Kea monuments among sites in line for a facelift

Greek archaeological sites and museums are undergoing major makeovers. If all the projects now in the pipeline are implemented, the results will be dramatic. Some sites require more radical work than others, but all of them need to be made more functional and accessible. Among the sites due for refurbishment is the prehistoric settlement of Aghia Irini on Kea. One of the most significant monuments in the Aegean, it dates from the Neolithic Age, from 3000 BC to around the 15th century BC. Neither large nor subject to serious problems, it is nevertheless scheduled for a minor facelift. The projected work, which has the unanimous approval of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS), includes replacement of the perimeter fence, construction of a small guardhouse and other adjustments to make the site more accessible to visitors. There is a proposal to roof the building and the temple, where some famous 15th century BC kore figures were found. The 50 terracotta figures, said to be unique, are on display at the Kea Archaeological Museum. The roofing must be very light, so as to avoid bulky buildings that might alter or spoil the character of the site. The settlement contains remains of many pre-Cycladic rooms and masonry, while from the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1600 BC) there are remains of fortifications, an important temple and ceramics indicating extensive trade. Systematic excavation of the site was begun in 1960 by the American Archaeological School, under Professor John L. Caskey. The finds from the site, including some that have not been shown publicly before, are now on view at the Kea Archaeological Museum in a recently redesigned and updated display. Also being spruced up is the site of Ancient Olympia, where restoration and conservation work and modernization of the visitors’ reception area is already in progress. At the end of November the museum will close and Praxiteles’ statue of Hermes will moved to another room while the room that usually houses the piece is being refurbished.

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