization and is a senior Lecturer in Aegean Prehistory in the University of Kent.