NEWS

No progress on ancient cemetery

Only a small part of the Dimosio Sima ancient cemetery has been excavated. The entire area, measuring 1,100x40 meters, contains the graves of such notable figures as Thrasybulus, Cleisthenes, Lycurgus and Solon. The first digs and expropriations took place in the 1870. Another part of the cemetery was discovered in February 1997 at 35 Salaminas, during construction work for a new theater. Four mass graves were found containing bones and grave ornaments (red-figure vases and white lekythoi) dating to the time of the Peloponnesian War. The Culture Ministry announced the expropriation of the adjacent plots of land so that the monuments could be uncovered in their entirety, with the prospect of linking them to the Dipylon site and including them in the unification of archaeological sites, then being planned. Now no excavations are in progress, and the much-discussed expropriations seem to have been frozen «due to unclear ownership status.» A metal structure blocks the grave monument from the view of passers-by, and a small, rusty notice board at the top of the structure notes that «work was done here to highlight the Dimosio Sima.» «Those of us who still live in Kerameikos feel that nobody cares about discovering the graves of renowned Athenians,» notes Bouzanis, «Kerameikos is a neighborhood with many ruined houses. You'd expect the expropriations to go ahead on Salaminas Street and on the shacks nearby which have become garbage dumps.» He believes that as long as the authorities are too timid to take action, «then not only will the Dimosio Sima cemetery not be unearthed or the area enhanced, but we will end up living here with the trash, the no-hopers, the nightlife types and whatever else flourishes under such circumstances.»

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