NEWS

Delos to see restoration?

Important ancient monuments on the Aegean island of Delos are slated for restoration work following recent approval by the Central Archaeological Council. The Lake Palaestra and the Granite Palaestra, the theater and the Portico of Philip are all badly eroded by wind, humidity and rain, not to mention human neglect and promises never fulfilled. Another enemy was recently discovered in the form of wasps’ nests built in cracks in the ancient ruins. The monuments are certainly in a somewhat sorry state. One of the most important and impressive archaeological sites in Greece is riddled with cracks in the walls and in other architectural elements as well as containing several areas of fallen plaster. In some cases, the foundations excavated in times past are still in evidence, never having been filled in again. At the Granite Palaestra, the walls of the well need to be restored. The northern wall has completely collapsed and the water runs into the palaestra. At the theater, architectural structures have either collapsed or are about to, including part of the courtyard and the mosaics decorating it. In the impressive Portico of Philip, which is in reasonably good condition, older excavations of the foundations are still exposed. The 89-meter-long portico was the subject of lengthy discussion by the Central Archaeological Council, and comparisons were made with the Stoa of Attalos in Athens – the portico is considered to be of heavier construction with a more impressive interior scale. If work begins soon, the monuments will be ready in two years’ time, but not if the plans remain on the drawing board, as happened to promises in 1999 of a new museum on the island. Demosthenes Ziro, director of restoration, said that the plans call for the systematic dismantling of some of the sections and then reconstruction. Smaller walls will be restored to their original state, conservation work done on the well and more recent concrete plaster removed from the floor. A railing is to be erected around the ruins to prevent visitors from stepping onto them. In the portico, the plans provide for restoration of the facade and the two side walls and a complete reconstruction of the first staircase and the monument’s main pillar, as well as the addition of new elements to stabilize the structure.