Greek archaeologists expressed their concern on Monday over the abandonment by the state of the site of the mid-5th century BC Temple of Artemis Agrotera, which they described as “one of the most historically important archaeological sites in the center of Athens.”
The Ionic-style temple, dedicated to the Greek virgin goddess of the hunt was constructed of Pentelic marble.
It stands on Ardittou street, in the neighbourhood of Mets, surrounded by modern buildings.
In a press release titled “A monument in danger,” the Association of Greek Archaeologists says that despite numerous decisions published by the Central Archaeological Council since 1964 for the immediate expropriation of the land it stands on and the surrounding properties and the protection and promotion of the site, no action has ever been taken.
“The political responsibilities of successive political leaderships, are obvious,” the association says.
“This unacceptable and disgraceful situation ... that was created under pressure from private interests is not only endangering the archaeological site itself, but also violates the law,” it added.
Archaeologist said the site forms an archaeological unity with the neighboring Temple of Olympian Zeus and authorities must therefore initiate expropriation procedures, complete the excavations and necessary studies and return it to the public as an open archaeological site.
The temple was converted into an Early Christian church in the mid-5th century AD. the first excavations on the site were conducted in 1897 by the Archaeological Society of Athens.