Benefactors from Theodoros Kolokotronis to Constantine Karamanlis

Not many people know that one of the members of the Archaeological Society was Theodoros Kolokotronis, the War of Independence hero. Others have included many other heroes of the war – and even their staff, such as the secretary of war hero Georgios Karaiskakis – as well as the intellectual Theoklitos Farmakidis and statesmen Eleftherios Venizelos and Constantine Karamanlis. The society had people, its members say, while the state had only ephors. «At that time, the ephors were under great pressure to use influence,» Petrakos said. «Meanwhile, antiquities smuggling was rampant under King Otto’s rule and ministers took no action so as not to incur the displeasure of various local officials who were some of the main culprits. The society had no obligations; it was independent, and had its own money.» However, it was not always pleased with politicians. Petrakos said politicians Harilaos Trikoupis, Panagis Tsaldaris and the elder Karamanlis helped the society, but Venizelos did not make great efforts. Petrakos will explore subjects such as these during a talk at the Athens Academy on January 23. The society has always been waging battles to save monuments, sometimes against individuals but also with the state. It fought with the Culture Ministry over the Olympic Rowing Center, Zagani Hill and the Psyttaleia islet, «which hardly anyone cared about,» Petrakos said. That is why the society wants to be independent. The Archaeological Service «is headed by the minister, who determines its policy and goals, always influenced by ephemeral, personal or party interests,» Petrakos said. Although the service has seen 208 ministers in charge of it since 1837, «the society has had only 11 secretaries, most of whom were leading archaeologists and created a body of work for which we owe them a debt of thanks.»

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