Friday Jan 30, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
8o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Military hospital refuse shows life in WWI Thessaloniki

By Iota Myrtsioti

Wonderful treasures attesting to the modern history of Thessaloniki were found among the refuse of an old World War I military hospital used by the Army of the Orient, which served on the Balkan front, items that had remained buried for almost 100 years on the outskirts of Thermi.

The hospital's garbage dump, which had become overgrown with weeds, was rediscovered in 2007 and excavations have since yielded a wealth of material that offers a new reading of the history of that period in the northern port city.

Dozens of empty champagne and Burgundy wine bottles, eating utensils, cookware, military uniforms, buttons, shoes and coins, among many other finds, began to paint a picture in the minds of the archaeologists and historians researching the finds of the everyday stories of the men in the multiethnic army that served in Macedonia during WWI.

All of these treasures are now on display in Thessaloniki in an exhibition titled Army of the Orient in the Balkans: Archaeological Testimonials of a Hospital in Thermi/Sedes, which runs to March 3 at the Museum of Byzantine Culture.

My first impression was that the finds were from an officers' club and showed how they entertained themselves, Anastasios Antonaras, one of the archaeologists who worked on the exhibit, told Kathimerini. It took two years of research before I discovered how close pleasure is to pain and joy to sadness, as the bottles found in the dump were reused to store medicine, covering the very sizable needs of the 16 military hospitals that had been set up in Thessaloniki at the time.

The seemingly useless junk from the French military hospital tells fascinating stories, such as how a soldier may have been saved by a 10-drachma piece, which was found with a bullet hole in its center. The collection of buttons is also very interesting, as they come from the uniforms of French, Russian, Serbian and British soldiers, showing that exchanges between armies, hospitals and camps were constant.

This is the first time such material has been used to illustrate what life was like during the war on the Macedonian front, said Antonaras, who co-curated the exhibition with Ioannis Motsianos under the supervision of Agathoniki Tsilipakou, director of the Museum of Byzantine Culture.

The remnants of the military hospital of the Army of the Orient, which fought in Thermi on the outskirts of Thessaloniki in the 1914-18 period, not only shows what life was like for the soldiers and medics on the front, but also the evolution of the science of medicine as well as life outside the trenches.

The Army of the Orient played a pivotal role in rebuilding Thessaloniki, improving the rail network and building schools. The army was 300,000 strong and tripled the population of the city, which had just 120,000 residents at the time. The soldiers came from France, Britain, India, Senegal, Australia and New Zealand, forming a multicultural mosaic that brought new life and economic activity to the quiet port city, as new restaurant, tavernas, hotels, cafes, music stages and, of course, brothels opened for the entertainment of the soldiers.

The displays at the exhibition are augmented by material from the archives and collections of the Mediatheque de lArchitecture et de Patrimoine Diffusion RMN of the French Ministry of Culture, the Thessaloniki History Center, the municipality and several private collectors.

----------

Museum of Byzantine Culture, 2 Stratou, tel 2313.306.400. Opening hours are Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays to Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

ekathimerini.com , Monday Jan 7, 2013 (18:25)  
Tribute to Nikos Kessanlis, a pioneer and great teacher of Greek art
Renowned Greek singer Demis Roussos, 68, dies
Tight election campaign prompts copycat ads
Revisiting Hydra with Panayiotis Tetsis
The irrational crackdown on an Athenian food truck
On a recent Saturday night in the downtown neighborhood of Thiseio, a police car pulled over in front of Giorgos Glynos's Food Truck. A second police car, this time with screaming sirens, fo...
Greek health cuts a matter of life and death on Samos
Greece's economic woes mean that paramedics on the picturesque island of Samos are increasingly faced with the terrible dilemma of who to save and who to leave to die. On Sunday, Greeks vote...
Inside Community
Inside Gastronomy
Inside Travel
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Below-par Olympiakos succumbs to Efes
2. Xanthi upsets 10-man Panathinaikos in Cup
3. Fitch warns of a downgrade for Greece
4. Govt, PCT ease Chinas worries
5. Pension payment to be a little tight in March
6. State liquidity concerns set to grow by the month
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greece wants a debt break, but what about its poorer neighbors?
2. Greek banks rebound as gov't cites inexperience for remarks
3. $11 billion wiped from Greek banks on nationalization threat
4. Investors turn on Tsiprass campaign to end austerity in Greece
5. Varoufakis says Russia row not about sanctions, but proper consultation
6. Schulz warns Tsipras against straying from stance against Russia, ahead of Athens meeting
Today
This Week
1. Greek Elections 2015 | LIVE
2. SYRIZA heads for historic victory but without majority
3. Greek Elections 2015 | LIVE
4. Greek Elections 2015: The day after | LIVE
5. Poll shows SYRIZA leading ND by 4 pct
6. SYRIZA's win will test institutions
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.