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Two ancient sites to get a boost

The palace complex of Knossos receives around 1 million visitors a year, though most don't know that there is much more to see at the Minoan site.

The organization in charge of an ambitious plan to overhaul the Greek capital’s image as an archaeological destination has offered its expertise to help promote the archaeological site of Knossos on Crete.

The Unification of the Archaeological Sites of Athens said on Friday that it will be coordinating an international competition for zoning proposals on how best to open up the entire site of the Bronze Age center of the Minoan civilization to visitors, who are currently restricted mainly to the palace complex and are unable to see other antiquities on the site.

“The archaeological site of Knossos is the second most visited site in Greece” with an average of 1 million visitors a year, said UASA president Dora Galani. “It is extremely rich in findings and is spread over a large expanse, characteristics that have not been fully maximized as tourists only visit the palace complex. At a short distance from the palace though, there are a lot of interesting monuments, which most people are ignorant of.”

Proposals for the tender are expected to be submitted to the Ministry of Culture by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, in northern Greece, the Neolithic lakeshore settlement of Dispilio in Kastoria is to receive an injection of European Union funding for the restoration of its outer fortifications at a time when state resources for archaeological projects have all but dried up.

Funds worth 650,000 euros will be channeled via the National Strategic Reference Framework in what is the third of a total of four projects at the site. The restoration of the fortifications follows the reconstruction of a scene from daily life during Neolithic times at the settlement, as well as the creation of an area to teach excavation techniques to archaeology students.

According to official figures, Dispilio draws some 60,000 visitors a year.

“Compared to southern Greece, Macedonia, which is celebrating the centenary of its liberation from Ottoman rule, has fallen behind in promoting its archaeological heritage,” said Western Macedonia Regional Governor Giorgos Dakis. “We have to speed up now to make up for lost time.”

ekathimerini.com , Friday Jul 13, 2012 (21:30)  
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