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Παρασκευή, 23 Μαρτίου 2012

Επιστολή του καθηγ.αρχαιολογίας DONALD HAGGIS στον υπουργό πολιτισμού .


Mr Pavlos Geroulanos
Minister of Culture and Tourism
Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Dear Mr. Geroulanos:

In response to the International Appeal of the Association of Greek Archeologists in support of Greek cultural heritage against IMF cuts, I feel compelled to express the urgency and seriousness of the situation that the Association emphasizes in their campaign.
I am an American archaeologist who has been doing fieldwork in Greece since 1981. For the past 26 years, I have been conducting archaeological surveys and excavations in eastern Crete through the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, under the auspices of the ΚΔ΄ Εφορεία Προϊστορικών και Κλασικών Αρχαιοτήτων.
During that time, while I have benefited from the hospitality, friendship, support, and academic collaboration of the staff and archaeologists of 24th Ephorate, I have also witnessed their heroic efforts in preserving the historical, archeological and cultural landscapes of eastern Crete; advancing archaeological research and heritage management projects and educational programs, against unprecedented urban and economic expansion, and with only three full-time staff archaeologists.
In particular I would mention the efforts of Metaxia Tsipopolou, who was recently forced to step down from her position as Director of the National Archive of Monuments; Stavroula Apostolakou, who last year retired as Proistamene of the 24th Ephorate—but continues to work, without salary, on the development of displays in the Archaeological Museum of Ayios Nikolaos—and Basiliki Zografaki and Chrysa Sofianou, the last two remaining salaried field archaeologists, who have been forced, alone, to take the responsibility, protection, and preservation of countless archaeological sites and foreign-school excavations, including three Minoan palaces. This overworked, understaffed, and underfunded Ephoreia has, with skeletal resources, devoted itself tirelessly to the preservation of cultural heritage and developed an international effort in archaeological research, conservation and education.
My experiences over the years suggest to me that this philosophy of service and dedication is reflected across the country in the ephoreias of the Archaeological Service. While the current austerity measures, resulting in massive budget cuts, layoffs, and retirements, have crippled an already underfunded and understaffed Archaeological Service, the systemic ramifications of this forced depletion of human resources, will be devastating, and its effects essentially irrevocable, felt for decades to come, not only in terms of the preservation of monuments and world cultural heritage and tourism, but in the very direction of archaeological research, and international scientific studies.
Although the ultimate economic wisdom of austerity—global, and indiscriminate budget cuts to meet notional criteria for national debt liability—is a questionable, if not ineffective, path to rapid local or global economic recovery, I know that it is not the purview of your office. What might be your concern is the current and long-term health of Greek cultural property, heritage management, education, and tourism. In these areas, archaeology in Greece plays a significant role. And the stakes could not be higher, and the threats to cultural heritage in Greece profoundly imminent.
The current economic crisis, and Greece’s extreme austerity measures in response to the IMF, could not have come at a worse time in the history of archaeological research and cultural heritage management in Greece. The current situation, essentially forcing a generation of productive and innovative archaeologists into retirement, is a devastating blow to archeological research in Greece, and the preservation and public programming of Greece’s cultural resources. At no time in the history of archaeology in Greece has there been such growth in international research and conservation efforts, scholarly collaboration, and publication and public outreach. This rapidly maturing collaborative intellectual research and teaching environment—and its myriad of public benefits to Greece and the world—is now being stymied and in many cases outright destroyed by the current economic policies forced upon the country.
Since the 1980’s, the sheer volume of excavated sites, and resultant publications and archaeological resources have grown exponentially. An unprecedented number of annual and periodic regional conferences and round tables have emerged, encouraging wide international participation and sharing of data and methodologies, as well as the rapid publication of fieldwork of the Archaeological Service, research institutes of the Ministry of Culture, and the Greek universities (e.g., M. Stamatopoulou and M. Yeroulanou, Excavating Classical Culture: Recent Archaeological Discoveries in Greece [Oxford 2002]).
In addition to the Διεθνές Κρητολογικό Συνέδριο, there is the Aρχαιολογικό έργο στη Μακεδονία και Θράκη (ΑΕΜΘ) (Thessaloniki); Αρχαιολογικό έργο Θεσσαλίας και Στερεάς Ελλάδας (ΑΕΘΣΕ) (Volos); Επιστημονική Συνάντηση για την Ελληνιστική Κεραμική (Ioannina); Διεθνές Συνέδριο Πελοποννησιακών Σπουδών (Athens); and most recently, the first Παγκρήτια Επιστημονική Συνάντηση για το Αρχαιολογικό Έργο στην Κρήτη (Rethymnon). The universities of Thessaloniki, Thessaly, Crete (Rethymnon), and the Aegean (Rhodes) have been particularly active, not only in the timely publication of primary fieldwork, but in forging connections and collaborative ventures between universities, foreign schools, archaeological ephorates, and research institutes of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
The generation of archaeologists currently retired and retiring under the present austerity measures, are precisely those who have created this unusual scholarly environment, who have made the most important advances in Greek archaeology in over a century, and have worked to preserve, and in many ways to create, Greece’s cultural heritage for a global audience. Furthermore this new milieu—an expanding scholarly as well as archaeological landscape—has effectively changed the nature and definition of Greek archaeology in this century, challenging academic and curricular developments as well.
In its discourses and applications, archaeology in Greece is at once academic, political, and social: it has a direct impact on the day-to-day economies of local communities (where the excavation takes place), while affecting modern ethnic, national and political identities. It actively engages and transforms cultural landscapes and necessarily involves and negotiates with communities, while developing wide-ranging dialogues in multiple venues (among locals, students, scholars, and lay people). On both local and international levels archaeology teaches us about Greek cultural history, allowing us to better visualize—in the “real world” to make informed decisions about and negotiate— the diachronically changing political, environmental and social dimensions of the human experience.
While the Association of Greek Archeologists is acutely aware of the international community’s collective solidarity—indeed its support of and debt to the Ministry and the Greek people—as archaeologists our interests in helping to excavate, preserve and understand sites, monuments and artifacts, go far beyond our personal experiences and individual research agendas. The very future of Greece’s historical and cultural heritage is at stake, and the current economic impact on the Ministry of Culture, especially the Archaeological Service, will not only disrupt the trajectory of groundbreaking research, but will have devastating effects on the future of Greece’s cultural resources.

Thank you for indulging these comments.

Respectfully submitted,

Donald C. Haggis
Nicholas A. Cassas Professor of Greek Studies
and Professor of Classical Archaeology
Director, Azoria Project, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Professor, Curriculum in Archaeology, Research Laboratories of Archaeology 

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