Defaced legacy

Acts of vandalism, even inside the archaeological site of the Acropolis, will continue and become more and more aggressive as long as authorities fail to investigate and punish the perpetrators. The most recent example, the defacing of an ancient stele monument, east of the Roman-era Herod Atticus Theater, has prompted a casual response. “Authorities called the police, who are going to exercise ex officio indictments against those responsible,” a statement by the Culture Ministry said.

The blame, of course, lies with the authorities who cannot fulfill their obligations. The ministry statement included a comment on the stele, “which lies in the area surrounding the Acropolis archaeological site,” explaining that “there is no information on the date or the institution which erected the monument; however the engraved dates (1826-1926) lead to the conclusion that it was put up 100 years after the botched siege of the Acropolis, i.e. after 1926.” Nevertheless, the ministry, opting for officialese, describes the stele, which is dedicated to Charles Nicolas Fabvier (a French philhellene, general and commander of the tactical Greek army during the Greek War of Independence), as a “modern” monument.

The statement also informs us that “the location of the monument is not at all accidental as it was through the arches of the [Herod Atticus Theater] that the philhellene French general managed to enter the Acropolis in December 1826 when it was besieged by the Turks, in order to help the Greeks under siege.”

The symbolic significance of the monument did not protect it against the vandals. “Although this is a monument that does not fall under the provisions of the archaeological law, the responsible ephorate collected the pieces of the stele in order to proceed with the welding and conservation work.” Once again, the ministry statement raises questions. Should the ephorate be commended for exceeding its duties by deciding to collect the broken pieces next to the ancient theater?

A stroll around the Acropolis is enough to observe the extent of the problem – which also has a social dimension. Ancient stones are tagged with spray paint and graffiti but the ephorate has failed to take a stand on this very important issue or ask for help from foreign experts.

If you enter the Thisio archaeological site from Apostolou Pavlou Street, you will come across a number of defaced stones. The same problem is evident on Areopagus Hill, where a large amount of graffiti taints the image of this country, of the authorities and, more importantly, of its people.