Igoumenitsa finally gets museum

The northwestern city of Igoumenitsa has long been promised an archaeological museum, but when the decision was finally made, the delays kicked in. Although the project started off back in 1999, it was only just recently that the study was eventually approved by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS). Still, even the new museum will be too small to house all the exhibits of the Thesprotia province, which keeps surprising the local archaeological community with the discovery of new sites, one of which is at Ladohori. The collection of the Igoumenitsa museum comprises around 14,000 objects, yet visitors will only be able to see about 1,000. It is hoped that the museum will be open to the public by the end of the year, with exhibits ranging from the Middle Paleolithic period to late Byzantine times. «It is important to have an archaeological museum in the Greek hinterland,» said Garyfallia Metallinou, director of the newly founded 32nd Ephorate, to Kathimerini. So far, the Ragios Tower is the only archaeological site open to the public in the entire prefecture and, as far as cultural activities go, there isn’t even a movie theater. The new museum is situated at the exit off Igoumenitsa toward Ioannina and was built on land provided by the municipality. It is part of a wider program which aims to highlight the cultural heritage of Thesprotia, which further includes the development of other ancient sites, such as Elea, Gitani, Doliani (Fanoti) and Dymokastro. The museum is an overall 2,214 square meters, with only 500 of those taking up the exhibition halls – it is hard to cram in the warehouses, the maintenance workshops and the offices. The displays are spread across three different levels and divided into five basic units. The museum contains finds from the public life, war, religion and religious rites, private life and professions of the region. There is also a house reconstruction as well as a section dedicated to Thesprotia burial customs and local beliefs about death – one should not forget the area’s mythological connection to the rivers that led to Hades (the Underworld), the Acherondas and Kokytos. The study presented by Ourania Palli and Mariliza Lela was approved by KAS, with certain observations about its ability to withstand time. But the initiative to also create a touch display was praised. Meanwhile, the ongoing works near the harbor and the Via Egnatia have created new needs and the new ephorate, which has been operating since September, is so far housed on the ground floors of two blocks of flats, with a lack of personnel or warehouses to store the antiquities. «We have been given some old, stone municipal buildings, but installing a simple alarm system is not enough to protect the antiquities,» said Metallinou. The problem is pressing because the excavations keep producing new material. At the Via Egnatia alone there have been striking finds from the Paleolithic era, as well as 50,000 stone tools.