CULTURE

Metamorphoses of Mt Athos from 13th century to today

Great change acquires a cartographical dimension in a unique publication which follows the transformations of Mount Athos as depicted in maps from the 13th century till the present day. «Changes in the Land and Sea Perimeter of Mount Athos,» National Map Library, illustrates the different ways in which mapmakers have portrayed the Athos peninsula. More than 800 illustrations (not only originals, but also some which have been processed by the National Map Library, using new techniques) from the Mount Athos Map Library, maps and publications in the National Map Library, from other books, private collections and from digital processing, reflect the politics and ideologies of the times, both in the Christian world and in its geostrategic region. «Besides, this mountain is the eastern part of the famous three-pronged region of Macedonia and the highest mountain in its center, the prime point of reference for all sailors in the northern Aegean, together with Olympus, just as many travelers and geographers mention,» explains the National Map Library’s president, Professor Evangelos Livieratos of Thessaloniki University, who edited the book. «The Persian king went through here to the south of Greece, dividing the Athos peninsula by a canal and making it an island again, as a Renaissance island cartographer believed it was, before the great earthquake that reunited it with the Macedonian hinterland. That was where the monks established their unique state, where the world’s great cartographers traveled and made maps.» The new volume, devoted to this unique and remarkable «island,» is the first fruit of a project that was born a year ago with the creation of the Mount Athos Map Library. The library now possesses 100 maps depicting Athos and dating from the 16th century onward. The new technologies developed in recent years and in use at the library make revealing comparisons possible with modern maps. The ways in which gangs attempt to smuggle drugs into Greece are constantly changing. The «stray mule» method is one of the most common, in which the drugs are loaded onto mules that are turned loose, to be caught by other gang members as they cross the border. This method is used particularly for cannabis, which is cheap and whose loss or discovery can be dealt with. A wholly different tactic is used for cocaine or heroin. The border guards have caught migrants with 1 or 2 kilos of the drug on them, who said that gangsters had made them carry the drugs in exchange for being taken across the border.