CULTURE

‘New’ collection for the museum

The Museum of Paleontology is housed in the building of the University of Athens’s Geology Department, and is a popular choice for many school groups. It is currently being refurbished. We visited it during this transitional phase, while the old material is being rearranged so as to receive its Dutch additions. Although not large, the Museum of Paleontology is a magical place which initiates the public into this much bigger world. It still bears the hallmarks of the first years of paleontology in Greece and its pioneers. From as early as 1906 there was a full chair of geology and paleontology at the University of Athens, the first occupant of which was Theodoros Skoufos. Thanks to him the Museum of Paleontology was finally founded in 1932 (until the 1980s it was housed in the now demolished building on the corner of Sina and Academias streets). With Skoufos’s death in 1938, the chair came to be occupied by Maximos Mitsopoulos, later a member of the Athens Academy and son of the first professor of geology and mineralogy (1887), Constantinos Mitsopoulos. This tradition is apparent even today, not simply in the dedication of the professors and the young paleontologists (there are currently four PhD students), but in the potential opening up for Greek science internationally and for the Museum of Paleontology as a research center. The largest part of the «new» material relates mainly to island fauna (the Aegean Islands and Crete), and is of special interest as these animals adapted to the special conditions of each island. In five years’ time, moreover, another 30 cases will arrive (part of the same collection), which will be on permanent loan from the Museum of Rotterdam. The Department of Geology is also organizing a very good paleontology collection for the new Library of Alexandria, another step in raising international awareness of the work of Greek paleontologists. Excavation programs are currently under way at Ptolemaida, Strymona, Komotini and elsewhere. The arrival of the Dutch cases has reaffirmed a thriving part of the Greek scientific community, as well as the tradition of paleontology in Greece and its future prospects. Mid-caps advanced 2.28 percent and small-caps added 2.20 percent.