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A time-worn island fortress gets a helping hand from KAS

The Hellenistic fortress of the island of Ro, near Kastellorizo, an important monument in the southeastern Aegean, is due for a makeover under the auspices of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS). Strategically located, its modern fame is due to 18th century sea captain Lambros Katsonis, who used it in his Aegean campaigns against the Turks. The fortress, which dominates the tiny island, rises out of the rock on a steep hill near the northern coast. Overlooking an important sea passage, it still houses an army observation post. When a small section of the walls collapsed, explains architect G. Antoniou, «in the central tower’s northeastern corner, this was a reason to intervene.» A year ago, KAS resolved on the monument’s restoration, requesting stability studies on the stronghold’s northern side. Soil was removed from the northern part to relieve pressure on the tower. This, as civil engineer Aphrodite Pachygianni told KAS, «brought to light a number of finds,» from Byzantine to classical artifacts, among them an oil lamp dated to the fourth century BC. The northwestern corner of the wall had a number of cracks, probably earthquake damage. «As a result, an overall restoration of the monument had to be undertaken,» Antoniou said, «to preserve it for the next 200 years.» KAS approved the restoration so that work could begin to save the fortress. The central section of the Hellenistic fortress was built at the end of the fourth century and beginning of the third century BC. The newer walls also date from the Hellenistic period, while it continued to serve as a guard tower into the Roman period. «There is clear evidence of major rebuilding and repair in medieval times, probably by the Knights of St John.» But work was also carried out in Lambros Katsonis’s time.