Work on roof for prehistoric site of Akrotiri begins again

Prime Minister (and Culture Minister) Costas Karamanlis had to intervene personally to end the funding shortfall that had bedeviled the makeover of the archaeological site of Akrotiri on Santorini (or Thera, to give the island its ancient name). The Archaeological Society owed 4 million euros to the contracting company that had undertaken the replacement of the old roof with a new one, as well as a more general revamp of the major prehistoric site. One of the largest pioneering works to take place at an archaeological site, work restarted this week when the money was provided to pay off the debt, following visits earlier this year by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia and General Secretary Christos Zachopoulos. The 20 million euros that eventually will be provided will help to finish the project so that 18 months from now Akrotiri will be covered with a new bioclimatic roof. Closed From the beginning of October, the site of Akrotiri on Thera has been closed to visitors, the architect in charge of the roof project, Nikos Findikakis, told Kathimerini. There was, he said, a period of about a month and a half when they could not carry out further work due to visiting tourists. «We’ve been working at full speed from the beginning of the month,» Findikakis said. This involves laying pipes to collect rainwater and channel it into tanks, completing work on the rust-proof roof and beginning the process of applying an insulating layer of Theran earth. At the same time, orders were sent out for all the wooden sections: pergolas, frames, arches, and the like. The unexpected has also been provided for. In the short time that the work had been suspended, the head of excavations, Professor Christos Doumas, fretted about possible flooding. Fortunately, his fears proved unfounded. Every possible measure by those in charge of the project has been taken to prevent the untoward. Deadlines will be met, despite everything, and the work will be ready in a year and a half. «After the interior is finished, work will start on the surrounding area, to be followed by all the interior walkways,» Kathimerini was told. On completion, the new roof will be the largest structure to protect a prehistoric site in the world. Practically, this means that the site of Akrotiri on Thera will be able to receive 1,500 visitors per day, as opposed to the 300 visitors in the past. Five routes have been designed for visitors, with different tickets. Visitors will be able to purchase two-hour tickets, three-hour tickets, or one for the entire day. Opportunities to visit will also be provided to scientists and archaeologists, and there will be a tour for people with special needs, who will not be able to have access to all areas of the site.