NEWS

KAS approves repairs

Studies for the restoration of the ancient theater of Vergina, Kaisariani Monastery and the Panaghia Kapnikarea church were approved by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) on February 25. The restoration of the Vergina theater, where Philip of Macedon was murdered and Alexander the Great was crowned, includes work to highlight the monument. Situated in the foothills of Mount Pieria in Macedonia, not far from the Museum of the Royal Graves, the fifth-century BC theater was discovered in 1982. One of the oldest Greek theaters, it was built at the same time as the Theater of Dionysus in Athens, and experts say it was part of the palace complex. Professor Stella Drougou of Thessaloniki University, who supervised the study by Zahi Al Sayah and Nikos Hadzidakis, explained that only the front row of the cavea (auditorium) had stone seats. The main problems now are rain and soil movement. The orchestra (circular space between the stage and auditorium) gets covered with dirt in winter. The archaeologists would like to excavate the area between the palace and the theater to find the building that connected them, but their top priority now is to save the monument and make it comprehensible to visitors. The work for which KAS gave its approval includes returning the walls of the parodos (side entrances into the orchestra area) to their original position, laying a pipe to drain off rainwater, the removal of the ancient embankment and a stairway used in excavation, and delineation of the cavea. Kaisariani and Kapnikarea The refectory, cells and bath house are all that survive of the 15th century monastic complex of Kaisariani on the slopes of Mt Hymettus, east of Athens. The monastery suffers from cracks, detached masonry, damaged floor tiles and erosion. As a result of earthquakes and lack of maintenance in the 20th century, only 20 percent of the monastery is now accessible to visitors, according to the technical report by N. Harkiolakis. The main entrance has been closed since 1981 due to the lack of security guards and there have been instances of vandalism. KAS has given approval for repairs to be carried out in stages, even though the building requires a thorough overhaul, as the Ephorate of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments has been arguing for years. Also needing a thorough overhaul is Panaghia Kapnikarea, a major example of post-Byzantine architecture, which was listed for preservation in 1921. The church has suffered much damage from earthquakes, exhaust fumes, poorly executed repairs as well as subsidence during the opening of the metro tunnel. There was no talk of a timetable or funding for the repairs at the KAS meeting.