Lady Luck unlikely source of funds for archaeological work

Sometimes when the state can’t rise to the occasion, sponsors can. The Culture Ministry has stated loud and long that it has no funds. Since it has much unfinished business, a new law on cultural sponsorship was passed to solve the problem. In order to galvanize private initiatives, the ministry recently posted a list of potential actions in need of sponsorship on its website. The 17th Ephorate of Prehistorical and Classical Antiquities took action on its own account. It requested financial support from Loutraki Casino for three studies budgeted at 95,000 euros, relating to monuments in the region of Corinthia. The company not only accepted, but also dug deeper into its pockets to offer a further 30,000 euros for an archaeological conference in 2009 on the history and topography of Ancient Corinth and from prehistoric times to the end of antiquity. Long on agenda Three studies related to the protection, restoration and highlighting of the theater and the unification of the archaeological site of Ancient Sicyon, the highlighting of the archaeological site of Ancient Feneos and expansion of the local museum, and the highlighting of the archaeological site of Ancient Stymphalos, have been on the agenda for a long time. Since its inception, the ephorate has striven to unify Hellenistic Sicyon (and eventually the ancient theater), creating a pathway for visitors, putting up signs, managing rainwater drainage and restoring the theater’s vaulted entrance. Ancient Feneos, proclaimed an archaeological site in 1969, needs conservation, extensive cleaning and extension of its archaeological museum which, according to ephorate director Constantinos Kissas, currently looks more like a store room. The monuments of Ancient Stymphalos, which are at risk from the lake that floods the site, also demand measures. The Loutraki Casino has come to the rescue in the past, as Alexandros Mantis, director of the ephorate responsible for the Acropolis, told the Central Archaeological Council last week. Mantis, who has worked in the area for years, cited in particular the example of the restoration of the Temple of Zeus at Nemea. Perhaps that’s why the casino was asked to support a study to find and collect architectural elements from the Temple of Artemis which are thought to have been used in the construction of the Gothic church of Moni Zaraka. The application was approved unanimously, despite some reservations. Professor Petros Themelis asked, «How do we view the money of a company whose objective is to make a profit?» Byzantine Museum of Athens director Dimitris Constantios wondered whether private organizations should undertake to fund restoration work. In this case the money is for a study but, he added, «if it was for the restoration of major archaeological remains we would have to be more careful.»

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