Archaeological treasures underpromoted

A simple Saturday visit to the archaeological site of Rhamnous became an odyssey due to detours, the lack of signposting, and the chaotic state of Attica, crammed with construction projects. The clerk on the phone was very helpful: «You’d be better off coming via Dionysos.» He knew that the Marathon Avenue route had been problematic for months. «Is the archaeological site open?» It was a reasonable question after the fiesta there in 1998 for the visit of the prime minister, who wanted to inaugurate a program to highlight 70 archaeological sites. «You can only see the ancient road, not the ancient city.» «Why?» «Because there isn’t any staff.» «Is it worth coming?» «I don’t want to put you off, madam, but you need to know what you can see. At least you’ll be able to enjoy a swim.» «Is this going to change? The Olympic Games are starting soon.» «Hope is the last to die.» That final response is an accurate reflection of the reality at many archaeological sites. The guard, one of those who hears the public complain about what they don’t get to see at sites and museums, mainly those outside of town, wanted to forestall a visitor’s disappointment. Many museums and sites are setting their own Olympic records as they race to remove the signs of decades of neglect, and the lack of any policy for highlighting monuments that should be the backbone of cultural tourism.